The Al-Muhajiroun network
Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) hit the headlines in November 2011 after the Home Secretary, Theresa May, proscribed the organisation on the eve of Remembrance Sunday. The year before, MACcaused public outrage when they burned two large poppies outside the Royal Albert Hall. MAC was founded in 2010 by Abu Assadullah and acts under the guidance of former solicitor Anjem Choudary.
MAC was officially founded in 2010 but its true origins can be traced back to 1983 when Omar Bakri Mohammed, a radical Islamist cleric, founded Al-Muhajiroun (AM) in the wake of an internal schism of the pan-Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). Upon Bakri’s expulsion from Saudi Arabia he moved to England in early 1986 where he became the British leader of HT.
He simultaneously fostered Al-Muhajiroun until deciding to officially declare it as an independent organisation in 1996 with British born co-founder Anjem Choudary. Whereas HT only desired to establish the Khilafah (the creation of an Islamic state under sharia law) in Muslim countries, Bakri and Choudary wanted to establish it worldwide by twinning Daw’ah (the call to Islam) and Jihad (struggle).
Al-Muhajiroun pursued these aims by spreading hate on the streets of Britain and aiding terrorism both domestically and around the world.
Anjem Choudary, raised in a semi-detached house in Welling, Kent, turned from his life as a solicitor to embrace radical Islam. His infamous reputation grew when he came to public attention in 1999 after The Daily Telegraph identified his role in recruiting British Muslims to fight abroad for groups like the International Islamic Front. In 2003 Al-Muhajiroun gained worldwide notoriety when they publicly advertised a conference called “The Magnificent 19” to celebrate the second anniversary of 9/11. In response to international condemnation Choudary said “Those individuals are Muslims, they were carrying out their Islamic responsibility and duty, so in that respect they were magnificent, […].”
The following year, under new anti-terrorism laws, the government proscribed the organisation and it soon disbanded.
Despite the Home Office’s best attempts to stifle Al-Muhajiroun, the organisation has continually re-emerged under different aliases. Ahl ul-Sunnah Wa al-Jamma, Al Ghurabaa and The Saviour Sect all emerged in 2005 as splinter groups, only to be proscribed by then Home Secretary John Reid in 2006. In 2008 Choudary launched Islam4UK, which caused widespread disgust with its attempt to hold a protest in Wootton Bassett (where military funeral repatriations took place) in 2010. The march was subsequently cancelled and days later the organisation was also proscribed.
After Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) was proscribed in 2011, Choudary and his followers immediately established a new group, Izhar Ud-Deen-il-Haq.
While it is easy to dismiss Al-Muhajiroun and its related groups as irrelevant, its actions feed anti-Muslim sentiments in the press and it acts as a conveyor belt for terrorism.
Al-Muhajiroun: Terrorist Links
Several Al-Muhajiroun (AM) activists have been involved in terrorism, with one estimate claiming that 18% of Islamist-related convictions in Britain in the last decade have had links with supporters of the group or one of its successors. They include:
Royal Wootton Bassett bomb plot. Three men were convicted for plotting to bomb Royal Wootton Bassett. Richard Dart (Ealing), Jahangir Alom (Stratford), Imran Mahmood (Northolt) were jailed for between six and nine years. Dart was radicalized by Anjem Choudary and involved in Al-Muhajiroun.
TA bomb plotters. Zahid Iqbal, Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, Umar Arshad, Syed Farhan Hussain, all from Luton, were convicted at Woolwich Crown Court for plotting to bomb a TA centre using remote controlled car. They were jailed for between five and eleven years. They were well known in Al-Muhajiroun circles in Luton.
The London Stock Exchange Bomb Plot Four men (Mohammed Chowdhury, Shah Rahman, Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah) pleaded guilty in January 2011 for their part in a plot to blow up a variety of targets including, the London Stock Exchange, two Rabbi’s, the US Embassy and London Mayor Boris Johnson. The group was inspired by the recently killed US-born radical extremist Anwar Al-Awlaki, whose inflammatory lectures are available to download on Al-Ghurabaa’s website (a successor group of Al-Muhajiroun). All four of the men had formal links with Al-Muhajiroun and are known to have attended Islam4UK and Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) demonstrations.
7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the group behind the 7/7 London underground bombings, which killed 52 people, was linked to Al-Muhajiroun. He also used Al-Muhajiroun safe houses before carrying out the bombing.
The Fertilizer Bomb Plot In 2004 the police foiled a plot by five terrorists to blow up a shopping centre, a night club and the gas network with a huge bomb made of 1,300 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Four of the convicted terrorists had strong links with Al-Muhajiroun. Omar Khyam, leader of the foiled plot, was first introduced to extreme political Islam by Bakri Mohammed. He became involved with Al-Muhajiroun while studying for his A-levels and was reportedly sent by the group to fight in Kashmir in 2000.
Mike’s Place Suicide Bombing In April 2003 three died and 50 were injured when Asif Muhammad Hanif blew himself up in a suicide attack in a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel. A second bomb, strapped to Derby-born Omar Khan Sharif failed to detonate. Just two weeks before leaving for Israel, Omar Khan Sharif was seen on the streets of Derby leafleting for Al-Muhajiroun.
Bilal Mohammed Believed to be Britain’s first suicide bomber, Bilal was responsible for the killing of nine people in Kashmir on Christmas Day 2000. Bakri Mohammed admitted that Al-Muhajiroun was engaged in sending British fighters to Kashmir and proudly announced that Bilal had been one of his recruits.
Amer Mirza Mirza was the first Al-Muhajiroun supporter to be convicted of an Islamist-related terrorism offence. In March 1999 he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for petrol-bombing a West London Territorial Army base in protest at the resumed American bombing campaign in Iraq.
Al-Muhajiroun Key Politics
- Al-Muhajiroun’s politics are based on an extreme fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that has little in common with the vast majority of British Muslims’ conception of their religion. At its core is a fervent desire for the revitalisation of an Ottoman Empire type caliphate (Islamic system of government), with the whole world united under Islamic law and leadership. This extremism manifests itself in a form of politics with discrimination and hate at its core.
- The organisation has a long history of vocal antisemitism. At an Al-Muhajiroun conference in 1998, Yacub Zaki declared “Nobody was gassed to death in the concentration camps […] David Irving has the right idea, destroy the Holocaust myth and you have destroyed Israel.”
- This visceral antisemitism has been promoted through poster and leaflet campaigns calling for a holy war against the Jews and has led to several convictions.
- Al-Muhajiroun has also made both Hinduism and Sikhism the target of their hate with calls for followers of these religions to convert to Islam, and by condoning and encouraging the destruction of their religious icons and statues in India.
- Homophobia is another integral part of the group’s belief system. They describe gay relationships as “perverted acts”, comparable to “rape and murder” and call for homosexuals to be put to death.
- More generally, they completely condemn democracy, free speech and the many freedoms that result from such a system. This includes calls for the subjugation and segregation of women and the death penalty for those, such as Salman Rushdie, who they deem to have offended Islam.
- Such a hate-filled belief system is unrecognisable to most British Muslims.