This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/432

Turf war in Londinistan :Terrorists fight fellow Islamists to give Finsbury Park Mosque "a fresh start "

Reid, Ujaama's, and Moussaoui's alma mater now home to Hamas, and other groups after campaign of assault and beatings
February 12, 2005

Finsbury Park 'mosqueteers' hang out their message

MIM :One can only "blink in disbelief" as the murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh used to say, when one read of how the Finsbury Park Mosque is now in the hands of Hamas member Azzam Tamimi , Muslim Brotherhood leader Helbawy, and a former military commander of Hamas, Mohammed Sawalha.

The new management of the Finsbury Park mosque also includes The Muslim Council of Britain, and The Muslim Association of Britain, two faux moderate UK organisations who are linked to Al Qaeda, Hizb ut Tahrir, Al Muhajiroun, MIRA and the CDLR, and have assured the police and the public that the mosque will now have a "fresh start" now that the 'extremists' have been ousted...

The Borough commander of the Islington police, Barry Norman, wrote a letter to the newspaper in response to an MP's criticism, defending the police protection of Hamza's thugs who were praying and inciting on the pavement outside the mosque after they were locked out in 2003.

The absurdity of his argument that is was much cheaper not to do anything to remove Hamza and his supporters from the street (who were calling Muslims in the UK to wage Jihad and kill Jews), is something straight out of of a Monty Python police skit.

"It apparent to me that to move between 30 and 100 worshippers from the street forcibly would probably exacerbate a difficult situation. In all likelihood this would have given rise to even more worshippers attending and, possibly, organised opposition groups. This would have required far more policing and would have led to much greater disruption and considerably more cost."

MIM: The terrorists took it upon themselves to fight it out and it was reported that:

"...On Saturday trustees appointed last week changed the locks and took physical control of the building.

Police officers went to the mosque in case of trouble, but did not enter it. .."

"Senior member of the mosque told the Guardian that he had been surrounded and punched unconscious inside the mosque about a month ago. "I went inside, they just ran at me, I was circled and punched. I woke up after a few seconds, I just walked out. This is not Islam, you can't tell them anything, you will be bullied and attacked."

He said another mosque elder had been followed home and attacked. At least two assaults on people opposed to the alleged hardliners have been reported to the police. .."

"...Borough police commander, Barry Norman, said: "Lots of people have been working very hard to get the mosque back to what its meant to be - a community centre and place of worship.

"I'm absolutely delighted the community has risen up and taken this very robust stance against extremism. The new team of people have made it very clear the extremists are not welcome to espouse their views in the Finsbury Park Mosque..."

---------------------------------

For more on the Muslim Council of Britain aka Muslim Con Men of Britain: see:

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/293

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/248

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/38

For more on Tamimi and Helbawy see:

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/255

For more on the police and the mosque see:

UK Police to Abu Hamza supporters :Would you mind terribly not waging Jihad here ?

Muslim men worshipping outside the mosque in summer 2004 Worshippers continued to pray outside the mosque during 2004

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Hamas link to London mosque
Nick Fielding and Abul Taher


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1481677,00.html

A MUSLIM leader appointed to help to run the recently reopened Finsbury Park mosque in north London is a former military commander of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organisation. Mohammed Kassem Sawalha is one of five trustees appointed to give the mosque a fresh start.

The mosque was closed last year after becoming a centre of Islamic militancy under Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical cleric facing charges in Britain and America.

Sawalha's link with Hamas emerged after he was named as a co-conspirator in an American court case involving racketeering and conspiracy. Last week the cleric, who arrived in Britain 15 years ago and has been given indefinite leave to remain, said that he still supported Hamas, notorious for its suicide attacks in Israel.

However, he said he was committed to peace in Britain and would help to run the mosque in an open and inclusive way. "I am supported by the Muslim community and have been working ever since I arrived for that community," he said.

Asked whether he supported the military activities of Hamas, he replied: "I have no comment on the question of military activity. I am working here to give a new direction to this mosque and break with the past."

According to US court documents, Sawalha was a leading militant in the early 1990s "in charge of Hamas terrorist operations within the West Bank". The documents, from the federal court in Chicago, claim he met two of the three "conspirators" accused of laundering millions of dollars to finance Hamas activities, including the purchase of weapons.

The purpose of the first meeting with the men was alleged to have been to discuss revitalising Hamas's operations. He met one of the men a second time in London in January 1993. Sawalha allegedly directed him "to provide money to various Hamas members and provided him with contact information".

Although Sawalha is named as a co-conspirator, he has not been charged. Asked last week if he faced arrest in the United States, Sawalha said: "I have not tried to travel there."

Sawalha was president of the Muslim Association of Britain which is believed to have links to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the oldest radical Islamic groups.

Abu Hamza is in prison facing trial in Britain on 16 charges, including incitement to murder, intending to stir up racial hatred and being in possession of a document "likely to be useful" to someone plotting terrorism. He is also awaiting extradition hearings on a warrant issued by the US Department of Justice.

Following his arrest a group of his supporters tried to take over the mosque, but after extensive discussion between the surviving trustees of the charity that runs the mosque including Mohammed Sarwar, the Labour MP, the police and the Charity Commission, which had closed it five new trustees were appointed.

Last night Sarwar, MP for Glasgow Govan, said he would remain a trustee despite being told of Sawalha's links to Hamas. He was happy with the way the mosque was being run by the new trustees: "The Muslim community is delighted that the Abu Hamza regime is gone and the mosque is open."

Barry Norman, the Metropolitan police chief superintendent who has been working closely with the trustees, said: "I am aware of the background, but if I took the view that I'm not working with this or that person I'd end up spending my whole life in my office."

Additional reporting: Jessica Berry

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4258891.stm

New start for 'extremist' mosque

By Daniel Sandford
BBC home affairs correspondent

In foot-high letters and in black and red, the words "a new beginning for the mosque" were printed on a banner draped from the second-floor window.

The incoming trustees of Finsbury Park mosque could not have made their intentions more clear.

There was a heavy police presence as over 200 Muslim men, many of them dressed in suits, attended Friday prayers - the first under the new regime at the mosque.

The khutbah, or sermon, took as its theme how Muslims need to connect better with the rest of humanity.

The new trustees, co-ordinated by the Muslim Association of Britain, had seized the mosque last Saturday, reclaiming it for the mainstream Muslim community in north London.

The Board of Trustees has always been the legal owner of the Central North London Mosque, informally known as Finsbury Park Mosque.

But their power was eroded by the controversial cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri. One senior member of the Muslim Association of Britain said it had been "hijacked by Hamza's mob".

Mr Abu Hamza turned the mosque into the public face of the extremist jihadi movement in Britain.
We will not tolerate anyone who will seek to abuse the mosque
Dr Azzam Tamimi Muslim Association of Britain

The former Guantanamo detainee Feroz Abassi has written about his time there. He describes how he was encouraged to go to Afghanistan to attend a training camp.

Richard Reid, the failed shoebomber, also passed through the mosque, as did Djamel Beghal, who is currently on trial in France for plotting to bomb the US embassy in Paris.

Now the extremists have been cleared out of the offices and the rooms where they slept.

Dr Azzam Tamimi, of the Muslim Association of Britain, says the plan is to outnumber the extremists to persuade them to stay away.

"For the first few Fridays we will be organising for our members from across London to come and pray here so that we have a strong majority. We will not tolerate anyone who will seek to abuse the mosque," he said.

The mosque cost 8m to build and will be able to take more than 2,000 people for prayer once the women's section has been re-opened.

The trustees now want to turn it into one of the most important centres for the Muslim community in London.

But there was an edgy feel to Friday prayers. No-one knew what to expect. The police officers in the area easily outnumbered the number of Muslim men attending the mosque, as a police helicopter flew overhead.

But apart from a couple of young hotheads, one of them hiding his face with a scarf, there was no trouble.

Finsbury Park Mosque has made a fresh start.

-----------------------------------------------

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/tm_objectid=15181687&method=full&siteid=50143&headline=abu-the-footie-fanatic-name_page.html

ABU THE FOOTIE FANATIC

Feb 12 2005

EXCLUSIVE: Preacher of hate was a non-league manager

By Graham Brough and Pete Sampson

THE hate cleric exposed by the Daily Mirror was once a fiery football boss.

Before whipping up worshippers at controversial Finsbury Park Mosque, Abu Abdullah was a soccer coach nicknamed Attila the Hun. He guided youth teams of London non-league sides Athenlay, Sydenham Boys and honed Gillingham and Wales U-21 goalie Jason Brown at Fisher Athletic.

Born Attila Ahmet, of Turkish Cypriot origins, he even changed his name to soccer-friendly Alan - but still managed to get banned from a final after skirmishes with a rival.

Yesterday, officials at Fisher recalled Abdullah, 40, as "very talented". But Brian Miller, chairman of the Bexley League, said: "He was a nutter, very volatile and took it far too seriously. Once I had to referee the managers - not the game."

The dad-of-three left soccer in 1998, devoting himself to Islam. He has now been forced out of the North London mosque after outraging moderate Muslims with anti-West tirades.

-----------------------------------------

http://www.islingtonexpress.co.uk/content/highandi/news/story.aspx?brand=NorthLondon24&category=Newshighandi&tBrand=northlondon24&tCategory=newshighandi&itemid=WeED11%20Feb%202005%2013%3A35%3A16%3A627

editorial@islingtonexpress.co.uk
11 February 2005

By Rob Bleaney

Finsbury Park Mosque will no longer be a hotbed of extremism, say its new trustees.

The controversial St Thomas's Road centre, which costs the taxpayer 10,000 a week to police, has booted out the latest race-hate preacher to follow in the footsteps of claw-handed cleric Abu Hamza.

Now the new leaders say they are determined to rid the mosque of its fearsome reputation and return it to the peaceful Muslims in the area.

Spokesman Dr Kamal Helbawy said: "This is a new dawn and a new era for the mosque. It's a big chance to get rid of its reputation for terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.

"The new trustees are Muslim leaders who are known for their proper understanding and behaviour. They have been brought in to end the mosque's history of links to terrorism and to run it properly, to decrease crime and social problems like any church does."

The mosque was originally closed in 2003 amid concerns that Abu Hamza had turned it into a breeding ground for terrorists. It reopened in August last year under the guidance of new trustees, but within four months a group of Hamza's followers, led by Abu Abdullah, are alleged to have wrestled back control.

Last weekend the latest set of trustees entered the building backed by riot police and kicked the radicals out after Mr Abdullah was exposed for talking of "filthy" non-Muslims and praising the "honourable brothers" in Guantanamo Bay.

Dr Helbawy said: "Everyone from Washington to Australia knows the connection between Abu Hamza and terrorism so it was disturbing that the mosque was in the hands of someone like Abu Abdullah who belongs to the same group. He was not officially a trustee but he was holding the keys and running the management of the place.

"The new trustees were selected by the Charity Commission in consultation with the local community and will return it to its proper use as a place of worship.

"The mosque has space for around 1,800 people to pray but because of the atmosphere of fear only about 40 to 50 people have been using it. Now the community will feel at ease and send their families again and you will see the difference in numbers from Friday".

Borough police commander, Barry Norman, said: "Lots of people have been working very hard to get the mosque back to what its meant to be - a community centre and place of worship.

"I'm absolutely delighted the community has risen up and taken this very robust stance against extremism. The new team of people have made it very clear the extremists are not welcome to espouse their views in the Finsbury Park Mosque."

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: "Four trustees were appointed by the Commission on February 1. Following a trustee meeting on that date there is now a properly constituted trustee body for the charity."

rbleaney@islingtonexpress.co.uk

-----------------------------------------------------

Cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri preaching in 2004 Abu Hamza al-Masri was banned from preaching inside the mosque

MIM: Letter to the times from Finsbury police justifying cost of 'protecting' Abu Hamza and his thugs who took to praying in the street after the mosque had been closed down for 'extremism' . The police defended the spending of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money to enable the Muslims continued provocation (which also included calls for Jihad and attacks against Jews) as 'being the lesser of two evils'.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1472991,00.html

February 07, 2005

Finsbury policing
From Chief Superintendent Barry Norman

Sir, Patrick Mercer, MP, criticises police action in stewarding the weekly gathering outside Finsbury Park mosque (report, January 24) because we made it "easier for poison and subversion to be preached openly on our streets".

The fact is that a large number of worshippers were displaced from their mosque and wished to pray as near to the building as possible. I took the view that the disruption this caused the local community was minimal. Prayers were held in a side street on Friday lunchtimes and had little impact. The officers who were in attendance were due to be on duty in that area anyway and therefore the vast bulk of the 874,387 reported cost was police salaries.

It was apparent to me that to move between 30 and 100 worshippers from the street forcibly would probably exacerbate a difficult situation. In all likelihood this would have given rise to even more worshippers attending and, possibly, organised opposition groups. This would have required far more policing and would have led to much greater disruption and considerably more cost.

Yours sincerely,
BARRY NORMAN,
(Borough Commander),
Islington Police,
2 Tolpuddle Street, Islington, N1 0YY.
February 1.

-----------------------------

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1407878,00.html

Extremist leaders ousted from north London mosque

Vikram Dodd
Tuesday February 8, 2005

Guardian

Muslim hardliners who took control of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London were deposed at the weekend after allegations that opponents had been beaten and intimidated, the Guardian has learned.

The mosque, closed in 2003 because of concern that those in control were too extreme, was reopened last August with new trustees.

But the Guardian has learned that in December hardliners retook control. They are alleged to have enforced their will by violence and intimidation and to have preached sermons which some at the mosque regarded as extreme.

On Saturday trustees appointed last week changed the locks and took physical control of the building.

Police officers went to the mosque in case of trouble, but did not enter it.

Imam Abu Hamza is alleged to have used the mosque to spread extreme views until the Charity Commission demanded his removal, and the mosque was closed for 18 months.

Mr Hamza is on remand in Belmarsh top security prison awaiting trial on a string of charges, including incitement to murder, which he denies.

There is no evidence that he has been involved in recent events at the mosque.

For weeks now Muslim groups have been trying to install a new management in the mosque, technically administered by a charitable trust. It was argued that it was in danger of falling into irrevocable disrepute.

Sources say the Charity Commission became concerned that alleged hardliners were back in control. The commission was involved with the Muslim Association of Britain in selecting and approving the new trustees.

Kamal Helbawy, a spokesman for the new trustees, said: "People were afraid to go in and pray or to do activities. People were afraid of those who had seized the power."

Dr Helbawy said those who had seized control would be allowed to pray at the mosque but would be banned from giving sermons.

"They are not allowed to preach and teach their own ideas. We consider them extremists, they are advocating violence, they are not preaching the middle way of Islam."

A senior member of the mosque told the Guardian that he had been surrounded and punched unconscious inside the mosque about a month ago. "I went inside, they just ran at me, I was circled and punched. I woke up after a few seconds, I just walked out. This is not Islam, you can't tell them anything, you will be bullied and attacked."

He said another mosque elder had been followed home and attacked. At least two assaults on people opposed to the alleged hardliners have been reported to the police.

A senior police source said: "We had become aware that local people felt intimidated and have not been able to go in. It was all unsavoury and unsatisfactory."

Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission said: "After the hardliners took over the mosque, its future looked bleak, that's why this has been done.

"We do recognise there has been problems at that mosque over many many years. The community needs to consulted, be empowered and brought back in control."

Locals point to dwindling attendance at Friday prayers as a sign of the dire state into which the mosque had fallen: in recent weeks it has been below 100, compared with a peak of 1,500. Another mosque only metres away drew 2,000 worshippers.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Action was taken on Saturday afternoon by the trustees of the North London Central mosque. We are in liaison with the legal owners of the property, the Charity Commission and community representatives.

"An appropriate police presence has been monitoring and will continue to monitor the area to ensure the safety of people using the mosque and prevent any disorder or breach of the peace."

No one from the alleged hardline group could be reached for comment. They have previously claimed to have been victims of anti-Islamic sentiment.


Special report
Young, Muslim and British

Introduction by Madeleine Bunting
30.11.2004: Young, Muslim and British

The debate
30.11.2004: Are you satisfied that the leadership of the community reflects your views?
30.11.2004: Do you want integration or parallel lives?
30.11.2004: How do the faithful live in a secular society?
30.11.2004: How hopeful are you about the future?
30.11.2004: How would you describe your identity?
30.11.2004: The widespread perception is that Islam discriminates against women. Why is that so?
30.11.2004: What are the most pressing problems in your community?
30.11.2004: What is the impact of the 'war on terror' on British Muslims?

In their own words
Young, Muslim and British: in their own words
30.11.2004: 'Being Muslim shapes you, but first and foremost I'm a human being'
30.11.2004: 'British Muslims are a diverse people of many cultures'
30.11.2004: 'English classes should be mandatory for immigrants'
30.11.2004: 'Many of our community leaders are not educated enough about Islam'
30.11.2004: 'Muslims are being asked to abandon part of their identity'
30.11.2004: 'Muslims have a duty to participate in British political life'
30.11.2004: 'Muslims need to be allowed to contribute to British culture'
30.11.2004: 'Politicians need to stop making Muslims scapegoats'
30.11.2004: 'The cause of integration has not been served by British foreign policy'
30.11.2004: 'There isn't a great chasm between British Muslims and British non-Muslims'
29.11.2004: 'We are part of this country'
30.11.2004: 'We need to ask ourselves what it means to integrate'
30.11.2004: 'We want a just society'

Live online
06.12.04: Tariq Ramadan answers your questions

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Daily Mirror Investigates - Hate Fear Guilt

Feb 7 2005

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/tm_objectid=15160658&method=full&siteid=50143&headline=daily-mirror-investigates--hate-fear-guilt-name_page.html

How mosque preacher 'poisons' the minds of young Brit Muslims

By Bobby Pathak And Justine Smith

IT is a hotbed of hate and an outrage to peaceful British Muslims.

The Finsbury Park mosque became notorious under hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza as a suspected base for turning Muslims into terrorists.

Hamza is behind bars awaiting trial on charges including soliciting murder. Now his sidekick Abu Abdullah spews the venom that fills angry young minds with a mixture of hatred, fear and guilt.

Posing as a student of Islamic studies, Mirror reporter Bobby Pathak infiltrated the North London mosque for six weeks in December and January.

Joining 80 regular worshippers at Friday prayers he heard the cleric rant about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, rail at "filthy" disbelievers and hail "our honourable brothers in Guantanamo Bay".

Abdullah raged: "If you cannot do what those honourable brothers are doing today...leaving their wives and children to go to the front line, then this is our front line here."

As a stranger Pathak was treated warily and it was weeks before he felt safe enough to smuggle in recording equipment.

But once he was able to do so, he taped a litany of hatred and abuse directed at the West and moderate Islamic groups that mocks the real message of Islam.

This is his shocking diary:

JANUARY 7

IT is my third visit to Friday prayers - but the 80 or so regular faces look through me without a flicker of recognition.

We file in just before 1pm and sit on the floor divided into lines by grids of string.

Then Abu Abdullah arrives. Voices are stilled and the sound of murmured prayers replaced by respectful silence.

Speaking with a North London twang, the firebrand cleric starts off his address softly.

But in minutes he builds up into a frenzy, shouting and screaming. His words are picked up by a microphone he wears round his neck and are amplified by speakers in the ceiling.

"Our women are being raped and slaughtered, our brothers are being executed, even our children!" he rants.

He compares the scandal of Abu Ghraib prison - where US soldiers forced Iraqis to strip and simulate sex - to the Christian Crusades, warning that Islam is once again under attack.

Then he turns on the faithful for allowing these sins to happen.

Worshippers bow their heads in shame as he shouts: "How can we go home and sleep at night knowing there are millions of Muslims screaming for our help?

"Do we not have a conscience? Or do we think that we're doing the right thing? Brothers and sisters, the time has come for us to stand up and be counted. Behave like Muslims.

"It's the least you can do so you can find reward on yaum al-qiyamah (afterlife). Otherwise, the fire is beckoning."

JANUARY 14

FOR the past three weeks I have only seen the same people. This time I spot a new face.

He is in his late 20s, and his hair and beard are long and unruly. Like two or three others, he is wearing combat-style clothing with his traditional long shirt.

I watch as he is greeted like a long lost relative, with warm hugs from everyone.Where has he been? I can only guess because any conversations end abruptly as I pass in the corridor.

Today Abdullah rages at US and British military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan during the 30-day Ramadan fast.

He says: "While we fast and worship Allah these shaitan (devils) mock Allah's religion and put Allah's religion to the sword." In just a few minutes, he talks of the slaughter of Muslims on eight different occasions. Like all good propaganda it is based in truth though twisted beyond recognition.

But worshippers are not being asked to cheer these words as a call to arms.

Instead, they are being chastised for living comfortable lives when they should be out there defending Islam and honouring brothers and sisters who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle against the infidel.TODAY, in what appears to be cynical manipulation, we are urged not to fear being labelled extremists. Abdullah says: "They call us extremists. They see us as strange. Our honourable brothers in Guantanamo, they've become strange. Why? Because they're the Haq (truth) and we've let them down.

"We've forgotten these people in Afghanistan, in prisons, our mothers, sisters that have been raped."

Next come the threats: "Allah constantly sends us signs in our eyes and we turn away. The tsunami disaster - Muslims died in this.

"But on these Muslim lands, zina (sinful fornication), night-clubs...the Muslims wanted to dilute the dean (greatness) of Allah."

Abdullah demands sacrifices, citing those who give their lives or freedom for their religion.

JANUARY 28

STRANGELY, some young worshippers are dressed in designer gear, Nike trainers and Levi jeans, and sport neatly trimmed goatee beards.

Abdullah is not pleased. He warns: "You'll become diseased if you start to behave like the kuffar (disbelievers). Why are we ashamed to grow beards? Why are we ashamed to look like Muslims amongst these filthy kuffar?"

He tells them they sin when they wear a T-shirt "showing muscles" if that makes women think impurely. And women sin when they wear make-up outside the house and "tight trousers with a hijab (veil)".

Abdullah saves his most stinging rebuke for mosques and campaigners fighting the prejudice faced by British Muslims since September 11.

He accuses the respected Muslim Council of Great Britain - which has demonstrated peacefully against war in Iraq and the indefinite detention of terror suspects without trial - of campaigning to "imprison Muslims".

He says: "Like the Jews that practise the Torah, they want to practise what's good for them and brush aside or sweep under the carpet what they dislike.

"Stand up against these murtads (leavers of the faith) who say they're the spokesmen or they represent the Islamic community in this country."

It is believed the board of trustees at Finsbury Park mosque is now seeking to reassert its control by attempting to unseat Abdullah.

--------------------

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,4484-1454393,00.html

Police spent 900,000 to give Hamza street pulpit
By Sean O'Neill
Abu Hamza al-Masri, who preached under police protection, is awaiting trial in Belmarsh prison (BEN GURR)
ALMOST 900,000 has been spent by police to steward illegal street meetings by the radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and his followers.

The Metropolitan Police has disclosed, after a successful Freedom of Information Act request by The Times, that the cost of supervising weekly gatherings outside Finsbury Park Mosque, North London, was 874,387. The figure is far in excess of previous estimates for the 22-month police operation.

Before the introduction of the new legislation on January 1, Scotland Yard had refused to discuss the cost of policing Hamza's Friday prayer meetings. The Freedom of Information Act, which gives access to a range of information held by public bodies, forced disclosure of the figures.

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative frontbench spokesman on homeland security, said the taxpayer was facing a huge bill for allowing an extremist message to be preached on the streets of the capital.

"The effect of the police action was to make it easier for poison and subversion to be preached openly on our streets," Mr Mercer said.

The open-air meetings began in January 2003 after the mosque, where Hamza had been the imam, was closed. The Egyptian-born cleric gave his sermons in St Thomas's Road, close to Highbury stadium.

Initially large numbers of officers were involved in policing the events at which Hamza, 47, would deliver lectures in Arabic and English.

Tarpaulins were spread on the road, on which his congregation, often numbering 150 or more, would pray before listening to Hamza speak.

Between 12 and 18 uniformed officers were deployed to the site of the meetings for up to two hours each week. More police were required when counter-demonstrators threatened to disrupt an event.

After Hamza was arrested on an extradition warrant from the United States last May, the Friday gatherings continued with other speakers.

Local residents complained about the disruption caused by the meetings that continued until the mosque building was reopened in October.

Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told the police authority that the situation was "a challenging policing operation" that had been handled with "appropriate sensitivity".

Andrew Dismore, a Labour MP who has frequently raised the issue of the meetings in Parliament, said that he was appalled by the waste of public money. He said: "900,000 could have gone a long way towards putting more police officers on the beat."

Hamza, who has one eye and has lost both hands, is on remand in Belmarsh prison, South London, awaiting trial on 16 alleged offences, including one offence under the Terrorism Act.

A request by The Times for information about the policing operation at Finsbury Park was submitted on January 6. The Metropolitan Police responded within the four-week deadline for answering Freedom of Information requests.

FACTFINDING

  • The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into effect on January 1, 2005

  • Anyone can apply to public bodies for access to recorded information

  • Recipient must respond within 20 working days

  • Charges can be made if the information will cost more than 600 to retrieve

  • There is a ministerial veto and Intelligence services are exempt

    Should police money be spent on overseeing such meetings?

    Send your e-mails to debate@thetimes.co.uk

  • --------------------------------

    MIM :Former Finsbury Park congregant jailed for simultaneous shoebomb plot together with mosque alumnus Richard Reid.

    Muslim Council of Britain, now overseeing the mosque, says Badat "can expect no sympathy from British Muslims" because "he targetted innocents".

    This' boiler plate condemnation' must be seen in light of the fact that Badat pleaded guilty to the plot, since otherwise the MCB would have been in the forefront of efforts to release him on the grounds that he had been a victim of anti Muslim discrimination.

    For the MCB, which justifies suicide bombings against Jews and Israelis "innocent victims" is a relative term.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/03/01/nshoe01.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/03/01/ixnewstop.html

    British Muslim planned second shoe bombing
    By Sue Clough, Courts Correspondent
    (Filed: 01/03/2005)

    A British-born Muslim admitted yesterday conspiring to blow up a passenger aircraft at the same time as Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, tried to bring down an American Airlines flight.

    Saajid Badat, 25, who trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey after being linked to an al-Qa'eda plot.

    Saajid Badat
    Saajid Badat

    Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, said: "Three years of intensive and painstaking international investigation brought us to the point where Badat had no option but to plead guilty to this horrendous offence.

    "His conviction demonstrates the reality of the threat we are facing.

    "Badat had agreed to blow up a passenger aircraft from Europe to the United States and was prepared to kill himself and hundreds of innocent people.

    "We must ask how a young British man was transformed from an intelligent, articulate person who was well respected, into a person who has pleaded guilty to one of the most serious crimes that you can think of."

    Badat, born in Gloucester to a devout Muslim family and educated at a grammar school in the city, had been due to go on trial later this month. But at a 15-minute court appearance yesterday he admitted conspiring to blow up an aircraft between January 1999 and November 2003.

    Badat's passport and explosives found at his flat
    Explosives found in a case at Badat's flat and the British passport he was issued

    He was given the explosive device, which fitted into the heel of a shoe and was designed to evade airport security, in Afghanistan and brought it back to Britain in December 2001.

    It was identical to the one used by Reid when he tried to blow up a Paris-Miami flight in the same month.

    "It is clear the plan was that Reid and Badat would bring down a passenger aircraft at similar times," said Richard Horwell, prosecuting.

    But four days after his return, Badat sent an e-mail to his handlers "indicating he might withdraw".

    "He had booked a ticket to fly from Manchester to Amsterdam in preparation for an onward flight to the United States on which the explosive device would be initiated. But he did not take that flight.

    "We accept by then he had withdrawn from the conspiracy which he had been party to for an appreciable period of time."

    Badat separated the fuse and detonator from the plastic explosive and kept them at his home in Gloucester, where they were found by police in November 2003.

    On the way to the police station Badat admitted he had been asked to carry out a shoe bombing like Reid.

    He was linked to Reid by Belgian phone cards. They were found on Reid and had been used by Badat to speak to Nizar Trabelsi, Reid's terrorist contact who is in jail in Belgium for planning an attack on a US base there.

    There was also scientific evidence linking the device found at Badat's home to the one used by Reid.

    Reid, a petty criminal from south London who converted to Islam while in Feltham Young Offenders' Institution, was jailed for life in America two years ago after admitting attempting to blow up a flight carrying almost 200 people.

    He boasted of being a follower of Osama bin Laden.

    Badat will be sentenced on March 18, when the prosecution will give full details of the case against him.

    Mr Horwell said there was little difference between prosecution and defence except for the timing of Badat's withdrawal from the plot.

    Joel Bennathan, for Badat, said it was agreed that he had decided not to go through with the bombing.

    The Muslim Council of Britain said it appeared to be the first clear-cut case of a British Muslim being involved in a terror plot in this country.

    A spokesman said: "It is shocking news. Badat can expect no sympathy from British Muslims.

    "He pleaded guilty to involvement in a terror plot targeting innocents. If he had succeeded this would have been a ghastly crime.

    "He should be treated as any criminal who commits this kind of heinous crime."

    4 December 2003: Man accused of plot with shoe bomber
    7 December 2003: 'Explosive socks' seized by police in anti-terror raids

    Information


    This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/432