Sucessor to Abu Hamza - head of Supporters of Sharia who warned of new attacks nabbed in terror raid linked to Islamic School
September 3, 2006
Terror raids hit radical preacherDipesh Gadher and David Leppard September 04, 2006
The home of a radical Islamist preacher in London has been raided as police investigating an alleged "terrorist pipeline" supplying British Muslim fighters to Iraq and Afghanistan arrested 14 men at the weekend.
Abu Abdullah, an associate of Abu Hamza, the jailed British-based hook-handed cleric, boasted in an interview last week how he would "love" to kill British troops in Afghanistan and warned of future terrorist attacks in Britain.
The raid on his house formed part of a long-term operation by Scotland Yard and MI5 targeting suspects allegedly involved in the recruitment and grooming of young British Muslims for martyrdom operations abroad and possibly at home. The 14 arrests were made in co-ordinated raids at the weekend.
Police also cordoned off an independent Islamic school in Crowborough, East Sussex, south of London, which had regularly hosted camping weekends for Muslim youths.
The school had reportedly been used by Hamza and his followers for physical and spiritual training exercises.
Forensic experts searched Mr Abdullah's terraced home in Bromley, south London, while police stood guard outside.
But it remained unclear whether the father of four, aged 42, was one of the 14 men who had been arrested.
Police said the suspects, aged 17 to 48, had been under surveillance for many months and were alleged to have been involved in the selection and indoctrination of recruits rather than actual weapons training. Sources said the men were not planning an immediate attack.
Nor were the arrests linked to the recent alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights or last year's the July 7 London bombings. One security source said: "It's all to do with the wider process, with training people in Britain to go and martyr themselves in terrorist operations abroad."
A second source said that once trained and indoctrinated into suicide bombing, the recruits would be able to carry out attacks abroad and in Britain: "That's where we think this investigation is going to lead us."
The arrests follow intelligence claims that British-born Muslims of Pakistani origin are fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
In a separate development, Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, told the BBC that thousands of Muslims were being monitored in the belief that they might be involved in supporting terrorism.
Several of the 14 suspects were dramatically arrested in and around a halal Chinese restaurant in Borough, south London, as stunned diners looked on.
Up to 60 armed riot police had arrived at The Bridge to China Town restaurant at about 10pm on Friday, where a group of 15 Muslim men were eating.
The group included men of South Asian or Middle Eastern appearance and some Afro-Caribbeans. "Most of the men were in their 20s and 30s," said the restaurant's owner, Mehdi Beliyani.
"Some of them wore Islamic clothes and had beards; others wore Western clothes. Police questioned them, about two or three of them, and then they arrested them. They were not handcuffed -- just taken away."
Mr Abdullah, a British-born Muslim convert whose real name is Attila Ahmet, last week praised the 7/7 bombers as "my honourable brothers in Islam".
He also claimed Tony Blair was a legitimate target for assassination because of the Prime Minister's foreign policy and said he supported suicide bombers using "household chemicals".
Mr Abdullah said Muslims had the right to defend themselves in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. "If I had the means to go back there and kill an American or British soldier then I would love to do so," he said.
He is a former spokesman for Hamza, who was convicted in February of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred during sermons at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London. Following Hamza's imprisonment, Mr Abdullah briefly took control of the mosque and has also assumed the leadership of the Supporters of Sharia, an extremist group the cleric founded.
The Sunday Times