How Britain Encouraged Radicalism And Terrorism - Part Four of Four

By Adrian Morgan

 Britain has long had a policy of accepting "asylum seekers" onto its shores. A noble policy in principle, it has allowed Islamists who are too extreme for their own Islamic countries to arrive and thrive. Within Britain, these individuals have been allowed to continue preaching their extremism, with little or no interference from the authorities.

Individuals such as Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Qatada, Yasser al-Siri, Mohammed al-Massari arrived as refugees seeking sanctuary, and then proceeded to agitate among British Muslims. One famous arrival was Abu Hamza al-Masri (pictured), the fiery former cleric of the Finsbury Park Mosque. Hamza arrived on July 13, 1979, not as a refugee, but on a one-month visitor’s visa.

Egyptian Hamza, real name Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, was not allowed to work according to the visa terms, but he did. He renewed the visa for a month and when this ran out, he did not renew it. On May 16, 1980 he married a British woman, Valerie Traverso, and in summer, 1982, he was allowed to live in Britain indefinitely. Traverso had left her husband Michael Macias, to marry Hamza. It was not until 2003 that it was revealed her divorce from Macias did not happen until July 1982. The marriage, which gave Hamza legitimate right to remain, was itself illegitimate. In June 1984, Hamza moved to divorce Valerie, and the decree was issued on August 15, 1984. In October that year, Hamza married a young Moroccan woman and he became a UK citizen in 1986.

By this time, Hamza (still called Mostafa) had shown little Islamic "fervor", though when Valerie found he was cheating with an alleged prostitute he promised to become religious. Once his citizenship was secured, Hamza went traveling. When he left Britain, he still had two eyes and two hands.

In 1987, while on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca he met Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, founder of the Afghan "Muhajideen", the group originally formed to fight the Soviets who had invaded in early 1979. Azzam and his sons were assassinated in Peshawar, Pakistan in November 1989. According to the BBC in 2004, Hamza shortly afterward this meeting packed his bags and went to Afghanistan, vowing "never to return". The BBC promotes the lie which Hamza told, that he had gone to Jalalabad to engage in reconstruction work, and here he had lost both hands and one eye while clearing mines.

Hamza came back to Britain in 1993 but by 1995 he had gone to Bosnia to provide "support" to the Muslims. The tale of how he lost his hands was doubted by British writer Farrukh Dhondy, who suggested in 2003 that his injury ensued from a "bomb-making gone wrong". In 2006, "Omar Nasiri" revealed the truth. Nasiri was a Moroccan, acting as an undercover agent for both French and UK intelligence. He described how he attended an Al Qaeda training camp in Darunta, Afghanistan, which was blown up by a US air strike on October 12, 2001.

In the late 1990s in Darunta, Nasiri was told by his explosives "tutor" Assad Allah of an event that had occurred when Allah was a student. One fellow student had messed up his recipe for explosives, and "rushed towards the door with the liquid time bomb in his hands. Just as he got outside, the mixture exploded. It blew both his hands straight off and destroyed one of his eyes." Nasiri asked if the person survived, and was told: "Yes. He lives in London now, and preaches in the mosques. His name is Abu Hamza."

Hamza arrived at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London in 1997. By this time, he had become a vocal exponent of radical Islam. With a group of henchmen he began to bully the trustees until he finally gained power there. Abdulkadir Barkatullah, one of the trustees, said that he had reported the thuggish behavior of Hamza and his associates to the police on no less than seven occasions, but no action was taken. In the mid-1980s, before he had gone to Afghanistan, various mosque trustees had already reported Hamza to police for his bullying behavior.

From 1997 onwards there was a power struggle at the mosque. When Hamza was not allowed to gain entry to the building, he and his followers would hold prayer sessions in a road near Finsbury Park underground station. The route of the 106 bus, which I used to take regularly at that time, had to be diverted to accommodate Hamza and his followers. Police would watch the street services, but no arrests for "obstruction" were made.

The precise moment that Hamza became radical is not known - it seems to have happened before he met Abdullah Azzam in 1987. At Finsbury Park Mosque, he had his own arena from which he would preach hatred for the West and also draw recruits for his jihadist cause. His followers fell into two camps - people from Arabic origin and those of Pakistani origin.

 

 

In the late 1990s, Hamza tried to buy a 54-room building in East Sussex to use as a jihad school. When this failed, he turned his attention to locations in Wales and Lancashire before selecting Dog Cry Ranch in Bly, Oregon, which he hoped to use as a terror training camp. The East Sussex building became the Jameah Islamiyah Islamic school. Hamza and a group of followers later visited this school on at least five occasions, camping in the 54 acre grounds.

Despite Hamza’s inflammatory sermons and his use of force against mosque trustees, the British intelligence services appear not to have shown any interest in Hamza until 1998. It was in this year, as Sean O’Neill and Daniel McGrory relate in their book "The Suicide Factory", that Hamza became involved with the leader of a gang who carried out a kidnapping operation in Yemen on 28 December 1998. 16 tourists, including 12 Britons, 2 Australians,  2 Americans, along with their 4 Yemeni drivers had been taken hostage. Within two days, 3 Britons and one Australian were dead.

Intelligence agencies from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands had warned that Hamza was heading a terrorist organization, but their calls were ignored. Hamza bought a satellite phone and communicated directly with the leader of the kidnappers, Abu al-Hassan. Hassan was head of the "Islamic Army of Aden-Abyan". He told al-Wasat magazine on January 11 that when he told Hamza of the kidnapping, Hamza had warned against harming them. The hostages who died were killed in a rescue attempt by Yemeni authorities.

Hamza’s phone conversations with al-Hassan were intercepted and recorded at Britain’s listening center, GCHQ in Cheltenham. Police had sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, urging his arrest, but the call was rejected for "insufficient evidence". Phone tap evidence is not admissible in a UK court of law. The FBI, state O’Neill and McGrory, stated they would use the phone evidence if Hamza were to be prosecuted in the US.

In March 1999, Hamza was arrested, and his home was subjected to a thorough search. Among items taken away for examination was an 11-volume terror manual, entitled "The Encyclopedia of Afghani Jihad", which listed bomb-making and poison manufacture. It also advised potential bombing targets, such as Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower, and tips on assassination techniques. Three tapes of Hamza’s sermons were also taken away by police. Amazingly, the police later returned the Jihad manual to Hamza. He was released after a few days.

When Hamza was finally charged and convicted of inciting murder on February 7, 2006, he was additionally sentenced to three years’ jail for possessing "The Encyclopedia of Afghani Jihad".

 

 

From July 1999 to November 2000 an informant was placed in the Finsbury Park Mosque. Reda Hassaine (pictured) was an Algerian-born journalist who had first visited the mosque in 1998. He had become upset by what he had found and contacted police Special Branch . Originally Hassaine was in the service of Algerian authorities, who were trying to suppress the terrorist group GIA (Groupe Islam Armée). The GIA had members in Britain and France. Both the French authorities and British authorities waved promises of asylum for Hassaine as an inducement to get him to provide information. He posed as a GIA member at the mosque and faithfully delivered reports to MI5 and the French DRG. But neither the French nor the British granted him the asylum he sought.

Hassaine provided information on Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza. He later claimed that he had felt betrayed. He was astounded that no action was taken against Hamza and the mosque. He said of the Finsbury Park Mosque: "There were people there who would sell passports and credit cards and it was like having one foot in a mosque and one foot in the mafia."

As had been the case with Omar Bakri Mohammed, MI5 did not take Hamza seriously. Reda Hassaine claimed: "I told them Abu Hamza was brainwashing people and sending them to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, that he was preaching jihad and murder and that he was involved in the provision of false passports. I told them he was a chief terrorist. The MI5 officer told me Abu Hamza was harmless and that MI5 thought he was a clown." When Hassaine offered to carry a hidden camera, "They told me not to bother, that they weren’t interested."

After 9/11, it became clear that militants had graduated from Hamza’s mosque to engage in international terrorism. Zacarias Moussaoui, the "20th hijacker" who was arrested in Michigan on August 16, 2001, had worshipped at the mosque, as had Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber who tried to blow up a Miami-bound plane on December 22, 2001. Reid’s associate Sajjid Badat, who also planned to be a shoe-bomber, had similarly worshipped at the mosque.

The publicity that Hamza was bringing to himself and the mosque did not serve to stem his extremism. It was claimed by Russian authorities that a man who had worshipped at Hamza’s mosque and left to fight in Chechnya in 2001 had been an associate of Islamic terrorist Shamil Besayev. This individual, Kamel Rabat Bouralha, as well as two others, had not only been worshippers at the mosque, but would later be among the 33 Islamists who carried out the Beslan school massacre of September 1, 2004. 300 people had been killed in the attack, more than half of them children.

Three of the 7/7 bombers - Mohamed Siddique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, and Jermaine Lindsay - had gone to the Finsbury Park Mosque to listen to Hamza’s sermons. WIlly Brigitte was a French national who had been deported from Australia in 2003 after being suspected of plotting to blow up the nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, Sydney. He was jailed in Paris on March 15 this year for nine years for "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise." Brigitte had worshipped at the Finsbury Park Mosque. James Ujaama had stayed inside the mosque in 1999.

Even though Hamza and the mosque appeared to act as a conduit for jihadists to go abroad and commit acts of terror, the UK authorities only took action when it appeared that his associates were ready to commit acts of terror at home. Following a tip-off that was received from Algerian intelligence on January 3, 2003, UK intelligence became aware that an illegal Algerian immigrant with links to the mosque was plotting to create the deadly toxin, ricin. This man, Kamel Bourgass,  lived in Wood Green, a short bus ride from the mosque.

 

 

When traced to an apartment in Manchester, Bourgass stabbed and killed a police detective. Bourgass frequently stayed at the Finsbury Park Mosque, and it was here that he had photocopied recipes for toxins. In his Wood Green apartment, police had found chemical equipment and documentation on poison production. On January 20 the mosque was raided (pictured) in connection with Kamel Bourgass’ links to the building. 7 people were arrested, and items were found in the building. The full inventory of recovered items was not to be revealed until February 7, 2006.

Abu Hamza himself was arrested on May 27, 2004, in connection with an American extradition order, which had been filed on nine counts in relation to his attempts to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon with James Ujaama and others in 1999. While Hamza was being detained at Belmarsh prison in relation to the US order, he was arrested on August 26.

Hamza was not officially charged with any terrorist offenses until October 19, 2004. He was charged on 16 counts under the Terrorism Act 2000 and also the Public Order Act. The trial began in the summer of 2005 but was adjourned.

Hamza was convicted on February 7, 2006. He was found guilty of incitement to murder and given a jail sentence of 7 years. The jury unanimously found him guilty on six out of nine charges of soliciting murder under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, and on three charges of inciting racial hatred under the Public Order Act. Mr. Justice Hughes said that Hamza had "created a real danger to the lives of innocent people in different parts of the world".

The judge additionally stated: "You used your authority to legitimize anger and to encourage your audiences to believe that it gave rise to a duty to murder. You commended suicide bombing, you encouraged them to kill in the cause you set out for them."

He was convicted under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 of possessing information "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". This was the terror manual, though in court he was accused of possessing only 10 of the 11 volumes of the "Encyclopedia of Afghani Jihad". Volume Six, which dealt with "Bombs and Landmines" had gone missing. The judge said he was satisfied that this volume had been "loaned out". A volume detailing in specific terms how to create bombs is therefore still circulating somewhere.

During the trial, passages from the Koran were quoted by his defense lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC. Chapter 2, verse 216 and Chapter 9 verse 111 were cited as purported proof that Hamza’s calls for warfare against non-Muslims were religiously "justifiable".

The items, which had been seized from the mosque in January 2003, were disclosed, confirming leaked reports made by the Times shortly after the raid. The items included three starting pistols, which could easily be reassigned to firing live rounds, a stun gun, knives, CS gas and chemical and nuclear warfare protective suits. Also, hidden behind ceiling tiles, dozens of forged documents were discovered, including driving licenses and passports.

How much Hamza directly contributed to global jihad is not known, but it is obvious that he inspired many people who went on to commit acts of terror. What is unforgivable is that the UK authorities only wanted to stop the pipelines of terror when their own citizens were affected. As Daniel Pipes explained at a conference in London in January: "British-based terrorists have carried out operations in at least 15 countries, going from East to West ... Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Algeria, Morocco, Russia, France, Spain and the United States." If one adds the handiwork of Al-Muhajiroun member Mohammed Bilal, who killed nine people in Srinigar, India, on Christmas Day, 2000, that figure amounts to at least 16 countries.

 

 

On August 1, 2005, the BBC broadcast a report by journalist Richard Watson. Former members of Al Muhajiroun spoke. Abu Uzair (aka Sajid Sharif, who has preached at Hamza’s Finsbury Park Mosque) said: "We don’t live in peace with you any more, which means the covenant of security is no longer, doesn’t no longer (sic) exist... That’s why, those four bombers, um, er, that attacked, er, London - they believed that there was no covenant of security, and for them, their belief was, it was allowed, to attack the UK.... For them, it was allowed. For them it was particularly allowed. Because me, myself, my belief hasn’t been attacked personally myself. For them, the banner has been risen (sic) for Jihad in the UK, which means, for them, it’s allowed for them to attack, and they’ve probably got many other cells inside the UK... You could call them terrorist cells. I would call them Muslim cells in the UK."

Abu Izzadeen, who is now in custody, suspected of supporting terrorism operations abroad, claimed democracy was not Islamic. He said: "If the British public don’t like Shariah, it’s going to be over their noses, whether they like it or not. It’s going to be over Tony Blair’s nose and George Bush’s nose as well - and for your information - the British government knows that." Later he said to the interviewer: "You don’t want to live in a Shariah? Well, when it comes, I’m sure you’ll change your mind!"

Izzadeen and Uzair were leading figures in groups called Al Ghurabaa (the strangers), and the Saviour Sect, both derivatives of Al Muhajiroun and with the same core membership. The Saviour Sect soon changed its name to the Saved Sect. The groups were officially banned in July 2006. Despite this, the same people still operate under another name - Ahlus Sunnah wal Jammah. This group was formed in Tottenham, north London in November 2005. It organized the notorious anti-cartoon demonstration of February 3, 2006 where protesters called for the beheading of those that insult Islam, but has not been outlawed. Changing of names to escape detection and legislation is a tactic shared by former Al Muhajiroun members and also Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The recent revelations of the Operation Crevice trial, showed how members of Al Muhajiroun were actively conspiring with the same figures who carried out the atrocities of 7/7. MI5 has been exposed as less than adequately prepared to cope with homegrown extremism. The Crevice revelations have laid to rest the myth that members of the Al Muhajiroun group, and their guru Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, were harmless.

Omar Bakri Mohammed, founder of Al Muhajiroun, fled Britain in August 2005, and was banned from re-entering the country. Other extremist preachers remain, including Abu Qatada, Abdullah el-Faisal, Mohammed al-Masri and Yasser al-Siri. The terms of Labour’s 1998 Human Rights Act have created a situation where deporting these promoters of jihad to their home countries is nigh impossible.

Britain should have acted against its preachers of hate during the 1990s. A decade later, a whole generation of young Muslims in Britain has become radicalized. A survey for the right-wing Policy Exchange Group, published in January of this year found that nearly a third of British Muslims aged 16-24 believed that anyone who left Islam should be killed.

The right wing in Britain has slowly started to wake up to the mess that Blair’s policies of forced multiculturalism have produced. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), like its US counterpart CAIR, purports to be "moderate". In truth extremists such as Iqbal Sacranie and Inayat Bunglawala who have openly supported Osama bin Laden in the past dominate the MCB. Bunglawala has called him a "freedom fighter". Bunglawala has previously praised jailed terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman as "courageous". Though they now repudiate their earlier statements, the brand of Islam peddled by the MCB luminaries is one of conformity to rigid 7th century values. The MCB has campaigned to have Holocaust Memorial day banned, and has consistently boycotted the event.

David Cameron, leader of the Tory party, in February this year, endorsed a report by his party, entitled Uniting the Country. This report claimed that the MCB, which approves the anti-Semitic and terrorist-endorsing cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, had created a climate in which "hard line members... dominate policy and crowd out more moderate voices."

In August 2005, Tony Blair suggested that he wanted to ban the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which had spawned the terrorist-supporting group Al Muhajiroun. Hizb ut-Tahrir threatened mass riots across the country, and the MCB refused to endorse a ban on the anti-democratic group unless Blair also banned the ultra-right party the BNP. Blair bowed down to MCB pressure, and shelved plans to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Blair is soon to resign from the Labour Party and he will, in all likelihood, be replaced by Gordon Brown, the current chancellor. In November 2006, Brown approved the spending of $910 million over four years. This funding to Pakistan is mainly to be spent on subsidizing madrassas, the seminaries that are notorious for their uncompromising interpretations on Islam and their contempt for the West. Despite this "generosity", Brown has allowed massive cutbacks on national defense. Brown also wants to have more control over the activities of MI5.

The Labour Party has helped to force its culture of leftism and appeasement onto an unwilling populace. When the party was elected in 1997, there was still time to root out the godfathers of radicalism. Now it is too late. The radical preachers’ poison has infected a whole generation, and rather than standing up for inclusive national values, the leftist Labour party has farmed out its policies on Islam to unelected bodies such as the MCB. Worse than that, for the past four years the government has decided to "engage" with radical Islam rather than counter it. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a branch called the "Engaging with the Islamic World Group", which in 2006 paid for Yusuf al-Qaradawi to attend a conference in Turkey. Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has issued a fatwa supporting killing of Israeli civilians. Such a man should not be courted and subsidized by British tax-payers.

The fate that Britain has brought upon itself has so far been avoided by the United States. But the voices of the left are clamoring to be heard. Should a Nancy Pelosi-style strategy (or lack of one) be followed, the US could precisely reproduce Britain’s poor template for tackling Islamic radicalism. Innocent Muslims suffer as much as anyone else from Islamist extremists, yet their voices are never heard. Pressure groups such as the MCB and CAIR do not represent ordinary, law-abiding Muslim citizens. These bodies have a specific agenda which, though not outwardly supporting terrorism, shares exactly the same ultimate goals as those of the most bloodthirsty Islamist. As Omar Ahmed, co-founder of CAIR, said: "Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."

People who try to change a democracy not by the ballot, but by the backdoor, are the ones whose voices should never be legitimized by government patronage. 

 

 


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