Two doctors face car-bomb terror trial in London

Two doctors charged with trying to bomb a Glasgow airport and London’s West End will be portrayed by prosecutors as terrorists in thrall to a fundamental form of Islam, a jury in London heard Wednesday. Justice Colin Mackay also instructed jurors to set aside their prejudices and prepare for “an interesting case.” Bilal Abdulla, 29, and Mohammed Asha, 28, have been in jail awaiting trial since the abortive June 2007 attacks. The Iraqi-raised Abdulla and Asha, a Jordanian, had worked in British hospitals since 2004. Two poorly designed car bombs abandoned outside West End night spots on June 29, 2007, failed to detonate. They were discovered only accidentally — one when paramedics spotted it emitting smoke, the other after it had been towed away by traffic enforcement officials. Police said both contained drums of fuel, packs of nails, timers and detonators. The following day, an attempted suicide car-bomb attack on Glasgow International Airport caused only one death — that of attacker Kafeel Ahmed, who suffered lethal burns while trying to ignite a propane-based bomb on board his vehicle. Indian-born Ahmed was the alleged driver of the sports-utility vehicle that rammed into security barriers outside the airport, while Abdulla was the alleged passenger. Police suspect that Abdulla and Ahmed also delivered the West End car bombs. Asha was arrested hours after the Glasgow attack while driving with his wife on an English highway, and police subsequently identified him as a likely ringleader based on cell-phone and other electronic records. Shawn Pogatchnik reports.

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Scottish Muslims claim increased police harrassment

Kenny Macaskill, the justice secretary, and senior police officers are to hold talks with Muslim leaders this week amid growing resentment that Asian passengers are allegedly being harassed under terrorist stop-and-search powers. Community leaders say the powers are being over-used by police at airports and railway stations, with people routinely detained for up to two hours and interrogated on their religious beliefs, prayer habits, knowledge of the Koran, political affiliations, hobbies, and their views of the Iraq war. In some cases, “suspects” are later visited at home and questioned about internet sites they have viewed, fuelling fears that they are under surveillance. The British transport police (BTP) have also been accused of heavy-handedness at main stations such as Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central. The issue will be raised at a private meeting at the central mosque in Glasgow attended by MacAskill and senior police officers. MacAskill has already attacked the BTP on the issue. Last year, Tom Harris, the UK rail minister, accused him of being “cynical and irresponsible” for claiming the BTP was harassing ethnic minorities.

Youth can become addicted to extremism

Islamic extremism should be regarded as a potential addiction for vulnerable young people in the same way as alcohol, drugs or gambling, according to Scotland’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator. Allan Burnett wants to introduce rehabilitative measures similar to addiction support to prevent youngsters from becoming radicalised by fundamentalists, instead of sending them to prison. Speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of the Glasgow airport attack, Mr Burnett told The Herald that he wants to develop restorative justice and early intervention initiatives for young people as part of the strategy to stop future attacks. The Assistant Chief Constable of Fife is clear that there will be no leniency for those committing acts of serious violence. However, for young people susceptible to being led astray by extremist propaganda, he believes the emphasis should be on prevention. For that to work, he wants to build the trust of parents and the wider community so that if they come forward with concerns, their children will not be automatically penalised. “One of the things we are trying to do is early intervention, which we would use in other areas of behaviour to put a stop to it,” he said. “Just like any other perversion, the primary people who will stop (radicalisation) are parents. It happens with people concerned about their kids drinking, taking drugs or gambling. It happens right across the board and we shouldn’t be surprised that sometimes parents don’t have the knowledge or the skill to intervene in a positive way.

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‘Young can become addicted to extremism’

Islamic extremism should be regarded as a potential addiction for vulnerable young people in the same way as alcohol, drugs or gambling, according to Scotland’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator. Allan Burnett wants to introduce rehabilitative measures similar to addiction support to prevent youngsters from becoming radicalised by fundamentalists, instead of sending them to prison. Speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of the Glasgow airport attack, Mr Burnett told The Herald that he wants to develop restorative justice and early intervention initiatives for young people as part of the strategy to stop future attacks. The Assistant Chief Constable of Fife is clear that there will be no leniency for those committing acts of serious violence. However, for young people susceptible to being led astray by extremist propaganda, he believes the emphasis should be on prevention. For that to work, he wants to build the trust of parents and the wider community so that if they come forward with concerns, their children will not be automatically penalised. “One of the things we are trying to do is early intervention, which we would use in other areas of behaviour to put a stop to it,” he said. “Just like any other perversion, the primary people who will stop (radicalisation) are parents. It happens with people concerned about their kids drinking, taking drugs or gambling. It happens right across the board and we shouldn’t be surprised that sometimes parents don’t have the knowledge or the skill to intervene in a positive way.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=C78AD71C990B2A5B793AE89F&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Scotland: Alex Salmond backs plans for Islamic faith school

The first state-funded Islamic school in Scotland could get the go-ahead soon after First Minister Alex Salmond declared that he was sympathetic with the move. A spokesman for Salmond said: “We are very much sympathetic to the idea. The First Minister is supportive. He thinks that faith schools are a good thing and they make a great contribution to Scotland. The issue is whether there is a sustainable demand for them. Campaigners for the school are planning to submit a detailed proposal to the Glasgow City Council. However, former Scottish education minister Sam Galbraith condemned the move, saying that it would hinder integration by the Muslim community.

Scottish first minister backs state funded Muslim faith school

Scotland’s first state-funded Islamic school could get the go-ahead within months after First Minister Alex Salmond declared he was “sympathetic” towards the controversial move. Campaigners are planning to submit a detailed proposal for the faith school to Glasgow City Council within two months and officials last night confirmed they would consult on the proposal. But former Scottish education minister Sam Galbraith condemned the move as a “retrograde step”, arguing that it would be bad for the Muslim community by hindering integration. Scotland has around 43,000 Muslims, about 18,000 of them in Glasgow. While there are more than 100 Islamic schools south of the border, both private and state-supported, Scottish Muslims have so far failed to establish a faith school and some in the community question whether it is a good idea in an age of increased ethnic and religious tension. Scotland has more than 400 publicly funded Roman Catholic schools as well as three state-supported Scottish Episcopalian schools and a publicly funded Jewish school. A spokesman for Salmond said: “We are very much sympathetic to the idea. The First Minister is supportive. He thinks that faith schools are a good thing and they make a great contribution to Scotland. The issue is whether there is a sustainable demand for them. “We would expect a local authority to react positively where there is a sustainable case.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=1C478BB83DA79EC7CC793AE4&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Glasgow Airport bomb attack: doctor jailed

The brother of a terrorist who died in an airport suicide attack has been jailed for 18 months for withholding information about the plot. Sabeel Ahmed, an NHS doctor, was sent a chilling email about the mission two days before his older brother Kafeel rammed a jeep into the air terminal in Glasgow. In it he wrote: “This is the project that I was working on for some time now. Everything else was a lie. It’s about time that we give up our lives and our families for the sake of Islam to please Allah.” Sabeel pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to withholding information about terrorism, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. But the tariff was reduced because he did not read the email until the evening after the attack had taken place. Because he has already served half his sentence on remand and has agreed to leave the country, the 26-year-old has been released into the custody of the immigration service to be deported back to India. Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said it was clear from the email his brother sent that he expected to die in the attack, and that his body would be left unrecognisable. He told Sabeel: “I accept that so far as you personally were concerned there is no sign of your being an extremist or party to extremist views.”

Controversial creationist book hits Scots universities: Academics fear the book could also end up in schools.

A controversial book by an evangelical Muslim – claiming to prove that God created the earth, and calling evolution a “deceit” that was responsible for the Holocaust, communism and the 9/11 attacks – is being sent unsolicited to Scottish universities. Seven copies of the lavishly-produced Atlas Of Creation by Harun Yahya have arrived at the University of Edinburgh, while the University of Glasgow has received two, leading to concerns that they may appear in schools as well. Last year, the book caused uproar in France when it turned up in classrooms, prompting human rights watchdog the Council of Europe to report on Yahya, his writings, and his method of distribution. I find it quite staggering,” said Aubrey Manning, emeritus professor of natural history at the University of Edinburgh. He houses his seven copies in a cupboard in the zoology department’s staff room. “Every academic I know says they’ve got one of those. And it’s peddling an absolute, downright lie.” He said the appearance of the books and the rise of creationist voices in the UK, within both Christian and Muslim groups, didn’t affect his teaching but that he was “much more worried about primary and secondary school classrooms”. Edd McCracken reports.

Talks on international role with Scottish faith community

Scottish faith leaders have met with Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, to discuss how they and the government can work in partnership to help meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Mr Alexander recognised the prominent role that Faith Leaders and Faith Groups are playing in international development, and listened to their ideas about how they could best work together to help reduce world poverty. He said: “We are keen to build strong partnerships with the faith community. They are in a unique position to play an important role in tackling world poverty. The Prime Minister and the UN Secretary General have declared 2008 as a critical year to accelerate efforts to tackle world poverty. I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with faith leaders to discuss the role the faith community here in Scotland might play.” The attendees included amongst others: Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Head of the Catholic Church in Scotland; Shobha Nagpal, President of Hindu Temple in Glasgow; David Cameron, Church of Scotland Glasgow Presbytery; Archbishop Mario Conti, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow; Paul Chitnis, Chief Executive of Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF); Dharmacari Shantiketu, Western Buddhist Order; Jack Purba, General secretary to the Glasgow Gurdwara Council and Secretary of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Temple) in Glasgow; Ghulam Rabbani, Islam; Muhammad Shaheen, President of the Islamic Council of Scotland; Imam Habib-ur-Rahman, Islam; Rabbi Moshe Rubin, leader of Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue; Tom Harrigan, Glasgow Inter-Faith Liaison Officer.

Cemetery plans opposed

Plans to create a 31-acre Muslim cemetery on land surrounding the conservation village of Carmunnock in Scotland have been opposed by locals. Villagers have launched a campaign to stop green belt land around the area being used for the new cemetery. Glasgow Central Mosque insists the new site would be kept as a green area with just one or two funerals a week. {Article continues [here.}->http://themuslimweekly.com/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=FF62AF54E1735233A0451EE6&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News