Militant Cleric Says Attack on London ‘Inevitable‘
Sun Apr 18, 2004 04:33 PM ET
LISBON (Reuters) – Several Islamic militant groups are preparing attacks on London, making such a strike unavoidable, a radical Muslim cleric said in an interview published Sunday.
“It‘s inevitable. Because several (attacks) are being prepared by several groups,” Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad told Lisbon‘s Publica magazine from London where he is based.
One “very well organized” group in London calling itself al Qaeda Europe “has a great appeal for young Muslims,” he said. “I know that they are ready to launch a big operation.”
The firebrand cleric, who has outraged moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike with his uncompromising views, gave no further details.
Asked if a British Muslim was allowed to carry out a “terrorist attempt” in a foreign country, Muhammad said, “That is another story.”
He added: “We don‘t make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity.”
It was important to see accusations of terrorism in their proper context, he said.
“If we give money to needy women and children, they say they are the families of terrorists. But where do the terrorists come from? Zimbabwe? No. They are people from here. And they are our brothers, the terrorists.”
“The British also are terrorists, in Iraq…Terrorism is the law of the 21st century. It‘s legitimate.”
Sheikh Bakri Muhammad said he had mixed feelings about the possible effect of his comments. “In a certain way I regret that, because the first thing the government will do is deport me, myself and my family,” he said.
The Syrian-born cleric heads the al Muhajiroun group, which has praised the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the al Qaeda militant network blamed for them.
He told Publica there were several “freelance” militant groups in Europe, such as al Qaeda London, prepared to launch attacks similar to those carried out by the al Qaeda network.
Four British men and a teen-ager appeared in court in Britain last week charged with plotting a bombing after they were arrested in the country‘s biggest anti-terror raids since the U.S. attacks on September 11. The men, all of Pakistani origin, were arrested on March 30 in raids which uncovered 1,300 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be used in bomb making.
Asked about his comments that he wanted to have the banner of Islam at 10 Downing Street, Muhammad said, “Yes, it‘s my dream. I believe one day that is going to happen. Because this is my country, I like living here.”
“I‘ve been arrested 16 times. And 16 times freed, because they have nothing against me. These are the contradictions of laws made by man. If they believe in democracy, who are they afraid of? Let Omar Bakri benefit from democracy!”
(See our last post on the atttacks and their fallout)
Meanwhile in New York City…
As we reported earlier this year, the arrest in London of a three-man supposed al-Qaeda cell prompted a brief Homeland Security “orange alert” for New York’s Citicorp building, the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC, and the Prudential Building in Newark, NJ, which were said to have been targeted by the cell. And now a new orange alert has been declared for “regional and inter-city passenger rail, subways and metropolitan bus systems.”
More on the Sheikh
And that wasn’t the first time Sheikh Omar warned of a devastating terror attack on England. This from the London Evening Standard way back in August 2002: