Yesterday, in a savage terror attack, a British soldier (named Lee Rigby) was hacked to death in Woolwich, south-east London, by two men – including one British-born man who has been identified as 29-year-old Michael Olumide Adebolajo.
An otherwise interesting May 23 Guardian report on the alleged radicalization of the suspect, who is reportedly a convert to Islam, included a staggering understatement about the Islamist preacher who may have influenced his path to extremism.
Here are the relevant passages:
Counter-terrorism officers and the security services are examining Adebolajo’s links to the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun. It is understood he was radicalised around 10 years ago, changing his name to Mujaahid, which means “one who engages in jihad”.
Friends at his school said they knew nothing of his conversion to Islam.
The Guardian understands that both Adebolajo and the other suspect have featured in counter-terrorism investigations over the last eight years, the Guardian understands.
But it is understood that, while they were known to the police and security services, they were considered peripheral figures among the many extremists whose activities cross the radar of investigators.
Adebolajo was frequently seen in Woolwich handing out Islamist literature in the High Street.
Anjem Choudary, the former leader of al-Muhajiroun, has confirmed that he knew Adebolajo, who was pictured on video in the immediate aftermath of the horrific killing waving a cleaver with bloodied hands.
Choudary said Mujaahid had converted to Islam in 2003 and was a British-born Nigerian. He said he had attended meetings of al-Muhajiroun from around 2005-11, but stopped attending the meetings, and those its successor organisations, two years ago.
At the meetings he heard an interpretation of Islam preached by the group’s founder, Omar Bakri Mohammed, which many Muslims would consider extreme.
Choudary said: “He was on our ideological wave-length.“
Leaving aside the fact that the Guardian buried the lead – the fact that the terrorist was evidently ideologically in line with Choudary’s extremism – the Guardian report, by Sandra Laville, Peter Walker and Vikram Dodd, makes almost no mention of why both Choudary and Bakri are ‘considered’ extremists.
So, here’s a brief backgrounder.
Here’s a photo of Anjem Choudray, a British born former solicitor, as head of a the banned group ‘Islam4UK’ which he formed after its predecessor, al-Muhajiroun, was banned, holding a news conference in London in 2010:
On the terrorist attack yesterday:
- On his Twitter feed yesterday and today, Choudary seemed to justify the hacking death of a British soldier as a natural reaction to a British regime which kills Muslims.
On major terror attacks:
- He has praised the terrorists involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the 7/7 bombings in London.
General views on British soldiers:
- Especially relevant in the context of the terror attack yesterday (which, again, targeted a British soldier), Choudary’s group previously incited against British soldiers, calling them “brutal murderers” and “cowards. Group members have even yelled “butchers” at British troops returning home from Afghanistan.
- Choudary strongly believes in the implementation of Sharia Law, in its entirety, in the UK. He advocated setting up Sharia Law controlled zones in British cities.
- Choudary has sanctioned the stoning to death of gays.
- In 2005, after the UK tightened immigration rules to prevent Omar Bakri Mohammed from re-entering the country, the Guardian published a letter by Choudary praising Bakri.
Omar Bakri Muhammad
Here’s Omar Bakri Muhammad addressing an Al-Muhajiron rally in Trafalgar Square, London 2003:
The Syrian born Islamist Bakri helped to build Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK before leaving the group and heading to Al-Muhajiroun, until its banning by UK authorities in 2004. He left the UK shortly after the 7/7 bombings (which he expressed support for), and it was later revealed that quite a few of his followers had taken part in suicide bombings or had become close to Al-Qaeda and its network.
Here are some additional facts on Bakri:
On his ties to Bin Laden:
- Bakri claimed, in the past, to be the spokesman of Osama bin Laden’s “International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders” which was established in 1996. Al-Ahram Weekly reported that Bakri was known for his connections with bin Laden, whom he described as the leader of all Islamist movements.
On the “right” to kill innocents – including innocent Muslims – for Jihad:
- Bakri has justified his movement’s “right” to sacrifice whomever it sees fit in order to advance their cause, even Muslim children and women.
On their “right” to assassinate British leaders:
- In the early 90s, Bakri was questioned by MI5 following a claim that he had called for the assassination of then-Prime Minister John Major. Bakri reportedly said: “Major is a legitimate target. If anyone gets the opportunity to assassinate him, I don’t think they should save it. It is our Islamic duty and we will celebrate his death.”
Jihadist training camps:
- Bakri acknowledged that he was involved in financing training for volunteers sent to the U.S. He explained that his “Jihad network” was designed to train Islamists to fight in Chechnya, “Palestine”, Kashmir or South Lebanon.
On a global Islamic state:
- Bakri hasreportedly called for the establishment of a global Islamic regime called Al-Khilafa, starting in the UK.
On Jews and Israel:
- Bakri was responsible for a leaflet and poster campaign which had the message: “Kill the Jews“.
Bakri told protesters at a violent demonstration outside the London Central Mosque in Regent Park in 2000, “All Israeli targets are legitimate for you. All Israelis must be destroyed.”
- Bakri called for the death of playwright Terence McNally for portraying Jesus Christ, considered by Islam to be a prophet, as gay in his play Corpus Christi. Bakri also reportedly urged all gays to throw themselves from a London bridge.
More detailed information on the ideology and background of the Islamist leaders who allegedly radicalized the Woolwich terrorist can be found at MEMRI.