UK terror suspect says bomb plans were stunt

A man has denied leading a plot to cause mass murder by blowing planes out of the sky with the excuse that he had meant instead to explode small devices inside the Houses of Parliament as part of a publicity stunt. Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, said that suicide videos which the prosecution claims prove a plot to bomb seven planes flying to North America were in fact made as part of a “propaganda” documentary planned for release after the small explosions in Westminster. He told a jury at Woolwich crown court that the “documentary” would be released on YouTube and was intended to expose the effects of British foreign policy. Ali is one of eight men standing trial after their alleged plot was disrupted in August 2006. They all deny conspiracy to murder and to endanger aircraft. In April, while opening its case, the crown played videos of Ali found after he was arrested in which he warned of “body parts… decorating the streets” if Muslims were not left alone. He is seen speaking against the backdrop of a black flag with Arabic writing on it. Ali said the root cause of the suffering was British and American foreign policy prompting him and co-accused, Assad Sarwar, to come up with the idea of setting off explosions in Britain to change things.

Terrorism Trial: Suspect admits Heathrow blast plan: I expect to go to jail, says airline bomb plot ‘ringleader’

The alleged leader of a gang of eight men accused of plotting to blow up transatlantic planes in mid-air today told a court his intentions had been “taken out of proportion”. Abdulla Ahmed Ali said he expected to go to prison for planning to detonate a device at Heathrow airport’s terminal three. However, the 27-year-old insisted the device was not intended to do any damage and was a protest against Britain’s foreign policy. He denied the prosecution’s case that he planned to smuggle liquid explosives, hidden in soft drink bottles, on to planes and detonate them during flights to north America. The prosecution alleges that the plot, which was foiled in August 2006, would have killed more than 1,500 people. Ali told jurors at Woolwich crown court: “I understand that admitting to use an explosive device in a sensitive place such as an airport is an offence, and I don’t expect to go home after the trial – I expect to do time for that. “This whole thing has been blown up out of proportion. I’m not going to admit to something I didn’t do and never intended to do.” He maintained that the plastic bottle and battery explosive device he attempted to make was never intended to harm. “That’s the truth,” he said. “I’ve done something which is an offence, I’m putting my hand up to that.” He claimed the charges against him had been “exaggerated”, with the media being used “to ruthless effect”. Ali and five other defendants made alleged “martyrdom” videos in which they threatened bloodshed in response to UK and US foreign policy. In Ali’s video, he vowed to teach non-Muslims “a lesson they will never forget” and warned of “body parts … decorating the streets” if Muslims were not left alone. He has claimed the films were meant to form part of a “documentary” that would be posted on the internet and highlight unjust foreign policies. Haroon Siddique and agencies report.

The Muslim Vote

American Muslims have tended to vote for Republican candidates, aligning themselves with traditionally conservative political values such as abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. However, in this year’s election, it seems that many American Muslims are favoring Democratic candidates. The Iraq war, religious and ethnic profiling, and foreign policy concerns are among the frustrations that many Muslim voters are feeling concerning the politics of the past eight years. Muslim voters are feeling motivated in this election to make their voices heard, in line with values that have an impact on their lives.

Is It War? The presidential candidates on terrorism

FOR SIX years President Bush has told Americans they face a “long war” against a global Islamic terrorist movement that, like the Cold War, will challenge a generation. A crucial if so far understated issue of the presidential campaign is whether that sweeping vision of U.S. national security will survive past January 2009. For the most part, the Republican candidates agree with Mr. Bush about the dimensions and centrality of the Islamic extremist threat. Most of the Democrats do not. From that ideological difference flow contrasting practical approaches to Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, as well as differences in the weight the next president may give to other foreign policy challenges.

Imams blame foreign policy for rise in extremism

The majority of Scotland’s Islamic leaders believe UK foreign policy is the reason behind Muslims turning to extremism, a study has found. Out of 31 mosque leaders almost half believed extremist behaviour existed in Scotland with many citing UK foreign policy as the reason. A lack of parental guidance and the misinterpretation of Islam were also given as factors. The study, by the Council of British Pakistanis (CBP) in Scotland, was compiled as part of a Scottish Executive project. {Article continues [here.}->

UK hints at foreign policy shift

A British Cabinet minister has hinted at a change in the relationship between the UK and US. Speaking in the US, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander emphasised the need for “new alliances, based on common values”. He warned against unilateralism and called for an “internationalist approach” to global problems. Correspondents say the speech appeared to be a “coded criticism” of the policies of President George W Bush.

Ramadan: “Blair can no longer deny a link exists between terrorism and foreign policy”

By Tariq Ramadan {Rather than insisting on Muslims’ own duty to integrate, British society must reconcile itself with its self-professed values} Let us look closely at recent developments in government policy toward Muslims. The British Muslim reaction to the July 7 attacks was exemplary, as Ken Livingstone pointed out, and this was a proof that they were well integrated into society. A policy of constructive engagement would have spared no effort to make the best of these tragic events. Instead, the British government has adopted an attitude of double denial, at home and abroad. Obsession with the “terrorist threat” rapidly colonised debate and drove the government headlong into an approach restricted to the “fight against radicalisation and extremism”. Though it appeared normal to deal with the issue, the “Muslim question” could in no way be reduced to one of security. Further, this policy was accompanied by a demeaning – and frequently paternalistic – argument on the necessity of “integration”. Muslims, so it went, must accept those British values (liberty, tolerance, democracy, etc) that make up the essence of “Britishness”. This reductive argument is dangerous on two counts…

Ellison talks up U.S. in Muslim circles

The State Department is turning to Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, to help burnish the country’s image in the Muslim world – despite Ellison’s outspoken criticism of the Bush administration’s foreign policy. “I plan to talk to people in the State Department and anywhere I can to help try to improve America’s image in the Muslim world, make friends for our country,” Ellison, a freshman Minnesota Democrat, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I want to help win friends for our country and to isolate true enemies.” In articles which included translations into Arabic and other languages, Ellison has been profiled by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, which is distributed in foreign countries. He has meetings scheduled at the end of the month with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and with Karen Hughes, the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy; Ellison spoke with Hughes by phone a few weeks ago. A spokeswoman for Hughes, Rena Pederson, said that Hughes has talked to Ellison about being a “sounding board.” “She does believe Muslim Americans can be a bridge to reach out to the rest of the world,” said Pederson. “She has talked to Congressman Ellison, because public diplomacy is not Democratic or Republican – but American. We have a mandate to provide a balance of views.” Ellison, who has called for an immediate withdrawal of military forces from Iraq, said he didn’t find it difficult to reconcile his criticism of the administration’s foreign policy with his promotion of American values. “Look, you know, administrations come and go,” he said. “But the basic core message of this country – which is tolerance, human rights, opportunity – does not change, regardless of who happens to be the president.” “And just because sometimes administration policies don’t clearly reflect that – as in the Iraq war – doesn’t mean it’s not still a core value of the American people,” Ellison added. Ellison’s outreach with the State Department was first reported by McClatchy News Service. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Islamic civil rights group, said that anything that can help the U.S. image in Muslim countries should be tried. “I think Keith Ellison is in a unique position to demonstrate the true nature of religious diversity in the United States to the Muslim world,” Hooper said. “I don’t think the State Department will ask him to endorse foreign policy – it will be a more generic, pro-American endeavor.”

A Question of Identity

When it comes to popular prejudice and state repression, the Muslim experience in the US does not seem to have differed much from the rest of the western world since September 11, 2001. Klein was pushing at an open door. A Gallup poll this summer showed that 39% of Americans supported a requirement for Muslims in the US, including American citizens, to carry special identification. In 2005 the Council on American Islamic Relations (Cair) recorded a 30% increase in the number of complaints received about Islamophobic treatment. But while many Muslims in the US looked to Europe in the hope that it might provide a counterbalance to America’s disastrous foreign policy, they also look across the Atlantic in horror at the experiences of their co-religionists. There lies the paradox: the country that has done more than any other to foment Islamic fundamentalism abroad has so far witnessed relatively little of it at home. “Europe is not coping well with the emergence of Islam,” says the executive director of Cair, Nihad Awad. “It has taken a long time for them to accept that Islam is part of its future and also part of its past.” The different experiences have emerged partly, it seems, because the Muslim communities on either side of the Atlantic are so different. The patterns of migration have differed. A large proportion of Muslims who came to America arrived with qualifications and were looking for professional work. As a result, they are generally well educated and well off.

Foreign Policy Blamed For Muslim Extremism

Government foreign policy is a “key contributory factor” in driving British Muslims to extremism, official Home Office advisers have concluded. The groups said no foreign policy justified terrorism A group of Islamic experts appointed by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, after the July 7 attacks said the Government should learn from the impact of policies abroad. The advisors also condemned a wide range of the Government’s anti-terror proposals, saying the measures risked alienating law-abiding Muslims and driving fanatics underground. “British foreign policy – especially in the Middle East – cannot be left unconsidered as a factor in the motivations of criminal radical extremists,” their report said. The working groups’ final report said “radical impulses” among the Muslim community were often triggered by “perceptions of injustices” in western foreign policy. The team of experts, which included Yusuf Islam, formerly the singer Cat Stevens, said those who criticise British foreign policy should not be assumed to be disloyal. “Peaceful disagreement is a sign of a healthy democracy,” the report stated. “Dissent should not be conflated with ‘terrorism’, ‘violence’ or deemed inimical to British values.” London bombings However Inayat Bunglawala, convenor of one of the seven committees, said that no foreign policy issue justified acts of terror. The report also attacked controversial plans in the Terrorism Bill to create a new offence of “glorifying terrorism”. “The proposal … as currently formulated could lead to a significant chill factor in the Muslim community in expressing legitimate support for self-determination struggles around the world … because of fear of being misunderstood and implicated for terrorism,” it said. Ifath Nawaz, deputy convenor of one of the working groups, said there was huge concern about the anti-terrorism legislation: “It is excessive and it is going to drive people underground.”