The ‘Islamist’

The diary of Faisal Haque, a British Muslim activist

Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

Portillo in the Sunday Times on Terrorism

Posted by theislamist on July 29, 2007

Michael Portillo has penned an interesting piece in today’s Sunday Times. This follows on from the debate in Parliament earlier this week when Gordon Brown suggested that pre-trial detention may need to be extended beyond 28 days.

It appears that these issues have become very highly political – on the issue of the banning of HT the Government seems to now be sticking to the position that there is not grounds to do so, while the Tories are adamant that Blair’s promise to ban the organisation will remain a stick with which to beat the Labour Government.

While Brown may have been caught unawares in his first PMQs on the subject, this week he taunted Cameron by saying that Cameron had in fact thanked HT in correspondence over the crisis in the Middle East.


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Newsnight – Inayat Bunglawala 1 – Shiv Malik 0

Posted by theislamist on July 3, 2007

I am no big fan of Inayat Bunglawala by any means, but tonight’s Newsnight encounter with Shiv Malik was one for the books.

Newsnight’s coverage of Muslim community issues over the years has been interesting to say the least. Last night we had the newly reformed Hassan Butt ridiculously alleging that “most Muslims” believed that terrorist activity attracts divine pleasure and admission to paradise and that “anything that is not an Islamic way of life” is a legitimate target for attack. I remember last year’s hilarious piece on HuT that suggested, of all things, that they were going around mugging old grannies.

Shiv Malik, the journalistic darling of the neocons, has certainly changed his colours over the last 6 years or so. Some have accused him of having previously justified 9/11.  After 7/7 Malik telephoned a lot of employers of Muslim activists, to tell them that they were employing ‘extremists’. He was he pioneer of the “Shock Horror – Muslim doctor works for the NHS” tabloid stories that have dominated the papers in recent days.

On tonight’s Newsnight, I found Malik to be immature, childish and remarkably inarticulate for a journalist. He just asked stupid questions about what Bunglawala had been doing as a teenager with some old quotes from Trends magazine (those of you who are old enough will remember “Around the world with Inayat Bunglawala”).

On another note, Ali Eteraz has written an excellent article on the media’s recent love affair with “former jihadists”.

Posted in Media, Politics, Terrorism | Leave a Comment »

“Al-Qaeda supergrass” Hassan Butt in the Observer

Posted by theislamist on July 1, 2007

Hassan Butt, the “Al-Qaeda supergrass”, has written an article in today’s Observer. He is the guy who has claimed to have sent arms to the Taliban, organised training for 200 British Muslims to fight in the Jihad, collected monies for terrorism, incited others to terrorism, encouraged attacks on political and military targets in the UK and associated with the 7/7 bombers.

The title of Butt’s article is remarkable – “My plea to fellow Muslims: you must renounce terror”. I wonder what the reaction of Christians would be if someone just quit the Ku Klux Klan and wrote an article saying “My plea to fellow Christians: you must renounce racism”, insinuating that racism is part of Christianity?

Readers of my blog will recall that I questioned why Butt had not been arrested over these string of offences. I also raised the possibility that Butt had been working for the security services and stated my belief that the “true purpose of Butt’s new found conversion is to instil fear in the masses so that they believe that there are tens of thousands of Muslims who are willing to become suicide bombers on the streets of Britain.” This would strengthen the government’s global war on terror and allow it to continue to erode liberties through ever more draconian laws.

The timing of Butt’s article is interesting – it comes following the terrorist incidents in London and Glasgow, as we approach the 2nd anniversary of 7/7 and in the week in which verdicts are expected in the 21/7 trial.

The arguments he raises in the Observer article are very similar to those of my old colleague Mahbub (Ed) Husain. Like Husain, Butt, ignoring the wealth of evidence to the contrary, blames “Islamist ideology” for terrorism. In a passage that could have been lifted verbatim from The Islamist, Butt writes, “The Muslim community in Britain must slap itself awake from this state of denial and realise there is no shame in admitting the extremism within our families, communities and worldwide co-religionists.”

I have no doubt that the simplistic analysis of Butt will be lapped up by some in the media and Government. The Government are keen to dismiss any sense of grievance amongst Muslims. In a documentary to be shown on Channel 4 tomorrow night, former PM Tony Blair, attacks “absurd” British Islamists who have nurtured a false “sense of grievance” that they are being oppressed by Britain and the United States. Blair says, ‘The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle is that we’re not actually fighting it properly. We’re not actually standing up to these people and saying, “It’s not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn’t justified.”‘ This is not the first time that Muslims have been accused of having “false grievances”.

I find it remarkable that following the deaths of 80 civilians on Friday in Afghanistan, there are some who still say “its not our fault”. After 7/7, in an insightful article, Seamus Milne, wrote, “The London bombers were to blame for attacks on civilians that are neither morally nor politically defensible. But the prime minister – who was warned by British intelligence of the risks in the run-up to the war – is also responsible for knowingly putting his own people at risk in the service of a foreign power. The security crackdowns and campaign to uproot an “evil ideology” the government announced yesterday will not extinguish the threat. Only a British commitment to end its role in the bloody occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan is likely to do that.”

On a final note, Butt’s article, although superficial, appears to be very polished and linguistically well written. He is no literary genius and as has happened in the past (with others) it would be no surprise if the article was written for him. Ziauddin Sardar recently suggested that Ed Husain’s The Islamist seemed “to have been drafted by a Whitehall mandarin as a PR job for the Blair government”. It is also public knowledge that in October 2002, Denic MacShane, then a minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office “crafted a first-person piece [The Observer, 11th November 2001], supposedly by Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, which expressed the support of British Muslims for the attack on Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and find Osama bin Laden” (28th October 2002).

Posted in Politics, Terrorism | 1 Comment »

Ed Husain at it again

Posted by theislamist on June 10, 2007

I had hoped that my criticism of Ed Husain and the critical analysis by many in the Muslim community would have given him a dose of common sense. However he is at it again – not satisfied with the dozens of book reviews he has enjoyed and the tens of thousands of pounds he has earned from book sales, he is now complaining in the Observer that Muslims are generally saying nasty things about him [hat tip: Yusuf Smith on DeenPort].

If some Muslims at East London Mosque have threatened Mahbub, they must desist. Not only is this haram but probably exactly the kind of response that Mahbub was looking for and expected. He can now add weight to his argument that mosques are hotbeds of extremism and compliment himself on his admirable bravery and courage in writing his book.

Yahya Birt has correctly pointed out that, “we are not given proper evidence that this third-party reported threat was inspired by “Islamism”, or proof that the mosque authorities were somehow invovlved. What has been the reason to set out these sorts of reports, given by a third party, in the Observer? Was this done after other steps were taken previously and then found insufficient, and “not fit for purpose”? “

The response of Mahbub to all kinds of criticism from all sides of the political spectrum is remarkable and certainly not fitting of one who claims the path of tasawwuf. As Sumayyah Evans has written, there seems to be a Bush like ultimatum of either you agree with his personal narrative or you’re an extremist. Mahbub is arrogantly refusing to accept any credible criticism of his book or viewpoint – he seems to allege that all criticism if driven by ‘Islamism’ or by moderates with family connections to ‘Islamists’.

On one discussion thread, he actually insists that all that ask him questions must reveal all past, present and family connections to ‘Islamism’. One brother who spent a total of 9 years with MAB and YM is arrogantly told by Husain that he can’t possibly shed the ‘Islamist’ influence.

Remarkably, Mahbub ignores all of the brothers and sisters who have been demanding answers to the many inaccuracies in his writings. While ignoring these people and labelling them as ‘Islamists’ or sympathisers of ‘Islamists’,  all Mahbub can talk about is the support he is getting from a couple of former ‘Islamists’. Why does he not talk of the support he is getting from the neocon sympathisers who spearheaded the Iraq war? Why is he not ’emboldened’ by the support of Melanie Phillips and her ilk? What about those right-wing Zionists and neo-nazi BNP supporters who have been emboldened by his book?

He also talks of silent support from some of the Sufi shuyukh but names no names. However, from what my Sufi brothers have told me, some of the leading shuyukh have in fact expressed huge dismay at Mahbub’s actions and his misrepresentation of some of their opinions.

Those who remain close to Mahbub must explain to him that he cannot continue falsely slandering other Muslims and misrepresenting the opinions of the Shuyukh.  What may have started as a personal biography or narrative has unfortunately turned Mahbub into a pawn in the hands of those who are seeking to create divisions within our community. Enough is enough.

I agree entirely with Sidi Yahya who writes, “…I must say that his subsequent behaviour and conduct have certainly helped to tip people towards a more sceptical reading of his motives, and, no, they are not people who have been duped by Islamists, or indeed have been working members of Islamist organisations. Nor have they ever been Islamists — unlike Sidi Mahbub! Is he so sure that he can characterise their responses as naive?”

Posted in Politics, Terrorism | 1 Comment »

Ed Husain: The Islamist

Posted by theislamist on June 1, 2007

As I mentioned in a previous posting, I have been reading the recent book by Ed (Mahbub) Husain entitled The Islamist. I have finished reading it now. Mahbub and I both attended HT activities in London back in the early 1990s. I had intended to write a detailed piece on my thoughts about the book, but as there have been so many reviews I thought I would just make the following observations:

  1. Although the book has received wide acclaim amongst non-Muslim commentators, the reception amongst the Muslim community has been very frosty. The book was obviously written for the non-Muslim audience (hence the pen name ‘Ed’). The most positive review (although a lot of negative points are made) is the lengthy one by Yahya Birt. Other Muslim writers including Inayat Bunglawala, Andrew Booso and Yusuf Smith are much more critical of him. There are some newspaper journalists including Brian Whitaker, Riazat Butt and Madeleine Bunting who have also been critical.
  2. On DeenPort, Mahbub asked whether Muslims should wash their dirty linen in public. He has received a great deal of criticism from members of the DeenPort discussion forum and although he initially responded to it, he has failed to respond to much of the recent criticism. I agree with Yusuf Smith who asks “How can we take anyone seriously when he tells us not to air dirty linen in public while writing a book which does precisely that, on a much larger scale?”
  3. I don’t want to question Mahbub’s sincerity, but there are a huge number of opportunities for ‘kiss and tell’ style accounts from former ‘Islamists’. It is easy in this day and age to make a quick buck by bad mouthing the Muslim community. Brother Mahbub should reflect on the rightwing racists and Islamophobes who are feasting on his testimony.
  4. When the book neatly fits the Government’s narrative it is not surprising that it gets such wide acclaim from the broadsheets. The government’s narrative is that there are ‘ordinary decent Muslims’ who are completely detached from concerns about foreign policy or the notion of Islam being at the centre of state and society in the Muslim world. Every one else is an ‘Islamist’ who are accused of exploiting the faith of their fellow Muslims for political ends. This explains the Government’s recent support for the Sufi Muslim Council and the British Muslim Forum.
  5. I don’t think Mahbub’s account adds anything about the Islamic ‘scene’ in the UK. This is not surprising as he has not been part of it for over a decade. By his own admission, in the mid-1990s he ended his association with HT, before briefly moving on to associate with MB linked groups like ISB. He was never a ‘jihadi’ and never a ‘terrorist’, even though some in the media have described him as a former ‘jihadi’.
  6. Although many of us may have had bad experiences with some people from HT, Yusuf Smith hits the nail on the head when he says, “In calling for HT to be banned now, he ignores the reason why they are not: because the troublemakers left ten years ago. HT now are a quiet intellectual group, at least in the UK, and we do not ban parties in this country simply because we dislike their ideology.”
  7. There are some major errors in the book – I am not sure whether these are intentional or accidental – I know they are errors because I was with HT during the same period Mahbub was – for example there is the claim that HT never spoke out against Saddam Hussain. His suggestion that he parted company with HT for ideological reasons is also not true – it was more to do with his close personal relationship with Omar Bakri [he left when Bakri was kicked out], pressure from his father and other personal reasons which I don’t want to mention.
  8. Mahbub does not answer some very important questions. What tips someone over from being a ‘radical’ to becoming violent? After all, he was a radical and never became violent and the overwhelming majority of radicals do not become violent. Why is it that ‘Islamists’ linked to HT and the MB have existed in the UK for decades, yet we have never seen violence on the streets of the UK until after the Iraq war? Mahbub dismisses the foreign policy angle as a cause for alienation and radicalisation, but I think the evidence is stacked up against him. If this is a battle of ideas between “traditional Islam” and “Islamism” then how can it be won by banning groups or silencing voices? Does Mahbub believe that ISB, JIMAS, etc, etc. must all be banned? Should East London Mosque and Regent’s Park Mosque and all the other mosques linked to MB and the Wahabbis be closed down? Surely, what is needed is more debate and argument between the groups in accordance with the Islamic etiquettes? We can’t just sweep the views of many Muslims under the carpet. Does Mahbub really believe that anyone who wants the caliphate or an Islamic state must believe in violence? After all, a recent poll by the University of Maryland found that over 70 per cent of the population in the Muslim world wanted Shariah and the caliphate but were opposed to violence.

Posted in Politics, Reviews, Terrorism | 5 Comments »

Who is behind the “British Oppression” demo?

Posted by theislamist on May 25, 2007

Some of you will have seen the publicity for a demonstration against “British Oppression”. It is due to be held on 15th June 2007 and stickers advertising it have appeared in Birmingham. A petition against the protest already has over 600 signatories and many inflammatory comments.

When I first saw stickers for the demonstration in my local area I did a search on Google for “British Oppression” and found that a cached version of the website for the demonstration mentioned that it was the website of Omar Bakri Mohammad. So it is clear to me from this and the content of the advert for the demo, that it is being organised by his followers – they are known by the names Al-Muhajiroun, Al-Ghurabaa, the Saved Sect and the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah.

They were behind the demonstration outside the Danish embassy where their activists held placards stating “Massacre those who insult Islam” and “7/7 on its way”. The demonstration was seized upon by the Government to push through new legislation on the vague offence of the ‘glorification’ of terrorism.

In September 2006, one of their activists Abu Izzadeen, was able to get remarkably close to the Home Secretary John Reid. Again, his outburst on that occasion was presented by Reid and other ministers as evidence of widespread ‘radicalisation’ in the Muslim community. Reid utilised the encounter in his speech to the Labour party conference and in the New Statesman, Darcus Howe wrote that the “clash was staged by Reid and his cohorts at the Home Office. They organised the meeting, Abu Izzadeen was invited in advance – his performance guaranteed – and the press was alerted to film and report the confrontation.”

After the 7/7 attacks, Izzadeen had appeared on Newsnight and described the suicide bombers as “completely praiseworthy”. At that time, his comments were again seized upon by Government to bring forward a series of new anti-terrorism measures.

In the publicity for next month’s demo, the organisers have tried to conceal who is really behind it. Although, a few have speculated that the Islamist group HT may be behind it, it doesn’t seem to be their style and in any case their spokesman has distanced them from it saying that they “believe that the posting of such material damages community relations and does nothing to create harmony between the city’s residents.”

I have no doubt that there are legitimate concerns about foreign policy, media coverage of Islam and the Muslim community, terror laws, rendition and so on and so forth. These concerns are shared by many Muslims and non-Muslims from across the political spectrum.

However, I believe that this demo is being organised by agent provocateurs who will fuel the Government’s propaganda that the Muslim community is full of ‘radicalised’ hotheads. It will damage community relations and will be used to justify further erosion of the civil liberties of ordinary Muslims and non-Muslims. Judging by the inflammatory postings on the petition website, it is clear that the mere advertising of this demonstration is causing a wave of Islamophobia.

The question that must be asked is how the organisers have managed to secure permission for the demonstration at Downing Street, inside the exclusion zone? I hate to be sceptical, but I wonder whether the Government does not mind such events from taking place, as they can be capitalised on later, as has been seen in the past.

I certainly won’t be attending the demo and would advise my brothers and sisters to completely boycott it.

Posted in Politics, Terrorism | 6 Comments »

If he funded terrorism, why has Hassan Butt not been arrested?

Posted by theislamist on May 23, 2007

Some of you may have come across this article in the News of the World earlier this week that details the claims of Hassan Butt, an “Al-Qaeda supergrass”.

Butt claims that “thousands of young Muslims are preparing to unleash fresh terror atrocities on Britain’s streets.” He says that, “Saying thousands of British Muslims support terrorism is no over-estimation. I know because I used to raise money from them. Doctors, teachers and businessmen would all chip in—and they knew it was going towards terrorism.”

Talking about his time in Pakistan he says, “It may sound sick to outsiders but I genuinely believed I was fighting a war. That’s why I was photographed with a loudhailer calling for Muslims to attack the British and Americans when I was in Pakistan.”

The article states that Butt bought guns to be shipped to fighters inside Afghanistan, met the ringleader of the 7/7 London suicide bombings, Muhammed Siddique Khan, met the New York born Junaid Babar, who later became star witness against the fertiliser bombers who plotted to kill hundreds of clubbers at London’s Ministry of Sound and thousands of shoppers at the Bluewater complex in Kent.

Now, Butt has allegedly had a change of heart: “But someone’s got to make a stand. What I’ve come to realise is that killing in the name of Islam for the sake of killing is completely prohibited. It’s a very dangerous cancer in the Muslim world and it needs to be dealt with.”

In an article in The Times a couple of weeks back, Butt openly admits to recruiting people for terrorism and collecting money for terrorist purposes.

Back in 2002, Butt told the BBC that he had recruited 200 British volunteers to fight for the Taliban and that he would now personally encourage attacks on political and military targets in the UK. At that time Muslim groups described him as a “fantasist”. At the time a Metropolitan Police spokesman said the Met was working with the Crown Prosecution Service to examine the comments on the radio, to establish if any offences had been committed.

After reading all of this, I question why Butt has not been arrested. By his own admission he sent arms to the Taliban, he organised training for 200 British Muslims to fight in the Jihad, he collected monies for terrorism, he incited others to terrorism, he encouraged attacks on political and military targets in the UK and he associated with the 7/7 bombers

Just because he has had a sudden change of heart and is now writing a “kiss and tell” book, surely this does not exonerate him before the law. If Harold Shipman had said when he was found out that he had regretted his previous actions, would he have got off scott free and been able to sell his stories to newspapers and publishers?

The fact that Butt’s proclamations, fantasies or not, would appear to be consistently overlooked by the security services or the police suggests either a) we’ve got a level of incompetence that would be unusual even for the security services or b) possibly, and this is a possibility, that this man Butt may have been working for the security service.

There are many reports in the news media of people who were close to Butt having their houses raided and being arrested. While Butt claims in these articles to now be living undercover and to have been stabbed, assaulted and threatened, a few informal enquiries in the local Muslim community in Manchester suggest that he is living his life quite normally.

I believe that the true purpose of Butt’s new found conversion is to instil fear in the masses so that they believe that there are tens of thousands of Muslims who are willing to become suicide bombers on the streets of Britain. This will strengthen the government’s global war on terror and allow it to continue to erode liberties through ever more draconian laws.

Interestingly, Sir Richard Mottram, Permanent Secretary at the Cabinet Office, admitted last week, in comments that were not well publicised, that terrorism was not the biggest threat to Britain. He argued that climate change was a bigger long term risk.

Posted in Politics, Terrorism | 3 Comments »