The Mahdi Servants Union

The Mahdi Servants Union (Arabic: إتحاد خدام المهدي), previously Khoddam Al-Mahdi Organization (Arabic: هيئة خدام المهدي, lit.'The Servants of al-Mahdi')[1][2] is a Twelver Shia religious group based in London, England, led by Kuwaiti cleric Yasser Al-Habib.

MSU
The Mahdi Servants Union
Formation2004; 19 years ago (2004)
FounderYasser Al-Habib
TypeCharitable organization (2010–2014)
Private company limited by shares (2017–2019)
Registration no.1137000
Legal statusLegally dissolved, active in practice
PurposeReligious
Location
Main organ
Fadak TV
Anthem

PositionsEdit

The group's leader Yasser Al-Habib is considered to be at "radical right-wing" of Kuwaiti spectrum.[3] He is hostile towards the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and has questioned the religious credentials of Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader.[3] Al-Habib has also denounced Lebanese Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah as a "mubtadi (innovator [in religion])".[3] Among the few Shia figures the group approves is Sadiq al-Shirazi.[4] Al-Habib had studied under Mohammed Ridha al-Shirazi while he was in Qom[4] and is son-in-law of Mujtaba al-Shirazi.[5] He is thus regarded a partisan of al-Shirazi network (shiraziyyin) in Europe.[4] Members of the group follow Sadiq al-Shirazi as their Marja' (religious source of emulation).[2]

The group is anti-Sunni,[4] spreading through its satellite channel such propaganda, and also advocates insulting Umar and Aishah, a companion and a wife of the Prophet respectively.[3][4]

ActivitiesEdit

The group operates a satellite television named Fadak.[4]

In 2013, they purchased the site of a former church for £1.2 million and founded Al-Muhassin Mosque in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire.[6]

On 10 March 2018, four members of the group armed with batons and daggers climbed on to a first-floor balcony of the Embassy of Iran, London, replacing the flag of Iran with that of their own group, in protest to arrest of Hussein al-Shirazi.[2] They were arrested by the Metropolitan Police.[2]

The group was behind production of the feature film The Lady of Heaven (2021), with a reported budget of $15 million.[7]

On 4 August 2022, members of this extremist radical militant group carrying religious banners and flags attacked the Embassy of Azerbaijan in London. Members of the organization climbed on the balcony with the ladder, replaced flag of Azerbaijan with their own flag, and shouted religious slogans. After this event, British police arrested eight organization members.[8][9]

Legal characterEdit

Khodam Al Mahdi Organisation (KMO) was founded on 23 February 2010[10] and subsequently registered as a charity by the Charity Commission for England and Wales on 21 July 2010.[11] It was co-directed by four people, namely Adel Salah, Ali Shubber, Mohamed Salah and Yassir Fowjian, all British citizens.[10] The charity was legally dissolved on 10 April 2012 at the Companies House but remained active afterwards, continuing to raised money in the charity's name and buying a property.[12] After Charity Commission became aware of this, it launched a statutory inquiry into the organization[12] and on 7 April 2014 removed KMO from the list.[11] During its three years of legal existence from 2010 to 2012, the KMO had all filed financial documents declaring that its income and expenditure were both exactly £25,000.[12]

On 8 November 2017, a private company limited by shares named Khoddam Al Mahdi Organisation Ltd. was incorporated. The dormant company was wholly owned by Thamer Jundi Jassam, a Swedish citizen, who also served as its director. It was officially dissolved on 16 April 2019 via compulsory strike-off.[13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Mahdi Servants Union (MSU) - إتحاد خدام المهدي عليه السلام". The Mahdi Servants Union (MSU) - إتحاد خدام المهدي عليه السلام (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 2021-10-30. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  2. ^ a b c d "Iran Attributes Attack On Its Embassy in London To Ayatollah Shirazi's Followers", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 10 March 2018, archived from the original on 10 October 2021, retrieved 1 September 2021
  3. ^ a b c d Wehrey, Frederic M. (2013), Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings, Columbia University Press, pp. 187–191, ISBN 9780231536103
  4. ^ a b c d e f Linge, Marius (2016), "Sunnite-Shiite Polemics in Norway", Scandinavian Journal of Intercultural Theory and Practice, 3 (1), doi:10.7577/fleks.1684
  5. ^ Azizi, Arash (29 April 2015), "Iran targets 'MI6 Shiites'", Al-Monitor, archived from the original on 10 October 2021, retrieved 1 September 2021
  6. ^ Gledhill, Ruth; Ali, Tamanna; Shahid, Omar (4 May 2013), "Jailed radical's new mosque raises fears of Sunni Shia conflict in Britain", The Times, archived from the original on 9 August 2021, retrieved 1 September 2021
  7. ^ Grater, Tom (1 May 2021). "First Look At $15M Historical Drama 'The Lady Of Heaven' – EFM". Deadline. Archived from the original on 10 October 2021. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  8. ^ "Extremist religious group attacks Azerbaijani embassy in London | Eurasianet". eurasianet.org. Retrieved 2022-09-09.
  9. ^ Intruders storm balcony of Azerbaijan embassy in London and take down flag
  10. ^ a b "Khodam Al Mahdi Organisation", Companies House, archived from the original on 10 October 2021, retrieved 1 September 2021
  11. ^ a b "Khodam Al Mahdi Organisation", Charity Commission for England and Wales, archived from the original on 10 October 2021, retrieved 1 September 2021
  12. ^ a b c Ainsworth, David (7 April 2014), "Commission opens investigation into funds raised for dissolved charity", Civil Society News, archived from the original on 10 October 2021, retrieved 1 September 2021
  13. ^ "Khoddam Al Mahdi Organisation Limited", Companies House, archived from the original on 10 October 2021, retrieved 1 September 2021

External linksEdit