This is a Cross-Post from the CST Blog
Those readers of this blog who are familiar with the history of global jihadi terrorism will know that the above sentence could refer to two such attacks, eight years apart; and by a remarkable coincidence, there are two demonstrations scheduled for the same time and place today, to remember the inspirational figures behind each attack.
The first bombing of the World Trade Centre, in 1993, was carried out by a group associated with Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian sheikh and jihadi leader who was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for directing a group of his followers to bomb the United Nations Building in New York, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and the main FBI office building in Manhattan, as well as plotting to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak. A demonstration in his support has been called by the ‘Sheikh Omar’ Arabic website, and advertised in English by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). They will be marching from Regents Park Mosque to the U.S. Embassy from 2pm to 5pm.
The second attack on the World Trade Centre, on 9/11, was of course inspired by Osama Bin Laden, whose followers in the al-Muhajiroun successor organisation Muslims Against Crusades have called a “funeral prayer” outside the U.S. Embassy at 3pm.
The military planning for both attacks was overseen by al-Qaeda’s Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The IHRC have campaigned for Omar Abdel Rahman for many years, despite the severity of the charges on which he was convicted. Their website carries a “Prisoners of Faith Campaign Pack” (pdf) for him, which opens with his claim that “I am being tried because of my beliefs in Islam”; which is patently untrue, unless you think that planning to bomb various public targets in New York City and assassinate the then President of Egypt is synonymous with belief in Islam. The IHRC’s campaign is based on their claim that the Sheikh did not get a fair trial; one piece of evidence they present for this is that the judge was “a known Zionist” whose wife worked at a Jewish school in New York.
While the demonstration for Omar Abdel Rahman appears to be organised by others, and merely promoted by the IHRC, it is still very strange timing for an ostensibly respectable, human rights-based organisation, to promote a demonstration supporting one of the more notorious global jihad leaders, at exactly the same time and place as another demonstration supporting the most notorious global jihad leader of them all.
This is not the first time that the IHRC will find itself demonstrating in the same place as supporters of Osama Bin Laden. In 2002, at the height of the suicide bombing campaign in Israel, British Jews held a demonstration in Trafalgar Square in solidarity with the people of Israel. Various Islamist groups held a counter-demonstration. In the photograph below, one of the counter-demonstrators is standing on a railing with his jacket removed, to reveal a t-shirt of Bin Laden. Stood to his right, holding a drumstick, is Massoud Shadjareh of the IHRC.
Shortly after this photograph was taken, Shadjareh pulled the Bin Laden fan down from the railing. Presumably he found it embarrassing, or in bad taste. He will have to do a lot more of the same today.