Shiv Malik on HT and the Tel Aviv bombings

New Statesman - NS Profile - Omar Sharif (you can load this once, and then it goes into pay per view).

Our old friend Shiv Malik writes in the New Statesman with a profile of Omar Sharif, one of the two British Muslim men who were involved in the Tel Aviv pizza parlour bombing in April 2003. Sharif appears to have been a devotee of Omar Bakri Muhammad, although this of course does not demonstrate in any way that OBM was responsible. Malik can’t let go of his dog-and-bone obsession with Hizbut-Tahrir, however:

At about this time, Omar Bakri fell out with Hizb ut-Tahrir’s international leadership, based in Lebanon. Bakri says the party told him that since Britain was not part of the Islamic world, he could not work to establish sharia here. He disagreed and in January 1996 set up al-Muhajiroun.

Sharif appears to have followed Bakri into the new, more radical organisation and to have had less contact with HT. As we shall see, he was still a close follower of Bakri in the spring of 2003.

Is it fair to say, then, that Hizb ut-Tahrir laid the founda- tions of Sharif’s radicalism? That the hardline group (which Tony Blair announced last year he wants to see banned) took this “empty bowl” and filled his head with its ideas? The group adamantly denies it.

The obvious conclusion, from the facts he presents in his own article, is: Omar Sharif was radicalised by his contacts with OBM and his gang. After OBM split with HT, Sharif followed him. This has no relevance whatsoever to Hizbut-Tahreer now that OBM’s former group have moved into increasingly extreme territory.

Even so, most people who got involved with either group did not end up as terrorists, so the question has to be asked how he and Asif Hanif were actually recruited for the Tel Aviv job, which besides killing innocent people, resulted in a major setback for foreign Muslim students studying the deen in the Middle East and particularly Syria, who have been prevented from enrolling in private Islamic schools because of spurious “security” considerations arising from the attack. The vast majority were peaceful, and sought Islamic learning away from the Urdu-dominated environments of Indian-run Islamic institutions in the west.

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