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Ex-UK cleric 'inspired plot to kidnap soldier'


Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 1:09am GMT 05/02/2007

A radical Islamist cleric banned from Britain has been secretly recorded in a series of rants in which he calls on Muslims to behead their enemies and kidnap Westerners.

 
Omar Bakri Mohammed
Omar Bakri Mohammed: 'Slice their own necks'

The speeches of Omar Bakri Mohammed are suspected of inspiring the alleged plot, made public last week, to seize and kill a Muslim soldier serving in the Army.

Investigators have discovered that Bakri encouraged a kidnapping terrorist act just months before he was banned from the UK last year. On another occasion, he specifically mentioned capturing a British Muslim serving in the Army.

In one recording - obtained by The Sunday Telegraph - Bakri addresses Muslim followers in halting English in June last year from his new home in Beirut. He spoke shortly before he was excluded from the UK in August on the grounds that his presence was not conducive to the public good.

Bakri, who has frequently suggested that "the enemy" are Westerners, particularly Americans and the British, says: "When you meet the enemy, slice their own necks. And when you make the blood spill all over, and the enemy becomes so tired, now start to take from them prisoners. Then free them or exchange them until the war is finished.

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"Verily they remind the sunnah (actions/sayings of the prophet Mohammed) of removing the head of the enemy. They remind the sunnah of slaughtering the enemy. They remind the sunnah of how to strike the neck of the enemy. We saw him in his brother's house. They removed the head of the enemy\u2026 Use the sword and remove the head of the enemy."

In a separate rallying call over the internet last summer, Bakri encouraged terrorists to kidnap a soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. "I hope they capture British Muslims who are in the Army over there," he said.

Nine men were arrested on Wednesday as part of an alleged plot to kidnap a Muslim soldier, who was believed to have served in Afghanistan but who was back on home leave. The police think terrorists intended to torture and kill their victim before broadcasting their actions on the internet.

Security sources have revealed that they have been investigating the alleged plot for several months but their inquiry stepped up when it seemed the plan was coming to fruition.

Audio recordings of Bakri were obtained by Vigil, a privately funded investigative group, which believes that the police, security and intelligence services are so overstretched that they need help. The non-profit-making, London-based group seeks to disrupt and expose terrorist activity. Vigil has handed the tapes to anti-terrorist police and officers are believed to consider the evidence highly valuable. Detectives are expected to see whether they can prove that some of the alleged plotters used the same chat room as Bakri.

Vigil recorded rants by Bakri and others when it was monitoring a chat room used by radical Muslims. Bakri "entered" the chat room using his personal identification number. Voice recognition tests have proved it is the radical cleric who was speaking.

Bakri, 48, lived in Britain for 18 years. He praised the September 11 hijackers in the US as the "magnificent 19" and, while he was living in the UK, he blamed the British people and Government for the terrorist attacks in London in July 2005. He fled to Britain after being expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1988 and first came to public attention as the spiritual leader of al-Muhajiroun, a radical group connected to a number of militants in the UK.

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative spokesman on security, praised the work of Vigil: "Anybody who doubts the influence of these preachers of hate only has to see this evidence to understand how dangerous they are."

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