Fears raised over fundamentalist Islamic group in Britain
The leaders of the July 7, July 21 and liquid bomb plots all attended mosques and meetings run by the group Tablighi Jamaat, which is planning to build a large mosque near the site of the 2012 Olympics.
The organisation works on a missionary basis, travelling from mosque to mosque in small groups or “jamaat” to encourage followers to return to the basic teachings of Islam. Tablighis follow a strain of Islam which has been associated with the Taliban in Afghanistan and with a terrorist group in Pakistani Kashmir. It has its largest presence in Mewat, India and Raiwind, Pakistan.
Among the most popular preachers are Abdulla el-Faisal, whose sermons have been found among the belongings of the July 7 and July 21 bombers. He was deported from Britain after being released early from prison.
Tablighi Jamaat has a global presence and is regarded by most Muslims as a peaceful organisation.
However, intelligence services across the world have warned that it has been used as a recruiting ground for young radicals.
Michael Heimbach, the deputy chief of the FBI’s international terrorism section, said: “We have a significant presence of Tablighi Jamaat in the United States and we have found that al-Qaeda used them for recruiting now and in the past.”
Tablighi has its European headquarters in Dewsbury, West Yorks, where the July 7 bombers Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer studied at its madrassa.
The leader of the July 21 gang, Muktar Ibrahim, attended a Tablighi mosque in east London and the “fifth bomber” in the July 21 plot, Manfo Asiedu, attended a Tablighi gathering in Dewsbury for three days.
The group also operated from mosques in Walthamstow, east London, and High Wycombe, Bucks, where several of the airline plotters worshipped.
Assad Sarwar, the bomb-maker, and Waheed Zaman, a biochemistry student, both joined weekend camps run by Tablighi Jamaat.
Tablighi is hoping to build the country’s largest mosque in Stratford, east London, close to the site of the 2012 Olympics, for 40,000 worshippers. It is currently awaiting planning approval.