London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Islamist extremist Omar Bakri, barred from returning to Britain after leaving for Lebanon last summer, indicated he had set up a college to teach Arabic for foreigners in Beirut . The former leader of al Muhajiroun (the migrants), which disbanded itself last October, expected his European students to be among the first to attend classes at the “Tawheed in Greater Syria” college after its inauguration in December 2005. He also noted that the college would have its own internet site.
At a cost of $1400 US and including accommodation and living expenses for a three-month term, students will have the opportunity to study Arabic as well as fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), aqqidah (doctrine) and usul al din (theology) under Bakri and a select number of scholars.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq al Awsat on Saturday, from his residence in the Lebanese capital, Bakri revealed he was spending the month of Ramadan in prayer and seclusion and denied an article in The Times newspaper alleging he had resumed contact with his followers and was giving sermons in a chat room hosted by Paltalk.com. Defending himself, the extremist preacher said the technology is Lebanon did not allow him to lecture online, as he had done in London.
Since his sudden arrival in Lebanon on 6th August 2005, Bakri said a new diet and daily swimming in Khaldeh, south of Beirut, meant he had lost almost 20kg. A Lebanese national who had sought asylum in Britain, Bakri left London 24 hours after British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced new measures to combat terrorism. Hi residency was revoked by the Home Office a few days later and was excluded from the UK as his presence was "not conducive to the public good", according to Home Secretary Charles Clarke.
Commenting on his daily routine since moving to Beirut, the Islamic preacher said he kept himself busy in the morning writing a book about Prophet Mohammad, praying, and reciting the Quran at night.
In an article published on Friday 21 st October, The Times claimed Bakri’s followers had “re-emerged online” and were “detected using a chat room labeled Muslims in the UK to deliver lectures that deliberately challenge proposals in the Terrorism Bill to outlaw the glorification of terrorist acts.”
A man calling himself Mizaan, “who spoke with an English accent”, according to the article, said, “We should all of us glorify terrorism and we should incite religious hatred.”
“Do not worry, it’s not illegal for us to say that the Mujahidin on 9/11 were the magnificent 19, and it’s not illegal to say that Mohammad Sidique Khan (July 7 ringleader) and the four on 7/7, that they were the fantastic four”, Mizaan was quoted as saying by the Times, repeating Bakri’s description of the hijackers who attacked US cities.
Speaking excitedly, Mizaan allegedly stated, “that the world was divided into two camps- Islam and kuffar (non-believer) which would always be at war.” The Times said he “repeatedly urged listeners to take part in that war and that he was in contact with Bakri.”
In a previous interview with Asharq al Awsat, the radical preacher had called on all Islamist residing in Britain to leave the country, as they would no longer be able to preach freely. At the time, he also indicated that a number of former students, new converts to Islam originally from Britain, Ireland and South Asia, were planning on traveling to Beirut to study Arabic for three months.