Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

How Britain Encouraged Radicalism And Terrorism, Part 1

At the Old Bailey in London on April  30 five men were jailed for conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life. At a storage depot, Access Self-Storage in Hanwell in west London, the men had placed a 600 kilogram (1,320 pounds) bag containing ammonium nitrate fertilizer, an ingredient of explosives. The group had intended to attack several targets, including a shopping mall, a nightclub, trains and even planes. Only one of the men attended the court to hear his sentence - 23-year old Jawad Akbar (extreme right in the picture). When he first suggested the plot to attack the Ministry of Sound nightclub, Awad had said: "No one can even turn around and say ’oh, they were innocent’ - those slags dancing around."
 On June 16, 2006, the Old Bailey court had heard surveillance tapes in which Awad had discussed intentions to attack airplanes with Omar Khyam, who was described in court as the leader of the cell. Khyam said: "Imagine you’ve got a plane, 300 people in it, you buy tickets for 30 brothers in there. They’re massive brothers, you just crash the plane. You could do it easy, it’s just an idea." Jawad Akbar replied: "Thirty brothers, to find 30 brothers willing to commit suicide is a big thing." Khyam answered: "If you spoke to some serious brothers, to the right people, you’d probably get it bro, whether they were from abroad, you’d get soon as an air marshal gets up and shoots one the others just jump him... Thirty brothers on a British Airways flight got up -19 were split up in four planes. Thirty brothers on a plane, the beauty of it is they don’t have to fly into a building, just crash the flipping thing."
 In an operation code-named "Crevice", the group had been monitored by MI5 and police for a year prior to their arrest on March 30, 2004. Reporting restrictions were lifted at the end of the trial. MI5 was known to have tracked Mohammed Sidique Khan, leader of the cell which had carried out the 7/7 bombings which killed 52 people on July 7, 2005.  They had not assumed him to be a serious terror threat. It emerged that in February and March 2004, Khan and also Shehzad Tanweer, another 7/7 suicide bomber, had been monitored meeting Omar Khyam, the leader of the Crevice Group, on four occasions.
 The five convicted members of Crevice had been members of Al Muhajiroun. This group had been formed in 1996 from activists within the UK branch of the international Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed had founded both the UK Hizb branch and Al Muhajiroun.
On Thursday February 23, 1995, Bakri had given a lecture to Muslim students attending Newham College of Further Education in east London. Four days later, a group of Muslim students at the college, members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, confronted a Nigerian student at the college entrance. This student, Ayotunde David Obanubi, was accused of "insulting" Islam. Apparently he had been disrespectful of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month.
 Around 1pm, about 15 students armed with knives, machetes and hammers attacked him. Obanubi was struck on the head with a hammer, and a knife pierced his heart. He died on the spot. His death was the first known instance of Muslim fanatics killing someone on British soil for "religious" reasons, and should have been a wake-up call to the UK authorities. Britain at that time was under weak leadership. Tory premier John Major had little control of his party, and the Newham event was regarded as an anomaly. In hindsight, it should have been seen as a pivotal moment - signaling the precise time to crack down on the extremists who were actively poisoning young Muslim minds.
 Already the members of Hizb ut-Tahrir were active on British campuses, recruiting Muslims to their creed using threats of violence, forcing Muslim women to wear headscarves as a symbol of their fundamentalism. Shortly after the murder of Ayotunde Obanubi, Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned from universities by the National Union of Students, and Sheikh Bakri was urged to leave the group. Bakri took his more extremist followers with him and in 1996 they became Al Muhajiroun. In August 1996, Bakri told the Guardian that he intended to be active on campuses and in student societies, under different names. He said he would target the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham and boasted of having a presence at the School of African and Oriental Studies, University College London, and the London School of Economics
 In the same month, Al Muhajiroun announced its intentions to hold a Muslim "revival rally" in London. Among the invited guests was Osama bin Laden. A defender of this move was Iqbal Sacranie, who went on to become head of the Muslim Council of Britain and an adviser to Tony Blair. When Blair came to power in 1997 he did nothing to stem the open calls for jihad being made by Al Muhajiroun and others. Sacranie was knighted by Blair in June 2005, a month before the 7/7 attacks.
 Al Muhajiroun’s September 1996 "Rally for Revival" was cancelled. Bin Laden had been denied a visa in 1995, after Saudi businessman Khaled al-Fawwaz had urged him to seek asylum in Britain. Fawwaz had been in Britain since 1994, and with bin Laden had set up the Advice and Reformation Committee, an organization which aimed to overthrow the Saudi regime.
 On May 20, 1996, two people were convicted of the murder of student Ayotunde David Obanubi. One of these was 18-year old Umran Wali Qadir, who had been a minor aged 16 at the time of the killing. He had struck the Nigerian student’s head with a hammer. The other man to be convicted was 27-year old Saeed Mustapha Nur, who had stabbed Obanubi through the heart. Two others had been accused of the murder - 20-year-old Yusuf Sofu and 18-year old Kazi Nurur Rahman. Charges against these have been dropped.
At no stage during its existence was either Al-Muhajiroun or its founder Omar Bakri Mohammed charged or placed under bans, even when the group’s spokesman Hassan Butt was boasting of recruiting fighters to combat UK and US troops in Afghanistan in 2001-2002. In 2000, the group sent Omar Khyam, leader of the Crevice cell to Kashmir to become a jihadist. His family went to Pakistan to bring him back to his home in Crawley Sussex. At that time Al Muhajiroun had an office in Lahore, Punjab province. From here, Hassan Butt would relay messages of British Muslims killed fighting in Afghanistan.
 In October 2001, Hassan Butt revealed that four Britons who had gone to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban had been killed in a US airstrike on a house in Kabul. Among these was a man named Yasir Khan, aged 26, from Crawley, Sussex. His family refused to believe that he was a jihadist, preferring to maintain that he had been "delivering aid" of a humanitarian rather than jihadist nature. Al-Muhajiroun claimed that Yasir Khan’s family were "rejoicing in the fact he will be held up as a martyr to his Muslim brothers and sisters." When the Operation Crevice trial came to an end on Monday April 30 this year, it was revealed that Yasir Khan had been an associate of Omar Khyam, purported leader of the Crevice cell.
 In October 2001, Britain’s then Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said that British Muslims who fought abroad could be jailed upon their return. Under the terms of the Terrorism Act 2000, there is provision to prosecute people who commit crimes abroad. The Treason Act of 1351 could have been invoked. Even though hundreds of Muslims had gone to fight coalition forces, not a single person from this number has ever been prosecuted. Hoon’s stance was typical of the British authorities’ weak responses to the emergent radicalism and support for terror amongst the younger members of the Muslim community. Al Muhajiroun even openly threatened a "war with Britain" if any jihadist were to be prosecuted for treason.
 One follower of Omar Bakri Mohammed who avoided being convicted for his part in the Muslim gang which killed student Ayotunde Obanubi on February 27, 1995, was Kazi Nurur Rahman. He later became a plumber, living in Meanly Road, Manor Park in Newham, east London. In 2001 Rahman had given an interview to John Gilbert, a reporter for Independent Television News (ITN). In this interview, Rahman claimed to have recruited hundreds of British jihadists to fight with the Taliban. He said: "I can’t wait for the day I meet British soldiers on the battlefield to see them run. I am happy to kill them."
 In November 2005, Rahman was arrested as a result of a "sting" operation mounted by MI5. He was sent for trial on Monday December 5, 2005. He was accused of being in possession of three Uzi submachine guns, and 3,000 bullets.
Kazi Nurur Rahman was sent to trial on December 19, 2005, but when that date arrived, there was a news blackout. It was only on April 28 last week and the culmination of the Operation Crevice trial that reporting restrictions on Rahman’s trial were lifted. Rahman had been leader of a rival group to the Crawley-based plotters. MI5 and counter-terrorism police had shown an interest in Rahman two weeks after the 7/7 bombings.
 The trial of the Crevice members had heard evidence from US national and former Al Muhajiroun member Mohammed Junaid Babar. He had arrived from his American jail under escort to give evidence in March 2006. While in Britain, he also gave evidence at Kazi Nurur Rahman’s trial. He had told US investigators in 2003 that he had known Kazi Nurur Rahman by his code-name of "Abdul Haleem". Because of Rahman’s links with the Crevice members, even training at the same camps in Pakistan, his trial and May 2006 conviction had been kept secret.
 Rahman had first come into contact with an undercover MI5 agent called "Salim" on July 20, 2005. The meeting had concerned acquiring counterfeit banknotes, but Rahman had then told "Salim" that he wanted to buy a Kalashnikov rifle, guns and a silencer. There followed seven further meetings with undercover agents. On the second meeting, Rahman had asked for "hand grenades and rocket propelled grenades”, making hand gestures to describe the weapons. He spoke of two types of launchers. He said he would pay cash for the weapons and a provisional price of £1,000 ($1,987) per machine gun was agreed.
 Rahman wanted guns, but was also looking for Sam-7 missiles, a launcher and rocket-propelled grenades. He was told that the cost of the missiles and rocket-propelled grenades would amount to between £50,000 and £70,000 ($99,000 - $139,000). Rahman said of this sum, "no problem". He arranged to meet an agent called "Mohammed" who had earlier negotiated the weapons purchase. The two met at South Mimms service station on the M25 motorway on November 29, 2005. Rahman gave him the money, and they then drove to a cul-de-sac in Welham Green, Hertfordshire. Here they met another agent called "Iqbal", who took them to a van. Inside this vehicle was a suitcase, containing the 3 Uzi submachine guns, wrapped in plastic.
 According to prosecutor David Farrell QC, Rahman had then "got out of the van and told Iqbal to put the suitcase in the back of his vehicle and they would leave that location and find a better, safer place for the exchange. Iqbal refused to do this. Rahman also stated that he wanted to see the ammunition, which had not been brought to the location for safety reasons. Iqbal told him the ammunition was nearby. Rahman was unhappy and said it looked like a ’sting’. He returned to his vehicle and telephoned Mohamed. At this point armed officers intervened and Rahman was arrested."
 Upon being questioned by police, Rahman initially maintained that he himself had been an MI5 agent, recruited into the service ten years previously to "root out terrorist organizations". When police searched his home, they found a scanner which could pick up police radio messages, literature on guerilla warfare, and details of an electricity sub-station.
 Judge David Calvert-Smith said at the conclusion of Rahman’s trial in May 2006: "The weaponry you were hoping to buy on the day of your arrest is dreadful and dangerous and capable of discharging 650 rounds per minute, and therefore killing or wounding a very large number of people in a very short time. Your intention was they should be used or sold in this country for terrorist purposes. You were clearly in a position to raise £7,500 but also to indicate that it might have been possible to raise £65,000 on a future occasion to buy even more dangerous weaponry used for bringing down aircraft. What was intended was to cause the deaths of a large number of citizens of this country."
 Rahman pleaded guilty to charges under section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2000, and Judge Calvert-Smith sentenced him to nine years imprisonment.
 Since 1995, some of Omar Bakri’s followers had literally been allowed to get away with murder. The knowledge that not one but two of the 7/7 bombers were previously known to MI5, and news of Rahman’s conviction for attempting to procure weaponry for terrorist purposes, were not the only facts to be publicly revealed at the conclusion of the Operation Crevice trial. What has become clear from this information are the interconnected links between Al Qaeda terrorists, Muslim activists and "rights" campaigners, and the main radical preachers in Britain. Despite these fundamentalists’ blatant links with terrorism, the British establishment’s political will to suppress the radical Islamists in their midst has been, at best, shallow and half-hearted.

To be continued in part two >>>

Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who regularly contributes in Family Security Matters. His essays also appear in Western Resistance, Spero News and He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.

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