This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/136

UK Muslims glorify Al Muhajiroun suicide bomber : "Hat's off to the guy for having the conviction to do this"

British begin to show tacit acceptance of the Islamist 'social acceptability' of suicide bombings
Evening Telegraph
June 11, 2004

DANGEROUS IN THE EXTREME?


09:30 - 10 July 2004

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Extremist group Al-Muhajiroun, which had connections with Derby suicide bomber Omar Sharif, is still operating in the city - much to the dismay of mainstream Muslims.

So what is this group and what sort of a hold has it got over Muslims in this area?

Paula Fentiman and Joanna Hill lift the lid on extreme Islam in Derby.

IT was a Wednesday, a warm summer evening, and the streets and bars of city centre Derby were filling up with people wanting to make the most of the fine weather.

Groups of men and women laughed and talked together.

But less than a mile away, in the heart of inner-city Normanton, there was a group of men for whom the evening represented a social occasion of a very different kind.

Outside a shop in Pear Tree Road, about 15 men, in their 20s and 30s, waited eagerly for the door to be unlocked and for their weekly religious instruction to start.

These earnest-looking men were members of Al-Muhajiroun, an international Islamic group with a controversial reputation.

Al-Muhajiroun was created in 1994 after it split from Hizb ut-Tahrir, which had been operating since 1953.

Both groups are extreme, aiming to achieve worldwide domination by Islam. Both preach that Muslims should not take part in democratic politics. They are against Western governments and object to their foreign policies, particularly over Iraq.

But one crucial difference is that Hizb ut-Tahrir is against violence, while Al-Muhajiroun has supported "physical" means to fight jihad, or holy war.

In cities across the country, Al-Muhajiroun has set up weekly meetings such as this, which, it says, are needed to give Muslims the support and guidance which will help them continue to live in a western society according to Islamic rules.

Members also try to spread the word by handing out leaflets and have a regular stall in Normanton Road on Saturday afternoons.

Only a dozen or so people attend its meetings in Derby. Here, mainstream Muslims say Al-Muhajiroun and Hizb ut-Tahrir, which also has about a dozen members, are just fringe groups which have always been regarded as irritants.

But in recent years and in the atmosphere of a post-September 11 world, Al-Muhajiroun members have come to be regarded as dangerous by Muslim leaders, who are desperate to get them out of Derby.

The group's activities in recent years have included a rally in Derby to support "brothers in Palestine" as tensions between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East heightened. A placard called for the murder of Jews and a banner was burned.

And last year it emerged that Derby's Omar Sharif took part in the group's activities before he became a suicide bomber.

So less than two years ago, these meetings would have included the quiet Omar Sharif.

He also manned the group's regular Saturday afternoon stall in Normanton Road and underwent personal instruction from the group's founder leader, Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad.

In fact, he was more than just another participant. Sharif "impressed" the others, who thought he was going to be an Islamic scholar.

In many ways, the men who follow Al-Muhajiroun men have much in common with Omar Sharif - young, educated, mostly employed and earnest in their beliefs.

One of the attendees that Wednesday was Kamran Ali. He was 20, living in Madeley Street, Normanton, and was a business management student at the University of Derby.

His mission, he said, was simply to learn more about his religion.

"It's a personal, spiritual thing. The main objective is to find how to live according to Islam."

Fellow member Omar Abdullah (30), a computer programmer from Normanton Road, who has been going to the meetings for four years, concurred.

"At the meetings, there are talks on people and Islamic issues. It's about Muslims living side by side in peace and harmony - that is our vision," he said.

But "living according to Islam" seems to be steeped in confusion. Groups like Al-Muhajiroun and Hizb ut-Tahrir are at odds with what other Muslims believe.

These groups want a worldwide Islamic state and refuse to participate in democratic politics. Yet since Muslims first came to this country in the 60s, they have taken their place in society. Some have become politicians in their own right. Two Muslim city councillors, Fareed Hussain and Abdul Rehman, were good friends with Sharif's father, Mohammed, who died in 1993.

Mr Abdullah, however, said: "Man-made laws have changing goal posts as attitudes change and things get accepted. Human beings are not in a position to make a law - God's law should rule the world."

And as for leisure time and relationships, an Islamic state would be strict on what they call "Western" values.

The so-called Islamic state - as advocated by Al-Muhajiroun - includes no mortgages and VAT but also claims to get rid of such modern ills as pollution, robbery and homelessness. Their views on how to treat criminals are draconian, particularly for rapists: "Any sexual offender will receive harsh enough punishment to ensure it cannot recur".

And they have what most people would describe as sexist, homophobic views. "Women are honoured and not paraded as sex objects for men", their leaflets say.

However, they are not against women being educated and working."Free mixing between the sexes is not allowed. A man cannot shake a woman's hand, and he can't be friends with a woman he could marry," said Mr Abdullah.

"Women are seen as gems that need to be looked after and cared for. We are different. God has given us a role and women a different role.

"When women cover themselves it is because they want to."

But he added that there was still fun to be had in an Islamic society.

"Our fun involves playing sport, computer games, having a meal out with friends, watching movies."

Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, disputed Al-Muhajiroun's take on Islamic principles.

He said that Muslims were not opposed to mortgages, just extortionate interest rates, did not aim to scrap VAT and inflation and were not against political parties or nation-states.

"The idea that Islam is opposed to the West is objectionable and very unhelpful. Cultures interact and learn from each other," he said.

"By Al-Muhajiroun telling people not to vote, they are playing into the hands of extremist groups like the British National Party. There is absolutely no contradiction between being Muslim and being British - by being good Muslims we hope they will be better British citizens."

However, he did agree that Islam placed great stress on removing promiscuity from society, which affected Muslim views on women.

And then there are the thorny issues of suicide bombing and the fact that Al-Muhajiroun is still legal in this country.

The group gives confused messages about suicide bombing. It denies being a recruiter for such activity yet, a few years ago, it encouraged people to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Members are transfixed by the plight of Muslims in other countries and the behaviour of western Governments, yet they are British and are prepared to take British jobs and participate in the British education system. And when it comes to Omar Sharif, they do not actually condemn what he did, unlike mainstream Muslims, who say they are horrified by his actions.

"Some scholars do agree with suicide bombers, some don't," said Mr Ali. "People label Muslims as terrorists but look at what kind of things the British army has done around the world."

Mr Abdullah agreed: "We feel the pain of every other Muslim. When we see scenes in Palestine and Kashmir, it is part and parcel of our history. Whatever struggle they are going through, we have to help.

"Muslims in this country are not obliged to go and do a physical act - they can be classed as martyrs by staying here and speaking the truth. Martyrdom is not restricted to blowing people up."

Omar Sharif seemed to be of the same philosophy as these men, yet he decided to blow himself up.

A handful of the city Muslims we spoke to told us that they agreed with what Sharif did. After the attack, one man outside the Jamia mosque said: "Hats off to the guy for having the conviction to do this"

Into this potent pot of religious extremism come the police and the Government. Despite the fact that the Government has introduced stringent laws against terrorism, public disorder and racially-aggravated offences, Al-Muhajiroun is still a legal organisation.

Not even when the group demonstrated in the city and held a placard saying "kill the jews" did they police act, even though the protest was caught on camera by the Evening Telegraph.

Manzoor Moghal, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicester, has argued that Britain's policy of multiculturalism must shoulder some of the blame.

"Rather than pulling us together, the determination to impose multiculturalism at all costs has helped to stir up division, bigotry and even treachery," he said.

"Instead of being charged with incitement to violence and sent to prison, these anti-western clerics are given welfare benefits and accommodation by the British state they so despise."

Muslim leaders in Derby are worried that extreme Muslim groups are a growing phenomenon.

But Dr Imran Waheed, UK representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir, says many people, including some whites, are turning to Islam because they are fed up with Western society.

He said the only phenomenon was the revival in Islamic dress, particularly in the number of women who were fully covered. This was recently shown in the court case involving Luton Muslim Shabina Begum, who claimed that her school, by not allowing her to wear the full-length Muslim gown, the jilbab, was violating her human rights. She lost the case.

While the earth on Sharif's unmarked grave in Nottingham Road Cemetery settles, the group that he was involved in continues to exist, despite the frustrations of mainstream Muslims in Derby .

When the Al-Muhajiroun meetings at Pear Tree Road finish, its members return to their homes. The next day, they go back to work and studies within a Western society that they detest.

But their Islamic work is not over, for on Fridays they might try to leaflet outside mosques and on Saturday afternoon they will set up stall on Normanton Road.

In the meantime, it seems the people of Derby, including the vast majority of Muslims must grin and bear such sentiments as this one, expressed by one Al-Muhajiroun member: "If people listen to us they will be convinced. Omar Sharif was convinced. It's not idealistic."

Message finds followers from all over country

Hizb ut-Tahir is an extremist Islamic group that has a branch in Derby. Joanna Hill went along to one of its seminars.

THE Madeley Centre is a nondescript inner-city building, just down the road from Derby's biggest mosque, in Rose Hill Street.

It was an unseasonably cold day in June. A flurry of activity outside the centre indicated that this was not the usual sleepy Sunday afternoon in these parts.

In dribs and drabs, people started to arrive. There were about 20 women in the full Islamic dress, the jilbab, and about 100 men in a variety of dress, from jeans to traditional pyjamas.

The only non-Muslims there were the bemused-looking caretaker and a handful of journalists invited by the media-friendly group.

The paint on the walls of the centre had seen better days but the congregation, most of them young adults, were anything but tired. They all sat alert, the men - "brothers" - in one room and the women - "sisters" - in another, waiting for the guest of honour to appear.

He was Dr Imran Waheed, a middle-aged doctor in Birmingham and, in his spare time, representative of a group that mainstream Muslims call extreme.

The group is Hizb ut-Tahrir. It believes in the establishment of a worldwide Islamic state.

The meeting had been called to present the "true image" of Islam, on the back of what the group referred to as media coverage wrongly depicting Islam as a "bloodthirsty and violent" way of life.

Although Hizb ut-Tahrir does not preach violence like Al-Muhajiroun, it still advocates living within "Islamic law" which means not voting in elections and not participating in Western culture.

Dr Waheed told the audience, who had come from all over the country, that Muslims should be a "shining" example to others and it was their duty to interact with people around them.

He claimed that many non-Muslims were disenchanted and that "hundreds" of women had turned to Islam.

When he had finished, it was time for a question and answer session. All the questions revolved around foreign affairs. The women asked questions via notes.

Outside, Nasser Wade (24) and Lukman Ali (24), both from Nottinghamshire, talked about how they had refound Islam.

"I used to go out clubbing and drinking," said Nasser. "But that is all behind me. Islam is just the perfect way of living."

We probe life of the suicide bomber

The Evening Telegraph's supplement on the life of Omar Sharif will be published after the retrial of his brother Zahid and sister Parveen.

His wife, Tahira Tabassum (29), formerly of Northumberland Street, Derby, was cleared of a terrorism charge last week but the jury could not make a decision on the case against the brother and sister.

Legal restrictions prevented the media from reporting the verdict until Thursday, when the prosecution announced that Zahid and Parveen would face a retrial.

The Evening Telegraph has conducted a year-long investigation into the life and times of father-of-three Sharif, who tried to blow himself up outside a Tel Aviv bar 15 months ago.

His accomplice, Asif Hanif, detonated his bomb at the door of the bar, killing three people and wounding 65.

Sharif fled after his bomb failed to detonate. His body was found in the sea 12 days later.

The retrial is likely to start on November 15.

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MIM: The sympathetic tone of this article is truly obscene.

The writer stops short of blaming Israel and the Jews for Hanif's death.

MIM is placing it because of the information and to show how suicide bombing is now

something which can be rationally discussed, in the same tone as going back to school for a degree.

The writer lauds the release of Tabassum and actually feels sympathy for for "the soft faced Tahira" having been "dealt a double blow" of " having "a husband who was dead and a suicide bomber" and evinces hope that the suicide bomber widow can maybe "Go back to the teaching career she put on hold when she was going to join Omar in Syria ".

.Besides feeling sorry for Tabbasum for having had a tough time after her husband killed 3 people and maimed 65 others, the writer also puts in a sympathetic word for suicide bomber Omar who "suffered the separation of his parents as a teenager".

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09:30 - 09 July 2004

FREEDOM AT LAST FOR MUM WIDOWED IN NAME OF ISLAM


09:30 - 09 July 2004
Tahira Tabassum is now a free woman, having been cleared of terrorism charges in connection with the terrorist activities of her husband, Sharif. Omar's brother, Zahid, and his sister, Parveen, are facing a retrial in November after the jury could not decide on a verdict. Here Joanna Hill looks at the life of London-born Tahira.

Last Wednesday Tahira Tabassum left the Old Bailey a free woman after a devastating 15 months.

In the space of that time Tahira, who had just become a mother for the third time, was widowed by a man with the inglorious reputation of being a failed suicide bomber in Israel - a wanted man whose body was found in a Tel Aviv bay.

Then she was charged under the Terrorism Act for failing to disclose information about the attack.

She spent a week in the high-security Belmarsh Prison in London before being released on bail to spend the next year waiting for her appearance in court.

Her defence was that she had no idea that her husband was planning the attack and his e-mail to her days before - "We did not spend a long time together in this world, but I hope through Allah's mercy and your patience we can spend an eternity together" - should be seen in the context that she thought their marriage was falling apart.

She was a devoted wife and mother who was worried that her husband was leaving her and, far from knowing about his terrorist intentions, she was dealt a double blow: her husband was dead and he was a suicide bomber.

Last week, the soft-faced Tahira, who dresses in the traditional Islamic jilbab gown, returned to her parents' home in Lancaster Avenue, West Norwood, to be reunited with her children, Khadijah (six), Hamzah (five) and Asiyah (15 months).

Tahira and her eldest daughter both had birthdays this week - Tahira on Monday and Khadijah on Wednesday.

But their celebrations will be muted by the fact that, although she has been cleared of all charges, the family will never be free of the actions of their father.

The 29-year-old and her husband should have been celebrating their eighth wedding anniversary today.

Instead they made just six anniversaries before Omar was found in a Tel Aviv bay 12 days after having tried to blow himself up outside a bar on April 30 last year.

His accomplice, Asif Hanif, of Hounslow, detonated his bomb, killing three people and wounding 65.

It is likely that she will stay in London, where she spent most of her life before she settled in Derby with Omar in 2001, probably close to her parents who live in a detached house in a leafy part of West Norwood.

No doubt her parents will be disappointed by the turn her life has taken.

When Tahira Shad Tabassum was born on July 5, 1975, at Dulwich Hospital, London, to Indian-born father Irshad and Pakistani-born mother Shad, she seemed to have a promising life ahead of her.

At the time the family were living in Thurlestone Road, West Norwood, and appeared to have stayed in the area ever since, eventually settling in Lancaster Avenue - their current home.

Her father was a telecommunications engineer when she was born but became a businessman, as did Omar's father, Mohammed.

The young Tahira was bright enough to get a place at King's College in 1993 to study maths and it was there that two important events took place.

She met Omar, who was a year her junior, and underwent some kind of conversion to become a devout Muslim.

She began wearing the traditional hijab headscarf and praying five times a day as a "new year's resolution".

Both she and Omar joined Muslim groups and she attended a talk by Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, now leader of extremist Islamic group Al Muhajiroun, which believes that Muslims have an Islamic obligation to fight to defend Muslim life, honour and property.

The couple were both linked to that group when they settled back in Derby in 2001.

Unlike Omar, Tahira did well in her academic career, gaining her maths degree in 1998 despite having two children and then taking a postgraduate certificate in education to become a teacher.

But her career was disrupted by joining Omar in Syria, where he was studying Arabic at the University of Damascus.

She says cracks started to appear in her marriage in 2000 when they started arguing over her job as a teacher of A-level and GCSE maths at the private King Fahad Academy in East Acton, London.

They even had to consult an Islamic court after Omar uttered the word "Talaq" three times - the accepted way of sealing a Muslim divorce.

She described her life in the years before Omar went to Israel to become a suicide bomber as being devoted to looking after her children in a home without a television.

While she cooked the meals and taught Khadijah and Hamzah, he locked himself away in the converted loft with his laptop computer and a "library" of Islamic texts.

The children, who are now attending a state school in London, were taught Arabic and expected to chant Islamic prayers every day.

And when Omar left for his trip to Syria on April 10 last year, she fully expected to join him there three months later.

She made a list of things to do, including "give spare clothes to the Mosque" and arranging the children's passport photos on April 8, two days before his flight.

From the witness box she repeatedly claimed she had a "clear conscience" about Omar's death, saying: "I can look my children in the face."

Now she will be free to be with her children and to try to make up for the fact that they will never see their father again.

Maybe she will go back to her teaching career, which was put on hold so she could go to Syria with Omar and then settle back in Derby.

Tahira has refused to comment on the verdict, but a source close to the Sharif family said that she was "incredibly relieved".

He added: "She is a different woman. Omar left when they had an eight-week old baby. It's been an immense strain on her."

New powers in the war on terror
The case against Tahira Tabassum was brought under anti-terrorism legislation passed earlier this decade to address new threats of terrorism.

The Terrorism Act 2000 and the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 were a sign that the nature of terrorism had changed.

Prior to that, Britain was mostly concerned about Northern Ireland and the legislation used was the now-defunct Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The original definition of terrorism was: the use of violence for political ends, including the use of violence for the purpose of putting the public, or any section of the public, in fear.

The new definition covers behaviour here and abroad - even if the ends are not simply political.

The Terrorism Act 2000 set down a list of outlawed terrorist organisations, including al-Qaeda, and gave the police wider stop-and-search powers.

Detectives can also detain a suspect for at least 48 hours and custody can continue for up to seven days.

After September 11, the Government wanted more powers. The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act was passed.

Its most important section gives the Home Secretary the power to indefinitely detain without charge a foreign terrorism suspect.

Latest figures show that, between September 11, 2001, and the end of March 2004, there have been 561 arrests in the UK under the Terrorism Act. Up to the end of January, only 100 of those arrested had faced terror charges, including the Sharif family.

There have been just six convictions, including Baghdad Meziane and Brahim Benmerzouga, who were found guilty in April last year of raising funds for terrorism and were each jailed for 11 years.

From Pirelli's shop floor to the property market
Marrying Omar Sharif would have seemed like a good catch for the 21-year-old Tahira.

He was the product of a middle-class upbringing and his father, Mohammed, had worked his way up from rubber factory worker to property owner.

To this day he is known as "the man who brought kebabs to Derby".

Omar was born in March 1976, the youngest of six children and the favourite son of ageing parents with five older siblings.

Mohammed and his wife, Rashida, arrived from the mountainous Poonch district of Kashmir in search of work 10 years earlier.

They first settled in a small terraced house in Goodman Street, Burton, with Mr Sharif's elder brother, Kala Khan, and nephews Mohammed Younis and Mohammed Tair - the sons of his eldest brother, Kasim.

Although the two brothers had carved out professions in their native land, they took up jobs in the nearby Pirelli factory.

The family moved to Derby in the early 70s, first to Warner Street and then to Upper Bainbrigge Street.

Mr Sharif went on to work at several factories and finished his blue-collar work at United Biscuits in Ashby in the 1980s.

But Mr Sharif, who was also a founder member of Derby's first mosque, Jamia, in Rose Hill Street, had been investing in properties by the 1970s, first buying two shops in Pear Tree Road, one of which was to be Derby's first kebab shop.

He owned at least five businesses, opening a launderette at a property adjacent to the family home from the mid-1970s until 1983. He also bought 25 to 29 Macklin Street and opened a launderette there.

He opened the Kebab House takeaway in Abbey Street and owned a garage in Normanton.

By 1983, Mohammed Sharif had become sufficiently wealthy to buy a semi-detached Victorian house in Breedon Hill Road. This was the time when he sent Omar, who was suffering from a speech impediment, to Repton Preparatory School, now known as Foremarke Hall, paying 4,500 a year for a prestigious education.

He also bought 50 to 52 Hartington Street, which he rented out. In 1991 he turned it into a guesthouse.

But whereas Tahira's parents, Irshad and Shad, have remained together, Omar suffered the separation of his parents when he was a teenager.

According to a source close to the family, this had a devastating effect on Omar and his siblings, who were estranged from their father. He married again in Algeria.

Omar's mother died suddenly in 1998, six days before his son, Hamzah, was born.

Retrial scheduled
The Evening Telegraph's supplement on the life of Omar Sharif will be published after the retrial of his brother Zahid and sister Parveen. The Derby Evening Telegraph has conducted a year-long investigation into why Sharif became a suicide bomber. The retrial is likely to start on November 15.

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COURT HEARS OF AFTERLIFE PLANS

Derby suicide bomber Omar Khan Sharif wrote about seeing his wife in the afterlife almost two years before his death, a court heard yesterday.

The trial at the Old Bailey was told about the message, sent by Omar from Pakistan in the autumn of 2001 to his wife, Tahira Tabassum (28), of Northumberland Street, Derby.

Omar attempted to blow up a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 30 last year.

His body was found washed up on a beach 12 days later.

His wife Tabassum, brother Zahid Hussain Sharif (37), of Upper Dale Road and sister Parveen Sharif (36), of Breedon Hill Road, all in Derby, are charged with failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism.

Parveen is also charged with inciting an act of terrorism. All three deny the charges.

Michael Mansfield QC, defence counsel for Tabassum, read the three-year-old letter to the court, suggesting the type of language used was common between Omar and his wife.

The letter urged Tabassum to remain "strong in my absence" and also made references to paradise.

Sharif wrote: "We will definitely, inshallah, meet soon, if not in this world then in the next." Inshallah is the Arabic term for 'God willing'.

The prosecution allege that an e-mail written by Sharif to Tabassum on April 22 last year indicates that she had prior knowledge of his bombing mission.

In that message, Sharif wrote: "We did not spend a long time together in this world, but I hope through Allah's mercy and your patience we can spend an eternity together."

Mr Mansfield said Tabassumhad been planning to join her husband in the Middle East and had made preparations for healthcare and obtaining passports.

He said: "If she knew or believed that Omar had offered himself as a terrorist and was not likely to return, what was she doing wasting her time on that?"

Mr Mansfield suggested that Omar had allowed his wife to believe joining him was still the plan, even though he had probably decided to engage in some kind of martyrdom operation. Mr Mansfield said: "He did not have the courage to tell her he was going to risk his life."

Taking the witness stand for the first time yesterday, Tabassum said how in 2000, when living in Hounslow, she and her husband had experienced marital problems. Sharif said he was divorcing her under Islamic law by reciting the word 'Talaq' three times.

But after consulting a Sharia court - which deals with Islamic law - the couple found that the word has to be recited on three separate days and therefore their marriage was not terminated.

Tabassum admitted attending meetings for the Islamic groups Hizb ut Tahrir while in London and all-female Al Muhajiroun gatherings in Normanton.

The trial continues.

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'EXTREME CONTACTS JUST A COINCIDENCE'


09:30 - 09 June 2004

The wife of Derby's suicide bomber said it was a "coincidence" that she had written the names of two heads of an Islamic extremist group on to a document about suicide bombing.

Tahira Tabassum (28), of Northumberland Street, Derby, told the trial at the Old Bailey yesterday that she had been seeking advice on preparing for Muslim prayer and had been given contact details by a neighbour for two men who could help her.

These names and telephone numbers belonged to Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed and Anjem Choudhary of Al-Muhajiroun, and were written by Tabassum on to an essay about suicide bombing.

Her husband, Omar Sharif (27), formerly of Northumberland Street, attempted to blow up a bar in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2003.

Tabassum, his brother Zahid Hussain Sharif (37), of Upper Dale Road, and sister Parveen Sharif (36), of Breedon Hill Road, all in Derby, are charged with failing to disclose information about terrorism. Parveen is also charged with inciting an act of terrorism. All three deny the charges.

Mark Heywood, prosecuting, said Al-Muhajiroun literature advocated the establishment of a worldwide Islamic state and the use of violence to achieve this aim.

He asked Tabassum why she had written the names on that particular essay.

She said: "It's coincidence and I know how bad it looks. I don't know what else to say." She explained that she wanted advice about the process of cleansing herself properly before prayer, during a period when she was ill and was vomiting frequently.

"I never had any intention of phoning them and I didn't. I don't know why I wrote them down," she said.

The court was told that a call was made from the land line at her home to a number belonging to Sheik Mohammed on January 28, 2003. She denied making the call.

"It could have been Omar or it could have been my neighbour," she said, referring to the woman who gave her the names.

Earlier in the day, Tabassum had broken down in court when she was asked about an e-mail that her husband had sent eight days before he targeted the bar. She said she had ripped it up because she thought it meant Omar was leaving her and her children.

Mr Heywood asked what her reaction would be if Omar had revealed a desire to become a suicide bomber.

"Obviously I would be upset and sad and try everything to stop him," she said.

Mr Heywood also asked about a book that Tabassum had bought Omar in 2003 called True Jihad, which suggests peaceful ways of carrying out a jihad. He said: "Was this your way of saying you do not have to go out to fight in the world?"

She said: "It is just a book. It just looked like a nice book."

The trial continues.

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WIFE OF BOMBER DENIES TAPE AID


09:30 - 10 June 2004

The wife of Derby's suicide bomber denied transcribing tape recordings of talks made by an Islamic extremist group so they could be read to an audience, a court heard.

Tahira Tabassum (28), of Northumberland Street, Derby, told the Old Bailey she was given four tapes - one of which was of a talk supporting suicide bombing - by a friend in Derby who was part of Al-Muhajiroun.

The court has previously heard how this group advocated the use of violence to achieve an Islamic state.

Her husband, Omar Khan Sharif (27), formerly of Northumberland Street, Derby, attempted to blow up a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 30 last year.

Tabassum, his brother, Zahid Hussain Sharif (37), of Upper Dale Road, and sister Parveen Sharif (36), of Breedon Hill Road, all in Derby, are charged with failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism.

Parveen is also charged with inciting an act of terrorism. All three deny the charges.

Tabassum told the court she wrote out the tape contents in a notepad while confined to bed in November 2002.

Mark Heywood, prosecuting, asked her why she had transcribed them word for word.

She said: "I don't know, I just did. I didn't have a television. I don't know what else to say."

Mr Heywood then asked: "Were you making them for somebody else to use, to give a talk? Did Omar ever give talks to other people?"

She replied: "Why am I going to write a talk for someone else? I don't know if he ever gave talks."

The trial continues.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3794889.stm

Bomber's wife 'trying to forget'

The widow of a British suicide bomber has told a jury she would like to forget about what her husband did.

Tahira Tabassum was being questioned about Omar Sharif's involvement in an attack that killed three people in a busy Israeli bar on 29 April 2003.

"It is a period of my life I hate," she told the Old Bailey. "I do not want to think about it."

Mrs Tabassum and Omar Sharif's brother and sister all deny failing to disclose information about terrorism.

'Painful'

Two men and a woman were killed and more than 50 people injured when student Asif Hanif, 21, from London, blew himself up outside Mike's Place, a popular European-style bar, the court has heard.

"I did not know - I can look my children in the face and say I knew nothing "


Tahira Tabassum Mr Sharif, 27, fled when his bomb failed to go off. His body was found floating in the sea 12 days later.

"I am trying to forget the past and find it painful talking about it," Mrs Tabassum told prosecution counsel Mark Heywood.

Mr Heywood asked about the e-mail Mrs Tabassum had received from her husband eight days before the bombing took place.

Confused

The e-mail contained the news she least wanted to hear - that Mr Sharif was going ahead with the attack, he suggested.

Mrs Tabassum replied: "I did not know that. I was baffled but I did not know." She said she was confused at parts of the e-mail and believed her husband intended to leave her and their children, the youngest of whom had been born the previous month.

She also told the court she had not known her husband was going to Israel.

"You can say what you want, but you cannot change the fact.

"I did not know - I can look my children in the face and say I knew nothing."

The prosecution claims Mrs Tabassum, 28, of Northumberland Street, Derby, businessman brother Zahid Sharif, 37, of Upper Dale Road, Derby, and sister Parveen Sharif, 36, a teacher of Breedon Hill Road, Derby, knew of his intentions but did not do anything to stop him.

The prosecution also claims Ms Sharif incited her brother to commit an act of terrorism, which she denies.

The trial continues.

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DAD TELLS COURT OF 'A MUSLIM GROUP'

BY MARIO CACCIOTTOLO

12:13 - 15 June 2004
The father of a Derby woman charged under the Terrorism Act said that he knew that his daughter had become involved with religious groups during her time at university.

Irshad Ahmad Tabassum, of West Norwood, London, told a trial at the Old Bailey in London yesterday that he had seen his daughter, Tahira Tabassum (28), become more religious while studying maths at King's College in London during the late 1990s.

Tahira's husband, Omar Khan Sharif (27), formerly of Northumberland Street, Derby, made an unsuccessful attempt to blow up Mike's Place, a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 30 last year.

His accomplice, Asif Hanif, succeeded in killing himself and three other people. Sharif's body was later found in the sea.

Tahira, Omar's brother, Zahid Hussain Sharif (37), of Upper Dale Road, and his sister, Parveen Sharif (36), of Breedon Hill Road, Derby, are charged with failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism.

Parveen is also charged with inciting an act of terrorism. All three deny the charges.

Tahira, of Northumberland Street, met Omar when they were at university together.

Mr Tabassum said: "As their relationship developed, I noted that both began to strengthen their religious views. They said they had both become involved with a Muslim group that had operated at the college. My daughter began to wear a headscarf and more traditional Muslim clothing."

Tahira has previously told the court that she attended Islamic meetings at King's College, as well as two meetings held in Derby by the extremist Islamic group Al-Muhajiroun, but has denied being a member of any group.

After Mr Tabassum had given evidence, the case for the defence closed and prosecuting counsel Jonathan Laidlaw delivered his closing speech.

He said that the defendants knew of Omar's identity and some of his movements across the Middle East, information which would have been invaluable to the Israeli authorities.

He said: "If the prosecution case is right, these three defendants knew what Omar had set out to accomplish and their information may, if it had been passed on, have prevented this atrocity.

"The part of the Terrorism Act with which we are concerned can give rise to a real dilemma.

"Who would want to expose a partner or a brother or sister? Tahira found herself in an extremely difficult situation."

The trial continues.

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/136