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The East London Mosque and Violent Extremism

In the latest discussions of al Qaeda preacher and recruiter Anwar al Awlaki, the East London Mosque rolled out a most unconvincing defence of its own record, which we covered here.

The mosque’s press release included this line:

We would like to reiterate our position on violent extremism, and the roads towards it, as having no moral or religious justification.

The full statement (pdf) also notes that the mosque changed hiring procedures for its facilities after Awlaki appeared by video message to a conference at the mosque’s London Muslim Centre in January 2009.

When our Chairman returned to the UK in early January he ordered a review of our hiring policy. We clarified that the list of speakers needed before a booking is confirmed should henceforth include those speaking “via a live link or via a pre‐recording”. This condition was later amended so that now speakers must be approved before giving even a provisional booking.

So, what have we here?

Aafia Siddiqui was convicted in open court of attempting to murder American soldiers and officials in Afghanistan. She was sentenced to 86 years in prison, not death.

She puncuated her trial in New York with antisemitic outbursts:

On questioning during jury selection: “The next question is going to be on anti-Semitism, and all I said was Israel was behind 9/11, and that’s not anti-Semitism!”

On potential jurors: “If they have a Zionist or Israeli background . . . they are all mad at me. I have a feeling everyone here is them [sic] – subject to genetic testing. They should be excluded if you want to be fair.”

Convicted, she said: “This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America. Your anger should be directed where it belongs. I can testify to this and I have proof.”

Yvonne Ridley and Cageprisoners have mounted a campaign of lies for Siddiqui, claiming that she was abducted in Pakistan in 2003, held for years in Bagram airbase, tortured, and raped. The aim is to stir up furious anti-American hatred.

These lies are not countered by the US government alone. Her former husband has also challenged them.

Cageprisoners are of course the people who championed Anwar al Awlaki too, long after it was very clear that he was an Al Qaeda operative calling for mass murder.

And here is Asim Qureshi’s own view on “violent extremism”, expressed at a Hizb ut-Tahrir rally outside the US embassy in London:

“We embrace the mercy. We embrace every single thing that is set upon us and we deal with it because we have no fear. So when we see the example of our brothers and sisters fighting in Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan then we know where the example lies. When we see Hezbollah defeating the armies of Israel, we know what the solution is and where the victory lies. We know that it is incumbent upon all of us to support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the west.”

As for Ridley, the patron of Cageprisoners, she thinks violent extremists should be protected. In 2006, she told a public meeting organised by the Respect Party in the aftermath of anti-terrorist raids by London’s Metropolitan Police that British Muslims should boycott the police.

Here is an article where she seeks to justify al Qaeda bombings in Amman, Jordan and expressed her preference for the al Qaeda terrorist, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, over the Jordanian royal family.

Or read this article about Chechen jihadi leader Shamil Basayev, the mastermind of the Moscow theatre siege and the horrific attack on a school in Beslan, Russia. When Basayev was killed in 2006, Ridley said the news made her “sad” and she called him a “shaheed” (Islamic martyr).

It’s more than rhetoric. Ridley provides material support to terrorists.

I brought cash and I am happy to say I have given that cash to George Galloway and we have both given that money to the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, which has broken UN sanctions. If they want to charge us, if they want to arrest us, bring it on.

Would the East London Mosque kindly explain to us how hosting Cageprisoners and Yvonne Ridley fits with its stated view: “We would like to reiterate our position on violent extremism, and the roads towards it, as having no moral or religious justification.”