An undercover investigation has caught leaders of a radical Islamic group inciting young British Muslims to become terrorists and praising the Tube bombers as “the fantastic four”.
A Sunday Times reporter spent two months as a recruit inside the Saviour Sect to reveal for the first time how the extremist group promotes hatred of “non-believers” and encourages its followers to commit acts of violence including suicide bombings.
The reporter witnessed one of the sect’s leading figures, Sheikh Omar Brooks, telling a young audience, including children, that it was the duty of Muslims to be terrorists and boasting, just days before the July 7 attacks, that he wanted to die as a suicide bomber.
After the attacks that claimed 52 lives, another key figure, Zachariah, justified them by saying that the victims were not “innocent” people because they did not abide by strict Islamic laws. In the immediate aftermath the sect’s leader, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said: “For the past 48 hours I’m very happy.” Two weeks later he referred to the bombers as the “fantastic four”.
The evidence compiled by The Sunday Times in hours of transcripts and tapes will lend weight to moves, announced last week by Tony Blair, to proscribe such organisations for providing a breeding ground for would-be terrorists. The attorney-general’s office said last night it would investigate the recent comments by a number of Islamic radicals with a view to prosecution.
The Saviour Sect was established 10 months ago when its predecessor group Al-Muhajiroun was disbanded after coming under close scrutiny by the authorities. Its members meet in secret in halls, followers’ homes and parks. They are so opposed to the British state that they see it as their duty to make no economic contribution to the nation. One member warned our undercover reporter against getting a job because it would be contributing to the kuffar (non-Muslim) system.
Instead, the young follower, Nasser, who receives £44 job seekers’ allowance a week, said it was permissible to “live off benefits”, just as the prophet Mohammed had lived off the state while attacking it at the same time. Even paying car insurance was seen as supporting the system. “All the (Saviour Sect) brothers drive without insurance,” he said.
The reporter became a member of the sect three weeks before the July 7 bombings. From the start he was taught that it was his duty to destroy the kuffar. Moderate Muslims who did not believe in the overthrow of the British government and its replacement by an Islamic state were held in equal disdain.
Within days of joining, he witnessed seven Saviour Sect members beating up a member of the moderate Young Muslim Organisation in an East End street because they believed he had insulted their version of Islam.
Last week Omar Brooks stirred controversy with televised comments, but they were carefully chosen to avoid appearing to incite violence. On Saturday, July 2 he had been more forthright.
Speaking to a group of teenagers and families, he declared it was imperative for Muslims to “instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar” and added: “I am a terrorist. As a Muslim of course I am a terrorist.”
The 30-year-old, who claims to have had military training in Pakistan, said he did not want to go to Allah while sleeping in his bed “like an old woman”. Instead: “I want to be blown into pieces with my hands in one place and my feet in another.”
In public interviews Bakri condemned the killing of all innocent civilians. Later when he addressed his own followers he explained that he had in fact been referring only to Muslims as only they were innocent: “Yes I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar.”
Yesterday Bakri said he had no connections to a group in east London but said that he did attend prayers and preach to up to 15 people. He denied using the words “fantastic four”.