Omar Bakri Mohammed, banned from many British mosques, is issuing a call to arms to a committed audience
AN EXTREMIST London cleric is using live broadcasts on the internet to urge young British Muslims to join al-Qaeda and has condoned suicide terrorist attacks. Omar Bakri Mohammed, who has lived in the UK for 18 years on social security benefits, pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and told his followers that they were in a state of war with Britain.
The Times monitored Mr Bakri Mohammed’s nightly webcasts in which he declared that the “covenant of security” under which Muslims live peacefully in the UK had been “violated” by the Government’s tough anti-terrorist legislation, The Syrian-born radical said: “I believe the whole of Britain has become Dar ul-Harb (land of war). In such a state, he added, “the kuffar (non-believer) has no sanctity for their own life or property.”
In his broadcasts, conducted through an internet chatroom, Mr Bakri Mohammed stopped short of calling for terrorist attacks in Britain. But he said that Muslims should join the jihad “wherever you are” and told one woman that she was permitted to become a suicide bomber.
Mr Bakri Mohammed, 46, has indefinite leave to remain in the UK but could be detained without trial under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act if the Home Secretary were to decide he is a terrorist associate.
Last Monday he told his listeners: “Al-Qaeda and all its branches and organisations of the world, that is the victorious group and they have the emir and you are obliged to join. There is no need . . . to mess about.” Two nights later he said that the voices of dead Mujahidin were calling young Britons to fight. “These people are calling you and shouting to you from far distant places: al jihad, al jihad. They say to you my dear Muslim brothers, ‘Where is your weapon, where is your weapon?’ Come on to the jihad,” he said.
The cleric is regarded as a fringe extremist by mainstream Muslims and is banned from preaching at many mosques. But every night he is using internet forums to reach an audience of between 60 and 70 committed listeners, most of whom are under 30.
He lectures for 90 minutes and his audience responds enthusiastically, typing questions about jihad and suicide bombing which are answered verbally. An announcement last October that Mr Bakri Mohammed had disbanded his al-Muhajiroun movement was welcomed. But it appears that he has regrouped and is delivering a more hardline message through the internet and at secretive meetings.
Speaking directly to The Times, Mr Bakri Mohammed denied that he was calling for violent action in the UK. He said his definition of Britain as Dar ul-Harb was “theoretical”.
He added: “It means that Muslims can no longer be considered to have sanctity and security here, therefore they should consider leaving this country and going back to their homelands. Otherwise they are under siege and obviously we do not want to see that we are living under siege.”
The alternative to leaving was to put pressure on the Government to review its anti-terrorist laws, he said, and that the definition of jihad took many forms and not simply military activity. He also denied that he was inciting others to commit acts of violence.
Andrew Dismore, a Labour MP who has long campaigned against Mr Bakri Mohammad’s extremism, said: “With these words he may well be committing offences under the Terrorism Act and other legislation. I will be raising this immediately with the Home Secretary and the Metropolitan Police.”
WAR OF WORDS
“If I am living under a system, Islam allows me to take the benefit that system offers.”
August 1998 on accepting social security benefits
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