LONDON: An organisation campaigning on behalf of Muslim prisoners in British jails is a front for extremists run by a banned cleric, the Evening Standard can reveal.
Captive Support claims to be a human rights group, monitoring inmates’ welfare and calling for their release.
On Saturday it held its first big conference at Friends House, a meeting venue run by the Quakers in Euston Road.
But the Standard has discovered Captive Support is headed by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohamed, a preacher in exile in Lebanon. He was banned from returning to Britain after the 7 July attacks on London in 2005. Known as the Tottenham Ayatollah, he once called the 9/11 hijackers “magnificent” and declared the 7/7 bombers had gone to paradise.
Britain’s online imam declares war as he calls young to jihad
Bakri sent a message to the conference via a video link from his home in Tripoli. The group consists mainly of former members of Al-Muhajiroun, al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect, now all banned.
Bakri has previously headed these groups and several of their members are in jail for terror-related offences.
In his message, posted on YouTube, Bakri declares: “Today to support Islam is a crime, to support jihad in Iraq is a crime and it is easy to accuse you of being a terrorist and to be members of Al Qaeda. This gathering will be the first step forward … to ensure you can help to release them all from captivity.”
He said Abu Qatada, often called Osama bin Laden’s “spiritual ambassador in Europe”, and Abu Hamza, the preacher of hate once at Finsbury Park mosque, should be freed from jail. He called for the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman, currently in a US jail for plotting to blow up the World Trade Center.
Syria-born Bakri, whose wife and six children live in north London, admitted to the Standard that he was involved in Captive Support, and said Muslims aware of a terror plot in Britain should never go to the police. “I cannot report my Muslim brothers,” he said.
One of Captive Support’s organisers is Anjem Choudary, who was Bakri’s right hand man and fixer before the cleric left Britain.
Choudary admitted helping to organise Saturday’s meeting. He said the group did not break the law. But he refused to condemn the 7/7 bombers, and on the 9/11 plot, he said: “By any account, what they did on 9/11 was magnificent … But whether we were praising or celebrating it is another question.”
On a DVD sold at the conference, Choudary declares: “We believe Islam will cover the entire world … When we declare Jihad on other nations, the countries will fight us but we will conquer them with force.
“It would be nice if the British would welcome us, but they have arrogance the British, but we will conquer them.”
A spokeswoman for the Quakers said: “We let Friends House to a wide range of organisations. The freedom to gather is an important principle for Quakers. We have a clear policy setting out standards. If we discover a customer has not abided by the policy, it is unlikely the room would be let to them again.”