Bomb disposal experts are called to mosque in Walsall after suspicious item discovered

Police examining a suspicious item found in a Walsall mosque have confirmed they are treating the incident as a hate crime. A police spokesperson said an explosion was heard by residents on Friday evening. On Saturday, the item was discovered by a member of the public and handed into the police. Superintendent Keith Fraser, the head of crime and operations for Walsall Police, said the incident was being treated as hate crime but the motive for placing the item near a mosque remained unclear.

 

Army experts ordered the evacuation of nearly 40 homes near the Rutter Street mosque in Walsall, West Midlands Police said. “We have launched a full investigation into the suspicious item that has been found, and what’s going to be the key to this is the public’s help in relation to helping us to understand why that suspicious item was in the area. ”So if anybody saw anything over the weekend I’d like them to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers  0800 555 111 .”

 

Officials from Walsall Council are working closely with the emergency services to support local people and minimise disruption in the area. Zahid Ali, Cabinet Member for Public Protection at Walsall Council, also spoke outside the mosque. Describing the incident as “unfortunate”, Mr Ali added: “It’s absolutely wonderful to see that the communities have come together supporting the residents, and most of those residents are now back in their homes.”

 

Zia Ul-Haq, who acts as a spokesman for the mosque and also sits on its committee, said: “First of all can I thank the police force and the local council for really supporting us on this occasion.

Anti-fascists fuel the fire of hate

Last weekend, Tony Brett, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Oxford and the city’s deputy lord mayor, found what he called a “disgraceful rabble” of people climbing on the city’s main war memorial — squashing, he said, the flowers that mourners had placed there, then trying to remove half of them altogether and “jeering” other visitors as they paid their respects. That day, the memorial was supposed to be the scene of a wreath-laying by the far-Right, racist English Defence League. But neither Mr Brett, nor a local newspaper reporter on the scene, saw any sign of any EDL presence. All the hate Mr Brett said came from the self-appointed opponents of bigotry, a group called Unite Against Fascism (UAF). “It seemed to me they were doing exactly the kind of thing they were supposed to be protesting against,” said Mr Brett. “I will absolutely not support any hint of racism, Islamophobia or any other form of hate, be it from the EDL or any other group. That day I saw it from another group.” The Oxford branch of UAF said its members climbed on the memorial at the request of a photographer. “The EDL’s use of war memorials is an offence to all those who died fighting fascism,” it said in a statement. Since the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby last month, there have reportedly been at least 107 arrests during BNP, EDL and UAF demonstrations. At least 69 of those arrested, just under two thirds, were anti-fascist demonstrators, at least 58 of them UAF.

 

Prominent campaigners such as the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell accuse UAF of a selective approach to bigotry. “UAF commendably opposes the BNP and EDL but it is silent about Islamist fascists who promote anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and sectarian attacks on non-extremist Muslims,” said Mr Tatchell. “It is time the UAF campaigned against the Islamist far Right as well as against the EDL and BNP far Right.”

 

One reason why UAF will not campaign against Islamist extremists is that one of its own vice-chairmen, Azad Ali, is one. Mr Ali is also community affairs coordinator of the Islamic Forum of Europe, a Muslim supremacist group dedicated to changing “the very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed from ignorance to Islam”. Mr Ali has written on his blog of his “love” for Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda cleric closely linked to many terrorist plots, including the September 11 attacks, and used to attend talks by Abu Qatada, the extremist cleric whom Britain is seeking to deport. He has described al-Qaeda as a “myth” and denied that the Mumbai attacks were terrorism. On his blog, he also advocated the killing of British troops in Iraq. He sued a newspaper for reporting that he had said this, and lost.

 

The racist Right thrives on two things: publicity and the politics of victimhood. The mob outrage practised by UAF gets the fascists more of both. Mr Brett added: “It just antagonises the situation. The way to deal with this stuff is not to fight it aggressively. That’s exactly what they want you to do.” Nobody has denied that there has been an increase in tensions since the murder of Drummer Rigby. The danger is that by exaggerating it, and by the politics of confrontation, supposedly anti-racist groups fuel the very division, polarisation and tension they are supposed to counter.

Jury hears ‘suicide recordings’

A jury has heard recordings in which one of eight men accused of an aircraft bomb plot is alleged to be showing another how to present a suicide video. Woolwich Crown Court heard the bugged conversations took place at an east London flat the prosecution claims the men used as their bomb factory in 2006. The jury heard that the man said in the recordings: “Don’t try and speak posh English… give a bit of aggression.” The British men deny conspiring to murder and endangering planes. It is claimed they planned to make hydrogen peroxide liquid bombs disguised as soft drinks to detonate in mid-air on at least seven passenger planes flying out of Heathrow Airport. The prosecution said the surveillance recordings were made when two of the defendants, Abdullah Ali, 27, and Umar Islam, 29, were inside the alleged bomb factory. A man, said to be Mr Ali, tells the other man to relax. “Don’t try and speak posh English… give a bit of aggression”, he says. There follows a long section where a man who calls himself Umar Islam is allegedly recording or rehearsing a suicide video which was found by police.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=3D246E972CB89FC4CF544125&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Suspect ‘vowed lesson for West’

The suspected leader of an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic planes mid-air promised to teach the West a “lesson they will never forget”, a court heard. Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, made the vow during the 16-minute “martyrdom” video played at Woolwich Crown Court. Prosecutors say eight men planned to kill thousands by detonating home-made bombs, disguised as soft drinks, aboard flights to North America. All deny conspiring to murder and endangering planes in 2006. ‘Time has come’ Jurors were shown footage of what prosecutors said was Mr Ali wearing a black and white headscarf, against a backdrop of a black flag covered with Arabic writing. In the video, he said: “This the opportunity to punish and humiliate the kuffar [unbelievers], to teach them a lesson they will never forget.