by Daniel Pipes
The British government won itself the reputation for being tough because it joined with the U.S.-led effort in Iraq, quite in contrast to France. But when it comes to domestic counterterrorism, the French are far ahead of the hapless, head-in-the-sand Londonistanis – as I have noted earlier. Indeed, one can handsomely fill a blog with evidence of British multicultural lassitude and counterterrorist ineptitude. Here are examples, in reverse chronological order:
[I could not desist entirely, so one year later, I began a successor entry to this one at "Some News Items from Londonistan."]
[This entry is closed as of September 1, 2005, because (1) my point has been made, (2) the world now is aware of it, and (3) Melanie Phillips' excellent book, Londonistan, will be appearing shortly.]
"Blair backs banned Muslim scholar": Guess who has been appointed one of thirteen members of a British government taskforce assigned to root out Islamic extremism within the country? None other than that famous moderate, Tariq Ramadan. Apparently chosen by the Home Office, it reports to the home secretary and prime minister within the month. In his new capacity, Ramadan attended a meeting at the Home Office last week. Mike Whine, spokesman for the Jewish Community Security Trust , said: "It's a strange choice given his past statements which some have viewed as being anti-Jewish. Some of our community view him as extreme. He speaks with two voices, one for his European audience which appears moderate, and one for his Arab hinterland where he voices many of the demands of Islamists. He is at the soft end of the Islamist extreme spectrum." (August 31, 2005)
"Radical websites defy deportation threat by urging Islamic war on West": Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced last week he would extradite individuals involved in extremist websites that "foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence." This threat of expulsion led to the closure of one pro-terrorist website, run by Saudi Mohammad al-Masari, but the laws do not apply to organizations, so they ceaselessly continue to spew out the venom and incitement, as Duncan Gardham points out with regard to Hizb ut-Tahrir: "We begin fighting the enemy even if he did not start fighting us. . . Jihad is not a defensive war; it is in fact a war to raise the word of Allah and it is compulsory originally in order to spread Islam and to carry its message even if the disbelievers did not attack us." It is "against explosions in cities" but adds:
(Aug. 29, 2005)
"Top job fighting extremism for Muslim who praised bomber": Inayat Bunglawala, 36, media secretary for the Muslim Council of Britain, is understood to have been selected as one of seven "conveners" for a Home Office task force with responsibilities to help organize a program to reduce extremism among young Muslims, writes Alasdair Palmer in the Sunday Telegraph. Palmer then proceeds to provide a long list of Bunglawala gems:
Comment: The British government is calling in an arsonist to put out the fire. (Aug. 21, 2005)
"Extremist Race-Hate Charges Dropped": Abdul Muhid, 22, a leader of the "Saviour Sect" was arrested and faced two counts of racial hatred in September 2004. He stood accused of saying, while tending to an Islamic stall at a shopping center in Walthamstow, east London, that British troops in Iraq should be killed and homosexuals should be hurled off clifftops and towers. Abdul Muhid denied making these statements, the first in October 2003 and the second in April 2004. After a review, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges because it found there was "not a realistic prospect of conviction" due to identification difficulties (this despite several witnesses who were prepared to give evidence). (August 17, 2005)
"Police chief's green ribbons for Muslims": "There have been pink ribbons to raise money for breast cancer research, yellow ribbons for people who have been kidnapped and red ribbons for those suffering from HIV/Aids," writes Helen Carter in the Guardian. "Now thousands of green ribbons are to be distributed to show support for Muslim communities after the London bombings last month." Specifically, Nottinghamshire chief constable Steve Green has ordered 20,000 green ribbons and sent them to libraries, police stations, council offices and shops across the UK. "Officers will not be compelled to wear these but I have written to my force urging them to take part," he said. Green characterized the effort as a way of showing solidarity with Muslims, who suffered a backlash after the 7/7 attacks. Says the chief constable: "We are united in facing the challenges that last month's tragic events have put upon us. But by far the biggest task which we have undertaken [since July] has been giving reassurance to the community." Comment: What happened to counterterrorism? (August 13, 2005)
"Bakri to have heart op on NHS": Omar Bakri Mohammed, the Islamist loudmouth and terrorist sympathizer who just fled to Lebanon, is free to return to Great Britain and take advantage of an angioplasty procedure to improve his blood flow. It will be paid for by the British taxpayer and will take place at St Thomas's Hospital, directly across the river from the parliament building in London. In addition, the Daily Telegraph notes, Omar Bakri Mohammed receives from the taxpayer £331.28 a month in incapacity benefit and £183.30 a month in disability living allowance, both of which will continue for at least six months while he is abroad, as will the housing benefit on his home in north London and his council tax benefit. And he drives a Toyota worth £30,000, paid for by the taxpayer. His wife, who lives in the UK with their seven children, can continue to claim benefits worth at least £1,300 a month. But the Times indicates that the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, will refuse a request from Mohammed to return. Other details: the operation he needs would cost up to £8,000 if he paid for it. And he has collected up to £300,000 in benefits over the past nineteen years. (August 11, 2005) Aug. 13, 2005 update: They did it. Just four days after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said that the government was powerless to stop Mohammed from returning, Home Secretary Charles Clarke banned him from Britain.
"Four bomb suspects 'had £500,000 in benefits'": Bank of England officials disclosed that the four suspected July 21 bombers – Ramzi Mohammad, Yasin Hassan Omar, Muktar Said-Ibrahim and Hussain Osman – collected more than £500,000 in benefits payments from the British government by using multiple aliases and addresses. Ibrahim, for example, accused of intending to blow up a Hackney bus, seems to have used two dates of birth, six aliases, two national insurance numbers, and two addresses:
(August 6, 2005)
"Cops Made to Raid in Socks": The punchy headline comes from today's London Sun, but the full details are provided in yesterday's Bedfordshire on Sunday, telling of an 18-point guide with dos and don'ts when dealing with Muslims suspected of terrorist or drugs offences. The guidelines, reissued last week by the Bedfordshire Police, starts by noting that because Muslims feel "victimised and suspicious of counter terrorist police operations," the search of a British Muslim household "has the potential to become a critical incident and come under intense scrutiny." Therefore, the police have to be especially cautious.
(August 1, 2005)
Birmingham imam embarrasses his police hosts: It's not funny, but I can't help but chuckle at Nick Britten's report in the Daily Telegraph about Mohammad Naseem, chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque and said to be the most senior Islamic cleric in Birmingham, joining a press conference right after the arrest of Yasin Hassan Omar, one of the accused July 21 would-be bombers. At the invitation of the West Midlands police and the Birmingham city council, Naseem appeared near the place Omar had been arrested, the idea being that his presence would calm racial and religious tensions. As Britten puts it, "Naseem is one of the most respected Muslims in the city and is considered a moderate. He has regular meetings with the chief constable to discuss religious harmony."
Yesterday, however, "His comments shocked senior police officers." Some highlights:
Comment: Perhaps a tiny bit more care should be deployed before labeling someone a moderate Muslim? (July 28, 2005) Aug. 6, 2005 update: More from the "moderate" Naseem, who told a radio station that he sees "similarities" between Blair's approach to Britain's Muslim community and Hitler's demonization of Jews. "I think he is not very wise in the way he did it. I am saying he is not handling the situation wisely, because he says one thing at one time and another at another. He [Hitler] was democratically elected and gradually he created a bogey identity, that is, the Jewish people, and posed to the Germans that they were a threat to the country. On that basis, he started a process of elimination of Jewish people. I see the similarities. Everything moves step by step. I am saying these are dangerous times and we must take note of this."
"Bombers on benefits": "Two fugitive London bombers have been living in Britain on state benefits," reports the Sun. Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, accused of trying to bomb Warren Street underground station, received £23,000 in housing benefit over six years. His flatmate, Muktar Said-Ibrahim, stands accused of trying to bomb a double-decker bus. (July 26, 2005)
"Terror suspect is a convicted mugger": "One of the four suspects in the attempted suicide bombings in London last week spent several years in prison as a mugger, the Telegraph can reveal. Despite his record, Muktar Said Ibrahim, 27, also known as Muktar Mohammed Said, was granted a British passport less than a year ago. A key condition of naturalisation is that an applicant must be 'of good character'." (July 20, 2005)
"Dewsbury-born mufti hates British way of life": Zubair Dudha, 29, an Islamic teacher of primary school children, teenagers and young adults at the Islamic Tarbiyah academy in Dewsbury, the town where he was born, openly proclaims how he despises the West and openly advocates jihad against it. Dudha told the Times that he understood the anger of young Muslims. His sees his mission as "channelling that anger in the right manner . . . controlling it and giving it the correct guidance." His students are taught that "the enemies of Allah" have schemed "to poison the thinking and minds of [Muslim] youth and to plant the spirit of unsteadiness and moral depravity in their lives."
As for jihad, Dudha wrote in a foreword to the 1996 translation of a pamphlet titled Jihaad:
And this man is teaching young children! (July 20, 2005)
"Western policies are to blame, says Livingstone": The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, yesterday blamed Western policies in part for the spread of Islamist beliefs that inspired the London bombers.
As for Al-Qaeda, it is the West's responsibility: "We created these people. We built them up. We funded them."
On the same general topic, Livingstone defended Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Islamist thinker whom he invited to London in 2004 calling him a "leading progressive Muslim." When asked about al-Qaradawi's verbal support for Palestinian suicide bombers, Mayor Livingstone said the thinker's views had been misreported. (July 20, 2005)
"Teacher used gyms to enlist disaffected Muslim youths": Not only did the Hamara Youth Access Point receive taxpayer funds (as noted in the July 14 entry), but so too did the basement of the Jamai mosque on Hardy Street, Leeds, where Mohammad Sidique Khan spread his doctrine of Islamist terror. Paul Stokes writes in the Daily Telegraph that "Some of the equipment for the gym he ran in Hardy Street was paid for through EU-backed grants from Leeds city council to the Kashmir Muslims Welfare Association. In Feb 2000 it gave £2,000 from its social regeneration budget to support voluntary and community groups for local youth, and a further £2,000 in January 2003." (July 18, 2005)
"He Wasn't Terrorist": Mahzer Mahmood reports in the News of the World, a London tabloid, about the views of an uncle of July 7 suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer. Bashir Ahmed feels no compunctions about publicly stating that he considers the 22-year-old not a terrorist but a person "looking for justice."
Ahmed calls suicide bombers "desperate people" who "take extreme action" because "They can see that their [Muslim] brothers are not getting their rights." He blames Tony Blair and George Bush for the bombings, demands that they apologize for "for the way they have abused the human rights of Muslims" and warns that "There will be more" violence. (July 17, 2005)
"Police snipers track al-Qaeda suspects": On the surface it sounds good: "Undercover police sniper squads are tracking as many as a dozen Al-Qaeda suspects because security services fear they could be planning more suicide attacks," writes David Leppard in the Sunday Times (London). "The covert armed units are under orders to shoot to kill if surveillance suggests that a terror suspect is carrying a bomb and he refuses to surrender if challenged."
But in fact, this is another dismaying sign of British failure of nerve. "Police fear the suspects could be planning a further wave of attacks but do not have enough evidence to arrest them, or place them under the government's new anti-terror control orders." In other words, the hapless British police are following the potential terrorists around the clock, waiting for them to go into operational mode, rather than preempting them by locking them away. (July 17, 2005)
"London-based radical salutes bombs 'victory'": Hani Al-Siba'i, Egyptian-born and now residing in London, where he runs the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies from his home, has celebrated the attacks on his own city, killing at least 55. The former leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad stated in an interview with Al-Jazeera television on the day after the bombings that "If Al-Qaeda indeed carried out this act, it is a great victory for it. It rubbed the noses of the world's eight most powerful countries in the mud. The victory is a blow to the economy." (July 17, 2005)
"Terror suspect free to roam before blasts": The Mirror reports:
(July 16, 2005)
"British bombers likely recruited at government-funded centre": The four young British men who carried out the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings in London, it appears, were recruited at a government-funded youth centre. Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail interviewed three workers at the Hamara Youth Access Point and they told him that at least two of the suicide bombers had been "very regular" visitors at all hours to the storefront drop-in centre, while a third frequented it occasionally. "It had become so radical and so hateful that I asked if I could stop working there," said one of them. All the workers described Hamara as a hotbed of Islamist politics and organizing, a place where "mysterious figures" routinely turned up to deliver extremist messages. Although formally secular and non-political, it was in practice neither. Posters of George Galloway's Respect Party hung from its walls, for example, showing Israeli soldiers pointing rifles at Palestinian children. "It's fair to say that there was some kind of recruiting going on here. Some of the youth workers were really involved with it, and it got to the point where they were acting really hostile to anyone who wasn't their kind of Muslim."
The centre receives partial funding from the British government and the European Union. (July 14, 2005) July 15, 2005 update: "The Hamara centre "is an outbuilding of a larger community centre which was built in a £1m project part-funded by the government's New Opportunities Fund and opened by Hilary Benn and his father Tony in 2003." And the Wall Street Journal calls the Hamara center "a gleaming new Muslim community center, with a sports facility and offices for nonprofit groups." It also indicates that some funds for the centre come from proceeds of the British lottery, which is ironic, given the Islamic prohibition on gambling.
"Police fund visit by academic who justifies suicide bombings": Tariq Ramadan – banned from entering the United States and rank apologist for suicide killings, is to speak at a conference in London on July 24. Part of the £9,000 to fund his trip will be paid for by the Metropolitan Police and by the Association of Chief Police Officers. Norman Brennan, the serving policeman who heads the Victims of Crime Trust, commented on this development:
In another interview, Brennan added:
For good measure, the conference at which Ramadan is to speak is sponsored by the same Da'watul Islam that in 2004 invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi to Great Britain.
To this criticism, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair defended the invitation and subsidy for Ramadan, arguing that this guest would be listened to by radicalized Muslims. (Just what they need, say I.) He added that Ramadan has been visiting the UK for five years:
(July 12, 2005)
"Al-Qa'eda link hides multitude of suspects": The Londonistan chickens came home to roost yesterday, with four simultaneous bombings, killing at least 40 persons. In a review of the capital city's terror suspects, Philip Johnston of the Daily Telegraph provides a brief but startling review of Islamist groups based in Great Britain.
He notes that at least a dozen international terrorist organisations and their British-based supporters have been banned since 9/11 (including non-Islamist ones such as Peru's Shining Path and Japan's Aum Shinri Kyo) on grounds that they "commit or participate in acts of terrorism, prepare for terrorism, promote or encourage terrorism or are otherwise engaged in terrorism." Groups on the list may not be joined, supported financially, have is emblems displayed in public, or address public meetings of three or more people.
That's the theory. In practice,
That would certainly focus attention on the problem. (July 8, 2005)
"Pakistani politician got paid £1,000 a month in UK benefits": It turns out that the governor of Sindh province, Pakistan, Ishrat-Ul-Ebad Khan, who lives in a mansion waited on by servants, chauffeured in Mercedes limousines, also for ten months received British state benefits worth about £1,000 a month, plus the £244-a-week rent on a house in northwest London that he keeps as a pied-à-terre for his family in Britain. In addition, Daniel Foggo and Massoud Ansari reveal in the Sunday Telegraph that his wife Shaheena received benefits for her "stress disorder" and Khan got extra funds as her full-time caregiver. (June 12, 2005)
"Muslim anger at bid to serve drink outside": Gambrino Pizzeria, an Italian restaurant in Kelvinbridge, Glasgow hoping to serve food and drink at 8 tables and 16 seats on the sidewalk outside its premises, has infuriated the area's Muslim community. Gambrino's application to the Glasgow City Council for permission is being called "offensive" by two Muslim charities, the UK Islamic Mission and Noah's Ark/ Radio Ramadhan, which formally objected to the plan. Despite the protest, council officials are recommending that the application be passed. (June 8, 2005)
"Rangers drop Carling shirt logo for its Muslim supporters": The Glasgow football (in American, soccer) team, dropped the logo of Carling beer from their team shirts for its Muslim fans who don't want to advertise alcohol on their chests. The Muslim Association of Britain today called on another team, Celtic, to follow the Rangers' example. (June 1, 2005)
"Calls for Israel's destruction in London": One day after Islamists called for the nuking of Washington from the streets of London, they along with their Leftist, Palestinian, and Haredi comrades took to those same streets on May 21, under the auspices of the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to urge the destruction of Israel.
(May 22, 2005)
"UK Quran protests at U.S. Embassy": One might think of a London protest as a civilized affair. But not so a Londonistan protest. About 300 Muslims expressed their rage over the non-desecration of the Koran outside the U.S. embassy on May 20, breaking laws left and right (by covered their faces, by threatening lives). Pictures show them burning U.S. flags and carrying signs proclaiming "Islam will dominate the world." CNN describes the scene:
The Mirror adds that other chants went ""Kill, kill USA, kill kill George Bush … George Bush, you will pay, with your blood, with your head". May 27, 2005 update: The Barnabas Fund adds that the protestors "set fire to a wooden cross" outside the embassy. Interesting way to protest the supposed Koran desecration, no?
No arrests were made. But the U.S. embassy did issue a press release noting that calling for the death of Bush, Rice, and Rumsfeld "does not reflect the values of British or American democracy or the merciful and compassionate religion of Islam." (May 21, 2005)
"Ministers 'back' Saudis in £2.5m torture battle": The Blair government will oppose a British subject in his attempt to sue the Saudi monarchy, Duncan Gardham reports in The Telegraph (London). Ron Jones, 52, an accountant from West Sussex, seeks £2.5 million for damages due to wrongful arrest, torture, personal injury and loss of earnings. He had been in Saudi Arabia just four months, working for a petro-chemical company, when a bomb blast sent shrapnel into his body. Taken to a hospital, he was there arrested on suspicion of having caused the explosion, then tortured during two months' captivity. This claim was confirmed by doctors who examined him after his release; even the Foreign Office stated that Jones's account "was substantiated by evidence. Officials were in no doubt he was telling the truth" about being tortured. Nonetheless, the Foreign Office now is weighing in against his claim, due to "the entitlement in international law of foreign states to immunity from proceedings before the courts of other states." (May 2, 2005)
"British terror suspect to stand for election": Babar Ahmad, 30, plans to run as a candidate in the May national elections on a platform of human rights. As a candidate of the Peace and Progress Party, he will stand in the Brent North parliamentary district in London. This – despite his facing extradition to the United States where a court in October 2004 charged him with supporting terrorism, conspiring to kill Americans, and laundering money. More exactly, he is accused of running websites, including www.azzam.com, to recruit for Al-Qaeda and other organizations, as well as outfit them with gear such as gas masks and night-vision goggles.
Speaking on behalf of the Peace and Progress party, the actor Corin Redgrave (brother of Vanessa) exclaimed that he is "immensely proud" to have Ahmad carry its banner. "A vote for him will be a vote for justice - it will ensure judicial kidnap by the US of an innocent British citizen could not and must not take place. Babar Ahmad is threatened with torture and special administrative measures which could take away his confidentiality with his lawyer and prevent him from seeing his family. He is an innocent man. There is no evidence against him in this country. It is an outrage this is happening." (April 20, 2005)
"Anti-Jewish 'bomber' set free": Riaz Burahee, 25, of Edmonton, north London, made 92 telephone calls to fifteen Jews, threatening during a three-day hate rampage on March 22-24, 2004, to kill, rape, and blow them up. This made him the person with the greatest number of racially-motivated offences of anyone in the United Kingdom. Caught, he admitted to ten offences – one charge of communicating false information about a bomb, four of racially aggravated harassment, and five of five of racially aggravated harassment causing fear of violence. He described himself as a Muslim with strong religious beliefs who had no links to terrorism, though photographs of Osama bin Laden were found in his home.
Despite this record, Burahee was sentenced to no jail time, just three years of community rehabilitation and mandatory attendance at a community drug center to treat his cannabis problem. He was also served with a restraining order to stay away from the fifteen witnesses against him. Judge Diane Faber of Wood Green Crown Court decided that psychological treatment would be the best way to protect the public from his paranoid schizophrenia. She addressed Burahee thus: "It is plain from these reports that you committed these offences while mentally ill, suffering symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia and experiencing delusions of persecution by Jewish people."
Rabbi Levi Brackman, whose wife was called by Burahee and told "that he was going to blow up my synagogue," understandably saw things a bit differently: "He did not even apologise fully to the people he did this to. … This was a missed opportunity to send out a signal to people that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in British society, and I am very disappointed indeed." (April 8, 2005)
"Force apology over racist remarks": Hot words were exchanged during a Ribble Valley Council meeting in 2003. In particular, some unruly participants said nasty things to Farouk Hussain and Sheraz Arshad in the course of discussion about their organization, the Medina Islamic Education Centre, building a mosque in Clitheroe, Lancashire. The police officers present at the meeting did not intervene and – imagine this – did not arrest anyone. Lancashire Police now duly made up for this transgresson by paying £5,000 to the Medina Islamic Education Centre, where the two men serve as chairman and secretary. Chief Superintendant David Mallaby also offered an apology, calling the force's actions "unacceptable" and adding: "The police officers who were present at the meeting when racist comments were made by some members of the audience should have acted at the time but didn't. However, this was due to them, in the main, not being properly briefed prior to the meeting and I take responsibility for that. We are hopeful that we can continue to build on what was, and remains, an excellent relationship with the Muslim community of Clitheroe." Mr Arshad graciously accepted the apology and the money: "We couldn't rest until we did get this apology. We are very grateful to the constabulary for taking this step and being big enough to admit they were wrong. We are hopeful now to improve relations in the town. This is the first step and there is a lot of work which needs to be done." (April 6, 2005)
"'Human bomb' on airliner hoped to help poor children": Subjected to a random customs check on arrival at Gatwick Airport in January 2003, Hasil Mohammed Rahaman-Alan was found to be carrying a live M26 hand grenade, hidden in the transformer of a knee massager. He had taken a British Airways flight from Caracas and said was planning to visit his mother in Holland. Rahaman-Alan faced three charges for this offense: possession of a grenade for possible terrorist purposes, possession of an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or damage property, and carrying a dangerous article on a British registered aircraft.
That was then. In court, the 39-year-old Venezuelan Muslim, described in court as "confused," has pleaded guilty to possessing a grenade with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury; and to having a dangerous article on the aircraft. But Rahaman-Alan insisted he intended to blow himself up in an open area, possibly a park. Why? To help humanity and the plight of children of the world; the grenade would be his "microphone to the world," At one point he also said he hoped "to help improve airport security." In any case, he denied being a terrorist or having sympathy with any terrorist cause.
What makes the case remarkable is not his preposterous claim but the British prosecutor's willingness to accept it and grant that Rahaman-Alan was not a terrorist but merely a misguided fellow. The Crown accepted that his motives were the "vague and confused" ones of highlighting the plight of humanity and of children in particular. "The overall picture which emerges is of a placid man with some personal frustrations but no extremist views or violent intention," stated Nicholas Dean, QC, for the Crown. (April 6, 2005) May 21, 2005 update: Rahaman-Alan was yesterday sentenced to six years in jail. Aug. 7, 2005 update: The same preposterous claim about a demonstration bomb was made by July 21 bomb suspect Osman Hussain: "I wanted to show the British what people go through in war. Except that in war people actually die."
"Hamas link to London mosque": Nick Fielding and Abul Taher inform us in The Sunday Times that Mohammed Kassem Sawalha, appointed as one of five trustees to help to run the recently reopened Finsbury Park mosque in north London, is a former military commander of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization. Sawalha's link to Hamas emerged when he was named as a co-conspirator in a federal court in Chicago. Sawalha last week asserted that he still supports Hamas. Including its terrorist activities? "I have no comment on the question of military activity." U.S. court documents indicate Sawalha was a leader of Hamas in the early 1990s on the West Bank. Sawalha has also been president of the Muslim Association of Britain, itself an Islamist organization. Barry Norman, the Metropolitan police chief superintendent who works closely with the new trustees, dismissed the news: "I am aware of the background, but if I took the view that I'm not working with this or that person I'd end up spending my whole life in my office." (Feb. 13, 2005)
"Islam - A European future": That's the title of a talk given this evening by M. Iqbal Asaria at the City Circle, "a network of professionals drawn mainly from the City of London." Judging by the description of the talk, Asaria is sketching out how and why Muslims will predominate in Europe and why this will mean breaking the old special relationship with the United States: "Europe needs good relations with its Muslim citizens and the Muslim world. Much of the debate over how close Europe should be with the United States to the detriment of its Muslim neighbours and citizens is driven by these realities." Asaria promises to "explore these unfolding realties and ask whether Muslims are ready to grasp these emerging opportunities and what they must do to capitalise on then." What is particularly noteworthy is that Asaria, someone associated with such Islamist organizations as the Islamic Foundation in Leicester and the Muslim Council of Britain, was recipient of a CBE in this year's Queen's honors list. (February 4, 2005)
"UK terror suspects can be confined at home": The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, announced that British citizens suspected of but not charged with of terrorism offenses could be put under house arrest or have their movements controlled. Under the toughest version of these orders, suspects would be forced to remain indefinitely in designated premises without access to computers or telephones. Lesser suspects would have their movements controlled via electronic tags and curfews. The decision will be issued by the Home Secretary, not a court. One detainee, an Algerian identified as "G," already lives under house arrest after having been released from Belmarsh prison due to illness. He wears an electronic tag and must five times a day call the tagging company. He is forbidden use of the internet and other than his immediate family and medical personnel, visitors must receive permission from the Home Office. The shadow home secretary, David Davis, responded ironically to the news of this new program: "The Home Secretary could find himself confining one known terrorist only to recruit 10 unknown terrorists." (Jan. 27, 2005)
"Terror suspects to be freed from Belmarsh": Philip Webster and Richard Ford report in The Times (London) that "twelve foreign terrorist suspects are to be freed from top-security prisons but kept under virtual house arrest." (Jan. 26, 2005)
"Police spent £900,000 to give Hamza street pulpit": The Times (London) reveals that London's Metropolitan Police spent £874,387 to supervise weekly prayer gatherings led by the Islamist Abu Hamza al-Masri, 47, currently on remand in the high security Belmarsh Prison, awaiting trial on 16 offenses, including one under the Terrorism Act. After Abu Hamza was thrown out of the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London in January 2003, he took the streets, giving his weekly sermon on St Thomas's Road, where for 22 months tarpaulins covered the road as his congregation of about 150 Muslims prayed and then listened to him preach in Arabic and English. Reporter Sean O'Neill notes that on routine weeks, some 12 to 18 uniformed officers patrolled the site for up to two hours; and that more police turned up for longer periods when counter-demonstrators protested Abu Hamza's event. This information, incidentally, came out as a result of the U.K.'s brand-new Freedom of Information Act 2000 (which came into effect only on January 1, 2005).
The police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, called the situation "a challenging policing operation" that his officers had handled with "appropriate sensitivity." Members of parliament reacted otherwise to the police spending about £10,000 per week to make sure that Abu Hamza's voice got heard. Andrew Dismore, a Labour critic of Abu Hamza, declared the expenditure a waste of public money and said it "could have gone a long way towards putting more police officers on the beat." Patrick Mercer, the Conservative frontbench spokesman on homeland security, decried the police action for making it easier "for poison and subversion to be preached openly on our streets." (Jan. 24, 2005)
"Muslim group targets poster nudity": The United Kingdom seems to be developing areas where the Shari'a rules, at least when it comes to public nudity. Nicola Woolcock reports in The Times (London) that billboard ads featuring naked flesh are being torn down or painted over by Muslims in predominantly Islamic areas. Indeed, a Birmingham-based group called Muslims Against Advertising (MAAD) has even set up a website advising how to vandalize signs. That the Advertising Standards Authority has banned an underwear ad from near a mosque is not enough; MAAD lists potential targets such as Levi's, Wonderbra, PaddyPower, perfume, hair dye, television programs, a radio station, and a strip club. MAAD proclaims its belief in "direct action" and says it "has paint and isn't afraid to use it." When photographs of semi-dressed women appear, the offending parts are painted over or ripped off.
(Jan. 22, 2005)
"Shop bars twin [World Trade Center] towers game": Helen Carter reports in the Guardian about an imported "tasteless £1 liquid crystal game" called "Laden Versus USA" that has children aged five and over pretending to be Osama bin Laden steering a passenger jet into New York's World Trade Center, and how it has been removed from the Pound Store in Warrington, Cheshire, after being for sale for an unknown length of time. The store owner, Imran Sodawala, withdrew the game after protests, but only reluctantly, observing: "It's not the only shop that sells it. I've seen it in other Pound Stores. But if people are upset, then I will withdraw it straight away." (Jan. 17, 2005)
"Livingstone Demands UK Media Apologize to Qaradawi": IslamOnLine reports that London's Mayor Ken Livingstone, a far-leftist, demanded at a press conference that the British media apologize to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi concerning his visit to London in July 2004. "On behalf of the people of London, I want to apologize to the Sheikh for the outbreak of xenophobia and hysteria in some sections of the tabloid press which demonstrated an underlying ignorance of Islam." Livingstone specifically singled out for blame the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), for having made public some of Qaradawi's uglier statements. In contrast, Livingstone had only good things to say about Qaradawi, one of the most influential Islamist thinkers alive today, calling him "a progressive figure who is moving that religion [i.e., Islam] in the correct direction." He urged MEMRI to apologize to Qaradawi. (Jan. 11, 2005)
"Toe nails keep terror suspect from court": Abu Hamza al-Masri, the notorious Islamist charged with terrorism-related activities, "failed to appear before a British court on Tuesday, complaining his toe nails were too long and he could not walk," Reuters reports. He was supposed to appear via video-link from his prison but, his defense lawyer Peter Hynes explained, "Hamza has physical difficulties. He is unable to walk. He has been perambulating barefoot around the prison." The prosecutor, Adina Ekiel, added: "He is complaining that his toe nails are too long." (Jan. 4, 2005)
"Muslim second wives may get a tax break": According to a Sunday Times (London) article by Nicholas Hellen,
(Dec. 26, 2004)
"Radical cleric Abu Hamza sues for more British benefits": Abu Hamza al-Masri, currently in British jail on incitement to murder charges, plans to sue the government for the £200 a week in welfare he says he is owed for almost three years. According to the Sun, which broke this story, Abu Hamza already is getting plenty of other benefits:
And that is not even taking into account the £1.6 million jail mosque being built for him and a few other prisoners (on which, see the Nov. 7, 2004 update of this entry). (Dec 21, 2004)
"Terrorist crisis - first suspect set to win freedom": Scotland on Sunday tells how an accused Palestinian terrorist known as Abu Rideh, 33, suspected of links to associates of Osama bin Laden and detained for the past three years, is about to walk, a free man. Oh, and Abu Rideh is accused to taking a female member of the prison staff hostage and to have tried to cause an explosion at the prison. (Dec. 19, 2004)
The £1.6 Million Mosque … At Hook's Jail": ("Hook" refers to Abu Hamza Al-Masri, the behooked Islamist leader charged with 16 offences, including soliciting to murder and inciting racial hatred.) The warden at Belmarsh Prison, Europe's highest security jail, plans to spend £1.6million to build a mosque on the prison grounds for Abu Hamza and other suspected al-Qaeda terrorists. Naturally, these object to praying the "multi-denominational" chapel available to them, where Christian crosses are present. The warden is showing due solicitude and the mosque plans sound splendid: 150 feet squared, it will be have a dome and minaret.
The Prison Officers Association assailed this decision:
A Belmarsh prison officer added off the rcord:
(Nov. 7, 2004)
"School told to drop its 'offensive' saint's name": The council in Islington, north London, has instructed the St Mary Magdalene Church of England Primary School, a Church of England institution, to drop the word "saint" from its name out of concern that this might offend non-Christians. The council suggested other names, such as the Islington Academy or the Barnsbury Academy. That the church is paying £2 million towards building the school gives it not much leverage, it seems. A spokesman for the council's ruling Liberal Democrat party explained: "We need to ensure this is a school which is appropriate for Islington in the 21st century. "Church-going is now a much less significant part of people's lives." (Nov. 5, 2004)
"Muslim men use law loophole to get a harem of 'wives'": "Up to 4,000 British Muslim men have entered into polygamous marriages, some of them keeping as many as five wives, according to senior religious figures. They have taken advantage of a loophole in the laws against bigamy by going through a 'nikah' ceremony at a mosque rather than registering the marriages officially. Many are avoiding the expense and obligations of divorce, but an estimated 2,000 or more are men who wish to exercise their 'right', according to traditional interpretations of the Koran, to have as many as four wives. … In extreme cases, women brought from abroad, notably from Bangladesh, to marry a British Muslim have been victims of so-called honour killings by their families after being sent home when the relationship has failed." In an accompanying article, "I have enough love for all my women," the Times tells the story of Medi Siadatan, an Iranian immigrant with "three wives, twelve children, a busy design consultancy and homes in Britain and Milan." What makes his case of particular interest is that his wives number two Italians and one Englishwoman. (Oct. 21, 2004)
In a Times (London) article about Abu Hamza Al-Masri, the British Islamist, we learn first that he was charged a day earlier "with 16 offences of encouraging murder, stirring up race hatred and possessing a terrorist document. Ten of the counts allege that the former imam 'did solicit or encourage' others at public meetings to kill non-believers in the Muslim faith: four refer specifically to attacks on Jews." The article then goes on: "Abu Hamza is to receive a new aluminium hook from the NHS [National Health Service]. A specialist from a London clinic will fit the hook at Belmarsh, at an estimated cost of £5,000. The cleric lost both hands and an eye in a bomb explosion. A spokesman for the Home Office said that he was entitled to the same care as any other prisoner." (Oct. 20, 2004)
"Selfridges and Asda join Ramadhan celebration": In Birmingham, the department stores Selfridges and Asda are making a prayer room available, complete with ablution facilities, and producing break-fast festive suppers for Muslims, both employees and customers, during Ramadan. (Oct. 13, 2004)
"London mosque link to Beslan": "A member of the group responsible for the Beslan school massacre last month is a British citizen who attended the infamous Finsbury Park mosque in north London. … Two other members of the group, loyal to Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, are also believed to have been active in the UK until less than three years ago. They are suspected of taking part in the raid on the school in which 300 people, half of them children, died." (Oct. 3, 2004)
"Mosque teacher beat boy with stick": When an 11-year-old boy drew a picture of a naked caveman with a penis during a class at the Alma Road mosque in Peterborough, his instructor Mohammad Abdullah, 44, became enraged and threw the boy to the ground, hitting him with a stick on the arms and neck while telling him "I hit you for your own benefit. Take it like a man." (Sept. 21, 2004) Oct. 3, 2004 update: Abdullah was sentenced to four months in jail. Nov. 12, 2004 update: The Peterborough case unclogged a far larger problem: "Police and child protection officials have launched an investigation into allegations of child abuse at two mosques in the West Midlands. Around 40 schoolchildren are to be interviewed over claims that they have been subjected to violence and punishment by elders at the mosques, which are on adjoining roads."
"'Death threat' asylum seeker returns to Pakistan for wedding": Nigel Bunyan tells the tale in London's Daily Telegraph of one Liquat Ali, a Pakistani asylum seeker in Great Britain. First, some background: Ali, 47 and father of nine, claimed asylum in Britain, apparently in 1998, on the grounds that his factory in Pakistan was blown up by political opponents, that he faced death threats there, and he would be killed if he had to return to his native country. For six years, Ali battled the British bureaucracy in an effort to avoid being sent back, finally winning an indefinite leave to remain in Britain in April 2004 as part of an amnesty for asylum seekers who had waited over five years for a decision. In the meantime, he joined the Liberal Democrat party and won a seat in 2003 on the city council in Manchester, representing the Longsight borough. Ali's brief political career is so far noteworthy mainly because of the controversy that erupted soon after his election, as it became clear that he could not follow council discussions without a translator. Nonetheless, he won re-election to the council in June 2004 and is now said to attend meetings without need of a translator.
And now Ali again finds himself in the news, this time because – notwithstanding his fears of mortal assault in Pakistan – he returned there for an eighteen-day vacation in August 2004 during which he attended his son Mohammed's wedding, visited with his sick mother, and accompanied a Liberal Democrat colleague on the Manchester city council, John Commons, to some political engagements. (During those visits, Ali discreetly and wisely stayed in the background, so as not to attract press coverage.) Ali confesses that he did not inform the Home Office about the visit, as he was required to do. Speaking through an interpreter, he assessed the trip: "My family in Manchester told me to be vigilant and it was very stressful. I took a risk and it was worth it. It is still not safe for me to live there."
Sajjad Hussain, however, is unconvinced. Hussain is the Labour politician who lost the Longsight seat to Ali in 2003 and he says, "I know asylum seekers who fear they will be killed if they go home. They would not go back for any reason. I believe that there are grounds for the Home Office to investigate this case." Hussain's argument might convince some, but not the Home Office, whose spokesman explains that a person such as Ali, granted indefinite leave to remain in the U.K. is allowed back in so long as he spent less than two years in his native country. (Sept. 14, 2004)
"Cleric supports targeting children": What does Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of al-Muhajiroun, think about the recent atrocity in Beslan, Russia, where some 400 people were killed when Islamists seized a school? Well, he endorsed it. Holding innocents (including children) hostage is a justified step for any Muslim who has suffered at British hands. "If an Iraqi Muslim carried out an attack like that in Britain, it would be justified because Britain has carried out acts of terrorism in Iraq. As long as the Iraqi did not deliberately kill women and children, and they were killed in the crossfire, that would be okay." (Sept. 5, 2004)
"Advert still in place by mosque despite protests": A 1998 protest by the Council on American-Islamic Relations against a southern California billboard showing Osama bin Laden and calling him "the sworn enemy" struck me as so deep an insight into that organization that I have posted this press release on my website. This came to mind on reading that Bristol's Muslim community is outraged that a billboard showing bin Laden next to the words "Go Get 'Em" had not been taken down immediately, especially because it is just around the corner from the Shahjalal Jamia Mosque in Bristol, England. Mosque elders deem the ad, for a new version of PlayStation2 computer game called America's 10 Most Wanted, "insensitive and undiplomatic," "offensive," and "irresponsible." The PlayStation2 game involves capturing fugitives such as the Al-Qaeda leader and Saddam Hussein. Players compete against each other to win a £10,000 reward. The chief executive of Play It, the maker and publisher of the game, was indignant too: "We have told the advertising company to take it down immediately. We had no idea that this billboard was near a mosque. The last thing we would want to do is cause offence." (Aug. 28, 2004)
"Terror leaflets found at mosque": Police last week were called in to investigate after hundreds of leaflets urging Muslims to become Mujahideen fighters and ask them to "pray for death and decay to be visited upon the West" were distributed at Birmingham Central Mosque, one of Europe's largest Islamic centers . The flyers were signed by Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamah, said by mosque officials to be an alias of Al Muhajiroun organization, which I have elsewhere described as "perhaps the most extreme Islamist group operating in the West." Interestingly, the mosque's chairman, Mohammed Naseem, blamed the British government for Al Muhajiroun's presence. "Its leaders continue to preach and incite terrorism and yet the Government does not nothing about it. These people should be removed from the country." It bears noting that on July 29, 2004, Azmat Yaqub, a person associated with the Birmingham Central Mosque died in a hail of bullets at a gymnasium, after having survived a similar assault in March 2003 in what the press reported as a dispute between factions at the mosque. This mosque appears to be out of control; one wonders if it will it go the way of its Finsbury Park counterpart. (Aug. 15, 2004)
"Does a "Covenant of Security" Protect the United Kingdom?": That's the title of a blog I began today chronicling the apparent deal between the violent Islamists and the British government according to which the former leave the UK alone and direct their terrorism exclusively outward. (August 9, 2004)
"Hardliners hijack the re-opening of mosque": The closing of north London's Finsbury Park mosque in January 2003, due to suspected terrorism-related activities associated with Abu Hamza al-Masri, was supposed to clean the place out permanently. Ah, but this is Londonistan. The mosque re-opened after a year and a half yesterday for a while and was immediately occupied for two hours by some forty of Abu Hamza's acolytes, interrupting prayers, denouncing the trustees and new imam. The group's leader, Abu Hamza ally Abu Abdullah, in a 20-minute address announced that he had taken the mosque back "for the people." In true Abu Hamza style, he damned the trustees for working with the "infidels" and claimed he could produce thirty times as many people as he had brought yesterday. As a result of these antics, the mosque was again closed. Oh, and this detail, supplied by the Guardian: Abu Hamza's followers have prayed outside the mosque every Friday since he was banned, "resulting in a sizable policing bill and the closure of the road to traffic, while neighbouring mosques have struggled to cope with up to 800 displaced worshippers (Aug. 7, 2004)
"British Islam colleges 'link to terrorism'." Sean O'Neill reveals in the Times of London that two British universities have each endorsed an Islamist college that train imams for British mosques and have "links to terrorism."
The University of Wales has validated courses at European Institute of Human Sciences (EIHS). Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brethren leader known for condemnation of homosexuality as a disease and his enthusiasm for Palestinian suicide bombers, chairs the council of scholars that oversees the EIHS academic program. Teaching is conducted solely in Arabic. EIHS is housed in an eighteenth-century manor house in Llanybydder, West Wales. August 11, 2005 update: The University of Wales announced that it would no longer validate courses at the EIHS, ascribing this decision to purely academic reasons. Jane Norris-Hill, a university spokeswoman, explained: "The University of Wales Lampeter has very high academic standards and had concerns that the performance of some of the students did not always reach the demanding standards that the university requires for study at degree level."
The University of Loughborough has validated courses at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, near Leicester. Markfield's rector is Khurshid Ahmad, 72, who is also vice-president of Pakistan's Jamaat-e Islami and someone who in July 2003 wrote that Afghan areas under Taliban rule "had become the cradle of justice and peace." One of Markfield's lecturers is Azzam Tamimi, who is a member of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and an admirer of the Taliban. The Islamic Foundation, which established and controls Markfield, has two trustees who are listed by the United Nations Security Council as linked to the Taliban or al-Qaeda. The Prince of Wales opened the new campus of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education in January 2003.
In sum, these two colleges appear to be connected to the two oldest and most powerful Islamist movements, Jamaat-e-Islami and the Muslim Brethren, and that appears to be just fine with the two universities, not to speak of Prince Charles. (July 29, 2004)
"Terror Suspect Seeks Bail for Mental Health Treatment": A Palestinian terrorist suspect held being at Broadmoor, a security psychiatric hospital, seeks bail so that his mental health problems can be treated "in the community," the High Court heard today. Referred to only as "A" (because he is a hospital patient), this individual was arrested over three years ago on suspicion of raising funds for terrorist groups, including those linked to Osama Bin Laden. In July 2002, Home Secretary David Blunkett had him transferred to the hospital because of his mental health problems. A is seeking bail by calling on his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. (July 21, 2004)
"Hijackers allowed to stay for fear of infringing their human rights": In February 2000, nine Afghans hijacked a Taliban-regime airliner internal flight and forced it to fly to London. Today they found out that immigration adjudicators had refused the hijackers asylum but ruled that they could not be deported. The adjudicators ruled that Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits returning anyone to a country where he might be "subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," prohibits the hijackers from being deported. Never mind that the Taliban no longer rule Afghanistan; defense lawyers argued that the hijackers anyway face a danger from "Taliban elements who could target them." As a result, the nine can stay in Britain, along with their 21 dependents. Oh, and they are living in rent-free housing and receive welfare benefits. The decision embarrasses the Government, which intends to appeal. The shadow home secretary, David Davis, characterized the ruling as "crazy" on the grounds that it invites others to hijack planes as a means to claim asylum. The Daily Telegraph notes two prior precedents for this ruling: the six Iraqis who in 1996 hijacked a Sudanese airplane to land in London have remained in the country with their families; and three members of a gang that hijacked a Tanzanian airliner in 1984 have remained in Britain. (July 14, 2004) May 11, 2006 update: In a decision that dismayed politicians across the political spectrum, the High Court ruled that the hijackers should have been admitted to the UK as refugees and allowed to live and work there freely. Mr. Justice Sullivan yesterday accused the Home Office of abusing its powers by failing to give the nine formal permission to enter Britain, deeming this a breach of their human rights. The judge ordered the Home Office to pay legal costs on an indemnity basis - the highest level possible - to signify his "disquiet and concern." The hijackers so far have cost the British taxpayer an estimated £20-30 million in legal fees, asylum processing, and benefits for the families.
"A Jilbab in the School's Colors" I cover this episode in a separate weblog entry. (June 15, 2004)
"Legal delays give Hamza nine months before appeal": Abu Hamza al-Masri was the first immigrant to have his UK citizenship revoked due to his words or actions judged to "seriously prejudice" British interests. He is now scheduled for deportation. A hitch developed, as Audrey Gillan explains in the Guardian: "The three-week hearing was due to start yesterday but Mr Hamza's failure to take part in the legal procedures and produce any evidence in his defence has caused delays." It is good to know, however, that "The chairman of the panel, Mr Justice Ouseley, warned Mr Hamza that he must begin to prepare his case, since no further delays would be tolerated." (April 27, 2004)
"When Osama bin Laden becomes PC": I cover this episode in a separate weblog entry. (Jan. 15, 2004)
"Conservative Party organises Milad-un-Nabi celebration." Leaders of the Muslim Council of Britain "attended the Milad-un-Nabi function organised by the Conservative Party" at the party's central office on May 15, 2003. The Conservative Party chair, members of the shadow cabinet, and a number of MPs attended. "This was the first time that such an event celebrating the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has been organised by a political party," noted the MCB. Ian Duncan Smith, the party leader, spoke: "I'm grateful to the Muslim Council of Britain – its many membership organisations – and the many other groups that actively represent Britain's Muslims – increasing awareness of Islam throughout this country...Today's celebration is but a small step in what I hope will be an ever-deeper, and ever more friendly association between Conservatives and British Muslims....The sooner I have Muslim Conservative MPs, the sooner I will have a Muslim minister." (May 16, 2003)
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