Al-Muhajiroun (Arabic: المهاجرون; The Emigrants) is a banned Salafi-Wahhabi Islamist terrorist organisation that was based in Britain and which has been linked to international terrorism, homophobia and antisemitism. The group was proscribed under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 on 14 January 2010 together with four other organisations including Islam4UK.
The group operated in the United Kingdom from 14 January 1986 until the British Government announced an intended ban in August 2005. The group became notorious for its September 2002 conference, "The Magnificent 19", praising the September 11, 2001 attacks. Home Secretary Charles Clarke banned Omar Bakri Muhammad from the United Kingdom on 12 August 2005 on the grounds that his presence was "not conducive to the public good." The group has previously clashed with members of the English Defence League. The group was then relaunched in June 2009. Two other offshoot organisations, The Saviour Sect and Al-Ghurabaa had previously been banned for the 'glorification' of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2006.
Al-Muhajiroun has also run a Lahore safe house for visiting British Muslims. Michael Adebolajo, the man convicted of killing Lee Rigby in a terrorist attack in Woolwich, attended Al-Muhajiroun meetings and demonstrations.
Al-Muhajiroun's proclaimed aims are to establish public awareness about Islam, to influence public opinion in favour of the sharia, to convince members of society that Islam is inherently political and a viable ideological alternative, to unite Muslims on a global scale in the threats facing the Ummah and to resume the Islamic way of life by re-establishing the Islamic Caliphate.
Omar Bakri Muhammad and Anjem Choudary are known to have led Al-Muhajiroun. Bakri founded Al-Muhajiroun in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on 3 March 1983 following "the 59th anniversary of the destruction of the Ottoman Caliphate," in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. According to Bakri, the Hizb ut-Tahrir leadership did not accept the group. As such, Bakri established Al-Muhajiroun independently from Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Bakri claims that he studied at the universities of Umm ul-Qura' in Makkah and The Islamic University of Madeenah. Bakri also studied with, and was assessed by, Dr. Abdur Rahman Dimishqia. Whilst living in Saudi Arabia he worked for Eastern Electric owned by Shamsan and Abdul-Aziz as-Suhaybi in Riyadh, and then Bakri moved to its Jeddah branch. Later he travelled to America to study English after which he went to the UK to assume the leadership of Hizb ut-Tahrir and became their leader.
The Saudi Arabian government banned Al-Muhajiroun in January 1986, prompting Bakri to leave. On 14 January 1986, he arrived in Britain, where he worked as part of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Bakri's involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir ended on 16 January 1996 when he was dismissed by the group's global leadership. Following the emergence of Al-Muhajiroun in early 1996, Bakri would later become the chief sponsor in Britain of the International Islamic Front, an organization that trained and sent British Citizens to fight in Chechnya and the Balkans.
In March 2001 Britain's National Union of Students banned Al-Muhajiroun after they received complaints from Muslim and non-Muslim students about the group distributing hate literature and the organization training members in militant camps. Al-Muhajiroun members put up posters and handed out leaflets in Manchester University's campus where the police were called and at the University of Birmingham campus that called on the killing of Jews. A spokesman for NUS said that if Al-Muhajiroun did not support violence against Jews then they should change their "highly militant and definitely not peaceful" literature.
Islamic Council of Britain
Abu Hamza al-Masri created the Islamic Council of Britain to "implement sharia law in Britain," on 11 September 2002, the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, primarily through funding from Al-Muhajiroun. Masri celebrated the establishment of the ICB and the 9/11 attacks by holding a conference in Finsbury Park mosque in North London entitled "September the 11th 2001: A Towering Day in History." Bakri, who attended the conference, said, that attendees "look at September 11 like a battle, as a great achievement by the mujahideen against the evil superpower. I never praised September 11 after it happened but now I can see why they did it." Flyers distributed at the conference referred to the 9/11 hijackers as the "Magnificent 19." Bakri said he saw Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda terrorists as "sincere [and] devoted people who stood firm against the invasion of a Muslim country." Anjem Choudary, British spokesman for Al Muhajiroun also attended. Just days after the 7 July 2005 London bombings the Oxford-based Malaysian jurist, Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti, issued his landmark fatwa against suicide bombing and targeting innocent civilians, titled Defending the Transgressed, by Censuring the Reckless against the Killing of Civilians, which was written in response to this controversial "Magnificent 19" statement made by Al-Muhajiroun.
Disbandment and after
Al Muhajiroun disbanded on 13 October 2004. However, it was believed that The Saviour Sect was to all intents and purposes Al Muhajiroun operating under a new name. Shortly after the 7 July 2005 London bombings Tony Blair announced the group would be banned as part of a series of measures against condoning or glorifying terrorism.
Aside from declaring the 9/11 bombers "the Magnificent 19", controversial statements made by al-Muhajiroun include one warning the British government that it was "sitting on a box of dynamite and have only themselves to blame if after attacking the Islamic movements and the Islamic scholars, it all blows up in their face".
"When they speak about 11 September, when the two planes magnificently run through those buildings, OK and people turn around and say, 'hang on a second, that is barbaric. Why did you have to do that?' You know why? Because of ignorance. ... For us it's retaliation. Islam is not the starter of wars. If you start the war we won't turn the other cheek. ... According to you it can't be right. According to Islam it's right. When you talk about innocent civilians, do you not kill innocent civilians in Iraq?"
On 29 April 2003, Asif Hanif who attended some of Al-Muhajiroun's circles carried out a bombing of a café in Tel Aviv, Israel, that killed three people and injured 60 others. In 2006 another individual connected with Al-Muhajiroun allegedly detonated a bomb in India, killing himself and destroying an army barracks.
In 2007, five young Muslims with Al-Muhajiroun connections — Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmood, Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar and Saladhuddin Amin — were convicted of a multiple bombing plot to use fertiliser bombs "which police say could have killed hundreds of British people. The men were caught after police and MI5 launched a massive surveillance operation." The surveillance culminated in a raid called Operation Crevice. The targets included "the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London and Britain's domestic gas network." According to Professor Anthony Glees, director of the Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies:
The fertiliser bomb trial has given us the smoking-gun evidence that groups like al-Muhajiroun have had an important part in radicalising young British Muslims, and that this can create terrorists.
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- Radical terror cleric Omar Bakri tries to flee Lebanon Pipeline News
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- The network.... With a worldwide influence and a radicalised following, is al-Muhajiroun waiting to strike again? Jamie Doward and Andrew Wander report. 6 May 2007 guardian.co.uk
- New poll shows worry over Islamic terror threat, to be detailed in special FNC Report Fox News
- Fertiliser bomb plot: The story. By Chris Summers and Dominic Casciani. 30 April 2007
- al-Ashanti, AbdulHaq and as-Salafi, Abu Ameenah AbdurRahman. (2009) A Critical Study of the Multiple Identities and Disguises of 'al-Muhajiroun': Exposing the Antics of the Cult Followers of Omar Bakri Muhammad Fustuq. London: Jamiah Media, 2009 ISBN 978-0-9551099-4-2
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- Catherine Zara Raymond (May 2010), "Al Muhajiroun and Islam4UK: The group behind the ban", Developments in Radicalisation and Political Violence Papers, The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, King's College London
- BBC – 'Police raid Islamic group'
- BBC Newsnight's Richard Watson interviews Al-Muhajiroun recruits
- The Times (London) – 'Preacher of hate' is banned from Britain
- 10 March 2004, Mahan Abedin of Jamestown.org interviews Omar Bakri Mohammed at his London home
- Telegraph – Al Muhajiroun under scrutiny
- Telegraph – Militants of Al-Muhajiroun seek world Islamic state
- BBC HARDtalk interview, 5 May 2003, Anjem Choudary refuses to condemn suicide attacks.
- Washington Times – British Muslims called to take up jihad
- Militant groups in the UK 'The Guardian, 19 June 2002
- Transplanted Jihadi
- UK Islamic Group, Banned from Campus, Claims Misrepresentation