Preacher, described as ‘dangerously charming’, progressed from shoplifting to turning young men into jihadists. When Mohamed Hamid had his first brush with criminality, it saw him thieving a tin of sweetcorn and a packet of fishfingers. By the time he had finished, he had become one of Britain’s most prominent recruiting sergeants for Islamist extremism.
But while the man who told once told a police officer arresting him during a row in London’s Oxford’s street that his name was “Osama Bin London” insisted he dealt only in theology, his real stock in trade was providing the ideological groundwork for terrorism.
In his early 30s, he became a crack addict. After a redemptive trip to a mosque, Hamid rediscovered a version of his faith and opened an Islamic bookshop in the Clapton area of east London as well as attending rallies at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
It was at this point that he became increasingly radical and voluble, becoming involved with the coterie surrounding notorious cleric Abu Hamza. The judge in his trial, Mr Justice Pitchers, told him: “Mohammed Hamid, you are, in my judgement, dangerous. You can be quite genuinely amusing and charming. You also have real knowledge of the Koran and Islamic teaching. However, that is only one side of you.”
“You used your charm and knowledge of the Koran to influence others to terrorism… You continue to be a danger, not directly from your own actions, but from your ability to persuade others by criminal actions to commit terrorism offences themselves.”