Hizb ut Tahrir -Al Muhajiroun goons in yuppie clothing
"AM local leader" "I don't care if an attack kills my own children"
by David Cohen
April 22, 2004
Terror on the dole By David Cohen, Evening Standard
Sayful Islam: total support for bin Laden
MIM: Islam , a married middle class British born Muslim, left his job and the university to collect unemployment, (the dole ) and work full time for Al Muhajiroun. He is the Luton leader of the group and plastered the town with posters of the 9/11 hijackers as "The Magnificent 19."
20 April 2004
Four young British Muslims in their twenties - a social worker, an IT specialist, a security guard and a financial adviser - occupy a table at a fast-food chicken restaurant in Luton. Perched on their plastic chairs, wolfing down their dinner, they seem just ordinary young men. Yet out of their mouths pour heated words of revolution.
"As far as I'm concerned, when they bomb London, the bigger the better," says Abdul Haq, the social worker. "I know it's going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like Madrid - I pray for it, I look forward to the day."
"Pass the brown sauce, brother," says Abu Malaahim, the IT specialist, devouring his chicken and chips.
"I agree with you, brother," says Abu Yusuf, the earnest-looking financial adviser sitting opposite. "I would like to see the Mujahideen coming into London and killing thousands, whether with nuclear weapons or germ warfare. And if they need a safehouse, they can stay in mine - and if they need some fertiliser [for a bomb], I'll tell them where to get it."
His friend, Abu Musa, the security guard, smiles radiantly. "It will be a day of joy for me," he adds, speaking with a slight lisp.
As they talk, a man with a bushy beard, dressed in a jacket emblazoned with the word "Jihad", stands and watches over them, handing around cups of steaming hot coffee. His real name is Ishtiaq Alamgir, but he goes by his adopted name, Sayful Islam, meaning "Sword of Islam". He is the 24-year-old leader of the Luton branch of al-Muhajiroun, an extremist Muslim group with about 800 members countrywide, who regard Osama bin Laden as their hero.
Until recently, nobody took the fanatical beliefs of al-Muhajiroun too seriously, believing that a British-based group so brazenly "out there" could not be involved in something as "underground" as terrorism. The group is led by the exiled Saudi, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad, from his base in north London. Yesterday, in a magazine article, Bakri warned that several radical groups are poised to strike in London.
For all its inflammatory rhetoric, al-Muhajiroun has never been linked to actual violence. Yet, with the discovery last month of half-a-tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser - the same explosive ingredient used in the Bali and Turkey terror attacks - and with the arrest of eight young British Muslims in London and the South-East, including six in Luton, extremist groups such as al-Muhajiroun are under the spotlight like never before.
Detectives fear that the "enemy within", the homegrown extremists leading apparently normal lives in suburbia, now pose the greatest threat to security in Britain. Sayful and his friends fit this "homegrown" profile: three were born here, two came as young children from Pakistan; all were educated in local Luton schools; and they grew up in families of full employment - one of their fathers is a retired local businessman, two are engineers, and two worked in the local Vauxhall car plant.
The question is: how worried should we be? Is al-Muhajiroun nothing more than a repository for disaffected Muslim youths who have adopted an extreme interpretation of Islam - perhaps to cock a snook at the white establishment - but who are essentially posturing? Or does the group also perform a more sinister function, sucking in alienated young men and brainwashing the more impressionable into becoming future suicide bombers?
Although none of the arrested Muslims - aged 17 to 32 - appear to be current al-Muhajiroun members, rumours have circulated of informal links to the group. Moreover, parents of the arrested men have spoken anxiously of the "radicalising influence" of al-Muhajiroun militants who " corrupt" their children at mosques.
Nowhere has this public confrontation between radicals and moderates been more apparent than in Luton, which has the highest density of Muslims in the South-East - 28,000 out of a total population of 140,000 - and has long been regarded as a hotbed of extremism.
Sayful Islam, for one, is particularly proud of his contribution to Luton's hardline reputation. His exploits include covering the town with " Magnificent 19" posters glorifying the 11 September suicide bombers. "When I joined al-Muhajiroun four years ago, there were five local members," he says. "Now there are more than 50 and hundreds more support us."
The strange thing is that four years ago, Sayful Islam was a jeans-clad student completing his degree in business economics at Middlesex University in Hendon, north London.
The son of a British Rail engineer who came to this country from Pakistan, Sayful grew up in a moderate, middle-class Muslim family in Luton. At the local Denbigh High School, he is remembered as one of the smartest kids, and was selected to attend a science masterclass at Cambridge University. He would go on to marry, have two children and find work as an accountant for the Inland Revenue in Luton. He was thoroughly uninterested in politics.
THEN he met Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad at a local event. Within two years, he had swapped his decently paid job as an accountant for an unpaid one as a political agitator. What turned him into an extremist? And how far is he prepared to go to achieve his aims?
Prior to seeing the group at the fastfood restaurant, Sayful meets me at his semi-detached rented home in Bury Park, Luton's Muslim neighbourhood. He no longer works, even though he is able-bodied, he admits, preferring instead to claim housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance. He smiles sheepishly and says the irony is not lost on him that the British state is supporting him financially, even as he plots to "overthrow it".
"I made a decision that I wanted to follow what Islam really said," Sayful begins, sitting on his sofa in his thowb (a traditional robe) and bare feet. "I went to listen to all the local imams, but I found their portrayal of Islam was too secularised. When I heard Sheikh Omar [the leader] of al-Muhajiroun speak, it was pure Islam, with no compromise. I found that appealing.
"At the same time," continues Sayful, "wars were happening in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan. People were being oppressed simply because they were Muslim. Although I had never experienced racism in the UK, it opened the eyes of a lot of Muslims, including mine."
But it was the events of 11 September that crystallised Sayful's worldview. "When I watched those planes go into the Twin Towers, I felt elated," he says. "That magnificent action split the world into two camps: you were either with Islam and al Qaeda, or with the enemy. I decided to quit my job and commit myself full-time to al-Muhajiroun." Now he does not consider himself British. "I am a Muslim living in Britain, and I give my allegiance only to Allah."
According to Sayful, the aim of al-Muhajiroun ("the immigrants") is nothing less than Khilafah - "the worldwide domination of Islam". The way to achieve this, he says, is by Jihad, led by Bin Laden. "I support him 100 per cent."
Does that support extend to violent acts of terrorism in the UK?
"Yes," he replies, unequivocally. "When a bomb attack happens here, I won't be against it, even if it kills my own children. Islam is clear: Muslims living in lands that are occupied have the right to attack their invaders.
"Britain became a legitimate target when it sent troops to Iraq. But it is against Islam for me to engage personally in acts of terrorism in the UK because I live here. According to Islam, I have a covenant of security with the UK, as long as they allow us Muslims to live here in peace."
HE USES the phrase "covenant of security" constantly. He attempts to explain. "If we want to engage in terrorism, we would have to leave the country," he says. "It is against Islam to do otherwise." Such a course of action, he says, he is not prepared to undertake. This is why, Sayful claims, it is consistent, and not cowardly, for him to espouse the rhetoric of terrorism, the "martyrdom-operations", while simultaneouslylimiting himself to nonviolentactions such as leafletting outside Luton town hall.
He denies any link between al-Muhajiroun and the Muslims arrested in the recent police raids. But, as I later discover at the fastfood restaurant, not everyone attaching themselves, however loosely, to al-Muhajiroun draws the same line. Two members of the group - Abu Yusuf, the financial adviser, and Abu Musa, the security guard - scorn al-Muhajiroun as "too moderate".
"I am freelance," says Abu Yusuf, fixing me with his piercing brown eyes. What does that mean? I ask.
"The difference between us and those two," interjects Abu Malaahim, pointing to Musa and Yusuf, "is that us lot do a verbal thing, [but] those brothers actually want to do a physical thing."
Referring to the latest truce offered by Bin Laden, and Britain's scathing rejection of it, Abu Malaahim adds: "He tried to make a peace deal. When terrorism happens, you will only have yourselves to blame."
How far are you prepared to go? I ask.
"You want to know how far I will go," says Abu Musa, his high-pitched lisp rising an octave. "When Allah said in the Koran 'kill and be killed', that's what I want. I want a martyr operation, where I kill my enemy."
Are you saying, I probe, that you are looking to kill people yourself ? "Yes," Abu Musa says, "to kill and to be killed." He emphasises each word.
What's stopped you doing it? "As you know from watching the news," intones Abu Yusuf, "there are brothers who do leave the country and do it." He is referring to the four Muslims from Luton who died fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the two British Muslims, said to have had ties to al-Muhajiroun, who last April left to become suicide bombers in Israel. "In-shallah [ Godwilling], there will be a time to go."
It is hard to know whether Musa and Yusuf are deadly serious or just pumped full of misguided, youthful bravado. Though I see coldness - even ruthlessness - in their eyes, I sense no malice. Both young men agree, perhaps foolishly, to be quoted using their real names, though they decline photographs - thus illustrating their uncertainty of which way to jump.
Muhammad Sulaiman, president of the Islamic Cultural Society, the largest of the 14 mosques in Luton, dismisses al-Muhajiroun as "verbal diarrhoea".
"They are an extreme Right-wing group - the Muslim version of the BNP," he says disdainfully. "They think Muslims should dominate, just like the BNP thinks whites should dominate. They use Islam as a vehicle to promote their distorted beliefs, particularly to unemployed young bloods who are vulnerable."
ALTHOUGH unemployment in Luton is just six per cent, the rate among Muslim youths is estimated at 25 per cent. "They are no more representative of our Muslim community than the BNP are of the white community."
Sulaiman insists that Sayful Islam and his crew are not welcome at the mosque. He cannot prevent them praying there, but he will never give them a platform. "I've told Sayful to bugger off and ejected him many times," he says brusquely. "Even Sayful's father, who I know well, thinks his son has been brainwashed."
But Sayful and his friends laugh at the idea that they are local pariahs. "The mosques say one thing to the public, and something else to us. Let's just say that the face you see and the face we see are two different faces," says Abdul Haq. "Believe me," adds Musa, "behind closed doors, there are no moderate Muslims."
They also mock the idea that they are attracted to al-Muhajiroun because they have suffered alienation from white society. "Do we look like scum?" they ask. "Do we look illiterate?"
As they call for the bill, Abu Malaahim flicks open his 3G mobile phone and, with a satisfied grin, displays the image, downloaded from the internet, of an American Humvee burning in Iraq.
Abu Yusuf says: "That's nothing. I downloaded the picture of the four burnt Americans hanging from the bridge." It's oneupmanship, al-Muhajiroun style.
Sayful, the only married one in the group, prepares to go home to his wife and children. Before he departs, he says he has a message to deliver.
"I want to warn that the police raids - if repeated - could create a bad situation.
"Islam is not like Christianity, where they turn the other cheek. If they raid our homes, it could lead to the covenant of security being broken.
"Islam allows us to retaliate. That would include" - he tugs his "Jihad" coat tight against the night air - "by violent means."
The new leader of the National Union of Students (NUS), Douglas Trainer, has reaffirmed his intention to have Hizb ut-Tahrir and what he calls "other such organisations" banned from university campuses in Britain (see BMMS for October and December 1995; January, February, March and May 1996)...
...Omar Bakri Mohammed, former leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir and now leader of Al-Muhajiroun, in an interview with the Guardian (23.08.96), said that his group intends to organise on university campuses under different names and through existing student societies. He said: "They will not be able to ban peace and human societies. If they do, it will only backfire...We will use other people". Lucy Manning, the Guardian journalist, claimed that Al-Muhajiroun planned to target Oxford, Cambridge and Durham universities, and that it had already established a presence at the School of African and Oriental Studies, University College London, and the London School of Economics.
MIM Note: According to BBC news reports 8,500 people attended the HT conference which indicates that it is not such a fringe movement " as the Muslim Council of Britain would like people to believe . The conference photos indicate that there were many families and older people in attendence.
Organisers called it " the largest gathering of Muslims in the U.K. since September 11th".
Abdullah Robin was one of the featured speakers together with Imran Waheed, who wrote a threatening United States Institute of Peace research fellow Dr.Gabriel Weimann with a lawsuit because of what he wrote about them in his study about terrorism and the internet . http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/56
See link on MIM site about : Hizb ut Tahrir threatens USIP professor with lawsuit.
BEYOND SEPTEMBER 11TH: THE ROLE OF MUSLIMS IN THE WEST
Since the events of September 11th, and the declaration of America'
'war on terrorism', Muslims in the West have been forced to mak
choice - either they accept the Capitalist ideology and its colonialist
worldview or otherwise be labelled the 'terrorist'. So what choi
should Muslims living in the West make? This conference, with
distinguished speakers from across the world, will delineate a clear,
distinct and definitive path for Muslims in the West to follow.
SUNDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER 2002 11 AM - 8 PM
LONDON ARENA - DOCKLANDS - LONDON - UK
Speakers include: Dr Imran Waheed (UK), Waleed Gubara (UK), Mohammad
Ismaeel Yusanto (Indonesia), Ferdeous Ahmed (UK), Abdullah Michael
Vivash (Australia), Dr Abdullah Robin (UK), Naveed Butt (Pakistan),
Mustafa (UK), Imam Abu'l Hassan (Sudan), Dr Abu Talha (USA), Imam Issam
Amireh (Palestine), Mohammed Akmal (UK)
International Audio & Video Linku
Media Enquiries +44(0)7946-510006
Websites: www.al-islaam.orgwww.khilafah.com (for live PalTalk broadcast)
Hizb ut Tahrir is the ' yuppie' contingent of Al Muhajroun .
Note that many of the 1924 members have degrees in subjects like biochemical engineering, information technology, and in the case of British convert to Islam Abdullah Robin, a Phd in the molecular structure of foot and mouth disease.
Abdullah Robin explains why he converted to Islam 10 years ago and his total rejection of Western values and culture.It is interesting to note that he sounds exactly like Sayful Islam the local leader of Al Muhajiroun quoted in the above article .
It is a strange reversal of positions when today some young Muslims are speaking so proudly of Britain as "our country". They want to be British Muslims - I once held the British identity, which is characterised by secular values, and now I am Muslim and that is enough for me! Should I integrate? I was integrated once when I believed in the Western system of life. I used to be proud of democracy and the free market economy. I once believed in the intellectual basis upon which the Western way of life is built. I drank deeply from the philosophy of the West and its way of thinking was my way of thinking. So then I was integrated, not by the clothes I wore or the drinks that I drank, but by my belief in what was specific to the culture of the West. Capitalism provided a complete way of life built on the secular premise of man's freedom to govern himself according to his own will without the imposition of religion. Christian, Muslim, Jew or atheist made little difference to me because religion was a matter of personal taste and indeed the whole of morality is just a matter of taste for believers in such a system. So pervasive is this mindset that people of religion succumbed to it before Muslims arrived on Britain's shores. Are Muslims next into the melting pot? Well not me. I jumped out of the melting pot and have no intention of merging Islam's distinct thoughts and solutions for life with those of the Jahilliyah, which, by the favour of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'aala), I left twelve years ago.
Asif: Do you feel that there is anything wrong with Muslims living in the West aspiring for careers as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and scientists? In fact, would you encourage them to do so?
Abdullah: Muslims should be at the forefront of all the permissible professions because Islam came to take leadership over the world by the strength and constant applicability of its thoughts to life. This means that the Muslims in the West have a particular responsibility to live in the mainstream of life and strive to be the opinion setters rather than just followers of the prevalent trends.
AD: In Islam, what is the objective that Muslims should have when it comes to pursuing a career, is it the same objective that their non-Muslim colleagues would have?
AR: We work to satisfy our material needs in a way best conducive to our differing physical, mental and emotional capabilities like any other people. What distinguishes our decision making process in our career choices is the centrality of Islam and its mission to deliver mankind out from the darkness of ignorance and immorality into the light of day under Allah's laws. Those professions which put us amongst the thinkers and the leading people in the modern fields of development and business, are the best from this perspective.
AD: Working in a non-Muslim environment is fraught with pressures and tests for both Muslim men and women to engage in un-Islamic activities, can you offer some advice on how Muslims should approach dealing with these situations?
AR: Integrity and honesty are always appreciated especially in the spiritually bankrupt society we live in today. The Muslim sticking firmly but politely to his/her beliefs is often respected more than the compromised Muslim. We can reduce the possibility of alienation by considering our position not as rejecters of the non-Muslims but as ambassadors of Islam to them. We would take active steps to be kind and co-operative with them without showing weakness of character - as this has never won anybody's respect.
AD: I have often come across the argument that that if a large number of Muslims in the West, and indeed throughout the world, were to gain professional expertise then this would automatically enable the Muslims to achieve a radical change in their global situation. Hence, the argument follows that simply by pursuing their careers is a sufficient contribution from Muslims. Do you subscribe to this view, or do you think that it is not as straight forward as this?
AR: Enlightened leadership is a rare quality and it is desperately needed. The leader is the one with a clear vision for people and the intelligence and determination to motivate them towards fulfilling the objectives that will carry them towards the desired goal. Unfortunately the routine employee mentality that dominates the Western workforce even at the higher levels, leaving them to think on a day-to-day or week-to-week level, is not conducive to this leadership mentality. Even if we have good positions within the well paid or respected careers this will not be a substitute for clarifying our vision of Islam to the world today and involving with the Muslim community to change the local and international status quo."
Tanveer Ashraf was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in 1972, and moved to the UK with his family at the age of eight. He first became involved with the Islamic da'wah whilst at school, writing leaflets for a local Islamic publication in West London, before leaving to complete a degree in Computer Science at the University of Manchester. Whilst at university he co-wrote, edited and published a monthly Islamic political newsletter, and was also the president of an Islamic society, arranging talks and debates on a wide range of Islamic issues.
He spent a number of years in the North West, organising and giving Islamic circles throughout the Muslim communities in Manchester, Blackburn, Bolton and Bury. He also spent a short time living and working within the Muslim communities in Birmingham and Coventry.
He has a passionate interest in following news and current affairs, and has been actively involved in writing for numerous Islamic discussion forums on the Internet. He has been involved with the 1924 site since its inception, and is responsible for ensuring it continues to deliver high quality content, with a unique viewpoint and focus, for the Muslim community in Britain.
Tanveer works as an Information Technology consultant in London, and is married with children.
Dr. Abdullah Robin
Dr Abdullah Robin, born in 1966, has been working hard to promote the Islamic da'wah since embracing Islam in 1990. He grew up in East Anglia and graduated from the University of Leicester with an honours degree in Biology. He then worked six years for the University of Oxford as a research assistant, and gained a PhD for his work on the molecular structure and function of Foot-and-Mouth Disease virus. He continued his career with post-doctoral work at University College London.
He has published many scientific papers, and is currently conducting research to better understand the spread of cancer, with a major UK Cancer Research organization
Dr Abdullah has studied many Islamic issues in depth, from areas of the social system to the political system. He writes frequently for Islamic magazines and publications. He is fluent in Arabic, and has spoken widely on Islamic political and intellectual topics. Last year he delivered a talk on "Science and Islam" at a conference on "The Role of Muslims in the West", which was held at the London Indoor Arena.
Dr Abdullah has advised extensively on content and direction for the 1924 website. He resides in London, and is married with two children.
Abid Mustafa, aged 35, is an IT consultant from West London. He grew up in the UK where he completed most of his education, but also spent a number of years in secondary education in Pakistan. He is a graduate from Kings College, University of London.
Abid has been involved in the Islamic da'wah since 1990, and has been a very active speaker both in the community and universities throughout the UK. He has lectured and debated on a wide variety of Islamic and political issues, and written numerous articles on a variety of subjects. He has been a member on various Q&A panels, and has given a number of radio interviews on Islamic current affairs. He was a member on the Q&A panel at the 2001 conference at Docklands entitled Pakistan: The Quest for Khilafah.
Abid has been instrumental in the conception and launch of the 1924 website, and has advised extensively on content, structure and style of the various sections. He was the former editor of the viewpoints and comments section and in the spring of this year moved on to concentrate on other things.
He is married with two children.
Zubair Hussaini, aged 30, was born in the UK. He has been actively involved in working to change the Muslim community for ten years. He first became involved in Islamic political work whilst studying for a degree in International Relations, at the University of London. He was president of the Debating Society, in which he participated or chaired debates on a wide variety of Islamic, political and current affairs issues. After completing his degree, he went on to complete a Masters in Public Policy.
Zubair's study in the field of politics, combined with extensive reading in the Islamic political culture has allowed him to contribute greatly to the Islamic da'wah, through writing for Islamic magazines, and delivering circles and talks. He has written extensively for 1924, since its inception.
Zubair resides in London where he works as a Health Service manager, and is married with two children.
Asim Khan, born in 1975, has a degree in Biochemical engineering from Brunel University. He is an experienced writer, having written for Islamic magazines as well as serving as an editorial advisor. He has been active in the Islamic da'wah for 8 years, giving talks and circles in the London area in addition to his writing.
Asim has travelled extensively throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and has a good grasp of situation and problems that face the Muslim Ummah throughout the world.
Asim works as an IT specialist in London, where he resides, and has recently got married.
Nizam Khan, aged 28, studied at the University College London , where he graduated with a degree in Physics. He went on to gain a diploma in Information Technology, and currently works for an international telecommunications firm.
Nizam has studied the Islamic economic system and it's ruling system in some detail, and has written regularly on these topics, as well as giving circles and talks.
He resides in Berkshire, and is married with two children.
Faisal Khan, aged 27, has a degree in Computer Science from City University, London. He has worked as a software developer for a number of years, and used his expert skills in web application design and content, in managing the development and delivery channels for the 1924 site. He also takes responsibility for all site communications.
Faisal has been working in the Islamic da'wah for a number of years, both in the UK and in Pakistan, where he worked as a lecturer in Web Technologies. Whilst in Pakistan he organised and participated in numerous circles and seminars on the Islamic solution for the Muslims throughout the world, and in particular the solutions to the current problems faced by the Muslims of Pakistan. He has also delivered numerous talks in the UK, both in English and in Urdu.
Faisal is married, and resides in South London.
MIM: The above portraits of the 1924 team fit the description of Islamic fundamentalists presented in the article below. Not that the article mentions that HT members are under surveillance. Note that the pictures and bios above have been removed from the 1924.org website which was recently revamped.
Islamic group defies ban- draws educated Pakistanis.
By Amir Zia 10/3/04
KARACHI, Oct 3 (Reuters) - They are considered a new breed of Islamic fundamentalists, who study at top British and American schools yet abhor Western values, advocate a pan-Islamic state and favour the removal of Pakistan's pro-U.S. government.
Militancy and violence is not part of their agenda; they want to achieve their "lofty goals" through peaceful and non-violent struggle.
But analysts say such men, fired by the passion of an Islamic renaissance, stand on a thin line dividing political and violent struggle.
Hizb ut-Tahrir (Liberation Party), an international Islamic group with roots from England to Central Asia, is a recent addition to myriad radical organisations striving to enforce "true Islam" in Pakistan, a poor South Asian nation.
The group was outlawed in Pakistan in Nov. 2003, just three years after it started operations, but its members continue undeterred, distributing party literature and holding small meetings in efforts to expand their base. Pakistan, an ally of the United States in the war on terror, banned several militant Islamic groups, but most re-emerged under new names. Hizb ut-Tahrir has refused to change its identity despite the closure of offices and the arrest of several members.
British and U.S. nationals of Pakistani origin comprise the backbone of this secretive group formed in Jerusalem in 1953.
It wants to establish a supra-Islamic state on the model of the caliphate as it existed in the early days of Islam.
The group came to Pakistan through second-generation Pakistanis living in the West, particularly Britain and the United States. They claim they had supporters in Pakistan for a long time but formal operations took longer to establish.
Many members abandoned what they call the luxuries of the West to come to Pakistan to live among fellow Muslims and work for the country's transformation into a puritanical Islamic society of their dreams.
"In terms of living standards, England is better. You don't confront problems such as water shortages, power failures there," a Hizb member, who works as an executive at a bank, told Reuters, requesting anonymity.
"But you cannot safeguard the Islamic way of life in a Western society. You become alienated," said the 32-year-old, who migrated from his birthplace, London, to Pakistan -- the country of his parents -- two years ago.
"We believe the change will come in the Muslim world from places like Pakistan, where an overwhelming number of people are Islamic-minded," he said in a clipped British accent.
MANY RETURN TO ROOTS
Scores of young men like him moved to Pakistan mainly from Britain and the United States to work for the Islamic cause.
With their trimmed beards and Western clothes, they stand in contrast to the turban and skull cap-wearing traditional followers of local Islamic parties. But their anti-West rhetoric is as radical as that of their more orthodox counterparts.
Intelligence officials say the shadowy network is taking root among educated Pakistanis and a few of its members are under surveillance. Group members include engineers, chartered accountants, computer experts and doctors.
Several of its members speaking to Reuters in separate interviews, some on the condition of anonymity, said the number of their supporters was increasing.
"We advocate unity of Muslims," said Ismail Sheikh, a frail 34-year-old British national of Pakistani origin who was arrested for distributing pamphlets outside a Karachi mosque in July.
But an anti-terrorism court acquitted him on lack of evidence last month and he was back to organisational work the same day, saying the arrest only strengthened his resolve."
"They questioned me whether I had links to al Qaeda, or I visited Afghanistan," said Sheikh, a dentist from the University of Wales. He abandoned his medical career in London and moved to Karachi in 1999 to become one of the group's pioneer members.
The government sees Hizb ut-Tahrir as a threat.
"Its activities were found prejudicial to the national interest," said Abdul Rauf Chaudhry, an interior ministry spokesman. "Its members incite people against the government through their writings and leaflets."
But Naveed Butt, Hizb ut-Tahrir's spokesman, said to bring about a change one needed political, not militant action.
"We are being associated with militancy because we preach an alternative ideology," said Butt, an engineer from Chicago, where he was first introduced to the group in the mid-1980s.
"The best barometer of our success is that we were banned within three years of our activities here."
Ahmed Rashid, author of a book on the Afghan Taliban, said Hizb was a movement based in Europe.
"Young Muslims living in the West get exposure to their culture through religion.
"I don't think they have any real popular support. Given the enormous number of Islamic schools and parties, it is difficult for someone like Hizb, which is seen as an import from England, to come in the field and make room for itself."
Rashid said despite its radical ideas, there were no indications Hizb was involved in militancy.
"The membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir could just be a passing phenomenon for Islamic radicals rather than a permanent one. From here they could move on to militant groups."
Hizb ut Tahrir An influential British Muslim has told Newsnight that unless action is taken against an extreme Muslim group operating in the United Kingdom then we could soon be experiencing terrorist attacks along the lines of those in Baghdad and Jerusalem.
Hizb Ut Tahrir or HT is an Islamic splinter group, which is banned in many countries around the world. It operates freely in Britain.
But Newsnight has discovered that its website promotes racism and anti-Semitic hatred, calls suicide bombers martyrs, and urges Muslims to kill Jewish people.
In Denmark, HT's spokesman has been found guilty of distributing racist propaganda.
Newsnight's Imran Khan investigated.
Watch the report
IMRAN KHAN: This is a journey into a side of British Islam rarely seen. An investigation into Hizb Ut Tahrir, one of Britains most shadowy political parties. Its message is attracting more and more young Muslims, and this is worrying Britain's wider Islamic community. The party longs for the return of the Ottoman empire, but it uses the technology of the digital age.
Now, as the party prepares for its biggest conference, Newsnight has uncovered evidence that Hizb Ut Tahrir is pedalling racism in this country and across Europe.
HT PROMOTIONAL VIDEO: Muslims in this country need to answer some very serious questions. Where does their allegiance lie?
KHAN: Hizb Ut Tahrir aims to bring about a Muslim state, the Khilafah, through, it says, non violent means. The party has expressed support of suicide bombings in Israel. It denounces Western governments and what it sees as their lackey regimes in the Middle East. And Hizb Ut Tahrir is calling on Muslims in Britain to decide whether their loyalty lies with this country or with God.
HT PROMOTIONAL VIDEO: I think Muslims in this country need to take a long, hard look at themselves and decide what is their identity. Are they British or are they Muslim? I am a Muslim. Where I live, is irrelevant.
KHAN: During the making of this programme, Newsnight has spoken to many Muslims who have expressed concerns over the activities of Hizb Ut Tahrir. None of them were willing to appear on camera for fear of criticising another Muslim in public. However, one influential Muslim figure in the country has agreed to speak to us on condition of anonymity.
ANONYMOUS MUSLIM LEADER: I believe that if Hizb Ut Tahrir are not stopped at this stage, and we continue to let them politicise and pollute the youngsters minds and other gullible people minds, then what will happen in effect is that these terrorism acts and these suicide bombings that we hear going on around in foreign countries, we will actually start seeing these incidents happening outside our doorsteps.
KHAN: In a rare interview, one former senior member of the group who joined in the early days of its UK activities, explains its appeal.
YAMIN ZAKARIA: They had a very profound analysis of why the Islamic world is in such an abysmal state, how it declined and most importantly how we can elevate ourselves from this position, and break free. The group was not allied to any political regime, it was not operating on the basis of personal or financial motivation, it didn't have a sectarian approach. So it had a very open approach. As long as you are a Muslim and are committed to its beliefs, and its causes, you are welcome to join the party.
KHAN: Three of Hizb Ut Tahrir's British members are currently on trial in Egypt for belonging to an outlawed group. Hizb Ut Tahrir is banned in a number of Arab countries.
ZAKARIA: Well naturally, because the party is trying to remove the existing apparatus, which is existing in nation states and to rebuild the countries along the Islamic model, the Islamic Khilafah, part of the process involves also unification of the lands, so that's why it is banned.
KHAN: The group is also banned in Germany and Russia. In Britain the group came to prominence in the mid 1990s. They held a large conference in Wembley and demonstrated in Trafalgar Square. The party was well known on University campuses.
In 1994, Newsnight reported on fears over their rising influence and their militant message. Hizb Ut Tahrir was controversial and condemned as openly racist. The National Union of Students described them as 'the single biggest extremist threat in the UK' and tried to ban them from campuses. After fading from view in the late 1990s, today the group is once again visible. And this time, it's apparently respectable.
Recently the group has been organising demonstrations against what they see as the oppression of Muslims in Uzbekistan. Hizb Ut Tahrir has an international focus and structure. Its leadership is based in the Middle East and its connections spread across the region and into Europe. Its international links are worth a closer look.
We went to Denmark, where Hizb Ut Tahrir has come to the attention of the police and the courts because of its anti-Semitic views. In March and April 2002, Hizb Ut Tahrir handed out leaflets in a square in Copenhagen, and at a mosque. The leaflet, which also appeared on the Danish groups internet site, makes threats against Jews, using a quote from the Koran urging Muslims to 'kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have been turned you out.' The leaflet also said, 'The Jews are a people of slander...a treacherous people... they fabricate lies and twist words from their right context.' And the leaflet describes suicide bombings in Israel as "legitimate" acts of "Martyrdom".
Below a former Hizb ut Tahrir member explains that he left the group due to their lax religious observance and "yuppie" materialism.which he found contradictory to Islamic teachings . He objects to their emphasis on the establishment of the "Khalifah" to the exclusion of religous teaching and Da'wa, Islamic propagation.
The former member also finds it hard to clarify the difference between Hizb ut Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun ,and states that "if you don't want the establishment of an Islamic State the best way is to join one of these groups". The writer concedes that HT helped him along the path to Islam but warns that they will have to answer for their (heretical views) on that (judgement) day".
BismillahirRahmanirRahim wa salaat as-Salaam ala Rasulihil-Karim, wa ahla ahli hi wa as-Sahabihi l-karim.
In my youthful, naive and over-zealous days, I was attracted to the group called "Hibut-Tahrir", it was when their main man was OBM. They appealed to my insecurities and gave me a channel to vent my anger at society and my community and be part of a wider identity driven by "youth".
Anyway after spending a number of years, pamphleting and vandalising public and private property with "Khilafa is coming back" type posters and other such throw away slogans I really started to assess what all this was about and where I was heading as a Muslim. I could not reconcile our anti-kufr stance with most of my HT friends and their love of their designer labels and their materialistic outlook on life. I could not reconcile the fact that one of my acquaintances worked for a large bank in the city; the very ribawi institution that HT purportedly stood against. I could not reconcile the fact that HT did not hold the punishment of the grave as part of their aqida when Imam al-Tahawi clearly states it in al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya:
"80. We believe in the punishment in the grave for those who deserve it, ...".
Imam Tahawi was one of the early imams of Ahl al-Sunnah wa'l Jama'at who listed what the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah are in this short treatise. I was told by one of the more "knowledgeable" brothers that "we trust in the punishment of the grave" and that ahad hadith reports do not form part of our aqidah. I later found out that the ahad reports can form part of aqida if one condition can be met: that the tenet of faith mentioned in the hadith is salimun min al-muarada or "free of conflicting evidence", as is the case for this hadith. Besides, I was recalling this belief in the dua after my five daily prayers "rabana atina fi dunya hasanatan, wa fil akhirati hasanatan, wa kina azabin-naar. *WA KINA AZABAN QABRI [and from the PUNISHMENT OF THE GRAVE]*, wa kina azaban hashiri, wa kina azaban mizan." None of my questions were satisfactorily answered and so the inevitable end came ever closer.
Then OBM left HT and set-up the alternative "Muhajiroon". This I never did quite understand and no one ever explained to me why OBM left seeing as though both parties are working towards the same goal? I also questioned the leadership of the one who allowed himself to be used by the media in the documentary "Tottenham Ayatollah" in which OBM was made to look like a fool. Needless to say my disillusion grew. All I seemed to be doing was pamphleteering and daubing walls with posters and memorising the odd ayat of the Quran to pull out on unsuspecting Muslims to prove my point. I decided to call it a day as I realised that these people were going nowhere and nowhere fast, the bus they were on, so to speak, had not only run out of fuel without the driver noticing; but was heading in the wrong direction in the first place. I could not see how their program would bring about the Khilafa when most of my peers could barely pray properly. All we seemed to concern ourselves with was "siyasa". I increasingly became concerned with my own personal practice of my religion, I recalled the hadith that basically tells the Muslims that if he sees an ill in a brother make sure that ill doesn't exist in yourself and what I saw with my brothers was not good and it existed in me. I wanted to know if I was praying properly ie knowing what the faraid, wajibat, sunan etc of my ibadah were but we just seemed interested in "establishing" the khilafa and nothing else. We were brainwashed into thinking that this was the single most important issue in the ummah today when in fact it was one of many. It seemed to me that if you want to build something like a khilafa it has to be done on good strong and solid foundations, HT/Muhajiroon have put foundations in place but matchsticks cannot hold much for long. Not only have they neglected the foundations but the ground upon which they hope to build on is sand and of no real substance. If they were to establish a "khilafa" it would be just an empty shell and the whole structure would come crashing down.
I now know that these people are totally deficient in the three areas of the Din (Islam, Iman and Ihsan). In fiqh they are pretty much la-Madhhabi, they don't ascribe to any Madhhab and are pre-occupied with their own "ijtihads", in aqida they follow a crypto-Mutazilite rationalism and they are completely devoid of anything spiritual and mock those who make dhikr and attend such gatherings. In short they are the flip side of Wahhabism.
HT/Muhajiroon's goal of establishing the Khilafa is no different to those who are awaiting the Mahdi to do it. It is all to do with tawfiq that Allah bestows and from what I know personally there is no tawfiq in either HT/Muhajiroon and there will never be. In fact I have come to realise that if you don't want the establishment of the Islamic state then the best way is to join up with one of these two groups.
I am much older now and I can see things a lot more clearly without the blinkers and naivety of youth. I know many people who have left this group after maturing and would urge the youth of this group to learn their deen first and expend their energies in creating an environment that would be conducive to da'wah and not prohibitive as is currently with HT/Muhajiroon. Once we all sort ourselves and the community out it will be fertile ground for the seeds of tawfiq to be sown and Allah will cause them to flourish in abundance with the rains of His Mercy.
In closing I am thankful to HT for at least awakening me to my deen even though they did very little to nurture it. I have had a few friends "burn out" from HT and go completely back to their jahiliyya state and this can be blamed on no one else but HT who will be questioned on That Day.
MIM :The aims and work of Hizb Ut Tahrir in their own words:
Bismillahi Al-Rahman Al-Raheem
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party whose ideology is Islam, so politics is its work and Islam is its ideology. It works within the Ummah and together with her, so that she adopts Islam as her cause and is led to restore the Khilafah and the ruling by what Allah (swt) revealed. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political group and not a priestly one. Nor is it an academic, educational or a charity group. The Islamic thought is the soul of its body, its core and the secret of its life.
The Reasons for the Establishment of Hizb ut-Tahrir
Hizb ut-Tahrir was established in response to the saying of Allah (swt),
"Let there be among you a group that invites to the good, orders what is right and forbids what is evil, and they are those who are successful" [TMQ 3:104]
Its purpose was to revive the Islamic Ummah from the severe decline that it had reached, and to liberate it from the thoughts, systems and laws of Kufr, as well as the domination and influence of the Kufr states. It also aims to restore the Islamic Khilafah State so that the ruling by what Allah (swt) revealed returns.
The Aim of Hizb ut-Tahrir
Its aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da'wah to the world. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shari'ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State. That state is the one in which Muslims appoint a Khaleefah and give him the bay'ah to listen and obey on condition that he rules according to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and on condition that he conveys Islam as a message to the world through da'wah and jihad.
The Party, as well, aims at the correct revival of the Ummah through enlightened thought. It also strives to bring her back to her previous might and glory such that she wrests the reins of initiative away from other states and nations, and returns to her rightful place as the first state in the world, as she was in the past, when she governs the world according to the laws of Islam.
It also aims to bring back the Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah into a struggle with Kufr, its systems and its thoughts so that Islam encapsulates the world.
The work of Hizb ut-Tahrir is to carry the Islamic da'wah in order to change the situation of the corrupt society so that it is transformed into an Islamic society. It aims to do this by firstly changing the society's existing thoughts to Islamic thoughts so that such thoughts become the public opinion among the people, who are then driven to implement and act upon them. Secondly the Party works to change the emotions in the society until they become Islamic emotions that accept only that which pleases Allah (swt) and rebel against and detest anything which angers Allah (swt). Finally, the Party works to change the relationships in the society until they become Islamic relationships which proceed in accordance with the laws and solutions of Islam. These actions which the Party performs are political actions, since they relate to the affairs of the people in accordance with the Shari'ah rules and solutions, and politics in Islam is looking after the affairs of the people, either in opinion or in execution or both, according to the laws and solutions of Islam.
What is manifested in these political actions is culturing the Ummah with the Islamic culture in order to melt her with Islam and to cleanse her of the corrupt creeds, false thoughts and erroneous concepts including the influence of Kufr thoughts and opinions.
What is also manifested in these political actions is an intellectual and political struggle. The manifestation of an intellectual struggle is through the struggle against the thoughts and systems of Kufr. It is also manifested in the struggle against false thoughts, corrupt creeds and erroneous concepts by demonstrating their corruption, showing their error and presenting clearly the verdict of Islam concerning them.
As for the political struggle, it is manifested in the struggle against the disbelieving imperialists, to deliver the Ummah from their domination and to liberate her from their influence by uprooting their intellectual, cultural, political, economic and military roots from all of the Muslim countries.
The political struggle also appears in challenging the rulers, revealing their treasons and conspiracies against the Ummah, and by taking them to task and changing them if they denied the rights of the Ummah, or refrained from performing their duties towards her, or ignored any matter of her affairs, or violated the laws of Islam.
So all the work of the Party is political, whether it is in office or not. Its work is not educational, as it is not a school, nor is its work concerned with giving sermons and preaching. Rather its work is political, in which the thoughts and laws of Islam are presented in order to act upon them and to carry them so as to establish them in life's affairs and in the State.
The Party conveys the da'wah for Islam so that it is implemented, and so that its aqeedah becomes the foundation of the State and the foundation of its constitution and canons. This is because the Islamic aqeedah is a rational creed and it is a political doctrine from which originates a system that deals with all of man's problems, whether they are political, economic, cultural, social or any other issue for that matter.
The Place of Hizb ut-Tahrir's Work
Although Islam is a universal ideology, its method does not, however, allow one to work for it universally from the beginning. It is necessary, however, to invite to it universally, and make the field of work for it in one country, or a few countries, until it is consolidated there and the Islamic State is established.
The whole world is a suitable location for the Islamic da'wah. But since the people in the Muslim countries have already embraced Islam, it is necessary that the da'wah starts there. The Arab countries are the most suitable location to start carrying the da'wah because these countries, which constitute part of the Muslim world, are inhabited by people who speak the Arabic language, which is the language of the Qur'an and hadith, and is an essential part of Islam and a basic element of the Islamic culture.
The Hizb began and started to carry the da'wah within some of the Arab countries. It then proceeded to expand the delivery of the da'wah naturally until it began to function in many Arab countries and also in non-Arab Muslim countries as well.
peaceful jihad, but there will be war Ahmed Rashid
Central Asia is reaching boiling point as Islamic fundamentalists clash with corrupt, anti-Muslim regimes. In our final extract from his new book, Ahmed Rashid, the world's most influential war correspondent, explains how one extremist organisation plans to spread its message to the entire Muslim world and establish a powerful, unified Islamic empire.
In the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, militant Islam is gaining popularity. Little is known about the new extremist movements, but rumour, myth, and the ancient Central Asian tradition of storytelling have added to their mystique. In the villages of Central Asia, people speak of how the advance guard of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan guerrillas consists of beautiful female snipers who, armed with the latest scopes and night-vision goggles, can either seduce or kill a soldier from a long distance; or of how guerrillas have been blessed by Muslim saints to make their bodies impervious to wounds.
While poverty and unemployment increase across Central Asia - and economic opportunities decrease - its debt-ridden societies are ripe for any organisation or party that offers hope for a better life. More than 60 per cent of the region's 50 million people are under the age of 25. This new generation is unemployed, poorly educated and hungry - how long will it continue to tolerate the decline in living standards and the lack of rudimentary freedoms? It is, perhaps, unsurprising that underground, extremist Islamic groups are flourishing.
In addition to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an even more widespread Islamic movement, the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (the Party of Islamic Liberation), has taken root in Central Asia. If the IMU says little about its ultimate aims, the HT produces an abundance of literature about its goals, including a website (www.hizb-ut-tahrir.org). Its aims are probably the most esoteric and anachronistic of all the radical Islamic movements in the world today.
The HT, which, like the IMU, has declared jihad in Central Asia, seeks to unite Central Asia, the Xinjiang Province in China and, eventually, the entire Islamic world community under a caliphate that would re-establish the Khilifat-i-Rashida, which ruled the Arab Muslims for a short time after the Prophet Mohammed's death in 632. This period is revered by many radical Islamic movements, including the Taliban, as the only time in Islamic history when a true Muslim society existed.
In the scenario envisaged in HT literature, one or more Islamic countries will come under HT control, after which the movement will be able to win over the rest of the Islamic world. HT leaders believe that Central Asia has reached what they call "a boiling point" and is ripe for takeover. As Sheikh Qadeem Zaloom, the current HT leader and one of its most prolific writers, describes the situation: "The issue of transforming the lands into the Islamic homeland and uniting them with the rest of the Islamic lands is an objective which the Muslims aim to achieve, and the method which ought to be undertaken to achieve this objective is that of re-establishing Khilafah."
The HT has become the most widespread popular underground movement in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and its utopian aims are growing in popularity among college and university students throughout the region. The challenge that the HT poses to the regimes of these countries can be judged by the fact that there are more HT prisoners in Central Asia's prisons than those of any other movement, including the much better known IMU (the HT claims that there are more than 100,000 political prisoners in Uzbekistan alone, but this figure is highly inflated).
The HT was founded in Saudi Arabia and Jordan in 1953 by diaspora Palestinians led by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani Filastyni. A graduate of Al Azhar University in Cairo, an-Nabhani was a schoolteacher and a local Islamic judge before he was forced to leave Palestine to make way for the new country of Israel. He settled in Jordan in 1953, and there set up the movement.
An-Nabhani wrote many books and leaflets during his lifetime, which form the core belief of the HT. "The point at hand is not establishing several states, but one single state over the entire Muslim world," he wrote in 1962.
The HT believes in jihad as a means to mobilise supporters against non-Muslims, but it does not advocate a violent overthrow of Muslim regimes, as do other extremist groups, such as Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda. It may sympathise with the IMU, but it does not believe in guerrilla tactics.
Instead, the HT envisages a moment when millions of supporters will rise up and topple the Central Asian governments - particularly the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan - by sheer force of numbers. In the repressive climate of the region, this - combined with the HT's growing popularity - is enough to ensure government crackdowns against the movement, particularly in Uzbekistan.
An-Nabhani's concept of the future Islamic state envisages a political structure in which a caliph (civil and religious ruler) elected by an Islamic shura (council) would have dictatorial powers in a highly centralised system. The caliph would control the army, the political system, the economy and foreign policy. Sharia (Islamic law) would prevail, Arabic would be the language of the state and the role of women would be severely restricted.
The defence minister, whose title would be amir of jihad, would prepare the people for jihad against the non-Muslim world. Military conscription and training in preparation for this jihad would be mandatory for all Muslim men over 15.
The HT's popularity is stretching beyond Central Asia. Some of its leaders have set up offices in Europe, especially Germany and England. London is now believed to be a major organisational centre for the movement. There, the HT raises funds and trains recruits to spread the movement in Central Asia.
The HT has become extremely popular among Muslim students on the campuses of British universities. When it held a conference in the Docklands area of London on August 26, 2001, to debate the political crisis in Pakistan, busloads of HT supporters arrived from all over Britain and there was a live webcast on the internet.
Sheikh Zaloom, the present leader, probably lives in Europe, but his exact location remains a secret. There are no photographs of Central Asian HT leaders and no hint of who the other leaders are, how the chain of command works or where they are based.
In autumn 2000, I met, secretly, an HT leader in Uzbekistan, whom I shall call "Ali". He explained to me that the HT operates secret, decentralised five to seven-man cells throughout Central Asia, making it extremely difficult for the authorities to penetrate the organisation. The cells, called daira (circles), are study groups dedicated to the spread of Islam and the HT message. The cell chief, the only person who knows the next level of the party organisation, sets out weekly tasks for his members, who are expected to go out and create new cells.
The HT is starting to cause concern in Western capitals, even though little is known about the movement. During late 2000, an intense debate took place among Clinton administration intelligence experts about whether officially to declare the HT a group that supports terrorism. Washington finally decided against making such a statement because the HT had never participated in guerrilla activity, kidnapped people or set up armed training camps; in fact, it had always advocated peaceful change. But the fear is that young HT militants, who now face the same indiscriminate repression and poverty at home as IMU militants, may soon ignore their elders' advice and turn to guerrilla warfare.
Though the HT has still not taken the path of violence, "Ali" is not averse to issuing a dire warning: "The HT wants a peaceful jihad, which will be spread by explanation and conversion, not by war," he says. "But, ultimately, there will be war because the repression by the Central Asian regimes is so severe, and we have to prepare for that. If the IMU suddenly appears in the Fergana Valley, HT activists will not sit idly by and allow the security forces to kill them." The fear that the HT will move from an educational to a militant jihad may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But neither the HT nor the IMU has the power, the popularity, nor the military force to emerge as a victor in Central Asia. Their present success is due primarily to their repression by the Central Asian states, which turns them into martyrs, and the incompetence with which this repression is carried out. It is also the result of external sources of instability, such as the war in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the secretive leaders of these organisations cannot pose as alternatives to presidents such as Islam Karimov without first disclosing themselves and then spelling out what they have to offer the people of Central Asia. The best way for the Central Asian regimes to destroy the influence of these groups would be to bring them out into the open; to allow Islamic practice in their countries and to institute reforms that would leave the movements with only their alien ideologies to sell.
Under better economic and social conditions, such movements would have had little public appeal or impact and would have remained on the fringe of the Central Asian Islamic world, just as the HT remains marginalised in many other Muslim countries. It is the particular circumstances of the crisis in Central Asia that have pushed the IMU and the HT to centre stage and provided young people with alien role models.
Yet, as the threat increases, the Central Asian regimes have become more intransigent and less willing to address the pressing needs of their people. As the public becomes more angry and frustrated, the ruling elites continue to ignore the need for change.
The crisis that has blown up since the September 11 attacks is fraught with danger, but it also offers an enormous opportunity for change. By joining the Western alliance against al-Qa'eda, the Central Asian states have made a commitment to the international community's war against terrorism and Islamic extremism.
In so doing, they cannot afford to ignore the long-term consequences of their actions. If the American-led alliance succeeds in removing the threat of groups such as the IMU, the international community will be in a position to insist that the Central Asian regimes conduct themselves in line with international standards of democracy building, economic development, and social responsibility.
The Central Asian regimes are at a critical crossroads. They can ignore the lessons from Afghanistan and the collapse of the Afghan state and watch terrorism, instability and famine increase in their countries. Or they can take advantage of the global community's new engagement with the region to rebuild their countries. The real crisis in Central Asia lies with the state, not with the insurgents.
Iraq crisis a chance to oust Non-Islamic regimes: Muslim Party
uploaded 18 Sep 2002
LONDON, Sept 15 (AFP) - The unfolding crisis over Iraq is an opportunity for Muslims to sweep away corrupt regimes throughout the Muslim world, the British representative of the Islamic Hizb ul-Tahrir (Liberation Party) said Sunday.
Though Hizb ul-Tahrir opposes war on Iraq, it hopes the crisis will be the spark that leads to the creation of a new Islamic "khilafah," or caliphate, Imran Waheed told journalists.
"We see all the Muslim rulers remain silent, really, in essence, to America and Britain's war-mongering over Iraq," said Waheed, who helped to organize a important rally Sunday of several thousand Muslims in London.
"We call on the Muslims in the Muslim world to rise up and to remove their rulers and their regimes and to implement Islam," he said. "Certainly, this is an opportunity."
Sunday's all-day rally at the London Arena, in the Docklands financial district, was billed as the biggest gathering of Muslims in the West since the September 11 attacks last year.
Its theme was the role of Muslims in the West in the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
Banned in many Muslim countries, Hizb ul-Tahrir rejects violence in favor of "political and intellectual" action with the goal of reviving the caliphate that disappeared with the Ottoman Empire after World War I.
It sees the unfolding crisis in the Middle East as foretelling a clash of civilizations driven by Anglo-Saxon capitalist interests.
"A lot of Muslims are going to die in this bombing of Iraq," said Sajjad Khan, another Hizb ul-Tahrir member.
"Of course, as concerned Muslims, we don't want anyone -- Muslims or non-Muslims -- to be victimized by the American colonialist agenda," Khan said.
"British soldiers and American soliders are going to die to fatten up the balance sheets of oil companies," he said. "At the end of the day, it's to feed a very few elite at the top."
Waheed said Iraq was today not an Islamic state, nor was its president Saddam Hussein an Islamic leader.
"But what we do not want to see in Iraq is America and Britain replacing Saddam Hussein with an Iraqi Hamid Karzai (the Afghan leader), a subservient and loyal puppet who will facilitate the harvesting of America's interests from the region, including the vast oil reserves of the Middle East," he said.
Organizers said almost 9,000 people attended Sunday's rally, paying five pounds (7.75 dollars, 8.20 euros) for admission to the cavernous venue that usually hosts hard-rock concerts and ice hockey games.
Speakers included Palestinian Imam Issam Amireh, a critic of Yasser Arafat; Iraqi dissident Abu Muhammad; and Moinuddin Ahmed, an Indian Muslim who witnessed the recent bloodshed in Gujarat state.
Founded in Jerusalem in 1953 by scholar Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, Hizb ut-Tahrir considers violence and armed struggle to be a violation of Islamic law.
Last month 26 of its members, three of them Britons, were charged in Egypt with belonging to an illegal organization, four months after they were arrested. Waheed has alleged that they have been tortured.
In October last year, Turkish police said they had arrested six suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir members for distributing leaflets protesting US air strikes in Afghanistan.
Amnesty International has meanwhile reported the arrests of party members in the Central Asian republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.