Muslim says that Britain belongs to Allah
Abu Izzadeen has had, in his terms, a good week. First of all he shouted down John Reid, the Home Secretary, as he gave a speech to an audience of Muslims in east London. Then he came close to doing what no one else has done: reducing John Humphrys, the notoriously aggressive interviewer of Radio 4's Today programme, to stunned silence.
Mr Humphrys is used to exposing the equivocations and evasions of politicians. But Mr Izzadeen did not equivocate: he called John Reid "a murderer", said Tony Blair was "a terrorist" and "an enemy to Muslims and an enemy of Allah". Mr Izzadeen insisted that he couldn't care less about free speech, and that he would only observe "the Islamic process, not the democratic process". Allah "created the UK: it doesn't belong to you, or to the Queen, or to the Government, but to Allah. He has put us on earth to implement Sharia law."
At that point, you could almost hear John Humphrys's jaw drop.
You could hardly blame him. Most of those listening were in a state of shock too. Mr Izzadeen's bigoted religious intolerance was breathtaking. It was a salutary reminder of what the ideologues of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism actually believe. This is not a movement, as some claim, precipitated by British foreign policy. It is not a stand against "oppression" or a cry for "greater respect". Its goals are far more extensive: dismantling our secular, pluralist and tolerant democracy and replacing it with Sharia law and an Islamic state.
Mr Izzadeen (the name means "Might of the Faith") is a convert to Islam. He was born Trevor Brooks in Hackney, east London 31 years ago, to parents who had emigrated from Jamaica. Before he discovered Allah, Brooks/Izzadeen used to be an electrician. Five days before the suicide bombings of 7/7, he told a meeting of the "Saviour Sect", a group he claims to lead, that Muslims had to "instill terror into the hearts of the kuffar" (an insulting term for non-believers). He added that: "I am a terrorist. As a Muslim, of course I am a terrorist. I want to be blown to pieces with my hands in one place and my feet in another." After the 7/7 murders, another member of that sect said that they were all justified, because the victims were guilty of capital crimes: they did not abide by strict Islamic laws.
The fanatical zealotry of men such as Mr Izzadeen raises the question of how effective the criminal law can be against them. In 2003, for instance, Abdullah el-Faisal was tried and found guilty of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred. His views and objectives were similar to those of the "Saviour Sect": the establishment of Sharia law and an Islamic state in Britain. He advocated the murder of Jews and the use of chemical weapons to "exterminate non-believers".
El-Faisal was given nine years in prison, a sentence that shocked many civil libertarians, who thought that all he had done was to "exercise his right to free speech". His lawyers appealed: they managed to get his sentence reduced to seven years. But el-Faisal's time in jail will soon be up. Under the Government's regulations, every prisoner is entitled to be considered for early release halfway through his sentence. Given the time he spent on remand awaiting trial, el-Faisal has now reached that point.
The Home Office is expected to have to release him soon. Yet does anyone seriously believe that he has moderated his views in any way? Or that he will be any less devoted to what he has said is his "Islamic duty": the destruction of secular democracy in Britain, and its replacement by an Islamic state under Sharia law? Men such as el-Faisal are not just the cheerleaders of terrorism: they are its midwives. He is believed to have had a powerful influence on Jermaine Lindsay, the 19-year-old who murdered 26 people when he blew himself up on the underground train at King's Cross on 7/7.
Transcript: BBC interview with Abu Izzadeen
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