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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 09:46 GMT
British Muslims 'fear' new terrorism law
Indian soldiers in Kashmir
British Muslims allegedly train abroad to fight in Kashmir
By the BBC's Naresh Puri

British Muslims fear widespread arrests with the introduction of the new Anti Terrorism Act in the UK

The legislation bans fundraising and support for groups deemed terrorists and British citizens who incite terrorist activities abroad could now face arrest.

This has angered Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, the leader of Al Muhajiroun, a radical Muslim group which openly calls for conflict with the occupiers of Muslim lands and has a strong British base.

This new law means nothing, we have to abide by the teachings of Islam

British Muslim Omar Brooks
He said: "This law is a threat to Muslims. We abide by Islamic law and we condemn terrorism, but we have to support the freedom fighters who are involved in wars with the occupiers of the Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir."

Omar Bakri Muhammad said hundreds of British Muslims had trained in military camps abroad and had moved on to areas of conflict.

One such person is Omar Brooks, a young man from north London.

"I've received military training in the Indian sub-continent and my role now is to face the enemies of Islam," he said.

"This new law means nothing, we have to abide by the teachings of Islam. We're being oppressed and persecuted in many countries, we have to defend our people".

Arms and ammunition

But some Muslims fear arrest. Omar Bakri Muhammad said he was going on a short holiday and thought he would be targeted by British police.

He has featured in talks between the British and Indian authorities.

The Indians say terrorist organisations fighting in Kashmir have direct links with groups here.

They say money is raised at a small number of mosques and sent to areas like Kashmir to buy arms and ammunition.

Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed
Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed fears arrest
"We are very concerned," said India's deputy high commissioner Hardeep Singh Puri.

"There are a number of organisations who are murdering innocent civilians in Kashmir and there's strong evidence that they have a British connection.

"We would like to see tough action taken against people here involved in terrorism abroad."

The British Government is drawing up a list of organisations which will be banned.

There is pressure to include groups involved in the Kashmir conflict as well as those involved in terrorism in the Middle East.

The Tamil Tigers, who are fighting for a separate homeland in Sri Lanka, are thought to be high on the list of groups facing a total ban.

The message from Omar Bakri Muhammad and his members is they will continue their activities: if they are targeted they will simply go underground.

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19 Feb 01 | UK Politics
New law to combat terrorism
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