Saturday, July 21, 2007

Is he really a changed man?

International Herald Tribune There was a time when Omar Bakri Mohammed embodied every stereotype of the jihadi extremist. From his perch in London, he threw around words like "kafir" - infidel - to describe Christians and Jews and openly praised the bombers of Sept. 11, 2001. But sitting recently in his new library overlooking Mount Lebanon in this northern city, with a bloody battle raging between the Lebanese Army and the Qaeda-inspired Fatah al Islam at a Palestinian refugee camp a few kilometers away, Bakri presented himself as a changed man. Whether the shift is as meaningful as he asserts is an open question.
Did he change because he was kicked out of peaceful Britain, and now is forced to live in a war zone?
He speaks of peace, decrying the unnecessary use of violence and emphasizing the sanctity of life. The death of innocents, he says, has to be curtailed.
I agree. Does he agree that Christians and even Jews may be innocent, or is only innocent Muslims whose death he wants to prevent?
.... He had co-founded the radical group Al Muhajiroun - disbanded in 2004 - which sought to restore and expand the Muslim caliphate, an empire whose "foreign policy is to conquer the whole world by jihad," he said.
Does anyone question the end object of the radical Islamists?
He also helped found the British branch of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a like-minded political party that seeks a more peaceful, political route to the caliphate,
A more peaceful route to a world wide government under Sharia law.
before falling out with the group for theological reasons, he said. Charismatic but never afraid of acrimony, Bakri embraced controversy.

In a newspaper interview in April 2004, he warned that "a very well-organized" London-based group, Al Qaeda Europe, was "on the verge of launching a big operation." He vowed that if Western governments did not change their policies, Muslims would give them "a 9/11, day after day after day." When the London bombings occurred, however, the whole formula changed. British authorities were no longer willing to tolerate his speech, and public outrage increased.
When he was just ranting about destroying other western governments the British were willing to tolerate him, but when they realized he meant them too, they woke up.
When he left London for Beirut two years ago, the British government banned him permanently. He had last stepped foot in Lebanon more than 30 years ago, when he escaped the civil war, he said. Now he is starting anew, insisting that it is against his beliefs to be in Britain if he cannot preach his brand of Islam.
Since he was banned permanently we will never know.
Nonetheless, his wife and children remain there, wards of its welfare state.
Certainly. You would not expect a Muslim man to take care of his family if some infidels would do it for him.

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