The East London Mosque is among Britain's most extreme Islamic institutions. Built with financial aid from Saudi Arabia, the sprawling facility is home to the London Muslim Center where incendiary preachers are regularly welcomed. On Monday, the East London Mosque hosted a very different kind of visitor—the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Louis Susman. Urged by President Barack Obama to engage with British Muslims, Mr. Susman spoke of his "great admiration" for the mosque and his enthusiasm for meeting its staff.
By any measure the East London mosque is a troubling institution. Last year, for example, it hosted an event titled "The End of Time: A New Beginning," where pamphlets were distributed showing Manhattan crumbling under a Hadean apocalypse of meteors, which shattered the Statute of Liberty asunder and set the city ablaze. One of the invited speakers, Khalid Yasin, described the beliefs of Christians and Jews as "filth." Most worryingly, the event also featured a live video question-and-answer session with Anwar Al Awlaki, the U.S.-born preacher aligned with al Qaeda.
Mr. Susman's visit illustrates the blunders Western politicians often make by reaching out to the wrong Muslim "dialogue partners." The U.S. ambassador could have easily found out about the mosque's sympathies for reactionary Islamism by consulting the British government.
The repercussions of the ambassador's decision to attend and praise the East London Mosque are already reverberating through Westminster. Prime Minister David Cameron has asked Lord Carlile, the government's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws, to oversee an exhaustive review of its "Preventing Violent Extremism" program, including the manner in which communal partners are selected. There is no suggestion, however, that the British government recommended the East London Mosque to the Americans.