More questions on the Biryani Project.

Randy McDonald, and probably others, seem to have found the Afzal Amin piece baffling, so I thought I’d draft a brief explainer as follows.

Afzal Amin, potential Tory MP and ex-army officer, tried to incite the EDL to stage a provocative demonstration in his heavily Muslim constituency during the campaign, while also inciting a group of radical-ish Muslims to protest the EDL. He then tried to get the EDL to call off the demo (that he incited) when he asked. The point was to create a situation in which Amin could appear at the last minute and resolve the conflict without a nasty ruck between EDL football thugs and semi-jihadis, presumably vastly adding to his prestige and authority and getting him elected.

Obviously, as this involved the EDL backing down and CAVING IN TO THE TERRORISTS, or maybe just COMPROMISING WITH THE SYSTEM, they needed a big side-payment. Amin promised their leaders money or possibly jobs, plus support to integrate the EDL into respectable politics, and also offered to pay rank-and-file EDL activists hard cash to campaign for him. Using hired canvassers at an election is illegal in the UK in itself. He also seems to have had ambitions to roll out the process elsewhere in the UK, and to be inspired by David Kilcullen/Galula/etc counterinsurgency theory. Unfortunately for him, he was caught – somehow – by the Mail on Sunday‘s investigations team, which managed to video him conspiring with the EDL in a curry house.

A really interesting question is where he was going to get the money to pay off the EDL (and presumably also his vaguely edgy Muslims). It turns out he has an incredibly shady fake NGO, which got a no-bid contract to the tune of £120k with a bit of the government that has responsibility for counter-radicalisation policy, the CONTEST programme, incidentally headed by a political buddy of his. So the obvious conclusion is that he planned to put the EDL, and probably the Muslims, on his NGO’s payroll and bill the expenses to the government. At which point we need to ask whether the CONTEST people knew about the whole caper and this was some sort of ill-thought out amateur spook scheme. That said, it’s not like huge irresponsibility, deceit, incredibly careless handling of public money, and the use of government resources for one’s election campaign aren’t enough to be going on with.

Before the whole affair sinks into obscurity, I think it’s worth following up some questions that are still outstanding. First of all, Amin mentioned to the EDL that he’d been meeting “some Muslim lads” regarding what I will from now on call the Biryani Project. This sounds very much like he wanted to make sure there would be an angry and at least somewhat radicalised reception committee for the planned EDL march, in order to maximise the conflict he would then solve.

Presumably, if the Biryani Project was indeed meant to serve as a model and be rolled out nationally, it would need angry Muslims just as much as it needed the EDL. Logically, if he needed to hire Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, he would also need to hire the Muslims. So that’s another group of people he’d need to pay or place in a sinecure of some sort. What did he promise them and how did he intend to deliver?

Secondly, who were these Muslims? A place to start looking would be here – via Labour candidate Kate Godfrey’s Twitter feed, it seems he tried to incite the Muslim Public Affairs Committee to insult him about his military service.

Why he bothered when Dan Hardie will insult him about his military service for the sheer pleasure of the thing is another question.

MPAC UK’s involvement needs some parsing, though. The simplest explanation is that they were the “Muslim lads”, in which case we might reason that they were involved and are accelerating away from the mess, or alternatively, if we accept they are telling the truth, that Amin was deluding himself about their involvement. Both are possible. It is also possible that he addressed himself both to MPAC UK and to some other group.

In general, we should be looking for a group around Dudley who were offered a grant, and I suspect a detailed review of the DCLG’s report and accounts (here) might be telling. I’ve yet to find anything suspicious, although I do wonder why literally the only Google hit for “Srebrenica memorial day” and the organisation DCLG thinks it gave the grant to is the DCLG accounts. That could be a clerical error, though. Anyway, the Curzon Institute’s grant is in there, and Amin says he’d been talking to the EDL for at least a year – which means he had DCLG’s money in hand when he began the project.

Meanwhile, Theresa May sets out an important counter-radicalisation initiative:

After several months of disagreement the only official anti-extremism unit to be formed immediately is an “Extremism Analysis Unit”, which set out a blacklist of individuals and organisations with whom the government and the public sector should not engage.

Presumably, except over a chicken biryani at the Celebrity Restaurant, Dudley?

Meanwhile, on the question of Amin’s career, the Wikipedia article has improved to the extent of including the London Gazette mentions for his commission, promotion, and retirement, which places him in the Education & Training Branch throughout. The “Counterinsurgency and Stabilisation Centre”, which someone asked about, is a terminology error for the Land Stabilisation and Counterinsurgency Centre, which was headed by Alexander Alderson and whose name implies it belonged to Land Command rather than the Defence Academy.

6 Comments on "More questions on the Biryani Project."

  1. Dan Hardie will insult him about his military service for the sheer pleasure of the thing’

    It’s not a fucking pleasure. I am genuinely angry about this. You would be if you’d be on the front line and been through all the shit that is endured by fighting troops and then saw a cunt like this bigging up his military service, pretending that he was some kind of ‘counter-insurgent’ when he did a bunch of comfortable office jobs in KAF and Bastion. Anybody who has served in the military knows that there are certain things you don’t do. If you haven’t been in the military, you don’t say that you have. If you’ve been in the military but haven’t done an operational tour, you don’t lie about it. And if you did an operational tour but you did a safe job in the rear areas (many of which are necessary and indeed extremely stressful- think air traffic controller, flight mechanic, surgeon) you don’t lie and say you were in the fighting. If you think I’m doing this for some kind of pleasure you’re sadly wrong: people either inventing or exaggerating their service record, or using it for dishonest purposes, genuinely infuriate me, and pretty much every decent soldier I served with feels the same.


  2. Other obvious angle is that this apparent ‘plan’ would disrupt a significant amount of police resources – the cost of which would fall on west midlands police.
    I cant see why they would be remotely on board with this .

    I’m sure your aware but the ‘Prevent’ reducing radicalism agenda is also currently part of a turf war between Education, DCLG and the Homeoffice – whether Amin is a symptom of that or was able to exploit it I dont know but am glad you’ve been digging into this as there is a lot of interesting stuff in this story that the media will move away from quickly.


    1. Yeah, I suspect something like that is the deep political background of the whole thing. DCLG needing to deliver something or lose the budget and brownie-points involved.


  3. Interview with SYL is informative:

    – suggests SYL was introduced to AA by the Quilliam foundation in 2013. AA lied about SYL’s circumstances. Money came from non-Tory business figure of net worth £60m, involved with “chicken”, who has been photographed with the prime minister. SYL was promised specific sums of it. SYL saw AA as “a puppet”. Plus a variety of other allegations.


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