Newt-loving socialist or floppy-haired bike rider? One will be London’s Olympic mayor

LONDON — One sports an unruly blond mop, spouts Latin aphorisms and loves to ride his bicycle. The other is a neat, newt-loving socialist who prefers to travel by subway.

Their contest is an Olympic-size grudge match. Meet Boris and Ken — hometown celebrities known universally by their first names. When the 2012 London Games open on July 27, one of them will stand before billions of television viewers as mayor of the host city.

The incumbent, Boris Johnson, warns that it had better be him and not Ken Livingstone — his predecessor, intense rival and would-be successor.

Whoever wins, London’s next mayor will be a larger-than-life figure whose gaffes and idiosyncrasies would have sunk a less confident politician. The winner will oversee a world-class city of 8 million people and a 14 billion-pound ($22 billion) budget.

Johnson, a Conservative, hopes to win a second four-year term while Livingstone, London’s mayor from 2000 to 2008, is from Labour — but both transcend the parties they nominally represent.

His views on international issues are more controversial. Livingstone once called President George W. Bush “the greatest threat to life on this planet,” welcomed hard-line Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi to London, and was suspended from his post for a month after comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Livingstone denies anti-Semitism, but his words have alienated many Jewish voters.

Both men are also known for their busy private lives. Livingstone has five children with three women, while Johnson was once fired from a Conservative post for lying about an extramarital affair.

They seem to have a visceral animosity, getting into a shouting match in an elevator after a recent radio debate, with Johnson repeatedly calling his rival an “(expletive) liar” for claims about Johnson’s tax status.

The dispute ended with the candidates publishing their tax records, which showed that both earn many times more than the average Londoner: 1.7 million pounds ($2.7 million) over four years for Johnson; 342,000 pounds ($540,000) for Livingstone.

Ray Kelly Resignation Called For By Muslims Angered By Anti-Islam Movie

NEW YORK — Muslim groups are calling for New York’s police commissioner to step down because of his appearance in a film they say puts their religion and its adherents in a bad light.

About 20 activists held a news conference on the steps of City Hall on Thursday and criticized Ray Kelly for giving an interview to the producers of the movie “The Third Jihad.”

The movie uses dramatic footage to warn against the dangers of radical Islam and shariah, or Islamic law. Muslim groups say it encourages Americans to be suspicious of all Muslims.

“Terrorism is an evil that must be eliminated, but one cannot fight wrong with wrong,” said Talib Abdur-Rashid, a Muslim cleric.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday he stood by Kelly and the commissioner’s spokesman, Paul Browne. Activists had also demanded Browne’s resignation.

However, the mayor said Kelly would have to redouble his outreach efforts to Muslims.

“Anything like this doesn’t help credibility, so Ray’s got to work at establishing, re-establishing or reinforcing the credibility that he does have,” Bloomberg said.

Prosecutor: Man sought martyrdom in attempt to blow up flight over Detroit with underwear bomb

DETROIT — A young Nigerian man accused of trying to bring down a jetliner with a bomb in his underwear made a defiant political outburst Tuesday, demonstrating again why his courtroom behavior will be closely watched throughout the trial where he’s representing himself.

“The mujahadeen will wipe out the U.S. — the cancer U.S.,” said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, scowling as he referred to Muslim guerrilla fighters.

When marshals removed his handcuffs, he also claimed that a radical Muslim cleric killed last week by the American military is still alive.

Virtually everyone aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 had holiday plans, but Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab believed his calling was martyrdom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel said. The bomb didn’t work as planned but Abdulmutallab was engulfed in flames, said Tukel, who displayed the flight’s seating chart on a screen to show jurors where things happened on the plane.

The government says he told FBI agents he was working for al Qaida and directed by Anwar al-Alwaki, a radical, American-born Muslim cleric recently killed by the U.S. in Yemen. There are photos of his scorched shorts as well as video of Abdulmutallab explaining his suicide mission before departing for the U.S.

Controversial Muslim cleric is arrested while sneaking into the U.S.

Reporting from San Diego — U.S. border authorities have arrested a controversial Muslim cleric who was deported from Canada to Tunisia three years ago and was caught earlier this month trying to sneak into California in the trunk of a BMW, according to court documents.

Said Jaziri, the former imam of a Muslim congregation in Montreal, was hidden in a car driven by a San Diego-area man who was pulled over by U.S. Border Patrol agents near an Indian casino east of San Diego on Jan. 11. Jaziri had allegedly paid a Tijuana-based smuggling group $5,000 to get him across the border near Tecate, saying he wanted to be taken to a “safe place anywhere in the U.S.”

Yemen Sentences American-Born Cleric in Absentia

A judge in Yemen sentenced the radical American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in absentia on Monday to 10 years in prison on charges of incitement to murder and belonging to a terrorist group.

American and Yemeni officials say Mr. Awlaki is working with Al Qaeda’s Arabian branch to plot terrorist attacks, and the Obama administration has authorized his targeted killing. He is believed to be hiding in the remote mountains of Shabwa Province in Yemen.

Mr. Awlaki was convicted in connection with the murder in October of a French citizen, Jacques Spagnolo, in the Yemeni capital, Sana. Prosecutors said that in e-mail exchanges, Mr. Awlaki incited the 19-year-old gunman, Hisham Muhammad Assem, to kill foreigners. A cousin of Mr. Awlaki’s who is also in hiding, Othman al-Awlaki, was accused of incitement in the case along with him, and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Dalil Boubakeur Target of Assassination Plot

News Agencies – November 11, 2010

Five alleged Islamic terrorists arrested in Paris this week were planning to assassinate the city’s leading Muslim cleric. All of the men, who are French passport holders, are believed to have returned from fighting British and American troops alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The murder plot against Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the French capital’s main mosque, was foiled at the eleventh hour thanks to a tip-off. Secret intelligence officers were able to move in on two Frenchmen of Algerian descent as they arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport from Egypt. Armed police arrested three other men from similar backgrounds in flats in the Paris suburbs the next day.
Boubaker has been under armed guard since last month after radicals issued threats following the introduction of a burka ban in France – a measure which many see as overtly anti-Muslim.
The foiled plot illustrates the growing rift between Islamic moderates and those prepared to kill and maim in the name of their religion, said Mr Boubaker.

US authorizes the killing of an American radical Muslim cleric

The Obama Administration has authorized the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki is an American Muslim who is believed to be living in Yemen encouraging and recruiting for attacks against the US. Al-Awlaki has been linked to the 9/11 hijackers as well as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who unsuccessfully tried to explode himself in a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. Al-Awlaki has been also linked by US intelligence to Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people last November at Fort Hood. He is now added to the CIA target list

An American calls to “Jihad”

CNN has broadcasted a new audio made by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric with links to several terrorist plots. In the audio, a voice similar to Mr. Awlaki’s says: “with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim, and I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding on every other Muslim.” Mr. Awlaki, born in New Mexico, left the US to live and work in Yemen in 2002.

Californian Muslim cleric welcomes arrest of Al Qaeda operative

On Sunday, Salam Marayati, the head of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angles, California, welcomed the arrest of Adam Gadahn on behalf of his organization. While the reports of the capture of Gadahn, an American turned Al Qaeda operative, have not yet been confirmed by US officials, Mr. Marayati described such arrest as a step towards defeating Al Qaeda and its ideology.

Mr. Marayati’s comments came after the announcement by Pakistani intelligence service that the American-born al Qaeda member, Adam Gadahn, had been arrested in Pakistan. CIA counterterrorism officials are working on the report and have not yet confirmed the identity of the arrested person. Adam Gadahn who converted to Islam in the 90s and had joined Al Qaeda in Pakistan by 1998 is the first American after to be charged with high treason after the Second World War.


Muslim couple dies in arson attack in North England

A Muslim cleric and his wife have been killed in their own house in an arson attack, with two of their children injured, in Blackburn near Manchester. Abdullah Mohammed, 41, was killed in the fire in October. His wife, Ayesha, 39, died a week later. The 14-year old daughter is still hospitalized. Her 9-year old brother has been released and taken care of by extended family.

Two men have already been charged with murder and remanded in custody, while two more men have now been arrested on suspicion of murder. The police have not yet commented on the motive for the attack.