London Asharq Al-Awsat- Police raided the house of an Islamic militant cleric on Thursday and confiscated a number of items. No arrests were made.
Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian born cleric, was barred from Britain in August 2005, after the Home Office deemed his presence was “not conducive to the public good”. The former spiritual guide of al Ghurabaa and head of al Muhajiroun which disbanded in 2004 currently lives in Beirut.
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman confirmed that police had searched the house in Tottenham, north London on Thursday.
In a telephone conversation with Asharq al Awsat, Bakri, aged 46, said the raid scared his children. They confiscated two computers, including a laptop used for personal use, and a number of books and articles about Salafi and religious discussions.
The raid took place as five of his followers were arrested, including the lawyer Anjam Choudry, secretary general of al Ghurabaa and al Muhajiroun who was released Friday without charge. Omran Jawid and Abdul Rahman Salim were charged with incitement for racial hatred, after they took part in angry demonstrations in protest at the publications of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
“I had abstained from speaking to the media because of the security pressure in Lebanon. But, when it comes to scaring my wife and my young children in London, I find myself obliged to speak to reveal the extent of the fragility of human rights that they boast about and the extent of feelings of hatred of the British authorities towards preachers and students of knowledge,” the cleric said. He confirmed he would not return to London under any circumstance.
“The raid on my house was carried out in a very bad manner. Several police cars surrounded my house in the early morning and a large number of police officers searched my house. My wife and young children have lived alone since I left the country. My wife was mistreated and a female police officer refused to allow her to use the toilet alone and insisted on accompanying
“They are playing with fire,” he added, in reference to the British
Bakri described the latest raid as intimidation and “part of an attempt by the British authorities to drum up charges against me.” He revealed that the Metropolitan Police were aware that this wife and children were planning to leave Britain and join him in Lebanon .
The cleric attacked campaigns in the British media “that call for deporting my family from Britain despite my wife and children carrying British passports and have never been [politically] active. This is evidence of the hypocrisy of those calling for democracy and human rights.”
Meanwhile, Choudry indicated that the police raided his house and
confiscated a personal computer and a leather jacket he was wearing during the cartoons protest. Jawid will appear in court on 7 April charged with incitement to kill by taking part in last month’s protest. Abdul Rahman Salim and Omar al Zaheer were released on bail.
In the aftermath of the 7 July London bombings, Bakri caused controversy when he indicated he would not cooperate with the British police even to alert them of an imminent terrorist attack.