A LONDON-BASED Islamic radical has praised the suicide bomb attacks on the capital.
Hani Al-Siba”i, an Egyptian-born academic, described the attacks that killed at least 55 people as “a great victory” that rubbed the noses of G8 countries in the mud.
His inflammatory comments come as the government is preparing to create a new offence of “glorifying or endorsing” terrorism, such as praising suicide bombers as martyrs.
Al-Siba”i runs the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies from his home in Hammersmith, west London, and is a well known figure among Muslim radicals in Britain.
According to the FBI, he is also a former leader of the outlawed Egyptian Islamic Jihad organisation, which later became part of Al-Qaeda.
In an interview with the Arabic Al-Jazeera television channel the day after the bombings, Al-Siba”i claimed Tony Blair would “pay the price” for the “grave error” of claiming the attacks were the work of Islamists before the completion of the police investigation.
He claimed the bombings could have been the work of Zionist Americans or another western country hostile to Britain. His comments echo those of other Islamic clerics, several of whom in Pakistan claimed the real perpetrators came from countries unhappy that Britain will host the 2012 Olympics.
Al-Siba”i continued: “If Al-Qaeda indeed carried out this act, it is a great victory for it. It rubbed the noses of the world’s eight most powerful countries in the mud. The victory is a blow to the economy.”
When asked about the killings of civilians by Islamists in Iraq, he denied that victims could be divided into combatants and non-combatants. “The term civilian does not exist in Islamic religious law. There is no such term as civilians in the western sense. People are either of Dar al Harb [literally, house of hostility, meaning any non-Islamic government] or not.”
When contacted yesterday, Al–Siba”i stood by most of his comments, although he said the remarks about the definition of civilians “may have been mistranslated”.
Al-Siba”i is one of a number of Islamist propagandists who may be subject to legal action under new measures being drawn up by the Home Office to curb “preachers of hate”.
The new policy will be put to the test next month if another Muslim scholar, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, attends a conference in Manchester.
Al-Qaradawi, 79, is banned from America for advocating child suicide bombers in the Middle East, although he has condemned the London bombings. He has reportedly said: “The Israelis might have nuclear bombs but we have the children bomb and these human bombs must continue until liberation.”
Al-Qaradawi, who was born in Egypt and is based in Qatar, was invited to Britain last year by Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London. His visit drew protests from Jewish groups and gay rights organisations.
The Ramadhan Foundation, the Muslim educational institute organising the conference in Manchester on August 7, confirmed Al-Qaradawi was due to attend, if he was fit enough to travel. “He’s the most famous scholar in the Arab world today,” said a spokesman.