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Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 16:48 GMT
Muslims call for 'holy war' investigation
Army barracks
A Briton has been blamed for a bombing in Kashmir
The Muslim peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham has called for an investigation into the alleged recruitment of young British Muslims to fight in so-called holy wars.

Lord Ahmed said the investigation was needed to get to the truth of reports that Muslims from Britain have been recruited to fight in places as Chechnya, Palestine and Kashmir.

"For Muslims' sakes we need to have an investigation really to establish the facts," he said.

The call comes in the wake of claims that a Muslim from Birmingham was responsible for a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir last month.

Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed
Omar Bakri Mohammed's claims are disputed by Kashmiris in Birmingham

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since 1947 and more than 30,000 people have died in the 12 years since separatist groups began their campaign.

The Islamic militant group claiming to be behind last month's attack on an Indian army barrack named the bomber as 24-year-old Bilal Ahmed, a British Muslim from Birmingham.

The bomb blast was so powerful that nothing was left of the bomber's body and officials have yet to confirm his identity.

'Rent-a-quote'

But the claim the bomber came from Birmingham has been supported by the founder of a London-based Muslim group, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed.

He added that up to 2,000 British Muslims are currently fighting in wars overseas.

Lord Ahmed
Lord Ahmed: "We need to establish the facts"
But Lord Ahmed dismissed Sheik Bakri as a "rent-a-quote" and said the number of British Muslims involved was nowhere as high as 2,000.

"There are many disenfranchised young people born and brought up in this country who do take part in criminal activities but this doesn't mean the whole community should be blamed and given this label that they are all involved in Jihad and holy wars," he said.

Members of Birmingham's Kashmiri community have denied that any Muslim from the city was involved in the Sringar bombing.

A spokesman for one leading Kashmiri group in the city, Mohhammed Galeb, said he gave absolutely no credence to the story.

"Nobody has come to me and said anyone has been killed.

"It seems to me that there is nothing in this story but it is damaging the cause and encouraging the youth," he said.

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See also:

28 Dec 00 | South Asia
Suicide bomber 'was UK Muslim'
02 Aug 00 | South Asia
Flashpoint Kashmir: Special Report
11 Aug 00 | South Asia
Q & A: Kashmir dispute
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