Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Exporting Terror

Exporting Terror

Publication: The Telegraph
Date: March 11, 2001
Introduction: Islamic terrorist groups say jihad will go on despite new laws

Standing on the steps of 10 Downing Street in 1998 after a bomb in Omagh in Northern Ireland had killed 28 people, Tony Blair announced that a new Terrorism Act would be enacted by Parliament, one that would take the fight against international terrorism beyond the shores of the U.K. The new Act, he said, would make it a specific offence to conspire to commit terrorist offences outside the UK. It would target any group suspected of planning or supporting violence, not just those connected with Northern Ireland.

The new law would target all terrorist organisations including Muslim, Sikh and Tamil extremist groups which have so far enjoyed a safe haven in Britain to raise funds, organise acts of terrorism and induct new members'

As promised, the long-awaited Anti-Terrorism Act became law on February 19 this year. On February 28, home secretary Jack Straw listed 21 terrorist organisations which would be proscribed in Britain, following clearance by both houses of Parliament. These included the LTTE, Sikh militant groups - the Babbar Khalsa and the International Sikh Youth Federation, and Kashmiri militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, among others.

The backlash was immediate. On Sunday 3rd March, a 20 Ib taxi bomb exploded outside the BBC's main television centre at White City in West London injuring one man. The bombing was said to have been the job of the real IRA. The message was clear. Mainland Britain and beyond would still remain an active place for international terrorist groups.

The mood was echoed in the mosques across Britain, where as many as 1800 people are said to be recruited every year to fight for jihad in Kashmir, Chechnya and Palestine. The Al-Muhajiroun, an international Islamic group which seeks to establish a world Islamic state, and which actively recruits young Muslims to go out and fight for jihad, immediately held weekend meetings to discuss the impact of the Act and advice the young hotheads who were asking for advice. The group is headquartered in the UK and led by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian exile, who has openly backed the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 200 people. The embassy bombings were thought to be the work of Osama Bin Laden, the millionaire Saudi dissident who operates from Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qa'ida group leads the list of banned organisations, Sheikh Omar is also the judge of the Sheikh Omar is also the judge of the Shariah Court of the UK.

"With this act, Britain is sending out a message to Muslims that it is ok to occupy land and criminal to try to liberate it," Anjem Chaudary, head of the UK chapter of Al-Muhajiroun, told The Telegraph. "It is the duty of the Muslims to fight against the oppression of their Muslim brothers in Kashmir, Chechnya and Palestine and liberate these countries. Now if they support the Hamas or the Hezbollah, they will be branded as criminals."

Asked whether his orgnisation would still be recruiting people to go out and fight for jihad, Chaudary, a 34-year-old British Muslim solicitor of Pakistani extraction, had no doubt at all. "The youngsters in this country are not like the first and second generation who came here to make ends meet and survive. They are now searching for their roots, they have begun to realise the truth. They have learnt that it is the British who banned the Khilafat and the West that carried out the crusades against the Muslims... Muslims in this country have the lowest employment, the worst housing and are subjected to racially motivated crime. It is a time bomb waiting to explode. With this Act the government has thrown the match into the furnace. There is a revival of Islam in British Muslims in the 18-25 year group. They will still continue to fight for their cause.

"Do you think 1,300 mosques around the country will stop collecting money for jihad? If anything, they will be more determined now Jihad is pro-life. It does not target women and children, and civilians. But the backlash will be felt by Britain. British interest overseas will be targeted," said Chaudary.

Chaudary would not comment on whether the number of British Muslims travelling abroad to fight for jihad was less or more than the British intelligence figure of 900. "I am not authorised to say that now, under the new laws," he said. The man, who had famously said in a BBC interview that "One day the black flag of Islam will be flying over Downing Street", said his organisation would continue to advise British Muslims to do their duty as the Shariah required.

The issue of young British Muslims being recruited in mosques, clubs and community groups to go out and fight overseas has been highlighted in the media over the last few years. It was a 28-year-old former student of the prestigious London School of Economics, Ahmed Omar Syed Sheikh, who had kidnapped three British backpackers in 1994 and held them hostage in Delhi demanding the release of 10 jailed Kashmiri militants. Ahmed Omar, from Wanstead, East London, was foiled in the attempt and jailed in India. He was one of the terrorists to be released by external affairs minister Jaswant Singh, after the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 to Kandahar in December 1999.

Omar had been a distinguished student at the private Forest School in Snaresbrook, East London, where he gained top marks in mathematics, economics, English and general studies. After his release in Afghanistan, Omar was free to return to Britain. At that time there was no law in Britain that could try him for his crimes committed in India.

All that will change with the new law, said India's Deputy High Commissioner to Britain, Hardeep Puri. "The new law will see that there are no safe havens for these terrorists in Britain any more." Welcoming the move, he said it would definitely help in controlling terrorist activity from the UK by putting the brakes on crucial fund-raising.

The call to ban organisations like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was raised by both home minister L.K. Advani in his talks with his counterpart Jack Straw and by external affairs minister Jaswant Singh. Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has also been actively calling for a ban on the LTTE and Russia, Israel and France have also been protesting to the British that fundamentalist Islamic groups have been flourishing in the UK.

Organisations like Sakina Security Services, an international body, funded by wealthy individuals has a course which trains young British Muslims to fight a jihad in Chechnya and Kashmir. Recently Adi Yahya, a 25-year-old from North London, told the BBC's Radio Four that he had spent four months at a military training camp in Kashmir. "I learned everything with respect to fighting: making bombs, using artillery, using a kalashnikov, how to ambush," he said.

Sakina sends its recruits to the US for a two-week fire-arms training course called the Ultimate Jehad Challenge. It advertises openly on the web and recruits are then sent to fight the holy war. Sakina's operational head. is Muhammed Jameel, a British-born Muslim, who is linked to Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed of Al-Muhajiroun.

It was another British Muslim, Bilal Ahmed, 24, who was the suicide bomber who drove a car filled with ammunition into an Indian army barrack in Srinagar on Christmas Day last year. The attack - which killed six Indian soldiers and three Kashmiri students - was one of the series of bombings carried out to derail the cease-fire in Kashmir announced during the month of Ramzan. Bilal belonged to the Jaish-e-Mohammed group, one of the terrorist groups that has been banned by the UK. Jaish claimed that Bilal was born into a Pakistani family in Birmingham and became a born-again Muslim at 18. Birmingham is one of the focal points for recruitment of young British Muslims as it has a large Pakistani/Mirpuri Kashmiri population. Three of the eight Britons who were jailed in Yemen in 1998 for a terrorist bomb plot, came from Birmingham.

So entrenched is the politics of the sub-continent in Birmingham that a party called Justice for Kashmir has won five council seats in Birmingham in the latest local election, making it the fourth largest party group in the Council.

Apart from Muslim groups, the British ban also includes two Sikh terrorist groups, the Babbar Khalsa and the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF). It was two members of the ISYF - Mukhtiar Singh and Paramjit Singh - who were found in July 2000 to be a threat to UK national security by the Special Immigration Appeals Committee. The two militants were accused of planning terrorist activities in India but they were allowed to stay on in Britain because the commission believed they would be tortured if they returned to India.

Under the new terrorism law, Mukhtiar Singh and Paramjit Singh would be charged for conspiring to commit an act of violence, motivated by political, ideological or religious views.

Under the law, LTTE - which runs its international secretariat from east London could find that it is under pressure if it tries to raise funds, or organise an act of violence in Sri Lanka. But whether the group would find its offices closed in the coming weeks, could not be confirmed by the Home Office. "That is up to the law enforcement agencies," the spokesperson said.

Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Squad, Special Branch and the security services have been working together to crack down on terrorist groups ever since the law became effective. Four men - two Algerian, one Jordanian, and one of unknown nationality - were arrested at homes in north and west London recently on charges of plotting terrorist acts abroad. They were believed to be connected to Abu Hamza, an Islamic militant who has called for a holy war against Britain. The police also cracked down and arrested 10 men believed to be linked with Al-Qaida, Osama Bin Laden's group, from north and west London, who were planning to destroy western targets. The men are also linked with the GIA, an Algerian terrorist organisation responsible for attacks in France. The police believed they were planning an attack in Strasbourg.

The ban on the organisations could become effective in about four to five weeks, as soon as the list is cleared by both Houses of Parliament. Whether it has teeth will be known only in the coming weeks and months.

"At least the legislation is in place," said Hardeep Puri. "That's the first step. The rest will follow."

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements