Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations

Public Relations

Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations

Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations

Benador Associates Public Relations

THE ODD HISTORY OF 'THE HOOK'
by Amir Taheri
New York Post
February 23, 2006

February 23, 2006 -- LONDON

THE British media had a field day with this month's trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri, an Egyptian-born self-styled Islamic "scholar." Charged with a number of violent crimes, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment; he could be out in 21/2 years.

Dubbed "The Hook" by the press (he lost his hands in a Afghan minefield decades ago), Abu Hamza is sure to feel sore at the way he has been treated in his adopted homeland.

And he may well be right.

To start with: If Abu Hamza, regarded by many as a buffoon, is such a deadly threat, why is he getting away with such a light sentence?

It is hard to guess what might be passing through a confused mind like Abu Hamza's. But if he were to replay the film of his life in Britain in his mind, he might come up with a few questions.

He fled Egypt and arrived in Britain on a tourist visa at the age of 22. The first question he might ask is: How come they gave me a visa when they knew I had a criminal record in Egypt?

His visa allowed a three-month stay. Those months came and went without anybody asking him to leave. Instead, he became a bouncer in a cabaret . . . without documents such as a work permit. Again he might ask: Why did no one bother to remind him he was breaking the law?

Next, his buddies advised him that he had to marry a British citizen if he wanted to stay in Britain permanently. This he duly did by wooing a naturalized Briton in whom he of course had no interest. Again, no one told him that arranging a fake marriage to obtain British documents was breaking the law.

Soon, he was granted his British passport — a document denied to millions of people who used to be citizens of the empire. Abu Hamza might have wondered why he could get a British passport while his fellow Egyptian Muhammad Fayed, the owner of the luxury shop Harrods, couldn't.

Now a subject of Her Britannic Majesty, Abu Hamza suddenly discovered a passion for the most radical version of Islamism. And in those days, for anyone who wanted to build a career as a "Holy Warrior," Afghanistan was the place to be.

So, our bouncer-turned-holy-warrior traveled to Pakistan to join the mujahedin in the fight against Soviet atheists. He might have wondered why the British authorities, who must have known what he was up to, never took an interest. After all, here was a British citizen going to a foreign land to kill people and then return home to have his teeth cleaned by the National Health Service, no questions asked.

His spot of jihad done, Abu Hamza decided to promote himself to the position of "Islamic scholar" and "Islamic cleric." No one in Britain, this land of undreamt freedoms, ever asked him for his credentials. He must have wondered why you need a permit to work as a cab driver, but can pose as an "Islamic scholar" with no qualifications.

Soon, things got even better. Abu Hamza targeted the mosque in Finsbury Park for what might be called a hostile takeover: One day he turned up with a group of heavies and elbowed out the mosque's board of trustees. When one or two trustees tried to resist the illegal takeover, Abu Hamza made them an offer they couldn't refuse. The trustees complained to the police, but were told to take a walk.

It is not hard to guess what Abu Hamza might have thought: Here was a country where law enforcement was selective, to say the least.

To attract money from organizations that fund radical groups, he transformed the mosque into a hotbed of agitation. In sermons that would send a chill down normal spines, he preached murder and mayhem — without anyone reminding him that he was breaking the laws on incitement to violence.

Using the technique of sabar (sounding out the adversary's resolve), Abu Hamza then diversified his business, adding lines such as recruiting and training "volunteers for martyrdom" for operations in a dozen countries. At one stage, he even opened a branch in America, where he set up a training camp for such "volunteers." Again, no one told him that his actions were very un-British.

How could one blame Abu Hamza for thinking that what he was doing was fine with the British authorities? On a number of occasions, he led his heavies in demonstrations in front of 10 Downing St., the prime minister's official residence, and made blood-curdling speeches without being read the riot act.

And he knew that terrorist organizations from half a dozen Arab countries had set up propaganda bases and safe havens in Britain without being bothered. Like any Londoner, he would see fearsome militants around mosques calling for the murder of this or that Arab leader without being cautioned by the police.

The assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Afghan freedom-fighter, was planned on Edgeware Road in London. Also plotted in London were the abortive attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's life on a visit to Ethiopia, and the Paris Metro bombing that killed six.

For 10 years, Britain protected the treasurer of the Islamic Armed Group, the most vicious terrorist organization of recent times — though France, Belgium, Spain and Algeria all wanted him extradited. Abu Hamza must have heard about all that — and that a dozen countries were asking Britain to extradite terrorists who had committed atrocities in their territory, but to no avail.

With Britain a headquarters of Islamist terror, he must have concluded that, the term "Londonistan" (coined by the French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere) was no mere token of Gallic pique.

Not surprisingly, Abu Hamza took his activities a notch further, organizing an attack on the British Embassy compound in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. His commandos failed to kill any British diplomats, but still caused quite a stir. Yet he continued his London life unmolested, with the police claiming insufficient evidence to bring him to court.

As this month's trial showed, Abu Hamza believed he'd reached a tacit understanding with the British authorities, whereby he was free to plot every crime under the sun against other countries as long as "there is no blood on our streets."

Prime Minister Tony Blair says that things changed with last July's terror attacks in the heart of London.

Have they?

Iranian author Amir Taheri is a member of Benador Associates.

 

Email Benador Associates: eb@benadorassociates.com

Benador Associates Speakers Bureau
Benador Associates Speakers Bureau