London – An Iranian propaganda video in which dozens of children sing a song that references an apocalyptic myth about massacring Jews was filmed at a school just 15 minutes’ walk from the New London synagogue in St John’s Wood, a JC investigation has revealed.
In the video, shot earlier this year in the playground of the Islamic Republic of Iran School (IRIS) near Queen’s Park station, the children sing about joining 313 mythical warriors in a conflict against the infidels, when (according to the present Iranian regime) Israel will be obliterated and Jews killed.
Some scenes were also shot at the nearby Islamic Centre of England (ICE), which is controlled by the Iranian regime and linked to the school. ICE is currently the subject of a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission, as the JC disclosed last week.
The song, entitled Hello Commander, has been praised by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who claims its popularity proves his people’s “loyalty to the system”, Iranian pro-regime media has reported.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (GettyImages)
Its recording in St John’s Wood, in easy reach of several synagogues and Jewish centres, has raised serious concerns among community security officials.
In the London video, rows of boys in white shirts and pressed black trousers and girls in blue flares, white blouses and matching hijabs can be seen saluting and singing their allegiance to their “commander”, Ayatollah Khamenei.
The children, aged between eight and 15, sing: “Without you, this life has no meaning. This life comes alive when you are here for me.”
They then sing about fighting in history’s final battle for the mythical leader known as the Mahdi, last seen supposedly almost 1,200 years ago.
Shia theology says the Mahdi will return to Earth to lead Muslim forces in the war of the apocalypse, accompanied by an elite band of 313 fighters — including, the song suggests, the children in the video.
They sing: “We wait for under the flag of our leaders. Tell me beloved, will you arrive soon? May Allah hasten your reappearance…
“We may be young but do not see us as too young. For you I will rise up and you will not see me fall. From the 313, you will see I will answer the call… Take my oath of loyalty as a warrior and servant.”
Kasra Aarabi, the head of the Iran Programme at the Tony Blair Institute, told the JC that the “cult” of Mahdi doctrine is now driving Iranian regime policy and its attempts to radicalise Shia Muslims.
“It is antisemitic to its core”, he said, “because it holds that before the Mahdi can return, Israel must be destroyed and all the world’s Jews put to death”.
Mr Aarabi said that those who accepted the doctrine believed this would be accomplished by the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guard, using its militias and advanced weapons such as ballistic missiles and — if Iran were to get the bomb — nuclear weapons. “The rise of the military doctrine of Mahdi-ism is the biggest single threat to the world’s Jewish communities and Israel’s existence”, he said.
Mir Abbas Hussein, a spokesman for the ICE, denied that what he called the “local” version of the song had this meaning.
He told the JC that he accepted that IRGC leaders said Israel must be obliterated before the Mahdi’s return, but said there was “nothing in the [religious] books about destroying Israel” and the song as recorded in London “is nothing to do with a political agenda. Here we focus on religion.”
The ICE’s constitution stipulates that one of its trustees will always be the UK’s personal representative of Ayatollah Khamenei.
Versions of the song recorded in Iran and elsewhere dominate the country’s official airways.
A report by the pro-regime Iran Press News Agency states: “Hello Commander educates the new generation on the ambitions of the Islamic Revolution and encourages them to be guardians to protect those ideals, which is seen as a step towards promoting the revolution among the generation to come.”
Iranian versions include a verse where children promise to “tread on the path” followed by the IRGC terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in 2020. But this is missing from the version recorded in London.
The Charity Commission has warned ICE that praising Soleimani may break English law.
The school is owned by the Iranian government and ICE’s previous director Mohammad Shomali, the previous ICE director and reportedly its Khamenei representative, has spoken there.
The ICE has received £139,000 from taxpayers under the Covid furlough scheme. Meanwhile, the school’s pastoral and educational standards have been scathingly criticised by Ofsted.
Its latest inspection, in March, rated the school “inadequate”, saying it was “repeatedly failing” in areas such as safeguarding. The school’s leaders had failed to show they had the necessary “knowledge and skills” to ensure proper standards were met.
The current Charity Commission inquiry into the ICE was triggered by a speech at the centre in October by Seyed Moosavi, its present director and Khamenei representative, when he said Iranian protesters were “soldiers of Satan”.
The investigation follows a probe in 2020, which was launched when Mr Moosavi hosted a vigil for 2,000 people to mourn Soleimani, saying he had been a “noble martyr” killed by “the wickedest people on earth”.
That probe concluded with an “official warning” and “action plan” for ICE, on the grounds it had hosted extremist speakers and that Mr Moosavi’s statements may have amounted to an offence under the Terrorism Act.
A Commission statement this week says that “the trustees have failed to fully comply with the Action Plan and Official Warning and a number of further regulatory concerns also remain”.
The JC investigation has also revealed:
- The ICE has hosted numerous speakers over many years who have spewed a torrent of Jew-hatred. In recent weeks, these included an ayatollah who says Jews were responsible for killing of Muslims in Burma and that Zionism “harms all mankind”.
- The ICE is one of several centres across Britain and Europe that are controlled by Iran. Police and security services uncovered links to terrorism at one pro-regime hub in Germany.
- The ICE and its northern UK counterpart, the Manchester Islamic Centre, have hosted prominent Labour politicians including Jeremy Corbyn the year before he became party leader. He made a speech at the ICE in 2014 on what he called “The Case for Iran”.
Senior MPs from both main parties said the probe into the ICE must be conducted with utmost rigour. The former Tory Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: “We are much too tolerant of extreme Iranian sympathisers spreading the bile of their theocratic regime and we should be closing down their propaganda outfits in the UK and Europe.”
Labour’s John Spellar said: “The government must finally start taking these threats seriously by investigating these allegations and taking appropriate action.”
ICE told the JC: “In Shiite text, the followers of the 12th Imam [the Mahdi] are referred to as his disciples and companions and preparing them to reach that spiritual status is a process that is highly encouraged.
“That spiritual achievement is something promoted from early ages in all religions… All Abrahamic religions believe in a saviour who will be assisted by some holy personalities like Prophet Jesus. In the Shia faith, these 313 personalities include Prophet Jesus and the Messiah who will be assisting the saviour.”
IRIS and Mr Corbyn were contacted for comment.