Anti Fascism

“Don’t Panic I’m Islamic”

A jihadist recruiter and instructor, who calls himself “Osama Bin London” has been convicted of running ” al-Qaida style training camps across Britain”.

The Guardian report is pretty comprehensive, and you can read it here.

A few choice bits:

Four of the defendants had arrived in the UK as young children, fleeing poverty in the West Indies or conflicts in Africa.

Three were recent converts to Islam, and all had failed to build the prosperous new lives to which their parents aspired.

Officers said no arrests were made before the July 7 bombings of three tube trains and a bus because, at that stage, it was unclear what the group were planning.

Attending a place used for terrorist training was not, at that stage, a crime on the statute book. It was also not initially clear whether the men were being trained for attacks in the UK or for further training overseas.

“Attilla’s guilty plea [is part of] … a huge change in the pattern of terrorist trials. It’s hugely important in the sense of trying to reassure the community that these cases are real.

“Sometimes there’s a danger of not taking [the threat] as seriously as it warrants. There’s a danger of trivialising these people. There was repeated talk of fighting and killing non-believers.”

The BBC also has pretty much the full story:

A former crack addict whose first marriage collapsed, he began to put his life in order when he turned to God.

By the mid 1990s he had opened his own bookshop in east London and was running regular “da’wa stalls” – leafleting and debating with passers-by – in central London.

Anger and politics had become core to his faith. He attended talks on the plight of Muslims around the world – in Bosnia, Kashmir, Palestine and later Chechnya. He saw this suffering for himself when Bosnian refugees moved into Hackney and began coming to his shop. He concluded Muslims were the victims of conspiracies.

Hamid was an occasional member of Abu Hamza’s congregation at Finsbury Park Mosque. His co-accused in the trial, Atilla Ahmet, had been Hamza’s right-hand man.

Other men at the mosque included some who had fought abroad in previous jihadi escapades – resisting the Soviets in Afghanistan or taking part in the bloody violence that tore apart Algeria.

Hamid was not himself part of Muktar Ibrahim’s 21/7 bomb plot. But investigators say he played a critical role in the radicalisation of the men who carried the devices.

The recordings appear at first to be rambling and incoherent, punctuated with the domestic noise of kids, tea cups and shuffling feet.

But time and again the same topics emerged: the Jews, Americans, Muslims under attack, Muslims who have sold out, Bush, Blair, war in Iraq and a claimed theological justification for violence to defend the global brotherhood.

The BBC, to its credit, also mentions the fact that Mr Hamid appeared in a BBC documentary entitled “Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic”. The message of that documentary was that muslims who wore religious dress were suffering prejudice and discrimination within Britain, where they were treated as if they were terrorists.

That is most certainly an injustice. But it is not one which Mr Hamid, a terrorist recruiter and trainer, is in any position to complain about.

The documentary was aired a few days before 7/7.

You can see Mr Hamid on that documentary here.

UPDATE

Nasreen Suleaman was a researcher on that programme, and took Mr Hamid paintballing:

Nasreen Suleaman, a researcher on the programme, told the court that Mr Hamid, 50, contacted her after the July 2005 attack and told her of his association with the bombers. But she said that she felt no obligation to contact the police with this information. Ms Suleaman said that she informed senior BBC managers but was not told to contact the police.

Ms Suleaman told the court that Mr Hamid was keen to appear in the programme. She said: “He was so up for it. We took the decision that paintballing would be a fun way of introducing him.

So, let’s get this right. Nasreen Suleaman knew that Hamid was associated with the bombers. She decided not to tell the police herself. She did, however, inform her BBC managers.

Who were these BBC managers? Did they report this information to the police? If not, why not?

I don’t know about the BBC management structure. Did she report what she had been told to the producer of the programme, Phil Rees?

Phil Rees, who produced the show, told the court that he was impressed by Mr Hamid’s sense of humour while looking for someone to appear in the documentary. He said: “I think he had a comic touch and he represented a strand within British Muslims. I took it as more like a rather Steptoe and Son figure rather than seriously persuasive. I saw him as a kind of Cockney comic.” Mr Rees, who now works for the Arabic TV station al-Jazeera, gave Mr Hamid a signed copy of his book Dining With Terrorists.

I don’t know what the BBC senior managers did, but this is what should have happened:

The Terrorism Act 2000
We have a legal obligation under the Terrorism Act 2000 to disclose to the police, as soon as reasonably practicable, any information which we know or believe might be of material assistance in:

preventing the commission of an act of terrorism anywhere in the world.
securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of a person in the UK, for an offence involving the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.
It is a criminal offence not to disclose such information, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Any situation where BBC staff may be in potential breach of the Terrorism Act must be referred to Controller Editorial Policy and Programme Legal Advice.

The Act also outlaws certain national and international organisations described as “terrorist” groups, making it illegal for them to operate in the UK. Details of the list can be found at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/terrorism/threat/index.html.

I hope that somebody looks into this.

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