London to host Islamic 'celebration' of Sept 11

By Thair Shaikh

London Telegraph

Original Article

Filed: September 09,  2002

Extremist muslim clerics will meet in London on September 11 to celebrate the anniversary of al-Qaeda's attacks on America and to launch an organisation for Islamic militants.

The conference, which will be attended by the most radical mullahs in Britain, will argue that the atrocities were justified because Muslims must defend themselves against armed aggression.

It will launch the Islamic Council of Britain (ICB), which will aim to implement sharia law in Britain and will welcome al-Qa'eda sympathisers as members.


Sheikh Mohammed

The conference, to be held at Finsbury Park mosque, north London, will be attended by followers of militant groups and chaired by their Muslim leaders, including Omar Bakri Mohammed, whose al-Muhajiroun group wants to establish a worldwide Islamic state.

Mr Mohammed, 44, who was born in Syria and lives in London, has been investigated by Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist squad for anti-semitic statements.

He said: "The people at this conference look at September 11 like a battle, as a great achievement by the mujahideen against the evil superpower.


A poster advertising the conference

"I never praised September 11 after it happened but now I can see why they did it."

Mr Mohammed, who is entitled to stay in Britain although his 1980s claim for asylum failed, said that he would not stop al-Qa'eda members from joining the ICB.

He said: "We don't perceive them as the US perceives them; we see them as a sincere devoted people who stood firm against the invasion of a Muslim country."

The clerics claim that the ICB is funded by Saudi-based businessmen, which, if true, will embarrass Saudi Arabia.

The Riyadh government expelled Mr Mohammed in 1986 and recently launched a multi-million-dollar public relations campaign to persuade America that it is rooting out Islamic militants.

Al-Muhajiroun claims to have secured a six-figure sum for funding the ICB and said it would build a dozen Islamic centres, launch a website and hold seminars and classes for Muslims.

Mr Mohammed said: "I believe the Muslim Council of Britain has sold out to the British Government. Many Muslims in Britain feel like this.

"We have been working on getting the funding for six months: it is from a group of Saudi businessmen. Please don't write about this. I am against the killing of innocent people; we are not at war with anybody in this country."

Abu Hamza al-Masri, a cleric at the Finsbury Park mosque, will be co-chairing the conference. Several suspected al-Qa'eda members have been linked to his group, Supporters of Sharia, and the FBI is seeking his extradition for allegedly trying to set up a terrorist training camp in America.

Mr al-Masri, an Egyptian who lost both hands and an eye while fighting in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation, is also wanted in Yemen on terrorist charges.

Radical Muslims speaking at the conference include Yasser al-Siri, 40, an Egyptian-born dissident who arrived in Britain in 1993 and claimed political asylum.

He was released from custody in July after extradition proceedings by America were dropped because of insufficient evidence. Mr al-Siri has been sentenced to death in Egypt for a bombing that killed a 12-year-old girl.

Imran Waheed, the British representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party), a group banned in a number of Muslim countries, and Anjem Choudary, a British-born solicitor who is chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers and a leader of al-Muhajiroun, will also attend.


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