Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

How Britain Encouraged Radicalism and Terrorism, Part 3

<<<< Part 2 here


By the time the invasion of Iraq took place on March 19, 2003, Al Muhajiroun (the "emigrants") had acted with apparent impunity for so long, Omar Bakri Mohammed and his followers believed they were invincible. The FBI observed that the UK authorities had only become interested in Bakri when in 1991, during the Gulf War, he had issued a fatwa against John Major, the UK prime minister.
 For this fatwa, in which he claimed Major was a "legitimate target for assassination, Bakri was apprehended by police and questioned for 20 hours, but no charges were issued. If UK authorities had been vigilant, they would have taken an interest when Bakri founded UK Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1986. International Hizb aspired to destroy democracies and institute a totalitarian Islamist state.
 Despite this fatwa, in 1993 Bakri was allowed to become a permanent resident in Britain, though citizenship was never granted to him. Bakri and his followers make frequent reference to a "Covenant of Security" which was considered to be a truce. In August 1998 Bakri said: "I work here in accordance with the covenant of peace which I made with the British government when I got [political] asylum… We respect the terms of this bond as Allah orders us to do." In May 1999 he claimed: "I think now we have something called public immunity."
 In November 1997, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt blamed Britain for harboring terrorists on its soil, including those responsible for the Luxor massacre of November 17, which killed 58 tourists. Bakri and Al Muhajiroun responded by promptly holding a kangaroo court at his British Sharia Court. Bakri sentenced Mubarak to death, producing another fatwa, which stated: "As far as Islam is concerned, he [Mubarak] is now a legitimate target. If a Muslim kills Mubarak tomorrow he is performing a legitimate act because he is responding to the court’s verdict."
 One associate of Bakri was British lawyer Makbool Javaid, who was chair of the Muslim Lawyers Association. When a documentary on Bakri called "Tottenham Ayatollah" was screened on Channel 4 on Tuesday April 8, 1997, Javaid tried to prevent its broadcast. He was quoted in the April 10 edition of Asian Times saying: "The general thrust of the program was the demonization of Omar Bakri, and not the representation of his Islamic principles and ideology, as he was led to believe."
 In February 1998, Bakri and his "UK Sharia Court" issued another fatwa against the US and Britain: "The Fatwa is jihad against the U.S. and British government, armies, interest, airports, and instructions and it has been given because of the U.S. and British aggression against Muslims and the Muslim land of Iraq... we... confirm that the only Islamic Fatwa against this explicit aggression is Jihad. The fatwa urged the US to "stay away" from all Muslim countries, and claimed it was the responsibility of "Muslims around the world including Muslims in the USA and in Britain to confront by all means whether verbally, financially, politically or militarily the U.S. and British aggression and do their Islamic duty in relieving the Iraqi people from unjust sanctions."
 The fatwa can be found in full here. The second name on the list of signatories on the fatwa was Makbool Javaid (pictured). Despite Javaid’s obvious contempt for Britain, later that year Jack Straw of the Blair government appointed him to a senior position on the newly-formed Race Relations Forum (RFF). Not surprisingly, Javaid’s website makes no mention of his earlier open support for terrorism.
 Before Javaid’s official appointment, he threatened to sue some of the UK’s leading newspapers for exposing his part in the fatwa and suggesting he supported Osama bin Laden. The Sunday Mirror of August 23, 1998 had stated: "Home Secretary Jack Straw appointed a supporter of Muslim fanatic Osama bin Laden to a top race relations post in Britain. Makbool Javaid was selected by him to sit on the Race Relations Forum - a group set up to give minorities a voice at the heart of government."
 The Jewish Board of Deputies had written to Jack Straw, MP for Blackburn and then Home Secretary, suggesting it was inappropriate for someone sharing Al Muhajiroun’s beliefs to be appointed to the RRF position. In the Times of October 20, 1998, Makbool Javaid stated: "I knew al-Muhajiroun as an organization involved in a wide range of educational and social activities consistent with the promotion of Islam. I have never supported any form of violence, let alone terrorism." Even though the post at RFF was designed to allow unelected minorities to influence government, Javaid said: "It’s rich of the Board, which is not even accepted as a representative of the Jewish Community, telling an elected government how to conduct its business and dictating which voices from other communities are acceptable."
 Al Muhajiroun’s anti-Semitism was well known by that time. At Ealing Town Hall, west London, in October 1997 the group had carried banners stating "The hour will never come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them," and "What Holocaust?"
 Home Secretary Jack Straw, who appointed the al-Muhajiroun supporter Makbool Javaid to the RFF, typified the weak approach to extremism which had been shown by Blair’s Labour government since it became elected in 1997. Straw’s own constituency has a high population of Muslims. These showed their intransigence when Condoleeza Rice had the misfortune to visit Blackburn on March 31, 2006.
 Jack Straw never wanted to be seen to "offend" Muslims, so during his tenure as Home Secretary from May 2, 1997 to June 8, 2001, no moves were ever made to make Al Muhajiroun illegal. It is a matter of irony that despite his appeasement to Islamism, on October 5, 2006 Straw would initiate a national argument about Muslim face-veils.
 Jack Straw and Tony Blair pressed for the introduction of Britain’s Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporated the 1950 European Convention of Human Rights into British law. As a result, no foreign terrorists living in Britain can be deported to their homelands, unless these countries have exemplary human rights records. Even when homelands of terrorists such as Abu Qatada (Jordan) or al-Muhajiroun associate Yasser al-Siri (Egypt) have signed "memoranda of understanding", promising humane treatment, deportations do not happen. Because of this law, Afghan terrorists have been granted leave to stay indefinitely.
 In November 1997, 250 Muslim groups and mosques joined to form the Muslim Council of Britain, which held its inaugural meeting on March 1, 1998. As I have shown on FSM, this group, which now represents 450 bodies, was headed by supporters of extremism. The Blair government relied upon this group to influence its policies, even allowing it to influence law making. Traditionally the Labour party has automatically relied upon the support of the "ethnic" vote in Britain’s inner cities. Under Tony Blair, the religion of Islam became a new "ethnicity" to court and patronize.
 Al Muhajiroun was involved in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, that happened on April 30, 2003. Mike’s Place is a popular bar on the sea front, adjacent to the US Embassy. Two British Muslims walked to the bar, with suicide-belts attached to their waists. 27-year old Omar Khan Sharif from Derby (right in picture) failed to detonate his explosives and fled the scene. His rotting body was found floating in the sea 12 days later. His companion, 21-year old Asif Mohammed Hanif from Hounslow, west London, succeeded in blowing himself up. He killed three people and injured more than 50 others.
 As was the case later with the 7/7 bombers, the two killers were described by Muslim neighbors as "polite" and "caring". As a child, Sharif had opened gates for neighbors. In Hounslow, the overweight Hanif was nicknamed "huggy bear" and "teddy bear". The reality was different. Emails sent by Sharif to his sister Parveen, asking her to look after his children, showed his intent to die. Hanif, who "loved cricket" had traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to immerse himself in Islamism.
 Omar Bakri Mohammed regularly visited Derby, where Sharif had lived, and Al Muhajiroun and Hizb ut Tahrir were active in the town. Al Muhajiroun claimed that Asif Hanif was "one of their own". Hanif had been seen at Al Muhajiroun’s office, and also the radical Finsbury Park mosque. Omar Bakri Mohammed said that Hanif had attended a course at his Sharia Law School. Claudio Franco of ISN Security Watch saw Hanif at Al Muhajiroun’s Torttenham office on 20 March 2003, the day after the US and Britain invaded Iraq. Hanif was annoyed that French ricin plotters (Menad Benchelalli and associates) had not carried out their intended mass-poisonings. Hanif said: "The real problem with the ricin found in Paris was that it had never been used. They were caught.." Hanif was no "teddy bear". The theory that Al Muhajiroun had arranged the link-up between two British Muslims and the Palestinian terrorists who primed them to be suicide bombers has wide currency, but lacks the "smoking gun".
 After the revelations of April 30, 2007 at the Operation Crevice trial, only the most hardened cynic would doubt that Al Muhajiroun urged and assisted its members to acts of terror. It was directly involved in the pipeline that led Muslims from Britain to the Al Muhajiroun office in Lahore, and then on FATA agencies of Pakistan, to become Taliban fighters, Al Qaeda associates and suicide bombers.
One Al Muhajiroun member who had been sent along this pipeline was Zeeshan Siddiqui (Siddique), of Hounslow, west London (pictured). Siddique was said to be "best friends" with Asif Hanif. Siddique had been arrested by Pakistani security agents near Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province, on May 15, 2005. He originally claimed that he was a Pakistani called Shehzad, from Hyderabad. He soon admitted he was a UK national, and said he was "suspected of involvement in a failed plot to bomb pubs, restaurants and rail stations in London" (Operation Crevice). He blamed Omar Khyam and Mohammed Junaid Babar for falsely implicating him in the Crevice bombing plot. Pakistani authorities were convinced Siddiqui had met Hadi al-Iraqi in Shakai, in the border agency of South Waziristan. This man is almost certainly the Al Qaeda member Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi. The US had a $1 million reward for information on him. He is now in Guantanamo.
 Abu Munthir was a contact for the Crevice plotters, who lived in Luton and Pakistan. He had told Omar Khyam to carry out "multiple bombings", either "simultaneously or one after the other on the same day". Munthir had been arrested in Pakistan in late 2004. A letter found with Siddiqui referred to this arrest: "The brother he went with appears to have been arrested and we suggest that you cut off all contacts". Investigators found a diary in Zeeshan Siddique’s possession, and also a CD containing "circuit works, aeronautical mapping and digital simulation".
 The UK authorities were pressing for Zeeshan Siddique, who had worked on London’s Underground, to be deported and three times he was interrogated by Pakistani and UK agents. Held in Peshawar Central Jail on charges of document forgery and overstaying his visa, Siddique wrote a letter to the UK Daily Telegraph on October 5, 2005, claiming his innocence. He denied meeting 7/7 bomber Shehzad Tanweer, and claimed the 35-page diary was a "fake and a fabrication".
 Siddique returned to Britain on January 8, 2006. In May he was living in Heston, near Hounslow in west London. Junaid Babar claimed at the Crevice trial that Zeeshan Siddique, whose code-name was "Immi" or "Imran" had been asked to be a suicide bomber to operate in London, exploiting his knowledge of the London Underground. Siddique refused, and now his whereabouts are "not known".
 Al Muhajiroun’s links to terrorism were shared by Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical preacher at Finsbury Park Mosque. Before Junaid Babar returned to the US, where he was arrested, he went to London. Here, in February 2004, he met two people - Mohammed Momin Khawaja and Haroon Rashid Aswat. Khawaja was said, during the Crevice trial to be supplying remote controlled detonators for the group’s bombs. He would be arrested on March 29 in Canada, a day before the other Crevice suspects. Khawaja is still awaiting trial for two counts under Sections 83:18 and 83:19 of Canada’s Criminal Code.
 Haroon Rashid Aswat (pictured) from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire (home of Mohammed Siddique Khan, leader of the 7/7 cell), was originally suspected of ordering the 7/7 bombings. After the bomb attacks of July 7, 2005, he fled Britain, and was arrested in Lusaka in Zambia on July 20, 2005. It is now believed that Aswat made 20 phone calls to members of the 7/7 bombing team before the attacks, including calls to his friend Mohammed Sidique Khan.
 US officials and MI6 agents argued about which country he should be taken to. Aswat was eventually taken to Britain, and he remains in custody. The US had issued an extradition warrant against him, and also Abu Hamza in 2004, for a plan to establish a terrorist training camp in the United States, at Dog Cry Ranch in Bly, Oregon, 50 miles east of Klamath Falls.
 In 1999, Aswat, Abu Hamza and a Lebanese-born Swede named Oussama Kassir had visited Bly, ostensibly to survey the viability of the 158-acre ranch. Their co-conspirator was an American convert from Seattle called James Ujaama (pictured), formerly called James Earnest Thompson.
 Ujaama was arrested in Denver in July 2002. Documents on poisoning water supplies were found at his residence. He was indicted in September, 2002 on terrorism charges. The original indictment maintained that no later than the fall of 1999, he knowingly conspired to provide support to Al Qaeda. Ujaama, who used the aliases Bilal Ahmed, Abu Samayya and Abdul Qaadir, pleaded guilty to the charges on April 14, 2003. He was sentenced to two years’ jail. In December 2006, Ujaama was arrested in Belize, Central America, for parole violation. He had entered the former British colony on a fake Mexican passport.
Ujaama had stayed at Abu Hamza’s Finsbury Park Mosque (pictured) in north London on a British visit in 1999. His links with Hamza were first discovered by Glen Jenvey of the independent surveillance group VIGIL, when he appeared in a video. Ujaama was sitting next to Hamza and bragging about his jihad experiences in Afghanistan.
 Though Haroon Rashid Aswat’s involvement with Operation Crevice (the largest ever MI5/police operation) members may have delayed his trial in Britain, he remains in custody. His trial, when it comes, should cast further light on Britain’s "culture of terrorism". Though British news on Aswat is vague, on account of his links to the Crevice cell, there are some curious anomalies. A reputable South African newspaper - the Mail & Guardian - confidently claimed on July 21, 2005 that Aswat had been arrested in Lahore, Pakistan (rather than in Zambia), carrying an explosive belt. Former US prosecutor John Loftus has claimed that Aswat was an MI6 "double agent", though this is unverifiable.
 What is known is that Aswat had strong links to Abu Hamza. Hamza’s Islamists, known as the "Supporters of Shariah" shared many common interests with Bakri’s Al Muhajiroun. It is tempting to think that there are sound reasons - upcoming trials or issues of national security - which have meant that so many questions remain about why radicals were allowed to operate for so long with impunity in Britain.
 Unfortunately, political apathy and unwillingness to be seen to be discriminating against "Muslims" seem to have played a part. Recently, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya TV stated of Britain’s predicament: "After all, pursuing extremist Muslims today is better than pursuing all Muslims tomorrow." In 2004 Dr Mohammed Naseem, the chairman of Birmingham’s Central Mosque, said of Al Muhajiroun: "Its leaders continue to preach and incite terrorism and yet the Government does nothing about it. These people should be removed from the country."
 Operation Crevice suggests that MI5 knew far more than it had publicly let on, but even if there was solid intelligence, it was not used wisely. On July 6, 2005, less than 24 hours before the 7/7 attacks upon London Transport, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, then the head of MI5, told members of Tony Blair’s party that there was "no imminent terrorist threat” to London or the rest of the country.

To be continued in part 4 >>>

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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