(CBS) A British-born Muslim extremist who admits to recruiting for organizations with links to al Qaeda and who once called the 9/11 attack “the pleasure of Allah” is now renouncing Muslim violence. In an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon in which he calls killing in the name of Islam a “cancer,” Hassan Butt will also reveal recruiting and fundraising techniques and accuses British authorities of having a laissez-fare attitude
toward radical Muslims in their country before the London subway bombing.
Simon’s report will be broadcast this Sunday, March 25, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
“What I”ve come to realize is that killing “¦ in the name of Islam is completely and utterly prohibited,” says Butt. “And there’s a big disease and a cancer in the Muslim world “¦ and it needs to be dealt with.”
The former jihadist faces an obvious uphill climb against mainstream Islamic teaching, the prevalence of jihad in the Qur’an and ahadith, and the doctrine of naskh, or abrogation, by which often-quoted “peaceful” verses of the Qur’an are superseded by later, more aggressive teachings.
Butt believes alternative voices can counter the violent rhetoric that influences Islamic extremists like Mohammad Sadique Khan, the mastermind of the London subway suicide bombings of 2005. “There is a violent streak within Islam. We need to be able
to discuss and “¦ counter these arguments so that we don’t have any more Mohammad Sadique Khans,” he tells Simon.
Those bombings, which killed more than 50 people so close to home, led Butt to question the murderous practices for which he recruited between 50 and 70 young Muslim Britons for training in Pakistan. He says he turned away from violence when no religious
leader could give him positive proof that Allah sanctioned it.
Butt says one recruiting tool he made wide use of “” the one he says started Khan on the path to his suicide mission “” was arranged marriages in which parents forced their sons into wedlock. “A lot of the guys I know actually have become radicalized or
initially took the first steps “¦ as a result of them being “¦ forced to marry someone they don’t want to marry,” says Butt. Their refusal to submit to their parents’ traditions then drove them toward radical Islamic preachers, who did not care who they married as long
as they were Muslims, he adds.
Once recruits showed interest in learning more about Islam, says Butt, the next step was to enrage them by talking about the suffering of Muslims around the world. Then a Koranic rationale for killing innocents would be argued. Taking away the innocence of the potential victims was the next step, says Butt. “[Innocents] become non-innocent and hence combatants and allowed to be targeted.”
Butt says he would never ask or suggest a recruit go for training to Pakistan. “The network never pushes people in that way. We believe that if the person “¦ has the conviction himself to come to you and say they want to go to training, then they are the type of person who will most likely take that one step further and will be the reliable foot soldier for you,” he tells Simon.
Fundraising was also part of his job, and he says he relied on Muslim professionals in Britain to whom he revealed the money was for jihad. “Doctors. People who were businessmen, professional people, basically, who wanted to donate substantial
amounts of money,” says Butt. Another source of funds was drug dealing. Butt says he would offer Muslim drug dealers “cleansing” in the eyes of Islam for 20 percent of their take. “As long as the drugs weren’t being sold to other Muslims. In fact we saw it as a
tactic of war. “¦ Let’s poison them and kill them slowly with this as well,” says Butt.
Butt also says that before the subway bombing in London, British authorities had a lax attitude toward radical Muslim leaders, allowing them to proselytize, raise funds, and travel back and forth between Pakistan and London. He contends that both sides were aware of this as some kind of tacit deal. “That was an unspoken deal, and as a result, what tended to happen is the British government lost count of how many people were going abroad and getting trained and coming back and going into operational mode as sleeper cells,” Butt tells Simon.