Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Hizb ut-Tahrir: Banned Elsewhere But Not in the US. Why?



 Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation) is banned in virtually all Arab nations in the Middle East, such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. It is banned in Tunisia and Libya, and also Turkey. It is regarded as such a threat that it is even banned in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which are already cauldrons of extremism. It is banned in all the former Soviet states in Central Asia, and since February 2003 it has been banned in Russia. It has been banned in Germany - on account of its anti-Semitism and its desire to use force for political ends - since March 2003, and it is also banned in the Netherlands. Yet in Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, the group remains free to operate.   In Britain in August 2005, then-prime minister Tony Blair announced his intentions to ban the group. Hizb's reaction was to conjure up a veiled threat - a vision of angry young Muslims instigating riots across Britain should the group be proscribed. Blair's extremist advisers from the Muslim Council of Britain opposed the ban and said they would only accept it if the right-wing BNP party (British National Party) were also banned.   Blair quietly allowed the notion of banning the group disappear from his agenda. His unelected successor, Gordon Brown, was questioned in parliament on July 4, 2007, about the Labour Party's failure to ban the group in Britain. Brown prevaricated, saying that "more evidence" was needed. He then said: "We can ban it under the Prevention of Terrorism Act [2006], and, of course, of course - I think the leader of the opposition forgets I've been at this job for five days." Brown had been prime minister for seven days, but had been in the upper echelons of Blair's government for ten years.   In August 2005, after Blair brought up the issue of a British ban, Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock ordered an investigation into the group by the national intelligence service, ASIO. Wassim Doureihi, spokesman for the Sydney branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), agreed to cooperate with any ASIO investigation. Eventually, Ruddock decided against banning the group.   What has happened in Britain and Australia is that politicians and legislators have looked at the surface and not the substance of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and have decided that it is not a threat. The group has numerous front groups, which dissolve and rename themselves. It has numerous websites, where extremist documents appear, only to be removed when attention is drawn to them. In recent years, Hizb members have presented themselves publicly as articulate and even moderate. In Britain, where the group has a strong base, its spokespeople dress smartly in suits and ties. It produces a glossy journal, called New Civilization, which also appears online. Though this discusses the Caliphate, it downplays the group's support for revolution and violence.   Publicly, HT claims to be against terrorism and violence. In practice, HT has been increasingly involved with incidents of terrorism in the former Soviet nations. Lebanese members of the group have been implicated in failed bomb attacks upon two trains in Germany last year. HT openly seeks the destruction of democracies and the establishment of an Islamic super-state. It also publicly supports terrorism against Israel.   Behind its public proclamations, it has produced virulent anti-Semitic documents, such as the following from 1999, which was subsequently pulled from one of its websites: "In origin, no one likes the Jews except the Jews. Even they themselves rarely like each other. He (swt) said: 'You would think they were united, but their hearts are divided' [Koran 59:14] The American people do not like the Jews nor do the Europeans, because the Jews by their very nature do not like anyone else. Rather they look at other people as wild animals which have to be tamed to serve them. So, how can we imagine it being possible for any Arab or Muslim to like the Jews whose character is such?"   The group maintains that it is non-violent, but on February 23, 1995, British members of Hizb ut-Tahrir brutally murdered Ayotunde Obanubi. This African student was attacked on the steps of his college in east London for "insulting Islam". Since 1995, the group has been banned from student campuses in the UK because of its violent campaigns of intimidation against women who do not wear the hijab, the Islamic headscarf. Throughout the 1990s, members of HT made death threats to Peter Tatchell, a UK homosexual activist. When one British HT member, Shiraz Maher, left the group he endured a campaign of vilification, with his parents' home address published on internet chat rooms, and individuals impersonating him on blog sites, misrepresenting his opinions.   A 186-point draft "constitution" which appeared on a Hizb website claimed in its Article 7, clause c that "Those who are guilty of apostasy (murtadd) from Islam are to be executed according to the rule of apostasy, provided they have by themselves renounced Islam." This constitution similarly "disappeared" when it drew negative attention.


In Australia in January this year, the question of banning HT came up again. Morris Iemma, state premier of New South Wales, was concerned about the leader of Indonesian Hizb ut-Tahrir who had been allowed into the country. Mohammed Ismail Yusanto attended an HT conference in Canterbury Road, Lakemba, Sydney on January 28. At this meeting he had urged 500 HT followers to "Call for all military-aged Muslims to obtain military training and prepare for Jihad. There is no victory and glory without hard work and sacrifice - no pain, no gain." A Palestinian HT leader, Issam Amera, told the Sydney conference: "If two people are united and a third person comes along and tries to incite disunity... kill him."   Originally, the conference was scheduled to be held at the Town Hall in Bankstown, a suburb of Sydney. Tanya Mihailuk, the mayor of Bankstown, had banned the group's use of the public building. She said: "The promotional material was shocking. It showed daggers with blood put through the state of Israel. It would have certainly breached our conditions of hire in that it would incite racial vilification and violence." In April 2006 HT members protested outside Bankstown Town Hall, voicing contempt for democracy, secularism, and Australia.   Ruddock claimed this January that Australia had no evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir supported terrorism, but suggested that if Iemma wanted to ban HT at a state level, he could. Even Prime Minister John Howard argued that "If they break the present anti-terrorist laws or indeed any other laws then they will be dealt with, but until there is sufficient evidence of that made available to the attorney-general, we can't, or shouldn't, act."   In Indonesia, Ismail Yusanto has 100,000 followers in all 33 provinces, and campaigns for sharia law and abolishment of the country's secular-pluralist "Pancasila" constitution. Hizb ut-Tahrir is also involved in violent campaigns to close down churches within Indonesia. Despite this, Yusanto was invited as a guest speaker at an Australian federal conference on national security. This meeting was sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was held in the capital, Canberra, in August 2004. Yusanto is said to be a frequent guest at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.

 Hizb ut-Tahrir has been increasing its influence around the globe. Around the time of 9/11 it was known to have footholds in 40 countries. It is now estimated to be flourishing in 45 countries around the globe. HT, which does not recognize countries as such, calls these national branches "vilayas", or "provinces" - an allusion to the future global Caliphate. Even though HT despises democracy and elections within nations, it allows its vilayas to elect their leaders and executive committees.


There is one central leadership of global Hizb ut-Tahrir, called a Qiyada. The head of this central committee is called an "emir" and his tenure exists until his death. There have been three such emirs since the party was founded in 1953. Though the group has become more open about its structure and membership in recent years, sources for its funding remain a mystery. The other parts of this article will examine the various Hizb ut-Tahrir "vilayas" and local groups, their methodology and activities, as well as their growing influence in the United States. Before this, any understanding of the group's motives needs to take into consideration the circumstances that led to its creation.

Origins: The founder of HT was Mohammed Tagiuddin al-Nabhani (1909 - 1977). He was born in a village near Haifa to a family with a history of Islamic scholarship. His family ancestors had a long history in this region. His maternal grandfather Yusuf an-Nabhani (1849 - 1932) was a poet and had served as an Islamic judge under the Ottoman Caliphate. Through the teachings of this man, and also his mother, Taqiuddin al-Nabhani became immersed in the intricacies of Islamic jurisprudence. By the age of 12, states HT, Taqiuddin was able to memorize the entire Koran.   On March 3, 1924, the Ottoman Caliphate was officially abolished by the National Assembly of the newly-formed state of Turkey, founded by the secularist Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. This event would have horrified Taqiuddin, his mother and grandfather. The re-establishment of a Caliphate - a universal Islamic super-state - would become one of his main goals. It would also become the main plank of HT's beliefs. The dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate would also inspire Hassan al-Banna to found the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) in Egypt in 1928.   It is not surprising that two individuals who were to become Taqiuddin al-Nabhani's close associates and mentors would themselves become senior figures in the Muslim Brotherhood hierarchy. One of these, according to Michael. R. Fischbach in the Encyclopedia of the Palestinians, was Haj Amin al-Husseini (1895 - 1974). During the British Mandate, which lasted from 1918 to May 1948, Husseini had been chosen to represent the Palestinians. The British appointed him the "Mufti of Jerusalem" in 1921. Husseini organized deadly attacks against the Jews in the region, and also protests against the British. Husseini was sacked from his post in 1936, but after fleeing the Mandate territories in 1937, he went on to become a guest of Adolph Hitler in 1941. He also established the Handschar, a Muslim division of the Waffen SS in Bosnia. Husseini collaborated with the Nazi slaughter of Jews. Though prevented from returning to Jerusalem, Husseini was named a local leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1940s.   The other influential figure associated with the young Taqiuddin al-Nabhani was an immigrant from Syria called Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (1882 - 1935). Qassam had fought the French in 1921, and had been forced to flee from his native Syria to Haifa. From this time onward, Qassam was involved in al-Hussaini's demonstrations and attacks against Jews. In 1930 Qassam organized cells of Jihadists to attack Jews and also the British and their interests. For this, he would be hunted down by the British and shot on November 19, 1935. By this time Qassam was a prominent figure in the emerging Muslim Brotherhood movement. His name survives in the name given by the terror group Hamas (founded by Muslim Brotherhood members) to their military wing - the Izzedine Al Qassam Brigades. Qassam's name was also given to the Qassam rocket. Taqiuddin al-Nabhani had been an associate of Qassam during his teens and also after he graduated from his studies.   Taqiuddin al-Nabhani's career as a practitioner of Islamic jurisprudence began after he had attended Al Azhar University and also the Dar al-Ulum (house of knowledge), both based in Cairo, Egypt. According to Fishbach, it was during his time studying in Egypt that al-Nabhani joined the Muslim Brotherhood. He was a teacher in Palestine from 1932 until 1938 but objected to Western-based academic practices. He applied to the Palestine High Court which employed him in Bisan, Tiberias and then Haifa. He became a legal assessor until 1945, and at the time he founded his "party of liberation" he was an appeals court judge in the Sharia court in Jerusalem.   Al-Nabhani became involved in a plot master-minded by Colonel Abdullah al-Tall. Tall was a notorious anti-Semite. Al-Tall, author of The Dangers of World Jewry bemoaned the death of Husseini's associate Eichmann as a "Martyr" in a “Holy War”. Colonel al-Tall was Jordan's military governor in Jerusalem and King Abdullah's negotiator with the Jews when the state of Israel was being formed and the Arab-Israeli conflict took place. Originally both Palestine and Transjordan had been ruled under British mandate but the UN establishment of Israel was exploited by Jordan's Hashemite king, Abdullah I. His kingdom had been formed on May 25, 1946, before Palestine was free from the UK mandate. From May 1948, King Abdullah's forces had occupied Jerusalem.   Israel signed an armistice with Jordan on April 3, 1949. Defying UN protocols, King Abdullah had wanted to annex Central Palestine (the West Bank). His government had passed a resolution to this effect on April 25, 1950. On July 20, 1951, King Abdullah was shot dead at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as he arrived for Friday prayers. Colonel Abdullah al-Tall was one of six people found guilty of plotting the assassination, but he had fled to the sanctuary of Egypt. He was sentenced to death in absentia. Hizb ut-Tahrir admits al-Nabhani's involvement in the coup, but in its official biography gives no specific details.   Al-Nabhani published the first of his 19 books in January 1950. This was a work entitled "Saving Palestine". Al-Nabhani became distrustful of the Arab League (formed in 1945) after August 1950, when it had ignored a communication he had sent, urging the League to focus on uniting along religious lines. He seriously set himself the goal of establishing a political party. He founded Hizb ut-Tahrir with others between November 1952 and early 1953 at Jerusalem. The Jordanian government almost immediately declared the party illegal.   According to Michael. R. Fischbach, al-Nabhani's establishment of Hizb ut-Tahrir came at the same time as his official break from the Muslim Brotherhood. He had become disillusioned with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) because of its close links with the Jordanian establishment. Jordan has never sought to outlaw the MB, where it operates under the name Islamic Action Front. The MB had sent numerous fighters against Israel and had initially colluded with the "Free Officer's" coup in Egypt, which took place on July 23, 1952. This brought Nasser to power, but the Arabist dictator did not reward the MB with political influence, as he had promised. By the time Hizb ut-Tahrir was established, al-Nabhani was doubting the authenticity of the MB's interpretation of Islam.   Al-Nabhani formed Hizb ut-Tahrir with the intention of "liberating" Palestine and also liberating Jordan from the Hashemite dynasty, which had been put in place by the British. The ultimate goal of Hizb ut-Tahrir was to establish a pan-Islamist Caliphate in the Muslim world, leading eventually to a global Islamic rule.   Even though the MB has recently been courting the Shia of Hizbollah and Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood had traditionally been a Sunni institution. For al-Nabhani, his notion of a Caliphate would not be one riven along sectarian lines but would operate along the lines of the jurisprudence practiced by his grandfather under the Ottoman Caliphate. When Taqiuddin al-Nabhan had practiced Islamic law in the West Bank, the system which had applied under Ottoman rule was still being enforced.    In his book The Islamic State, written in 1953, al-Nabhani discussed the importance of ignoring national boundaries that separated Muslim countries. He argued, much as MB now follows the precepts laid out in "The Project" document, that Muslims in non-Muslim countries should erode those nations from within. He wrote that Muslims in non-Muslim lands "should work towards turning their land where Islam is not implemented, and which is [thus] considered as Dar al-Kufr, into Dar al-Islam... It is therefore the duty of every Muslim to work from this moment on in order to establish [a] greater Islamic State [that] would convey the message of Islam to the world. One's work should start by carrying the Islamic da'wah (invitation to become Muslim) with the aim of resuming the Islamic way of life in all the Muslim countries; concentrating one's practical scope in one country or some selected [others] in order to achieve the point of support so that this serious task can be resumed."


In the 1950s, Hizb ut-Tahrir spread through the Levant and into Saudi Arabia, and during the 1960s it spread to the nations of North Africa and Turkey, followed thereafter by other Muslim countries. Taqiuddin al-Nabhani was the first emir of HT. In 1955 he left Jordan, where he had been living, to travel to Damascus and Beirut. He was banned from returning, and lived in Syria and then Lebanon. He traveled to Iraq in 1973, and was imprisoned and tortured. Hizb ut-Tahrir claims that al-Nabhani had been wrongly identified as a "scribe" of HT, rather than its leader. He died in Beirut on December 20, 1977.


 His successor as emir was Abd al-Qadim Zallum (Abdul Kaddim Zalloum) a Palestinian graduate of Al-Azhar University. When Zallum died, the Jordanian HT spokesman took his place. The new emir was installed on April 13, 2003. His name is Ata Abu Rashta (full name Abu Yasin Ata ibn Khalil Abu Rashta), a scholar who was born in Hebron in 1943. Extremely little is known of this individual, including his current whereabouts. In February 1997 he was imprisoned for three years for treason, following an interview he had given to al-Hiwar newspaper in 1995. Rashta publishes texts which are distributed on HT's numerous websites, and tape recordings of his speeches are played at the start of meetings.


Part II : Acts of Violence

On Monday, July 31, 2006, two bombs were discovered on German trains. Both had been found hidden inside suitcases while the trains were moving. The first bomb was found in a train approaching Dortmund station, and the other was on a train bound for Koblenz. The bombs were of a similar design, containing canisters of propane gas, wires, and a timer. The devices were both dismantled on the platforms of the stations when the trains arrived. Federal prosecutors claimed that the devices, had they gone off, would have had the power to maim and kill. It was later revealed that both bombs contained packaging from Lebanon.  On August 19th, Youssef Mohammed al-Hajdib, a 21-year-old Lebanese Muslim student, was arrested at Kiel railway station. He was charged with "attempted murder, belonging to a terrorist organization and attempting to cause an explosion." He had been identified from closed circuit TV images, and another man shown accompanying him was being sought. On August 25th the second man – a Syrian called Fadi Al-Saleh – was apprehended. By this time, two individuals had been arrested in Lebanon.  One of the suspects in custody in Lebanon, who went under the code name "Hamza," was found to be a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir. He had apparently been involved in smuggling Kurds into Lebanon via Syria. Only a few months earlier, the Lebanese Interior Ministry had granted HT permission to operate, the first time since the group had been outlawed in 1953. Hizb ut-Tahrir later denied connections with any of the suspects.  In April this year, four suspects stood trial in Lebanon for their involvement in the German bomb plots. Youssef Mohammed el Hajdib and his brother Saddam were placed on trial in absentia. The trial suffered adjournments. In May these were connected with an uprising at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Tripoli in the north of the country. The uprising was led by Fatah al-Islam and has continued since. On September 2nd, the fighting appeared to be over. Saddam el Hajdib, who was fourth in command of Fatah al-Islam, was killed in this conflict in May.  This is certainly not the first instance where a Western European terror plot has involved a suspect who belonged to Hizb ut-Tahrir. It is a set pattern for HT to deny any involvement with its members who commit terrorist acts. On April 30, 2003, two British nationals tried to enter Mike's Place on the Tel Aviv seafront. Both wore explosive belts. One individual, Asif Hanif from Hounslow, succeeded in blowing himself up. He killed three people and injured 65 others. His companion, Omar Sharif from Derby, could not detonate his belt and fled. His rotting body was found floating in the sea 12 days later. Both individuals were associated with the radical group Al Muhajiroun, which evolved from Hizb ut-Tahrir U.K. Omar Sharif had initially become radicalized by HT at university, and was receiving e-mails from the group up until the time he tried to blow himself up. Hizb ut-Tahrir, of course, claims it had nothing to do with his radicalism.  The break-up of the former Soviet Union has created states in Central Asia which since the mid-1990s have become vulnerable to the advances of Hizb ut-Tahrir and its militant "liberation theology." The Central Asian states lie in a "buffer zone" between Russia, Afghanistan and China and already have extremist terror groups, such as the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and its parent group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The Islamic Jihad Union is linked with the recent plot in Germany to blow up Frankfurt airport and an airbase in Ramstein used by U.S. military. The IMU, founded in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 1998, aims to set up an Islamist super-state comprising Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkemenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and also China's Xinjiang province. This proposed super-state is sometimes called "Turkestan". Both IJU and IMU have strong al Qaeda links.  Hizb ut-Tahrir has already gained a foothold in most the regions that the IMU seeks to conquer, including Xinjiang province. Only the repressive nation of Turkmenistan appears not to have been fully infiltrated by the group. According to the South Asia Analysis Group, the first HT missionaries in Central Asia were British-Pakistani members of the group, who arrived in Uzbekistan in 1995. The arrival of these Pakistani-origin members happened five years before HT started operating in Pakistan.  In February 2007, a Uighir separatist called Tursun Talip, who came originally from China's Xinjiang province, was arrested in southern Kyrgyzstan. A source claimed: "The Chinese citizen came to southern Kyrgyzstan in order to form a clandestine religious extremist organization. Talip planned to perpetrate terrorist acts and other actions targeted for socio-political destabilization with the assistance of the [Uighir separatist] group, which would unite members of outlawed radical groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Turkestan Islamic Party." At a terrorist trial involving 15 individuals in Uzbekistan in July 2004, the defendants pleaded guilty at the start of the trial. They also confessed to belonging to the IMU and Hizb ut-Tahrir. One defendant, 22-year-old Farkhod Kazakbayev, spoke of an Uzbek group called "Zhamoat" or "Society," which had both al Qaeda and HT links. IMU and HT have a shared aim, though the professed methods of achieving that aim differ. In some cases, there has been a crossover of membership, but here I must add a caveat.  Crackdowns against Hizb ut-Tahrir in Central Asian states have sometimes been violent and indiscriminate in their targets, particularly in Uzbekistan under the authoritarian leadership of Islam Karimov. Currently hundreds of Hizb ut-Tahrir members are in jail in Uzbekistan, mostly guilty of nothing more than not following state-approved religion. The fate of Muslims who do not follow accepted doctrine can be horrific. In August 2002 the bodies of two such Muslims who had died in prison were returned to their families. An examination of Mazafar Avazov's body showed he had effectively been boiled to death. On May 13, 2005, Muslims protesting peacefully in the Uzbek city of Andijan were massacred by troops. Hundreds died. The authorities blamed Hizb ut-Tahrir for violent incidents preceding the protests.


 Tajikistan adjoins Afghanistan's northern border, and it has a growing number of HT members. The group was banned in 2001. During 2005, 99 Hizb ut-Tahrir members were arrested in Tajikistan, including 16 women. By January 2006, 40% of those arrested had been convicted, receiving jail terms of up to 12 years. According to prosecutor-general Abdasami Dadoboyev, during 2004 there had been 38 trials, in which 97 people had been sentenced. In 2003, 34 Hizb ut-Tahrir members were jailed in Tajikistan, rising to 70 in 2004. In September 2004, nine received sentences of 13 to 15 years' jail for crimes of organizing a criminal group, inciting national, racial, religious and ethnic strife. In May last year, 10 members of HT were sentenced to jail terms of 9 to 16 years for inciting social discord, and calling for the overthrow of the government.  In October 2006 Tajikistan's deputy interior minister Abdurahim Kakharov told a news conference: "For some time we have seen an intensification of operations by Hizb ut-Tahrir and IMU in Tajikistan... Hizb ut-Tahrir is not giving up its objective – the formation of an Islamic Caliphate in Central Asia through overthrowing the constitutional regimes in these countries." Mahmadsaid Jurakulov, head of the Department for Resisting Organized Crime, added: "We have detained several members of IMU who also belonged to Hizb ut-Tahrir. The movements have similar goals and the propaganda efforts of one are backed by the military support and arms of the other."


 One individual who appeared to support Hizb ut-Tahrir and who seems to have been involved in terrorist activities was a mosque leader at Kara-Suu in Kyrgystan. This individual, Muhammadrafiq Kamalov, aka Rafiq Qori Kamoluddin, was imam of the Al-Sarahsiy Mosque. Kara-Suu lies on the border with Uzbekistan and was the first Kyrgyz location targeted by HT. It also saw an Islamist uprising in March 2002. Kara-Suu is split in half, with one side in Uzbek territory. In May 2005, an Islamist uprising took place on the Uzbek side.  Though he denied being a member of HT, Kamoluddin said he welcomed HT members at his mosque on the condition that they did not hand out leaflets. He had been arrested in May 2006 and questioned in connection with a raid upon border stations on May 12th. Kamoluddin's name and phone number had been found among the possessions of four militants killed in the raids. The frontier post of Tajikistan at Lakkon and the customs post of Kyrgyzstan had been the subject of the May 12th attacks, and the raiders had seized guns from a guardroom. They had shot dead three Tajik border guards and six Kyrgyz soldiers and customs officers. Kyrgyz authorities made several arrests, and claimed they had "indisputable evidence" that the suspects were Hizb ut-Tahrir members.  On August 6, 2006, Kamoluddin was in a Daewoo vehicle seen speeding through the nearby city of Osh, which had drawn the interest of members of Kyrgystan's National Security Service (SNB). The SNB hailed the car to stop, and gunfire was said to have come from inside the vehicle. SNB officers shot back and the car crashed, killing the occupants. Inside the vehicle was found "one AK-SU Kalashnikov automatic rifle, three full magazines, 266 cartridges, four RGD-5 hand grenades, one F-1 grenade, one RPK automatic rifle magazine, a road map of Uzbekistan where a number of locations were marked with the word 'jihad,' one pair of army binoculars, extremist religious literature in the Kyrgyz and Uzbek languages, and fake passports." The imam's family claimed his innocence. In October 2006 three individuals linked to Kamoluddin, who had been captured following the May raid upon a border post, were sentenced to death.  The literature disseminated throughout the Central Asian states by Hizb ut-Tahrir is frequently cited in arrests and raids. The magazine called Ong Al-Waie (Conscience) has been in existence since 1989. Since 1993, it has been available in printed editions in Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Russian languages. The material in the illegally produced leaflets is copied and translated from the Arabic website Though the magazine is not an official HT publication, all Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders in Central Asian states are ordered to purchase each new edition as its views concur with those of the group. In the south of Kyrgystan, these publications are distributed to the general public.  An Uzbek researcher, Bakhadyr Musayev, said in 2004: "As for the statements of Hizb-ut-Tahrir concerning its non-involvement, we all know that with organizations such as this, deeds and words differ. We know that this organization is connected with terrorist organizations in the East. Nabkhani (founder of Hizb-ut-Tahrir) in his book “System of Islam” said that whenever physical obstacles are encountered, they may to be removed by force or violence. Besides, the idea itself of the caliphate stipulates brainwashing. These men would not balk at it. Hizb-ut-Tahrir publishes Al-Vai magazine. One of its articles in 2001 was titled How To Become A Shakhid [martyr]."  The literature produced by HT in the region is virulently anti-Semitic and is hardly peaceful. One leaflet proclaimed: "Moslems!... Get rid of the chiefs, which do not pay attention to Shariat of Allah, sent warriors to Jihad and expel the Jews. There may be victims, maybe it is necessary to suffer and fight in the Jihad, and become a Shahid." The rise of Islamism in the states which became independent after Soviet collapse has led to mass emigration of Jews. In 1989 there were 150,000 Jews in Central Asia, but now there are only 22,000.  At the start of this decade, HT was able to operate in Central Asia much more openly, less fearful of violent crackdowns. In 2003, a member of HT from Kara-Suu, Kyrgystan, spoke openly of his involvement in the group. 32-year-old Dilyar Jumbabayev said that he belonged to a cell of five individuals, and gave 10% of his income to have membership of HT. Though he claimed that violence was a "sin," he said he had no disagreement with the IMU or bin Laden: "certainly my brother. Saddam Hussein is also my brother. No matter whether he is Arab, Kurd, Turk or Palestinian, he is also Muslim." Displayed outside his home was an illegal leaflet bearing the slogan: "All Muslims of the world unite against the infidels."  Last month, on August 15th, it was announced that a group of 13 individuals were arrested in Shymkent in Kazakhstan. They were accused of plotting terrorist acts in April, to coincide with a visit by President Nazarbaev to Shymkent. Regional police official Khibratulla Doskaliev claimed that the suspects were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir.  Two groups have broken away from Hizb ut-Tahrir in Central Asia – Akramiya and Hizb an-Nustra (Party of Victory). Both groups seem restricted to Uzbekistan, and both are thought to have left HT because it did not officially support terrorism. Hizb an-Nustra Akramiya was formed by Akram Yuldasheyev, a former HT member from Andijan, Uzbekistan. According to Norway's Forum 18, this group was involved in the events leading up to the 2005 Andijan massacre. 23 businessmen (followers of Akramiya) had been on trial, and for four months there had been peaceful protests to have them released. On May 12, 2005, gunmen had freed the 23 accused men, and others, from their jail. These events, immediately preceding the Andijan massacre, were violent.  According to John C.K. Daly of Central Asia Caucasus Analyst:  "Shortly before midnight on May 12, armed men attacked a traffic police post, killing four on duty officers and seizing submachine guns, grenades and pistols from the post's weapons depot. The assailants then moved on and attacked a military base, shot five servicemen and acquired more weaponry. Duly armed, the insurgents in a fifteen-vehicle convoy then moved on the Andijan prison, where between 600 and 2,000 inmates were held. Attacking the facility, the gunmen distributed weapons and liberated nearly a third of the inmates, including the 23 defendants. The militants then moved to downtown Andijan, attacking the buildings of the National Security Council and the regional administration and police department. Repulsed at the two law enforcement sites, the gunmen commandeered the administrative building and took about 20 hostages, and before dawn began calling their relatives to bring women and children to the site to form human shields around the building. The stage was set for an inevitable showdown."   According to Forum 18, most of those who had gathered in Andijan's main square (scene of the subsequent massacre) were employees of the 23 businessmen:  "According to eye-witnesses, Akramia members who had acquired weapons did not prevent free movement out of the square by those gathered there, but their attitude to the hostages did not meet international standards for the treatment of prisoners of war. Forum 18 learnt that several hostages received severe beatings. The hostages had wire tied round their necks and were placed at the perimeter of the square as human shields. Therefore the first to die from the shots fired by Uzbek government forces were the hostages."

 The raids upon the Kyrgyz/Uzbek/Tajik border stations that took place on May 12, 2006 where guns were seized appeared to be marking the anniversary of the raids that preceded the Andijan massacre. A week after the 2005 massacre in Andijan, an Uzbek farmer named Bakhtior Rakhimov (pictured) led an uprising in the Uzbek division of Kara-Suu. He claimed he wanted to see an end to the rule of Islam Karimov, and the establishment of Islamic values in local government. Rakhimov may have hoped to see a downfall of Karimov, who has ruled Uzbekistan since 1991, but his uprising was crushed, and he was arrested.  The IMU first came to prominence in February 1999, after a series of bombings in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It is generally accepted that these acts were committed by IMU, though the Uzbek authorities had claimed that Hizb ut-Tahrir were behind the blasts. On July 30, 2004, a series of bomb attacks took place at the U.S. and Israeli embassies. 85 individuals, including 16 women, were arrested, and state prosecutors claimed that all suspects had been trained as suicide bombers. These attacks were assumed by some specialists to be the work of IMU, but Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, insisted that they were the work of Hizb ut-Tahrir.  Even though Uzbekistan is a partner in the "War on Terror," there is ample reason to be doubtful about some of its claims. In March 2004, when Britain's then-ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, was shown "evidence" of a suicide-bombing campaign by the Islamic Jihad Union, he was skeptical. He wrote that "each suicide bomber was alleged to be using explosives equivalent to 2kg of TNT. But nowhere, not even at the site of an alleged car bomb, was there a crater, or even a crack in a paving stone... The body of one of the alleged suicide bombers was unmarked, save for a small burn about the size of a walnut on her stomach." The bombing campaign apparently claimed 47 lives, but even though the Islamic Jihad Union claimed responsibility, Uzbek authorities had tried to blame Hizb ut-Tahrir.  Though there is ample evidence for militancy and radicalism in Central Asia, there is also the problem of the totalitarian nature of rulers such as Karimov, who still perpetuate disinformation. The repressive nature of the governments may even be fueling Islamist sentiments. The climate of repression certainly seems to be encouraging a growth of HT membership in the region. The 23 Uzbek businessmen whose trial aroused widespread anger, culminating in the Andijan massacre, were accused of seditious activity. They threatened the status quo by promising their employees wages far higher than the national average. The behavior of the Uzbek authorities in their dealings with suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir members do nothing to further the cause of the "War on Terror". Police are accused of planting drugs, leaflets and even grenades on supposed Hizb ut-Tahrir activists.  In Russia, Hizb ut-Tahrir is considered dangerous and reactions to the group are punitive, though not on the scale seen in Central Asian republics such as Uzbekistan. On November 25, 2005, three members of Hizb ut-Tahrir from Nizhny Novgorod were sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to four years for spreading terrorist propaganda. The men had been convicted earlier. Their arrests had taken place in October 2001. 11 people had originally been apprehended but only the three men were charged. They had pleaded guilty to the charges. As well as extremist literature, grenades had been found in the raids.  HT is active in most locations in Russia, from Moscow to Siberia. In May 2007, vestigations into Hizb activities were taking place in the regions of Tatarstan, Samara and Orenburg. In February this year, four HT members in Tobosk, Tyumen in the Urals, were given sentences of one to two and a half years. In March 2007, Russia's Supreme Court ruled that there was no legal right of appeal against the February 2003 decision to outlaw Hizb ut-Tahrir and 14 other groups.  Hizb ut-Tahrir is politically astute enough to avoid any open support for terrorist activity, but it does succeed in creating a climate amongst its followers that could naturally lead to violence or Jihad. Many individuals were introduced to their first taste of radicalism by HT. British citizen Hassan Butt helped to create a Jihadist "pipeline" which sent U.K. Muslims into Pakistan and then on to Afghanistan, where they would fight coalition forces, or become involved in al Qaeda. He claims he had become radicalized by Hizb ut-Tahrir while at university.  Kafeel Ahmed was one of two people who drove a burning Jeep Cherokee into Glasgow airport's entrance on June 30th of this year. The vehicle contained propane gas canisters and gasoline. Ahmed poured gasoline onto himself and set it alight. He died later in hospital. He had become involved with radical Islam while training at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, between May 2004 and August 2005. His immediate neighbor at this time was the local convener for Hizb ut-Tahrir who, it is alleged, helped him to become radicalized. On account of this revelation, Gordon Brown was asked in the U.K. parliament about why the government had not banned Hizb ut-Tahrir. It also led Australian attorney-general Philip Ruddock to once again consider banning the group.

It is now believed that Britain is a headquarters for HT. Though there are no cases of U.K. Hizb ut-Tahrir being directly involved in acts of terrorism, the group has attracted amongst its membership some who openly practice violence. There are reports of the group being involved in acts of intimidation from universities to mosques and even on the streets of South London, as I will show in Part Three.

Part III: Intellectualism or Incitement?

 Hizb ut-Tahrir presents itself as an intellectual group, but there is a gap between what it professes and what is practically possible. It claims to be non-violent, yet argues for the installation of a world-wide Caliphate. To institute a new "world order" would unavoidably lead to violence. Political revolutions, by their nature, involve some amount of violence. There have been few examples of bloodless revolution. The 1989 "Velvet Revolution" of the former Czechoslovakia was bloodless, yet could have been crushed with violence, had the Soviets so desired.  The founder of HT, Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, spent much time discussing the nature of thought, but such sophistry is limited by its dogma. He believed that Islam was rational and therefore could be promoted through persuasion and rational discussion. Contradicting this, he maintained that the Koran cannot be questioned, and is thus beyond the bounds of true discussion. Persuading non-Muslims to accept Islam as a political system which allows no dissent from the tenets of one book would naturally result in conflict. This conflict was specifically alluded to on the group's U.K. website last November (since removed). The statement claimed that Hizb ut-Tahrir "also aims to bring back the Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah into a struggle with Kufr, its systems and its thoughts so that Islam encapsulates the world."  For Nabhani's successors in Hizb ut-Tahrir the "non-violence" paradox is not resolved. The dogma assumes that there can be rational discussions to implement a non-negotiable fundamentalism. Violence is officially eschewed, but HT promises that all social and political ills would be solved under a Caliphate, as explained in a tract I took from their U.K. website in 2005:  Its aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da'wah to the world. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shari'ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State. How people would live under such a Caliphate is spelled out in detail in its "draft constitution" (for the proposed Caliphate). Within parts of the Islamic world (Dar al-Islam, the "abode of submission") it may be possible to persuade Muslims to achieve such goals, but for democratic, non-Muslim lands (Dar al-Harb, "the abode of war"), or even democratic or clan-ruled Muslim lands, implementation will be harder to achieve without violence or extensive manipulation. succinctly describes HT's proposed three-step strategy:  The first involves educating Muslims about its philosophies and goals. In the second step, the Muslims would then spread these views among others in their countries, especially members of government, the military and other power centers. In the third and final step, Hizb ut-Tahrir believes its faithful will cause secular governments to crumble because loyalties will then lie solely with Islam – not nationalities, politics or ethnic identifications.  Effectively, the strategy will involve indoctrination, infiltration, and undermining national stability. The arrival of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the Central Asian republics exemplifies all three modes, particularly undermining stability. In Tajikistan, for example, HT arrived in a country already destabilized by a civil war (1992 to 1997). In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Hizb ut-Tahrir already appears to have infiltrated parts of the government administration. On September 3, 2007 it was revealed that two HT activists from Kara-Suu were able to have new identities issued to them in August, apparently with the assistance of municipal officials. The identification included birth and military registration certificates and medical security cards.  Such infiltration has happened in Britain, where HT has a strong following. In November last year it was revealed that Hizb member Abid Javaid works in the U.K. government's Immigration and Nationality Directorate, part of the Home Office. 41-year-old Javaid had been issued with a government grant to mount an HT exhibition. He is also one of the HT organizers at Croydon mosque in south London. At this mosque, Hizb ut-Tahrir has been involved in attempts to radicalize worshippers, using violence. This has gone on for years, to the consternation of the mosque administration.  Activities at Croydon mosque were reported by the BBC in November 2006 (video here). Journalist Richard Watson spoke to Shuaib Yusaf, one of Croydon mosque's administrators. Mr. Yusaf spoke of how HT members had instigated fights in the street outside the mosque. This "gang warfare", as Mr. Yusaf described it, involved knives and even a sword.  An undercover member of HT, code-named "Jay," gave testimony. He said he was part of a five-man cell, one of 50 within the south London region. To gain full membership he had to gain five more recruits, part of a pyramid structure. To prove his allegiance to HT, he was told to "mug" a non-Muslim on the street. He said that he was told: "It's all right to hurt non-believers...They asked me to take money from three force."  The BBC reported that while filming, information came that some HT members were intending to fire-bomb a synagogue. Incendiary substances were located in woodland, at the same time as police arrived. As expected, HT's official spokesman, Dr. Abdul Wahid, disassociated Hizb ut-Tahrir from the claims made in the report.

 There have recently been high-profile defections of Islamists from Hizb ut-Tahrir U.K. These individuals – Ed Husain, Shiraz Maher and Maajid Nawaz – are still Muslims, but have rejected the methods and ideology of HT. Maajid Nawaz, who grew up in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, had spent years in jail in Egypt for promoting HT, which has been banned in Egypt since 1974. Nawaz (center in picture), along with two other British nationals and 23 Egyptians, had been convicted in 2004. Sentenced to five years' jail for membership of a banned group, Nawaz and his British companions were released in February 2006.  After 12 years' membership, he now condemns HT, saying: "They are prepared to, once they've established the state, to fight other countries and to kill people in the pursuit of unifying this state into one state. And what I'd like to emphasize is that such a policy is not agreed upon within Islamic theology.. I think that what I taught has not only damaged British society and British Muslim relations and damaged the position of Muslims in this society as British citizens, I think it's damaged the world."  It was in his Egyptian prison that Nawaz discovered that "what I had been propagating was far from true Islam. I began to realise that what I had subscribed to was actually Islamism sold to me in the name of Islam...Now I am involved in trying to counter the black and white mindset that I once so vehemently encouraged. Although I was young when I was recruited to Hizb ut-Tahrir, I take full responsibility for my actions. I made the decisions that I did and I am responsible for undoing them. With this in mind I hope to publish a series of papers reevaluating certain core Islamist ideas that are essential to their message."  Ed Husain (a pseudonym) is the author of The Islamist, an account of his times in Hizb ut-Tahrir. Within a week of the book's publication, he was receiving death threats. He states: "From my involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir I know it to be a sophisticated organisation: it rarely ever pulls the trigger. It raises the temperature and allows others to do the deed. That is how the murder of an innocent young man, Ayotunde Obonobi, took place in Newham in 1995." Husain had attended Newham College when the Nigerian student was murdered by Hizb followers.  Husain recently wrote: " The rhetoric of jihad introduced by Hizb ut-Tahrir in my days was the preamble to 7/7 and several other attempted attacks. By proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir, we would send a strong message to extremists that Britain will not tolerate intolerance."  From 2001 to 2005, Shiraz Maher was a regional officer for Hizb ut-Tahrir U.K. in the northeast of England. He also wrote many of the articles produced by HT. He found it hard to leave the group and de-program its ideas from his thinking. He now advises the BBC on political Islam. In a July 4, 2007 video report from the BBC, Maher affirms that there is now a vast disparity between what HT publicly pronounces and what it privately preaches.  HT in Britain has exercised this duplicity for some time. Last year, under the "front" name of the East London Youth Forum it organized paint ball sessions as a means to recruitment. Other front groups have been named the Debate Society, the Muslim Women's Cultural Forum, the Islamic Society, the One Nation Society, the Millennium Society, the Pakistan Society and the 1924 Committee.  In September 2005 when the group was facing a possible ban, HT used deception to rent meeting rooms at the Quaker Friends House in Euston, North London. Rather than booking the space under their name, the booking was made under the name "Salsa Bill's Publishing House." The meeting was to discuss "Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the Vision of the Caliphate". Only after the booking was secured did the group produce fliers to advertise the event.   In 1995, Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned from university campuses for its rabid anti-Semitism and its physical assaults upon women students who would not wear the hijab or Muslim headscarf. Despite the ban, in October 2005 the group reappeared on campuses, calling itself "Stop Islamophobia." This infiltration was taking place at University College London (UCL), the School of African and Oriental Studies, Luton University and other establishments. Around the same time, it was reported that Hizb ut-Tahrir members had tried to take over the Students Union of a West Yorkshire University, and had once again resumed its campaigns of bullying young women to make them wear the hijab. In the fall of 2005, HT had already taken control of the university's Islamic Society.  Techniques of infiltration appear to have taken place within the news media. In September 2005, journalist Shiv Malik reported that two Hizb members were working within the computer firm IBM, and "that Reuters, the international news and financial information agency, has at least one member among its employees." Shortly after the London bombings of 7/7, which killed 52 innocent people, a blogger – Steve Burgess of the Daily Ablution – revealed that a Hizb member was working as a trainee journalist at the Guardian newspaper. This man, Dilpazier Aslam, had even written articles about the London bombings, and co-written profiles of the four suicide bombers.  Dilpazier Aslam's Guardian articles show selective bias. An article on a Manchester-based Islamic faith school is entitled: "Islam is the secret of our success." An article celebrating Eid ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, is presented as a cheery discourse on cookery for Guardian readers. He reported on Shabina Begum, a schoolgirl (supported by Hizb ut-Tahrir) who tried to challenge existing school dress regulations to accommodate her Islamist costume. When she won a minor battle, Aslam's article was entitled "I could scream with happiness. I've given hope and strength to Muslim women." Begum later lost her case.  Six days after the London bombings, Aslam wrote an article entitled: "We rock the boat – Today's Muslims aren't prepared to ignore injustice." In this, he wrote: "Some 2,749 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. To discover the cost of "liberating" Iraqis you need to multiply that figure by eight, and still you will fall short of the estimated minimum of 22,787 civilian Iraqi casualties to date. But it's not cool to say this, now that London's skyline has also has plumed grey." When Aslam was confronted by his employers, and apparently refused a request to resign from HT, he was fired. He later threatened legal action, but in May 2006 he and the Guardian settled out of court. A case of media bias in an already biased newspaper is infiltration, but not as serious as undermining democracies and societies. In Bangladesh, democracy was suspended indefinitely, amid reports of widespread corruption within the major parties. It is now under a "caretaker" administration. Dominic Whiteman of monitoring group VIGIL has noted that HT has been recruiting Bangladeshis in east London, and has been taking out advertisements in local newspapers for the migrant Bangladeshi community. With the nation of Bangladesh in a political crisis, it seems that HT has designs which would exploit the current situation.

 The "coordinator and spokesman" of the HT in Bangladesh is Mohiuddin Ahmed, who lectures in business management at Dhaka University. He is able to mobilize large gatherings for Islamist causes in the nation. In February 2006 HT mobilized 5,000 people to demonstrate at Dhaka, the capital, against Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Slogans on banners read: "Death to those who degrade our beloved prophet!", "Hang culprits", "Free speech is war on Islam."  Shortly after democratic campaigning was suspended this year, members of HT's youth front, the Bangladesh Chhatra Mukti, mounted an active campaign against the respected economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus. In 2006, Yunus won the Noble Peace Prize for his work in establishing the Grameen ("village") Bank. This bank exists by making micro-loans and charging minimal interest, and has lifted untold people in Bangladesh, mostly women, out of the mire of poverty. When Dr. Yunus was due to visit the university to receive an honorary Doctor of Law award, HT's youth wing circulated leaflets condemning him. In protests outside the university, Bangladesh Chhatra Mukti activists waved black flags and called Dr. Yunus an "imperial agent."  In July 2004, HT Bangladesh was accused of making death threats against ten individuals. These included politicians, thinkers and journalists. Hizb denied any involvement. Two months before, HT was under suspicion when the British High Commissioner, Anwar Choudary, was injured in a bomb blast at an Islamic shrine in Sylhet, in the northeast of the country. Three people had died. Two days before the attack, Hizb had distributed leaflets around the shrine, condemning the British and Americans.  On its website and on the ground, Bangladesh HT has been making capital out of another cartoon crisis, this time involving the drawings of Swedish artist Lars Vilks. In protests made by HT, several people have been arrested, though some have recently been freed.  HT in Bangladesh began its life after Syed Golam Mowla, a lecturer in management at Dhaka University had gone to study in London in 1993. Here he met Nasimul Gani and Kawsar Shahnewaj. These three individuals cooperated to establish Bangladesh HT in 2000. In 2005, intelligence officials were concerned that the group would try to mount a coup. During the current political crisis in the country, HT needs to be watched carefully.

HT is no stranger to attempts at destabilizing nations, as demonstrated in the volatile environments of the Central Asian republics. It is also active in Africa. Yemen is (with the United Arab Emirates) one of the few Arab nations where HT can operate legally. In Tanzania, HT appears to be deliberately attempting to destabilize the local economy of Zanzibar. This island is semi-autonomous, and most of its economy survives on tourism. IN 2005, a total of 500,00 tourists had visited the island. In September 2006, HT was campaigning on Zanzibar to persuade the Muslim population to turn against tourists. Abbas Hussein, a senior HT leader justified this action by saying: "Tourism is the source of moral and religious decay in Zanzibar. Visitors are just coming here to pollute the culture and religion of Zanzibar."  Traditionally, regional leaders of HT have been secretive. In Britain, Jalaluddin Patel, the leader of HT has spoken openly about his role. He can be seen addressing a conference in a YouTube video (nb - it is boring). He told the Jamestown Foundation in 2004 that he had been elected to his role in 2000 and 2002. Patel works in information technology. A lackluster speaker, Patel has been involved in HT UK since 1992, becoming a full member in 1994 when he was 18.  When Patel joined the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, its leader was Omar Bakri Mohammed who was born in Syria in 1958. Unlike Patel, Bakri was immensely charismatic, even though he has openly supported terrorism. In 1991 he issued a "fatwa" against prime minister John Major. While senior leaders are currently defecting from U.K. HT, Bakri was able to attract young members to the group. With a Syrian man named Farid Kassim, Bakri (also called Omar Bakri Fostok) had founded the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1986. Bakri had been in Saudi Arabia before he arrived in Britain in 1985. He had been expelled from the kingdom after he founded a group called "Al Muhajiroun" (the emigrants) which the Saudi authorities identified as a "front group" for Hizb ut-Tahrir. A decade later founding the British branch of HT, Bakri left, or was expelled. He took with him his most ardent supporters and founded a group which he called Al Muhajiroun.  

 As I will show in the final part of this article, Bakri's followers were directly involved acts of Jihad, and also colluded with the establishment of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the United States.


Part IV: To Ban Or Not To Ban?  

Omar Bakri Mohammed, who co-founded the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1986, gave a revealing interview to the Jamestown Foundation in March 2004. Bakri said he had been actively involved in the Muslim Brotherhood from age 15 to 17 in his native Syria, and then joined Hizb ut-Tahrir in Lebanon. His MB connections had drawn attention from the Syrian authorities, causing him to flee to Lebanon. In 1979 he went to Egypt for six months, before going to Saudi Arabia where he established a branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which by 1983 had 38 members. In 1983, HT in Kuwait expelled him from the group, but he continued to operate a group which called itself "Al Muhajiroun".   Bakri arrived in Britain and was approached by the German head of Hizb ut-Tahrir who persuaded him to rejoin HT. He co-founded a British branch of HT in 1986 but this was, he claimed, not part of the official structure of international HT. Bakri stated that he had left HT UK voluntarily on January 16, 1996. It would be a month later that he would form his own group, which he called Al Muhajiroun.   What is interesting from Bakri's interview is the claim that under the leadership of the second emir, Abd al-Qadim Zallum (or Abdul Kaddim Zalloum) who governed HT from the end of 1977 until spring of 2003, there were splits within the international group. Bakri spoke of "camps" which officially came into existence after 1996. Camp 2, led by Abu Rami, was prominent in Jordan. An offshoot of Camp 1 (the main HT faction) was known as Hizb Waed (the Party of Promise) but is only active in Jerusalem. This is Camp 3. Bakri explained that Camp 4 comprised reformists, called Reformers of Hizb ut-Tahrir. This grouping was led in Germany by Dr Tawfiq Mustafa, and in the United States by Iyad Hilal.   For a group that claims to propose establishing global hegemony under a world-wide Caliphate, such splits only highlight how unrealistic HT's aims are. If its own structure cannot unite, it sets a poor model for others to follow. It is unknown if the current emir, Ata Abu Rashta, has managed to fully unite these various factions within HT.   On Saturday, August 4, 2007, Hizb UK held a conference at Alexandra Palace in north London. A poorly-made video presentation (available on YouTube) which advertised the conference attempts to show the global unity of HT. Using snippets of video and pictures from websites, HT activists are shown from the following countries: Pakistan Bangladesh, Switzerland, Jordan, UAE, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Turkey, Belgium, Indonesia, Australia and America.  

What is striking from the image from America is that it shows only one individual (pictured), rather than a group. This is not 58-year old Iyad Hilal, who led "Reformers of Hizb ut-Tahrir". It is Dr Jaleel Abdul-Adil, a convert to Islam, who is now the "new face" of American Hizb ut-Tahrir (HTA). He spoke at the August conference in Britain. Jaleel Abdul-Adil is a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Like Dr Abdul Wahid, the spokesman for the British branch of HT, he is a psychiatrist. At UIC, he works in the area of juvenile disorders, and is part of the Disruptive Behavior Disorders Clinic. He is also an associate professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.   According to Abdul-Adil's resume, he specializes in "evidence-based, culturally-sensitive family therapy for urban youth, including conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, gang involvement, and inner-city violence. Dr. Abdul-Adil is the co-founder of Young Warriors, a youth intervention program that uses modern rap music and hip-hop media to promote critical thinking and prosocial skills in urban adolescents. He remains involved in developing other innovative youth interventions such as using movie and television materials and faith-based collaborations with local religious institutions."   Abdul-Adil also dispenses online Islamic psychological advice, on A video of Abdul-Adil giving a lecture on Islam can be found on YouTube.   The original emir of HTA, Iyad Hilal, is a US citizen of Palestinian-Jordanian origin. He is the author of several books - Treaties in Islam, Gull Crisis, Palestinian Quest, Masiiahah in Islamic Activities (all in Arabic) and also Muslims in the West, in English. He is better known for his book "Studies in Usul ul-Fiqh". This treatise on Islamic jurisprudence can be found online in an edited version. This book is a required part of course material in the Fiqh course at the Qatar-based Islamic Studies Academy.   In August 2005 Stratfor stated that Hilal had been in the US for 20 years. He had been involved in HT since his youth. Hilal would travel between Orange County in California and New York (from the 1980s onward) while he was establishing the group. HT had offices in these locations, and between around 1991 to 1995, Hilal was imam of a mosque in New York. By 1995, the chapter in New York lost members in rows over ideology and leadership, a situation made worse in 1997 by the splintering of the Jordanian "Camp 2" from "Camp 1". Stratfor states that by 2000 many members of the New York branch had defected to Omar Bakri's group Al Muhajiroun.   BBC journalist Richard Watson stated in a recent report (video) that at the end of the 1990s, Omar Bakri Mohammed wanted to expand into the US. The information on what had happened in New York's HT chapter was made more clear by private investigator Bill Warner. In 2005 he had taken BBC reporter Richard Watson to the Masjid al-Fatima on 37th Avenue, Woodside in Queens. Here, the BBC filmed Aqeel Khan, the founder and secretary of the Queens Islamic Center at the mosque, while Bill Warner interviewed him. During the mid 1990s, the mosque had been infiltrated by radical members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, much as they had tried to take over the Croydon mosque in London.   Aqeel Khan said: "They had their own programs, which were not the directions of the mosque... There were five times (a day) prayer, but then they had their own meetings here and we - the general public - were not invited." The Hizb ut-Tahrir members were officially ousted from the Queens mosque after $400,000 went missing from the masjid funds, but they continued to frequent the mosque. It appears to be at this mosque, where radical Hizb members already worshipped, that Al Muhajiroun developed its first US presence.   The ideology of Hizb was similar to that of Bakri's Al Muhajiroun, but the latter group's direct methods appealed to young radicals. Individuals such as Syed "Fahad" Hashmi from Flushing, Queens, had became involved in Al Muhajiroun. Hashmi, who formerly belonged to the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is thought to have introduced Mohammed Junaid Babar to Al Muhajiroun. Babar had been a student at St John's University. Both attended the Masjid al-Fatima.   In 2004, Junaid Babar was convicted of setting up a terror training camp in Malakand, Pakistan, and assisting Al Qaeda. One of the individuals that attended this camp was Mohammed Sidique Khan, leader of the cell that killed 52 people in London on July 7, 2005. Babar gave evidence at the "Operation Crevice" trial: on April 30, 2007, five British individuals from Al Muhajiroun were given life sentences for plotting terror attacks in the UK. After the convictions, it was revealed that Omar Khyam, the leader of the Operation Crevice cell, had met and discussed jihad operations with Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, another 7/7 bomber, on several occasions in 2004. Their meetings had been monitored by MI5.   Al Muhajiroun was officially disbanded by Omar Bakri Mohammed in October 2004. Using a tactic employed by HT, he continued to guide his followers who then belonged to new groups, operating under new names. In the UK, Al Muhajiroun members operated in groups called Al Ghurabaa, the Saviour Sect, (which changed its name to the Saved Sect) and these also founded a group called Ahlus Sunna Wal Jammah. Members of the US Al Muhajiroun group reformed as the Islamic Thinkers Society.   With its membership plundered by Al Muhajiroun's more radical sect, the US branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir appeared to be in poor shape. Iyad Halil, a greengrocer by trade, had gone back to Orange County. He apparently ceased his role as emir of HTA in 2000. Hizb continues to operate in North America, but its profile until recently has been low. Hizb ut-Tahrir frequently mounts anti-US demonstrations. In Britain, HT has 10,000 active members. With anti-American attitudes prevalent within international HT, it may be harder to recruit from the US Muslim population. Research from Pew Global Attitudes indicates that US Muslims are generally more supportive of America's statehood than British Muslims, who are the most anti-Western in Europe.   HT, regarding itself as an intellectual movement, is keen to indoctrinate its recruits in the intricacies of Islamic law and thought before they can reach positions of influence. According to a report by Madeleine Gruen of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, because HT America members "have been raised on a steady diet of pop culture, they are endowed with the unique ability of being able to export HT and jihadist ideology to a world that dislikes America but loves its entertainment industry." She noted that after 2003, "public mention of HT in the US became scarce."   Despite the absence of overt mentions of the name Hizb ut-Tahrir in North America, Gruen notes that under front names, HTA continues and is undergoing a renaissance. Web businesses proliferate, such as "Khalifah Klothing" which is run from British Columbia in Canada, and in Los Angeles in January 2006, an HT "circle" formed Ummah Films. This group recruits young people from LA mosques to act as production assistants. American HT members are active on chat rooms on the internet.   In a report from last month, Gruen explains that while Iyad Halil had operated in Orange County and NYC, another leader called Mohammed Malkawi set up operations in Chicago and Wisconsin. Malkawi, of Palestinian-Jordanian origin, had been a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin. He had recruited Naveed Butt, who is the spokesman of Pakistan HT, into the group when they had both worked for Motorola. Mohammed Malkawi has written on high-speed software architecture. His video lectures can be found on YouTube.   The arguments on banning or accepting HT are still current. The group has openly allowed anti-Semitic literature to be published. It was on account of its anti-Semitic attitudes that the group became outlawed in 2003 in Germany. In Denmark, HT is legal, but it has come into conflict with the authorities. In March and April 2002, HT Denmark was responsible for distributing copies of a leaflet in a Copenhagen square which, according to the BBC: "makes threats against Jews, using a quote from the Koran urging Muslims to 'kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have been turned you out.' The leaflet also said, 'The Jews are a people of slander...a treacherous people... they fabricate lies and twist words from their right context.' And the leaflet describes suicide bombings in Israel as "legitimate" acts of "Martyrdom"."

The person responsible for these leaflets was Danish HT leader Fadi Abdullatif, was given a 60-day suspended jail sentence for distribution of racist propaganda in October 2002. In 2004, Abdullatif was responsible for leaflets which called upon Muslims to go to Fallujah in Iraq, to fight Americans. He claimed in these fliers that if any national leaders tried to prevent their travel, they should kill these leaders. In August 2005, Abdullatif was arrested for this offense and was officially indicted in March 2006 for threatening the government. On August 17, 2006, Fadi Abdullatif was found guilty, and was given a three month jail sentence.   In 2004, there were requests for Hizb ut-Tahrir to be banned in Denmark, but the director of public prosecutions ruled that the group was legal. Where the group directly calls for the overthrow of governments, such issues could relate either to threats against national security, or sedition. However, the reason why most Middle Eastern and North African countries have outlawed HT are less to do with national security, and more to do with lese-majesty, or "insulting the state". In the Central Asian republics, HT is banned partly because the group destabilizes secular political edifices, and partly because governments, particularly Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, appear threatened by anything that does not conform to their notions of strictly controlled religious practice.  


In Pakistan, where there are 65 members of the National Assembly who belong to the Islamist MMA parties, the outlawing of Hizb ut-Tahrir seems irrational. In October 2005, the president of the MMA, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, openly called for an Islamic revolution to overthrow the government, and received no punishment. During the February 2006 cartoon protests, the same individual led calls for the death of the elected President. If the MMA, which seeks to turn Pakistan into an Islamic state, is officially legitimate, then why is HT Pakisitan illegal? Over the past few years members of HT Pakistan have been subjected to frequent arrests. In January 2006, Naveed Butt legally challenged the Pakistani government's decision to outlaw HT, but lost his case.   Maajid Nawaz, who defected from HT Britain after being a member for more than a decade, does not believe that the group should be banned, but it should be challenged and belittled intellectually. Ed Husain, who had only been involved in HT UK for a short time, does support a ban, on the grounds that HT's indoctrination is a springboard to acts of terrorism. The actions of some British individuals from Al Muhajiroun would seem to validate that claim. In November 2005 Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers argued that a ban on the group would send it underground. Shiraz Maher, a former leading member of HT UK, has argued that the group's main activities happen "underground" anyway.   Zeyno Baran and Ariel Cohen are scholars who have argued passionately that the US government should ban Hizb ut-Tahrir. Both have given testimony before Congress to this end. Dr Cohen is the Central Asian expert at the Heritage Foundation and until May this year, Zeyno Baran was director of the international security program at the Nixon Center. Since May, she has been a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.   An article in the Washington Post from December 2004 stated there had been no reports of HT being active in the US, even though Stratfor has claimed that the FBI (or some of its field offices) has been aware of HTA since early 1994. The article maintains that the International Crisis Group had opposed such a ban.   Zeno Baran has stated in a 144-page Nixon Center report from the same time that: "While HT as an organization does not engage in terrorist activities, it has become the vanguard of the radical Islamist ideology that encourages its followers to commit terrorist acts."   Maybe for this reason, the public face of Hizb ut-Tahrir is changing, at least in America. Madeleine Gruen points to the reinvention of the group's profile, although the underlying doctrine remains the same as it has ever been. Now HT America is trying to be "cool". Even the former regional emir, Iyad Halil, produced a magazine entitled "Khalifornia" as an attempt to make the group appeal. Dr Jaleel Abdul-Adil speaks to HT members like a true Salafist, yet he dresses in bright-colored robes at such events. He also has an interest in Hip Hop culture to boost his "credibility" with young people.   The British HT membership, predominantly made up of individuals whose ancestry comes from the Indian subcontinent, is currently careful not to fall foul of the Terrorism Act 2006. Schedule 1, section 1 (3) of this Act outlaws the "glorification of terrorism", including terrorism abroad. This severely limits what the group can publicly say.   British HT's leadership appears to be struggling, leading to defections. It is possible that Britain is the location of the current HQ of international HT. Its "pyramid structure" of management evolved in countries where the group was banned outright, where it was dangerous to know too many individuals. Such hierarchical principles belong to another time, another place, like the greatly mythologized Caliphate.   The intellectual upper levels of British HT discuss comparisons of Marxist theory against Islamic "Aqeeda" (doctrine) in student fashion, but the lower tiers of the pyramid are recruited from the street and are not restrained by such intellectual conceits. In the days of Omar Bakri Mohammed, senior members could say whatever they liked with impunity. Bakri made outrageous statements. He encouraged his supporters to commit acts of violence against others, including other members. But he had a personality and even a sense of humor that drew loyalty, unlike the current suit-wearing peddlers of dogma.


At the very base of the pyramid are British HT's disaffected and alienated young recruits, who have poor education and who will never hone their Aqeeda skills to rise to upper levels. For them, HT is a vehicle to express contempt and hatred for the society in which they live. They are taught that the West hates all Muslims. Within such an environment their anger is encouraged. They are given empty promises of a Caliphate which would only come about in a hypothetical future. Among these youths, beyond the direct gaze of their leaders, threats and acts of violence already happen. How long before such violence involves explosives?


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Adrian Morgan, aka Giraldus Cambrensis of Western Resistance, is UK-based writer and artist. He also writes for Spero News, Family Security Matters 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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