The organiser of Friday’s Grenfell Tower demonstration, in which protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall, is a Jeremy Corbyn-supporting political activist who was once arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
Businessman Mustafa al-Mansur, 39, launched a Facebook campaign urging people affected by the tragedy to gather at council offices on Friday afternoon, after discovering that a family friend had died in the tragedy.
But he is also a slick political campaigner, a vocal supporter of Labour leader Mr Corbyn, whose brother stood in last week’s election as an independent candidate in east London.
Despite appealing for calm, the initially peaceful protest quickly descended into unrest, as dozens of people forced their way into the town hall of London’s richest borough, demanding answers from officials on what they were going to do about the disaster.
Mr Mansur, who lives in Haringey, north London, with his wife and family, was seen appealing for calm as he read out a statement from the council to the increasingly angry crowd.
Explaining why he had decided to organise the demonstration, he said he had been devastated, but angered, to discover that a friend, Rania Ibrahim, who lived on the 23rd floor of Grenfell Tower, had died.
It emerged last night that Mr Mansur, who used to be spokesman for the Finsbury Park Mosque, had been arrested 10 years ago by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of terrorism offences. He was released without charge and later claimed he had been detained because his fingerprints had been found on a book about improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which belonged to a Bosnian associate.
Mr Mansur, who vehemently denied any wrongdoing, now works with a number of community groups aimed at improving race relations. He is the vice-chairman of the Association of Multicultural Communities, and also works with young people from black and ethnic minority groups, encouraging them to undertake volunteer work.
After graduating from Queen Mary University in London with a degree in electrical engineering, he took an MSc in Islamic banking and finance at Loughborough University. He praised Mr Corbyn recently on his Facebook page, writing: “Conservative supporters wish and dream that their leaders had an ounce of Jeremy Corbyn’s impeccable character, dignity and principled politics.”
In another post he added: “If you ever met Jeremy, experienced the warmth and kindness he shares, the straight answers he gives and how humble he is, you would have faith in politics again. (If only we had more political leaders like him).”
His older brother, Ajmal Masroor, had previously been a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, but last week stood as an independent in the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency.
Mr Mansur said he had been compelled to take action because he felt the victims of the disaster were being let down by those in power. He said: “Rania Ibrahim is a family friend. She was on the 23rd floor with her two children. She is an Egyptian national, and her husband was away in Egypt. When the fire started she messaged my sister and said ‘we’re stuck, we can’t get out’.
“She WhatsApped our group too and said that she had been told by the
police to go back inside. So she did and then she invited other people on her floor to come in too.
“She live-broadcasted her ordeal until her phone died. All we heard at the end was her consoling her children saying ‘sit down, sit down, don’t worry’.”
Commenting on the crowd’s angry mood, Mr Mansur said: “So far in the last three days the general public have done everything.
“Going out on the street, finding victims, going to the churches and the mosques with donations. But so
far the council has done nothing in public. They have provided fluffy-ended answers.
“The people did not force their way into the building – they walked in. They were not happy with what they heard. They said ‘let’s get the senior executives and get them down’.
“But the police, in high-vis jackets, came storming into the building. When they came in, that’s when the pushing and jostling started.
“I think there are probably fringe elements here that are not connected. There was some violence. But the majority of people here are genuine and demand that the council listen to them.”