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The 'emirs of Londonistan' and the alleged UK-jihadist collaboration Open in fullscreen

Nawaf al-Tamimi

The 'emirs of Londonistan' and the alleged UK-jihadist collaboration

There have been claims that preachers like Choudary secretly worked with British intelligence [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 August, 2015

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Last week's arrest in Britain of extremist preacher Anjem Chaudary has revived allegations of collaboration between intelligence agencies and jihadist ideologues based in the United Kingdom.
The arrest of extremist British preacher Anjem Choudary last Wednesday, who was charged with supporting the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), has brought into the spotlight his role in promoting a culture of extremism among Muslim youths in Britain, his role ins the radical group Al-Muhajiroun and al-Qaeda, but most importantly, his alleged secret links with the British intelligence services.

Choudary has often been mentioned along with other infamous extremist preachers at one time based in the UK - - including Abu Qatada (Palestinian), Abu Hamza (Egyptian) and Omar Bakri (Syrian) - in the context of allegations regarding links between radical Islamists in Britain and British intelligence under a secret deal.

According to these allegations, British intelligence, since the 1990s, has allowed radical Islamist preachers to operate on UK territory in return for abiding by a security pact requiring them not to threaten UK security and the safety of UK citizens.

A memorandum presented before the British House of Commons in September 2009 by the Institute for Policy Research and Development had stated: "The role of British and American intelligence policy in directly and indirectly facilitating the activities of Islamist extremist networks...[is] significant."

"According to senior government and intelligence officials, at the time of al-Muhajiroun's founding in 1996, the network was mobilized by MI6 to send British Muslims to Kosovo - coinciding with British and American military assistance to the Kosovan Albanians."

Graham Fuller, former Deputy Director of the CIA's National Council on Intelligence, says the selective sponsorship of al-Qaeda terrorist groups after the Cold War continued in the Balkans and Central Asia to intensify the rollback of Russian and Chinese power.

Quoted in Richard Labeviere's Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam, Fuller states: "The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam[ists] and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia."

John Loftus, a former US intelligence officer and Justice Department prosecutor, corroborates Fuller's statements. He claims that three senior figures in al-Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri, Abu Hamza and Haroon Rashid Aswat, who has been linked to the 7/7 bombings in London, were recruited by MI6 in 1996 to facilitate Islamist activities in the Balkan, with a view to destabilize former Soviet republics.

In their 2010 book The Suicide Factory: Abu Hamza mosque in Finsbury Park, veteran journalists Sean O'Neill and Daniel McGrory held that Abu Hamza, Abu Qatada and Bakri had a deal with the British intelligence, in which they pledge not to engage in any activity that would threaten British security in exchange for not being prosecuted.

They wrote:

"Other countries were left to wonder aloud why [the British government] continued to ignore warnings that radical organizations were using London as a safe haven, and allowing these extremists to behave as if they were immune from prosecution....To European eyes, these men seemed to do as they pleased."

In turn, British investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed alluded to the alleged ties between Bakri and Choudary, and British intelligence, in a recent article titled "The circus: How British intelligence primed both sides of the 'terror war. Ahmed suggested Birtish intelligence had provided protection and immunity to Bakri in return for information, saying that the Syrian radical preacher helped uncover many terrorist plots.

Ahmed wrote: "Bakri founded al-Muhajiroun in 1996 with the blessings of Britain's security services, [with] his co-founder...Anjem Choudary. Choudary was intimately involved in the programme to train and send Britons to fight abroad."

Quoting a Londin lawyer who respresents some of those accused of terrorism offences, Ahmed said Bakri and Choudary had regular meetings with MI5 officers in the 1990s:

"Omar Bakri had well over 20 meetings with MI5 from around 1993 to the late 1990s. Anjem Choudary apparently participated in such meetings toward the latter part of the decade. This was actually well-known amongst several senior Islamist leaders in Britain at the time."

In truth, Historian Mark Curtis, in his 2010 work, Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam, documents how Bakri trained hundreds of Britons at camps in the UK and the US, under the alleged arrangement with British intelligence, and dispatched them to join al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya.

Curtis' thesis is that British authorities have allowed the emirs of "Londonistan" -a pejorative term used by the media to mock the British government's tolerance of various Islamic groups in London-to operate freely to enable the intelligence services to monitor and infiltrate Islamist groups.

Curtis argues this may have been a way of cultivating relations "with possible future leader," help give the British a certain "influence" or "leverage" over the internal politics of Arab and other states.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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