to host Islamic 'celebration' of Sept 11
By Thair Shaikh
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
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
He said: "The people at this conference look
at September 11 like a battle, as a great
achievement by the mujahideen against the evil
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
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
"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
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
Radical Muslims speaking at the conference include
Yasser al-Siri, 40, an Egyptian-born dissident who
arrived in Britain in 1993 and claimed political
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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