Skip to comments.London a Longtime Haven for Radical Muslim Figures
Posted on 07/08/2005 12:35:48 PM PDT by WmShirerAdmirer
(CNSNews.com) - Terrorism experts have long warned that Islamists espousing violence enjoy a haven in London, an assertion that has come into sharp focus again with Thursday's bombings in the British capital.
For years, Britain tolerated the presence of high-profile and outspoken Islamic clerics whose fiery sermons frequently extolled jihad against the West. Since 9/11, however, anti-terror legislation has been tightened, some groups have been outlawed, terror rings have been broken and some controversial figures have been arrested.
One of them, Egyptian-born Abu Hamza al-Masri, went on trial this week at London's Old Bailey courthouse, where he faces more than a dozen charges include inciting terrorism and racial hatred.
Al-Masri was formerly the imam at a North London mosque linked to confessed al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a U.S.-bound flight from Europe with explosives hidden in his shoe.
He also is wanted in the United States and Yemen on terror-related charges.
For years before his May 2004 arrest al-Masri used the Finsbury Park mosque as a base to speak for what he insisted were political causes.
Despite his radical rhetoric and close links to a group that claimed responsibility for attacks including the Oct. 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, it was only in 2003 that the authorities acted against him, stripping him of his British citizenship and barring him from preaching at the mosque.
Al-Masri then took to addressing his followers -- mostly young British- and foreign-born Muslims -- on the street outside the building.
Britain also detained another London-based extremist cleric, Abu Qatada, whose sermons were found in the 9/11 hijackers' apartment in Germany.
But other radical leaders remained free, among them Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian-born cleric who has promoted and praised violence against Israel, America and Britain for years.
Yael Shahar of the Israel-based International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) said that although London had been a center for Islamic extremism for years, the British security services only started taking the threat seriously after 9/11.
Before that, Shahar said, "the firebrand clerics who preached jihad and hatred of the West were dismissed as 'armchair warriors' by British intelligence."
Even since 9/11, however, critics have questioned Britain's apparent tolerance for highly-controversial Muslim figures.
As recently as last year, the government allowed a visit by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Egyptian cleric who has publicly voiced support for suicide bombers. London's leftwing Mayor Ken Livingstone, who has called al-Qaradawi a "man of peace," welcomed him as an honored guest. (see related story).
In 2000, Bakri told Cybercast News Service in an interview: "We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy."
Britain's legal system and its willingness late last century to offer asylum to figures like Bakri, al-Masri and Abu Qatada made it a magnet for exiled radical organizations.
"In the past decade, the United Kingdom's undisputed political, economic, and cultural center has also become a major world center of political Islam and anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American activism," writes Hebrew University of Jerusalem academic Robert S. Wistrich, in online excerpts of an article to be published soon.
"Through its Arabic-language newspapers, magazines, and publishing houses, not to mention its flourishing network of bookshops, mosques, and community centers, radical Islam has taken full advantage of what British democracy has to offer for its anti-Western goals, reaping the benefits of London's significance as a hub of global finance, electronic media, and mass communications technology."
Osama bin Laden himself laid the groundwork for a London-based network, according to terrorism researcher Yossef Bodansky.
In his biography on bin Laden, written before 9/11, Bodansky wrote that the al-Qaeda leader based himself in the London suburb of Wembley in 1994. By the time he left, after the Saudis began demanding his expulsion, "he had consolidated a comprehensive system of entities" in the city.
In Nov. 1998, Bakri hosted a conference in London called Western Challenge and Islamic Response, attended by more than a dozen extremist groups. At the gathering, Bakri voiced support for Osama bin Laden's jihad and said recent anti-U.S. attacks such as those in Saudi Arabia and East Africa were "legitimate acts."
Following 9/11, Bakri was one of the first Islamist figures to publicly applaud the attacks.
Since then he has spoken often of his support for violent jihad, even admitting to signing up recruits for Islamist campaigns in places like Kashmir and Israel.
A number of governments -- including those of India, Algeria, Sri Lanka and Egypt -- have long complained about the presence in Britain of groups connected to violent campaign in those countries.
Extremists recruited in Britain for terrorist acts abroad include "shoe bomber" Reid, eight men involved in kidnappings in Yemen, and two men who carried out a deadly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in 2003.
Bakri insisted that fighters were never recruited to carry out violent acts inside Britain itself, although he did say it was his dream to see the Islamic banner flying over Downing Street.
After the fall of the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies in Afghanistan in late 2001, a member of Bakri's organization, Hassan Butt, told the BBC from Pakistan that British Muslim volunteers who had been fighting in Afghanistan would return to Britain where they would "strike at the heart of the enemy."
In an interview with a Portuguese magazine in April 2004, Bakri said attacks on London were "inevitable."
One "very well organized" group in London called itself al-Qaeda Europe, he said. "I know that they are ready to launch a big operation."
Question to British Intelligence: Did someone plan these London bombing attacks from the comfort of their armchair?
"For years before his May 2004 arrest al-Masri used the Finsbury Park mosque as a base to speak for what he insisted were political causes."
"In 2000, Bakri told Cybercast News Service in an interview: "We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy."
If an American or a Brit went to Egypt or Saudi Arabia and publicly preached violance against the followers of Islam, he/she wouldn't live to see sunrise. Yet, these ragheads are allowed in our and the Brits' countries to preach their evil and the countries won't deport their sorry a**es. Aargh!
Your frustration with this "twisted turn of sight" (the Infidel's kindness,etc., as green light) is shared by many.
Keep the faith though.
You have that right!
Related story I found also:
Radical British Islamist Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, never one to shy away from incitement, now maintains on his website a prominent picture of the U.S. Capitol in flames,[picture at link below]...Bakri has boasted openly about exploiting the freedom of speech in the West as a weapon against it to "transform the West into Dar Al-Islam," or House of Islam.
"I want to see the black flag of Islam flying over Downing Street," he has said...Al-Muhajiroun has chapters all over the world including the United States. It actively supports the ideology of Osama bin Laden and Bakri has long been suspected of having ties to al-Qaida.
Yeah, I know it is WND, but it is now substantiated - is the US Capitol next? Maybe I'm just being paranoid ; )
Thanks for your reply and its information, which was extremely interesting to me. Going to try to find more too. Will post anything I think might be of interest to you there in Texas.
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