London, Asharq al Awsat – Omar Bakri Mohammed, the radical Muslim cleric, blamed Asharq al Awsat for being interrogated by Lebanon”s security services on seven occasions since his arrival in Beirut in August 2005. Barred from returning to Britain, Bakri left London a day before the British government announced new anti-terror measures.
In an online interview with Asharq al Awsat on Thursday, the radical cleric said that every time his name appeared in the pan-Arab daily, he would be called in for questioning in Beirut but was well treated.
The former spiritual leader of al Muhajiroun which disbanded itself in October 2004 and the ex-guide of the fundamentalist al Ghurabaa (the strangers) group, said, “Because of their fear of any activity I am involved in, even if commercial or social, the British authorities have shared their misgivings with thier Lebanese counterparts,” resulting in repeated grilling by the authorities in Beirut.
Bakri, who founded a college in Beirut to teach foreigners Arabic, added, “Britain wants to monitor all my movements and has the Lebanese services to assist it.”
The Syrian-born radical Islamist feared he was being tracked by a host of security agencies in Beirut, including general security, internal security and the intelligence services. In seclusion throughout the month of Ramadan, Bakri said he was leaving his coastal apartment only to pray at his local mosque.
In a previous interview with Asharq al Awsat, the extremist cleric who praised the September 11 hijackers as the “Magnificent 19” urged all Muslims living in Britain to leave the country since they were no longer able to preach the word of God. He also revealed that a number of converts to Islam, from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Indian subcontinent, where planning on traveling to Beirut to study Arabic for a three-month term.