Cover Story

Beyond hate speech

"Beyond hate speech" Continued...

Issue: "Beyond hate speech," Aug. 20, 2005

Through its undercover investigation the Sunday Times discovered the cross-pollination connecting all three men. Mr. Bakri in particular acts as spiritual mentor to about 40 young men. They include adherents of Omar Brooks and dozens of families who intermingle at meetings with a handful of influential clerics dishing out Muslim supremacy propaganda.

(The Times reporter witnessed Savior Sect members beating young men belonging to a moderate Muslim group-following a pattern of Savior Sect activities during April's parliamentary elections, when members of the group tried to break up press conferences given by Muslims running for office. In addition, Savior Sect members asked the reporter if he would wear "a strap," a reference to an explosives belt suicide bombers strap to their chest.)

As Mr. Blair now admits, what they preach may have direct links to what terrorists practice. Richard Reid, the British shoe-bomber serving a life sentence for attempting to bomb a Paris-Miami flight, attended Bakri meetings. Asif Mohammed Hanif, who carried out a suicide mission in Tel Aviv in 2003 that killed three, was a Bakri protégé. Investigators are tracking a link between Mr. Reid, Mr. Hanif, and Mohammad Sidique Khan, the Edgware Road bomber who is emerging as the ringleader of the 7/7 attacks. All three attended the same terror camps in Afghanistan, all three plotted attacks in Israel, and all three sat under the teaching of Mr. Bakri.

Political leaders and law enforcers, Mr. Spencer told WORLD, "need to speak forthrightly about those preaching violence and jihad. This is mainstream stuff happening in mainstream mosques. We should deal with mosques as centers of terrorist activity."

Even groups that opposed previous Blair proposals affecting free speech support the new anti-terrorism measures. Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the UK-based Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, said his group lobbied against a law to extend bans on racist hate speech to cover religious speech. "Here we are not talking about incitement to 'hate' under broad definitions but incitement to murder," he said. "We support fully anti-terrorism laws that should have been passed a long time ago."

Mr. Blair will nonetheless have a hard time pressing for stricter anti-terrorism measures, according to Mr. Sookhdeo. Already Scotland Yard officers have come under condemnation from human-rights groups for profiling terror suspects. In addition to passing Parliament, new measures will be scrutinized by the European Union-which prohibits member states, for instance, from deporting citizens to a country where the death penalty is in effect. And it's also no secret that terror suspects themselves can take advantage of their British citizenship to slip the noose.

Mr. Bakri did just that. On Aug. 8 he left Britain (and his family) for Lebanon, using one of his multiple passports. His spokesman, Anjem Choudary, told reporters he was again seeking sanctuary because it had become "very difficult for him to practice his religion" in Britain. If Mr. Blair is serious about his proposals, Britain's Home Ministry is unlikely to allow his return.

Such news adds to the tension in London's streets, where Christians and Muslims, Pakistanis, Indians, Somalians, and Middle Easterners live and work side by side, natural-born and naturalized citizens passing on streets now patrolled by British police who for the first time carry automatic weapons. Mr. Bakri and his associates have assured Brits more attacks are coming. And, as Mr. Spencer points out, "The absence of attack does not equal absence of planning and indoctrination."

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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