By Glenn Frankel London — Britain is drawing up a new blacklist to block alleged terrorist sympathizers from entering the country and deport those already here, officials announced Wednesday, detailing expanded efforts to head off violence such as the July 7 bombings. Officials also said they had reached an agreement to extradite Jordanian terrorism suspects to Jordan. Civil libertarians have expressed concern that the deportees could be subjected to torture and other abuses, despite Jordan’s pledges of good treatment. The crackdown is part of a government campaign to root out what it views as fundamental causes of the transit attacks, following the disclosure that the four men who appear to have carried out the suicide bombings were young British Muslims who turned into fanatics. At least 56 people, including the bombers, died in the attacks, and 700 were wounded. Britain has for years seen itself as a haven for political refugees, including some considered extremists by other European countries and the United States. But the bombings have caused the government to reconsider both its immigration policies and its tradition of freedom of speech. In Pakistan, authorities said they were searching for a man named Haroon Rashid, who they believe may have played a role in the attacks. They denied reports that they had arrested him. A man by that relatively common name was taken into custody, officials said, but then released when it was determined that he was not the person being sought. Senior Pakistani intelligence officials have said that, after early questioning of two dozen people suspected of being Islamic radicals, no clues about the terrorist contacts of the London bombers have been found. About 150 such suspects have been detained during a nationwide police crackdown in the past two days. Three of the apparent bombers were of Pakistani descent and visited Pakistan in the months before the attacks. The fourth man was a Jamaican-born convert to Islam. In London, the government hopes that the new measures under discussion will cut off or reduce the opportunities for radicals to influence alienated young Muslims in urban areas such as Leeds, the northern British city where three of the men lived. Charles Clarke, the Cabinet minister in charge of domestic security, told the House of Commons that the government plans to compile a database of unacceptable behavior, such as preaching extremism, running radical Web sites and writing articles intended to foment terrorism. He said he had asked his department and Britain’s intelligence services to “establish a full database of individuals around the world who have demonstrated relevant behaviors.” Those on the list could be barred from the country if their presence is judged as “not conducive to the public interest,” he said. “In the circumstances we now face, I have decided that it is right to broaden the use of these powers to deal with those who foment terrorism or seek to provoke others to terrorist acts.” Clarke also said he planned a new offense of indirect incitement to terrorism that would target “those who, while not directly inciting, glorify and condone terrorist acts knowing full well that the effect on their listeners will be to encourage them to turn to terrorism.” His statement won immediate backing from the opposition Conservative Party, which said it also wanted the government to regulate and vet Muslim clerics to weed out extremists. “There are good imams and bad imams, and it’s no help to the good imams if we don’t deal with the bad imams,” said David Davies, the party’s home affairs spokesman. Clarke also announced that the government had reached a memorandum of understanding with Jordan that would allow Britain to deport suspects there. Under international law, Britain cannot send people back to a country where they might face mistreatment or the death penalty, but officials said the memorandum, which was not released, included assurances that deportees would be treated correctly. Officials have said they are negotiating similar agreements with several other Arab governments. Amnesty International, the human rights organization, said it had compiled recent accounts from Jordan of secret detentions of political prisoners, beatings during interrogation with sticks and cables, sleep deprivation and threats of killing and rape against prisoners and their families. “Frankly, we think these assurances are not worth the paper they’re written on,” said Saria Rees-Roberts, an Amnesty spokeswoman. “It’s just unacceptable for the U.K. to try to circumvent the global ban on torture. We believe the U.K. must bring the people responsible for the bombings to justice, but going soft on torture is not the answer.” One of those likely to be targeted for deportation is Abu Qatada, a Jordanian-born cleric who has been convicted of terrorism in absentia in his native Jordan. The authorities branded him as one of the spiritual fathers of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, after police found tapes of his fiery anti-Western sermons at the Hamburg apartment used by some of the Sept. 11 hijackers. Qatada was arrested three years ago on suspicion of terrorism and is under house arrest in London, but authorities say they have been unable to bring him to trial because much of the evidence against him is based on intelligence data that they do not want to reveal in court.
By Gideon Long LONDON (Reuters) – British Muslim leaders and Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed ways to tackle radical Islamists on Tuesday in the wake of the London bombings, but face a tough task to win round disaffected young Muslims. Senior imams, Muslim politicians and representatives of the Muslim Council of Britain went to Downing Street where they had an hour-long discussion with Blair. “There was a strong desire from everybody there to make sure we establish the right mechanisms for people to be able to go into the community and confront this … evil ideology, take it on and defeat it,” Blair told a news conference afterwards. Muslim member of parliament Shahid Malik said there was “a massive appetite” among Britain’s 1.6 million Muslims to weed out radicals. “We recognize we’ve got to work better at confronting those evil voices — as minute as they are — inside our communities,” he said. But radical Muslims dismissed the meeting as a sham and even some moderates said they were suspicious of Blair’s agenda. “The whole focus has been on trying to put the blame on Islam and the Muslim leadership,” said Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News, Britain’s biggest selling Muslim newspaper. He said there was “deep concern” in the Muslim community “about how far Blair may try and impose some kind of secular interpretation of Islam in his declared aim of helping Muslims to find a ‘moderate and true voice’.” SHOCK WAVES The attacks of July 7, and the revelation that the bombers were British Muslims and not foreign militants, has sent shock waves through the country’s Islamic community. While condemning the bombings, Muslim leaders have had to accept there are radicals in their midst who advocate violence and preach hatred of the West. Some Muslims have called for reform in Britain’s mosques, which they say are out of touch with young Muslims. Others have urged police to clamp down on radical Islamist groups who regularly canvas outside mosques and on university campuses. One such group, Al Muhajiroun, disbanded last year but its former members are still active. Its former leader in Britain, Anjem Choudary, said Tuesday’s meeting at Downing Street was an irrelevance. “The type of so-called Muslims at this meeting are those who toe the government line,” he said. “They are the lackeys of the British government. They’re the ones who have been appointed by Tony Blair to be the official voice of the Muslims.” He said Britain would inevitably be attacked again by Islamist militants if it refused to change its foreign policy in Iraq, the Middle East and Kashmir. “For us, the main objectives are to work to implement the sharia wherever we are and obviously to support the jihad wherever it is taking place,” he added. Faced with such militancy, the Muslim Council of Britain faces an uphill struggle. While it is an influential umbrella group which brings together some 400 British Muslim organizations, it has come under fire from some young Muslims who say it is out of touch with their feelings.
Thursday’s Attacks Turn Attention To A Group Alienated From British Society. By James Brandon LONDON – Thursday’s coordinated terrorist attacks that killed at least 49 people have underscored competing forces within Britain’s Muslim community: a minority that advocates violence against Western targets, and those who want to coexist peacefully with Britain’s multifaith, multiethnic society. Since the bombings, the media and Muslims have been at pains to explain that most of the country’s 2 million Muslims are peaceful. “The Muslim community in Britain has a long history and is enormously diverse,” says Anas al-Tikriti, a member of the Muslim Association of Britain. But the attacks are turning attention to the increasing numbers of young British Muslims who are rejecting their parents’ traditional culture in favor of a radical and expansionist Islam. This strikingly Western version of Islam combines an independence of thought with a contempt for established traditional scholarship and a theme of teenage rebellion. “Getting involved in radical Islam is an emotional thing rather than a rational decision,” says Abdul-Rahman al-Helbawi, a Muslim prayer leader. “And it’s not a matter of intelligence or education – a lot of these radicals in Britain are very well-educated.” In Dalston market in north-east London on Thursday, “Abdullah,” a Muslim watch-mender and evangelist, was in a pugnacious mood. “We don’t need to fight. We are taking over!” he said. “We are here to bring civilization to the West. England does not belong to the English people, it belongs to God.” Two days later in a prosperous West London cafe, Mr. Helbawi pondered the attacks. “It’s not a surprise but I am still shocked,” he said. “How can they do this? London is a city for all the world. This is not Islam.” Hours after the bombings, Helbawi logged onto an Internet chat room run by British Muslim extremists. “They were all congratulating each other on the attacks,” he said. “It was crazy. They were talking about how they had won a great victory over the infidels, as if they had just come back from a battle.” Although so far, there is no evidence that British Muslims were involved in the bombs, there is little doubt that many British Muslims feel that Britain “deserved” the attacks for supporting the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. “Because Muslims explain the conflicts in Iraq, Kashmir, and Israel through Islam, every Muslim feels involved,” said Helbawi. “People watch television and see Palestinian women being hit and pushed around by Israeli soldiers, and get angry and feel that they have to do something.” But beyond anger, a sense of alienation often drives radical Islam. Many second- and third-generation immigrants find themselves cut off not only from their parents’ cultures but also from a British one that includes alcohol and looser sexual mores. “If you don’t drink, it really cuts you off from English society,” says Ummul Choudhury, a London-based Middle East analyst for the Gulf Centre for Strategic Studies. “The view of the older generation is also that you do not integrate. If you do, you are told you are betraying your culture and religion.” The resulting isolation makes it easier for young Muslims to develop a contempt for British society. “There is also a lot of racism toward white British people,” says Ms. Choudhury. “It’s not really something that people want to talk about, but there are definitely some things that Muslims say between themselves that they would never say in front of white people.” For frustrated and isolated young Muslims, radical Islam is not difficult to find. Girls in particular are often prevented from going out at night and can be easily drawn into online Muslim communities where they come into contact with other disillusioned Muslims from across Europe. One leading analyst of the Islamic diaspora even compares the lure of extremist Islam to 1950s teens listening to Elvis in an attempt to shock their parents. “The son of a Pentecostal preacher in Brixton was recruited by the radical Muslims,” says Nadhim Shehadi, acting head of the Middle East program at Chatham House. “This young man initially tried to upset his parents by becoming a rapper,” says Shehadi. “But when his parents stopped objecting, he became a jihadi instead.” The antiestablishment nature of this new Islam and its apparent status as an alternative to capitalism and secularism is also winning converts among native Britons. “People come to Islam from all walks of life. It’s not just middle-class people but also electricians, judges, and taxi drivers,” says Sara Joseph, the editor of “Emel,” a lifestyle magazine for Muslim women, who converted to Islam at age 17. “The main catalyst for conversion is often going out with a Muslim, although the primary factor is usually a search for spirituality.” While the estimated 1,000 British Christians, atheists, and members of other faiths who convert to Islam every year are often attracted by Islam’s clearly defined teachings, this minor trend is overshadowed by Muslims’ highbirth and immigration rates, which tomany Muslims promises increased political and social influence in the future. Indeed, taking advantage of Britain’s rapidly expanding and increasingly Muslim population are new parties that aim to promote ethnic and religious agendas. One is Respect, a left-wing party founded by former Labour MP George Galloway, that aims to unite Muslims and socialists around opposition to American foreign policy and globalization. Linked to the desire for increased political power are attempts by some radical Muslims to begin a process of Islamicizing British cities. Last month, Muslim groups in Glasgow petitioned the City Council to ban an Italian restaurant from serving alcohol to diners seated at outside tables. Hospitals in Leicester considered banning Bibles from hospital wards to avoid offending Muslim patients. In Birmingham, a group called Muslims Against Advertising began a campaign of painting over billboards that they deemed offensive to Islam – targeting ads for Levi’s jeans, perfume, and lingerie. But these small campaigns are polarizing public opinion along ethnic and religious lines – and creating support for Britain’s far-right groups, who present themselves as defenders of Britain’s hard-won freedoms.
By James Blitz and Jimmy Burns in London Senior police officers on Sunday revealed that they had recorded several incidents of “hate crime” following the London bombings – including one that had led to “serious injury”. As one of Britain’s leading Islamic figures insisted the London bomb attacks had been “contrary to Islam”, the police acknowledged that the terrorism had triggered reprisals against Muslims in recent days. “We have had some incidents of hate crime – racially and religiously motivated offences – and we take those kinds of offences very seriously,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick said in London. “But thankfully none of these has been the cause of major damage, although there was a serious injury reported in one of those incidents.” Senior government figures have been concerned about the possibility of reprisals against ethnic minority groups because of the London bomb attacks. However, leading religious figures from across the faiths on Sunday met in London to stress their common values and to condemn the attacks. Sheikh Zaki Badawi, head of the Council of Mosques and Imams, said the attacks were “totally contrary to Islam”, adding: “Anyone claiming to commit a crime in the name of religion does not necessarily justify his position in the name of that religion.” Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, said the fact that Britons were worried about reprisals after the bombings was a sign of the “normality” of inter-faith relations in the country. Some senior government officials expressed concern about the possible impact on community relations after Sir John Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner, warned that the London bombers were “almost certainly” British and that there were many more born and bred in the UK willing to attack. Sir John said last Thursday’s bombers were “totally aware of British life and values” and although international terrorists might have provided the expertise, it was “wishful thinking” to suspect the perpetrators came from abroad. In an article entitled “Young, clever . . . and British” written in the News of the World newspaper on Sunday, he said: “I’m afraid there’s a sufficient number of people in this country willing to be Islamic terrorists that they don’t have to be drafted in from abroad.” Such a warning, while privately shared by some security officials, is condemned by others as politically dangerous when uttered in these terms and publicly. “The British police and government are very worried about community tensions getting out of control. These kind of comments risk being counter-productive,” said one European police insider. Senior police officers and security chiefs believe the support of British Muslims could be critical in finding those responsible for last Thursday’s bombings. They believe that information provided from within the Muslim community could provide intelligence on the bombers’ movements since the explosions. But police are also appealing for information on individuals who might have been acting suspiciously in recent weeks, including those arriving from abroad. While MI5, the security service, is thought to have boosted its recruitment of individuals with specialist cultural and language skills since the 9/11 attacks on the US, the current search for the bombers – thought to be supporters of the aims of al-Qaeda – is likely to be aided if they are not provided with safe havens.
MADRID Terrorists believed to be responsible for the Madrid train bombings last month were targeting a Jewish community center and cemetery outside of Madrid for a possible future attack, a senior Spanish investigator said on Tuesday. A map showing the two sites was discovered in the ruins of an apartment destroyed 10 days ago when at least six of the alleged bombers blew themselves up to avoid capture by the police, the official added.
A number of mosques across the UK have appealed to worshippers at Friday prayers to co-operate with the police in the fight against terrorism. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged imams to make the appeal but some are thought to be angry their religion has been linked with terrorism. Meanwhile, police are questioning a ninth man following anti-terror raids in the South East. Tony Blair welcomed the appeal and said new anti-terror laws could be drawn up. At Regent’s Park Mosque, the largest in the country, spokesman Abdesselam Daoud said although the MCB’s letter would not be read out in full, its sentiments and concerns would be reflected in the day’s sermon. “It’s not practical to read a letter to a large audience but the sermon will focus on concerns of brotherhood and security of the community,” he said. But as several thousand prayer-goers left the London mosque, fringe radical group Al Muhajiroun staged a protest and burning of the union flag. The overwhelming majority ignored the protest, while some of the prayer-goers shouted abuse at the radicals. Others complained that the media at the scene were hyping the situation. During his Downing Street briefing to press on Thursday, Mr Blair indicated identity cards would be brought in soon and further anti-terrorist legislation was being drawn up. The MCB drew up a letter to mosques in the wake of the Madrid bombings, although news of its unprecedented step came at the same time as the raids in the South East, which led to the seizure of half a ton of fertiliser used in bombings. Police have until Saturday to question the first eight men – thought to be Britons of Pakistani descent – arrested over an alleged bomb plot. The latest man to be arrested was a 27-year-old Briton held in Crawley, West Sussex – the fourth in the town. He was held on Thursday evening on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. A man has also been detained by police in Canada in connection with alleged terrorist offences in London, although police have not indicated whether the arrest is linked to the British raids. Mohammed Momin Khawaja is due to appear via video link before a court in Ottawa on Friday. ‘Major crisis’ The Muslim Council of Britain said there had been an “overwhelmingly positive” reaction to its calls for mosques to help in the fight against terror. And it dismissed the comments of Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, a cleric who on Thursday said the MCB was being unfair and advised Muslims not to co-operate. MCB general secretary Iqbal Sacranie said: “The message that is going out is not in any way associating mosques with terrorism.” Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, he said: “Mosques are an important institution in the country. “The imams and chairmen and secretaries are playing a very important role in society. “We are facing a major crisis in the country and world over. We have to exercise our duty, an Islamic duty, which is to convey the message to the community that they have responsibilities as well.” As well as Friday’s sermons, booklets are being printed that will remind Muslims of their obligation to help safeguard Britain’s security.
WASHINGTON, D.C., CAIR) – A delegation of American Muslim leaders met today with the Spanish ambassador in Washington, D.C., to offer condolences for the more than 200 people killed in last week’s terror attacks on the Madrid train system. The delegation, organized by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), expressed the American Islamic community’s condemnation of the bombings and told Ambassador Javier Ruperez that Muslims grieve for all those who died. Ambassador Ruperez said Spain is going through a “very difficult time,” and compared the attacks to those carried out in the United States on September 11, 2001. He said the people killed in the train bombings were of 11 different nationalities. “An apparent goal of the terrorists is to divide the world along religious and national lines,” said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who took part in today’s meeting. “The most appropriate response to these vicious attacks is to strengthen and expand relations between people of all faiths and cultural origins.” Meeting participants included the head of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO), representing more than 50 Islamic centers, mosques and Islamic organizations in the greater Washington metro area. “We join with all other American Muslims in both condemning the bombings and offering condolences to Ambassador Ruperez and the families of the victims,” said Muzammil Siddiqi, member of the executive council of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation also sent a letter of condolence to Ambassador Ruperez. CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.