London (CNSNews.com) - Militant Muslims in Britain have warned the government that new anti-terrorism legislation due to be announced Wednesday will not stop them from supporting fundamentalist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Increasingly active and supportive of Islamic violence, these groups see the proposed legislation as targeting them in particular. Wednesday's Queen's Speech, outlining government policy and legislative intentions for the year ahead, will include an announcement that new anti-terrorist laws will be passed, to consolidate and strengthen existing emergency measures.
The new laws will expand the definition of terrorism to include violence for religious or ideological ends. Currently, terrorism is defined as the "use of violence for political ends, including any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public or any section of the public in fear." The new laws will define terrorism as "the use of serious violence against persons or property or the threat to use such violence to intimidate or coerce a government, or any section of the public, for political, religious or ideological ends."
Al-Muhajiroun, a London-based Muslim organization, said it and other Muslims in Britain would "not be deterred from supporting the mujahideen [Islamic fighters] in Kashmir, Chechnya, Palestine or indeed in Iraq since we do this as a divine obligation and this is not a matter of negotiation or compromise."
It said "the inclusion of incitement by foreign dissidents living in Britain within the ambit of the act and the use of words such as 'religious' or 'ideological ends' is clearly aimed at Muslims, especially in light of the anti Muslim and Islam hysteria the Western media has whipped the general public into.
"Not content on declaring war against Muslims worldwide by bombing innocent Muslims in Iraq and supporting the pirate state of Israel, the barbaric Blair regime is now saying that they will silence anyone who speaks up or acts against such atrocities." Al-Muhajiroun's leader, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, said the organization, which claims to be the fastest growing Muslim group in Britain today, will continue fundraising and sending recruits to train and fight alongside Muslims under threat abroad.
In an interview with CNSNews.com, Mohammed affirmed his support for the Saudi-born terror chief Osama bin Laden, whom the U.S. holds responsible for the bombing of American embassies in East Africa in August 1998. But he denied that the International Islamic Front, an umbrella group of which Al-Muhajiroun is a key member, was the political wing of Bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders.
The IIF was set up in Britain during the 1991 Gulf War, he said, while Bin Laden's movement was established in 1998 in Afghanistan. But he was happy to endorse the embassy bombings, which cost more than 220 mostly African lives, saying the attack was "legitimate" in the context of the West's "crimes" against Islam.
A statement issued at the time said the deaths of civilians was regretted, but "the presence of U.S. bases and military in Muslim countries will lead to many casualties and will cause instability in the whole area since their presence is contrary to Islamic law ... Al-Muhajiroun salutes the message that has been sent - American interests are not safe anywhere in the world. The mujahideen will seek out and obliterate them into rubble as happened today."
Early in 1998, several months before the bombings, Al-Muhajiroun issued a religious edict (fatwa) declaring war on the U.S. and Britain because of the bombing of Iraq. But Mohammed said Tuesday all he had given was a religious ruling saying action against the West was "allowed."
He said he differentiated between "pro-life violence," such as taking up arms against Serbs in Kosovo or fighting the Russians in Chechnya, and "violence against life," which he said would include America's "bombing of women and children" in Iraq.
Mohammed confirmed that Muslim organizations in Britain were sending recruits to help struggles of militants seeking to overthrow "corrupted regimes" in Muslim countries. He said the British government had economic, military and political interests in those countries, and this was why it was now intending to launch a "witch hunt."
Asked to elaborate on the "corrupted regimes," Mohammed said he included in this category every Muslim country in the Middle East, although he voiced hope that the Taliban militia ruling most of Afghanistan may, with the right spiritual guidance, succeed where others had failed.
Hopes that the recent military coup in Pakistan may be the breakthrough they were waiting for were dashed, he said, when approaches Al-Muhajiroun made to military ruler General Pervez Musharraf revealed that he was "secular" and not interested in setting up a truly Islamic state.
Mohammed said he was not particularly surprised at the new British anti-terrorism legislation in the pipeline, and felt it would be good for Muslims - both because it exposed the hypocrisy of democrats now prepared to curb freedom of speech and religion, and because it would "sort out the women from the men on the battlefield."
"An Islamic world order is just a matter of time. One day an Islamic flag will be over the White House and 10 Downing Street," he said, adding that he saw this as a result of an ideological and intellectual battle rather than a military one.