Abu Hamza, the Muslim preacher, told a court yesterday that children could train for a holy war by joining the boy scouts.
Asked if children should go for jihad training as he had recommended in one of his speeches, Hamza said: “If they want. They could go for scouting or something.”
David Perry, prosecuting, asked: “Do you mean scouts and cubs? Have your own children been to the cub scouts?”
Hamza told him: “Maybe one or two days. Whether it is war or study, everybody needs training.
“If the only way to defend someone is by killing then it is legitimate. It may be training for self-defence, training to defend other people or training to defend ideas.”
Hamza, who has seven children, argued that a volume of the Encyclopedia of Afghani Jihad – said by the prosecution to be a terrorist manual – was not in “circulation” and could have been taken by one of the children.
“Maybe they put it on top of the microwave and someone took it. I find my books under the computer or propping up a table. It is a house of children not a barracks.”
The court heard the volume, on bombs and grenades, was finally found by Hamza’s son, although the preacher could not say where it had been.
He said he could not remember who had sold him the book. “I don’t know his name. We know each other as Abu this or Abu that.
“People choose aliases and use them in the mosque.”
The encyclopedia forms the basis of a charge of possession of a document useful to preparing terrorism.
Hamza also faces nine counts of soliciting to murder, four counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour and one count of possessing abusive recordings with a view to distribution.
Asked why he had boxes of blank video tapes, he claimed they were for his children to record satellite shows.
Hamza denies all charges and the trial continues.