A Hamas fugitive reportedly based in Barnet allegedly ran the group’s operations and served on its ruling body.

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, 62, is alleged to have evaded Israel's security services using a relative's passport and fled to the UK in the 1990s, later obtaining British citizenship and settling down in 2003 at a former council property in Colindale.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, the father-of-four bought the two-storey north London home and continued to work for Hamas.

The report states that Sawalha was given a £112,300 discount on the £320,700 home by Barnet Council.

In the UK, Sawalha continued to work for Hamas, holding secret discussions about 'revitalising' terrorist acts in Israel and aiding in the laundering of money to fund Hamas activities in the West Bank and Gaza, according to a 2004 US Department of Justice indictment.

In 2009, he signed a declaration that praised Allah for ‘routing the Zionist Jews’, requested weapons be sent to Gaza, and demanded a 'Third Jihadist Front’ to be established in Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

He was also a former Finsbury Park Mosque trustee but was forced to quit in 2017.

Council leader Cllr Barry Rawlings told The Times that he was "horrified" to think that Sawalha was living in the area and added the council will work with the police and government to review "the full history" and take "appropriate action".

The UK Lawyers for Israel campaign group reportedly informed Barnet Council of Sawalha’s background in 2020, which was then reported to the Met Police counterterrorism unit.

A spokesperson for the force confirmed that a referral was made in June that year alleging a “breach of the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010”.

The Met said: “The referral was assessed by officers from the National Terrorist Financing Investigating Unit, a specialist team based within the Met’s counterterrorism command.

“It was determined that the evidential test was not met. No further action was taken.”

In response to the Times piece, Sawalha’s lawyers said a number of “serious false allegations” were made against their client, adding: “[He] is a law-abiding British citizen."