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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 12:40 GMT
London Moslem fanatic
Sheikh Abu Hamza
Britain is harbouring someone described in the American courts as 'a notorious terrorist.'

So far the furthest the authorities have got to containing Abu Hamza has been for the Charity Commissioners to tell him that he might be removed from his position at Finsbury Park mosque next month. They say he's made extreme and political statements there.

Others go much further. Abu Hamza, they claim, is a godfather of terrorism, not merely encouraging and giving moral succour to violence, but of being intimately involved, too, to say nothing of preaching religious hatred.

Jeremy Paxman interviewed Abu Hamza live in the studio.

JEREMY PAXMAN:
Well, Abu Hamza joins us now in the studio. I have some very simple questions for you, which you can answer very briefly. Firstly, do you still believe it is right to loot and shoot in banks?

ABU HAMZA:
Well, when you talk about loot and shoot it's not against nations. It is against those who deprive our people from their rights, steal their money and indulge them into difficulties.

PAXMAN:
So the answer to the question, yes, you do?

HAMZA:
Let me finish. None of these statements which are exposed or said are against your people, because our war and struggle is against governments and institutions, like banks, and also armies who are heavy-handed.

PAXMAN:
So, you're answer to a question which is a simple yes or no, is yes, you do agree with shooting and looting in banks.

HAMZA:
Well, banks are a different story.

PAXMAN:
The piece we saw you talking about is banks.

HAMZA:
Not all sort of banks, banks who are indulging people into usury and taking their property and putting international money in a way that basically, slaves in Africa and slaves in our countries.

PAXMAN:
That's specifically banks in France you were talking about. You used the words it's OK to loot and shoot in France.

HAMZA:
What about what France has done in Algeria and North Africa.

PAXMAN:
Thank you, you've answered the question. The next question is, if it's legitimate in France, is it legitimate in this country?

HAMZA:
Maybe it's not legitimate for everybody, but the question was from somebody who is Algerian and their family has been killed and their property taken, and if it's happening in England, then he has the right to do so. Islam doesn't say turn the other cheek to your aggressors but you defend yourself in an appropriate way.

PAXMAN:
Do you still believe it is legitimate to blow up embassies in foreign countries, killing, in that case you were talking about 200 people.

HAMZA:
Please, you are only showing a shred of the whole picture.

PAXMAN:
We had eight hours of it.

HAMZA:
Please, these embassies have been blown up as a result of snatching Islamists in Albania, all over the world and they are used as a spy place.

PAXMAN:
Most of the people who died in Kenya were, in fact, Kenyans.

HAMZA:
If you're using the people for yourselves and as shields for yourselves and not using your embassy as everyone else, to serve your own civilians. Like you hit the civilians in Iraq. And you're saying that because of Saddam they're paying. So Islamists trying to defend themselves from you and the tyrants. They have no other choice.

PAXMAN:
Why do you keep on talking about Islam justifying this kind of behaviour when, as you well know, the majority of Muslim organisations in this country won't let you anywhere near their mosques?

HAMZA:
Who says I want to go near their mosques. I'm not looking for their quantity, I'm looking for quality.

PAXMAN:
Are you seriously saying you speak for most Muslims in this country?

HAMZA:
I'm giving quotations. I'm not saying I'm speaking for most Muslims. I'm speaking for sincere Muslims who humiliated because of your policies and who do appreciate the hard work of your nation and defending the Iraqi nationals, and defending the Palestinians. I mean, we do appreciate the work of your nation defending and demonstrating to defend people, but we don't...

PAXMAN:
But legitimise murder?

HAMZA:
Never again, the people of your country who are actually going out of their houses at night to protect the Iraqi blood and protect the Palestinian genocide. Again, it's your evil policy. It's again your banking who are making globalisation.

PAXMAN:
What would you say to Mr Lawrence Whitehouse who is a widower, whose wife was murdered in the Yemen as a result of hostage taking?

HAMZA:
This man has a misfortune. Of course, he will reject. But the problem is again you are only showing a part of the picture. The other part of the picture, if you want to be just, put next to him a Palestinian who lost all his family sleeping at his house. You're saying a tourist knows what's going on in Yemen, and before he went there were so many people who were kidnapped and seven months before he went to Yemen, I was warning, please, nobodyż

PAXMAN:
Did you have direct contact with the people who took them hostage?

HAMZA:
They phoned me. I was a mouth piece for the Islamists working in the Middle East. And these people were warned seven months before this incident happened. And when they phoned they were actually phoning how to release them in an honourable way, but the government intervened.

PAXMAN:
I see, that again is also not your fault. Is there any government in the world you admire?

HAMZA:
Yes, Taliban.

PAXMAN:
They're not a government any more. Is there anyone apart from them?

HAMZA:
The coming Taliban.

PAXMAN:
In Afghanistan?

HAMZA:
Hopefully. We are living here on Earth not to enjoy ourselves, we should ensure our honourable return to God. And the definition of right and wrong comes from God, not politicians. Why are you so keen to stop me from preaching? There is a law in this country. Why you raise this point? If you read today...

PAXMAN:
No-one is trying to stop you preaching.

HAMZA:
The Daily Express today, second page under the title of 'Americans set up for Dirty Plot against Preachers'. They say they're going to bribe journalists to make Abu Hamza's life difficult. So this lady from America who is accusing me everything, she is also part of the plot. I am I hope you're not a part of it too.

PAXMAN:
If it's so detestable here, why don't you live somewhere else?

HAMZA:
Well, I hope so, but I'm just as stuck as somebody who is stuck in a toilet and there is a mine field outside.

PAXMAN:
Mr Abu Hamza, thank you.

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

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 ON THIS STORY
Abu Hamza
"our war and struggle is against governments and institutions, like banks, and also armies who are heavy-handed."
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