IMPACT: Raheem Kassam is a British political activist who served as the director of Breitbart News London. Kassam has a history of spreading misinformation and making anti-Muslim comments. He maintains a close relationship with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and former Breitbart head Steve Bannon.
Raheem Kassam is a British political activist and commentator who served as the editor-in-chief of Breitbart News London from 2014-2018. In 2014, he was also hired to serve as the chief advisor to former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage. Kassam returned to Breitbart after Farage failed to get elected as a Member of Parliament (MP).
Kassam met Nigel Farage through Matthew Richardson, the General Secretary of the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF). Kassam was once a member of YBF, described in a 2017 report by the UK-based anti-racism organization, Hope not Hate, as a “controversial Tory youth group with strong links to American neoconservative movements.”
At the 2013 YFB conference, Kassam shared a panel with Steve Bannon, the former Chief Executive of Breitbart and once chief strategist for President Donald Trump. Following this interaction, Bannon appointed Kassam as managing editor of Breitbart News London. Bannon has described Kassam as “a huge piece of manpower.”
Hope not Hate described Breitbart under Kassam’s leadership, as a “pro-Farage,” “pro-UKIP,” outlet that was “obsessively anti-Islam and anti-immigration.” Articles from the British outpost of the platform include “Green politico: it’s time to learn Arabic and stop worrying about migration,” “‘It’s Not Good Enough’ – Breitbart’s Kassam Tells Fox Trump Admin Must Name Radical Islam, Ban Muslim Brotherhood,” “Watch: Pamela Geller, Milo, Raheem Kassam and More Discuss The Islamic Jihad Against Free Speech in ‘Can’t We Talk About This?’,” and Breitbart’s Kassam At AIPAC: ‘Immigration Is A Weapon Of Jihad’
Kassam’s relationship with Farage and Bannon saw him accompany Farage to the U.S. in November 2016, as the former UKIP leader became the first British politician to meet U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. During this meeting, English businessmen and financier of UKIP, Arron Banks, was also present. Shortly after this meeting, Kassam stated he would be looking for a job in Trump’s White House, “probably not in the short term but maybe in the long term”.
In 2017, Kassam attended and introduced Farage at the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in the U.S. During his introduction speech, Kassam brought up the debunked “no-go zones” claim in an effort to pitch his book, No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, to which Farage wrote the forward. The book was also praised by anti-Muslim Dutch politician, Geert Wilders. Kassam also attended CPAC 2018, hosting the foreign policy panel, which included former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, and Zuhdi Jasser, whom the Center for American Progress (CAP) described as a “validator” in the “Islamophobia network.”
In July 2017, Kassam made an appearance on the Canadian far-right media outlet, Rebel Media. He promoted his book, speaking of “no-go zones” in Europe, telling founder Ezra Levant, “one major point of this ghettoization…is the theological element of it, that is the idea that actually Islam, and radical Islam, and fundamentalist Islam have a very strong hold on these communities, there are underground mosques…there are radical preachers…there are terrorists that even find themselves in these neighborhoods.”
In an August 2017 appearance on MSNBC, Kassam stated, “Let’s make it very clear: we’re not at war with all these people. We’re at war with Sharia. It’s a fascist ideology that says you should cut off a person’s hand and foot if they get in the way of spreading Islam…We’re trying to save Muslims from getting radicalized.”
In May 2018, Kassam spoke at a panel event in Texas alongside Katie Hopkins, a British columnist with a history of making anti-Muslim comments. The event was moderated by anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist, Frank Gaffney, and hosted by Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy. During the event, Kassam told the audience that “in the thousands upon thousands of mosques that are being built all across Europe at the moment…they [mosques] are made to radicalize people. They are made to have people renting trucks, blowing themselves up on tubes, on buses, that is our reality right now.” He claimed the “migrant crisis” had resulted in a “handful of terror attacks” in Europe. He ended his speech by warning the audience, “Do not believe that Sharia law is not already in a neighborhood near you. It absolutely is.”
Kassam has many formal connections with anti-Muslim figures and organizations outside of the U.K. He is a Shillman Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, a right-wing U.S.-based anti-Islam think tank run by Daniel Pipes. Kassam is listed as a distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, an online media outlet cited by right-wing politicians to justify their anti-Muslim policies. After leaving Breitbart News London in 2018, Kassam joined the advisory board for ISSEP, the “political training school for right-wing leaders being launched by Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the niece of Front National leader Marine Le Pen.”
In 2016, Kassam addressed a Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against Islamization of the West) UK demonstration in Birmingham, alongside the German Pegida founder Lutz Bachmann. Pegida is a far-right organization that has been described by Germany’s Social Democrats as, “Nazis in pinstripes.” In 2018, Lutz Bachmann, who in 2016 was convicted of “inciting racial hatred,” was barred entry into the U.K.
In 2016, Kassam launched his own bid for the UKIP leadership, under the slogan, “Make UKIP Great Again.” Kassam’s platform included a referendum on banning the niqab (face veil), call to end to forms of halal slaughter, and allowing ex-British National Party (BNP) members and the English Defence League (EDL) to join UKIP on a case-by-case basis. Kassam’s bid for UKIP-leadership was also supported by Arron Banks, UKIP’s main funder. His campaign was short-lived as he withdrew from the leadership contest on October 31, 2016.
In a 2015 piece for the Middle East Forum, Kassam warned of a Muslim “fifth column” in the U.K. A 2016 Buzzfeed piece noted that Kassam was in “favor being racially profiled to reduce the risk of terrorism.” The same article found that Kassam had endorsed a “call to curb Muslim migration to the UK and ‘pull up the drawbridge.’” In a January 2018 interview with Sky News, Kassam stated that London had become “a shithole” under Mayor Sadiq Khan.
A 2017 report by Hope not Hate noted that Kassam has described himself as “mates” with former EDL leader Tommy Robinson, and described Anne Marie Waters of Sharia Watch UK as “a good personal friend of mine, I absolutely love her.”
Between 2011-2013, Kassam worked for the right-wing blog The Commentator. Robin Shepherd, Kassam’s former co-worker at The Commentator, described him as “a psychopath, and a crook. Kassam is a nasty piece of work, and prides himself on being so. Shepherd warned, “Kassam is a danger to British democracy, and the rule of law.” Kassam is known for his “combative public pronouncements.” An article in The Spectator described him as “a wildly self-important figure” and “a professional windup merchant.”
In 2009, Kassam served as director of Student Rights, an anti-extremist “campus monitoring group” linked to the Henry Jackson Society, a neo-conservative think-tank that has been described as having an “anti-Islam agenda.” In 2013 while under Kassam’s directorship, Student Rights raised alarms about alleged “extremist” Muslim speakers on UK university campuses. Far-right groups, including the EDL, responded to these claims with intimidation, harassment, and demonstrations outside Muslim-related event venues. From 2010-2013, Kassam served as the marketing and communications director at HJS.
In 2018, Kassam published his second book, Enoch Was Right: Rivers of Blood 50 Years On, in which he argued in support of the claims made in the 1968 speech by the British politician Enoch Powell. In a 2012 article, journalist Dorian Lynskey stated that following Powell’s speech, “racial assaults, both verbal and physical, increased immediately.”
Updated: January 28, 2019