Brighton Muslim Cleric Hate

Imam backs terror attack against Blair

The Sunday Times

June 18, 2006

Brighton mosque radicalized

A RADICAL Muslim who ousted a leading moderate cleric from his mosque on the south coast with a campaign of violence has said he believes Tony Blair is a “legitimate target” for terrorists.

Abubaker Deghayes, who now runs the mosque in Brighton and whose brother Omar is a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, told an undercover reporter that he endorsed the views of George Galloway, the Respect MP, who said an attack on the prime minister by a suicide bomber could be morally justified. Deghayes said he prayed for Allah to support anyone who attacked Blair.

Court documents show Deghayes took over the mosque using violence, intimidation and threats. Dr Abduljalil Sajid, a leading imam and a government adviser on Islam, was forced out as head of the mosque by Deghayes and his supporters.

It is understood Sussex police Special Branch held a number of meetings with Sajid about extremist elements at the site, but no overt action was taken. Sajid, chairman of the Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony, is understood to have raised his concerns about the mosque with Blair.

Police sources have confirmed that in the past extremist literature had been found at the site and that some of those attending the mosque were suspected of having fought as “mercenaries” abroad.

The Charity Commission, which has jurisdiction over the mosque because it is run as a charity, said it did not know how the mosque was receiving and spending money and added that it was operating “in breach of legal requirements”.

A reporter spent two weeks undercover at the Al-Quds mosque, which is in a detached house in Brighton. On Fridays, it can attract 100-200 worshippers. Deghayes made his extremist views clear while chatting to the reporter. Asked whether he shared Galloway’s view that the prime minister was a legitimate target for suicide bombers, he replied: “Yes, I do, I do.”

In another conversation, Deghayes said: “He is a legitimate target. Him and Bush are part of all that we see now.”

Later asked if he ever prayed for Blair to be attacked by a Muslim, he said: “I pray to Allah to support them. Of course, I know anybody who attacks in the name of Islam, Allah will take care of him.”

Deghayes also said he was unconcerned about British troops being killed in Iraq because the issue was “all clear in international law”. “Under international law anybody who’s been invaded, they are entitled to self-defence,” he said.

“It’s something all countries are signatories to. So what’s happening is an occupation. People in Iraq have every right to liberate themselves.”

But he urged the reporter to be careful with whom he discussed his views for fear of prosecution. Deghayes said: “Don’t talk openly, like ‘Tony Blair (is) an open target’. Now you can be taken in for glorifying terrorism.

“(Even) among Muslim brothers . . . there are hypocrites, munafiqs (hypocrites). There are spies, all sorts of people. There’s no need to talk about it, to say like this.”

Deghayes this weekend insisted he had understood Galloway to mean Blair was a legitimate political target. Deghayes, who is from Libya but now has British citizenship, said he was personally opposed to violence.

The Al-Quds mosque run by Deghayes has links with extremists, according to court testimony.

David Courtailler, a convicted supporter of Al-Qaeda who is connected to a number of terrorists responsible for the Madrid bombings and 9/11, converted to Islam at the Brighton mosque days before travelling to Afghanistan.

Courtailler, who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2004 for aiding terrorists, was given £1,000 by Omar Deghayes to travel to a jihad training camp in Afghanistan, according to records of his Paris trial.

The revelation surprised supporters of the campaign to free 36-year-old Omar Deghayes from Guantanamo, where he was sent after being arrested in Pakistan in 2002. He had earlier left Afghanistan where he had lived with his Afghan wife under the Taliban regime.

Activists have criticised the lack of evidence to justify holding Omar Deghayes, saying his incarceration is a case of mistaken identity.

According to court records, his older brother Abubaker Deghayes orchestrated a sustained campaign of intimidation against Sajid.

Deghayes, 38, became aggressive towards those running the Brighton mosque after they were sceptical about his plan to start an Islamic primary school on the site in 1996. He told the trustees he wanted to give Muslim children an education away from “western influences” and “misleading ideologies”, but the scheme was rejected.

In May 1997 Brighton county court found Sajid had been assaulted four times by Deghayes in December 1996 and January 1997 and was also spat upon and threatened with a knife by one of his supporters.

Injunctions were issued to prevent Deghayes and his supporters approaching Sajid but he was forced out of the mosque, followed by the trustees of the Sussex Muslim Society charity, which operates it.

Deghayes wrote to the Charity Commission in 1996 stating that he and his followers were in charge but regulators at the commission said at the time they had not been properly elected and were not entitled to run the charity.

The Charity Commission closed the case in 2004 when new elections were promised, although by then all the charity’s ties with the original trustees had been severed.

Charity Commission records indicate that since 1998 the charity has filed incomplete and sporadic accounts. No accounts for the past four financial years have been received.

The commission said: “The charity is currently in breach of legal requirements by filing inadequate accounts.”

The takeover of the mosque is similar to the coup executed at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London by Abu Hamza, the hook-handed cleric jailed last year for inciting murder, who drove out the trustees and imam using violence and slander so he could use the site to expound his extremist rhetoric.

Hamza also spent some time living at the Brighton mosque in the late 1980s. Rafique Miah, one of the trustees before the takeover, said: “Abubaker came in as a worshipper. Then he started to take over. When we told Abubaker, ‘This is England, we have to follow the law,’ he would say ‘British law under my foot’.”

Deghayes insisted his charity had filed accounts regularly. When asked about his brother’s alleged links to Courtailler, he said: “I have no idea what this is about. The name does not really mean anything to me.”

He added: “I don’t think George Galloway meant Tony Blair was a target for assassination, I think he means he is a target to be brought down as a prime minister, that is how I understood it.

“Anyone who attacks Islam I believe that Allah will take care of him, that is, Allah will defend Islam. This is what I believe as a Muslim.”