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Saturday, 13 July, 2002, 04:02 GMT 05:02 UK
Muslim militants hold UK meeting
Abu Hamza al-Masri
Abu Hamza al-Masri was among the speakers
Muslim fundamentalists have held their first public meeting in Britain since the 11 September terrorist attacks.

Speakers at the London conference railed against the United States and said that President Bush should stand trial as a war criminal.

Among those to give speeches were leaders wanted in the US and the Middle East for their alleged support of terrorism.

Mainstream leaders stayed away from the meeting, insisting that the views expressed were not shared by the vast majority of Muslims.

Blackmailing

The message from the conference was one of resentment towards the US and what was seen as the oppression being inflicted on Muslims.


They are trying to shut me up

Abu Hamza al-Masri
President Bush's war on terror, they said, was against Islam and the West was blackmailing Muslim states to arrest fundamentalists.

Yasser al-Sirri, who is facing extradition to the US for allegedly sending money to terrorists in Afghanistan, complained about the treatment of prisoners captured by the American military in Afghanistan and held in Cuba.

Al-Sirri, who has also spent several months in Belmarsh prison accused of links to al-Qaeda, said: "We should put George Bush on trial as a war criminal for committing these violations."

Armed struggles

The meeting was also addressed by Abu Hamza al-Masri, a cleric whose funds were frozen by the US Treasury for his alleged membership in the Islamic Army of Aden.

The group claimed responsibility for bombing the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000, during which 17 American sailors were killed.

Al-Masri, who lost his hands and left eye fighting in Afghanistan and now preaches at Finsbury Park mosque in London, said the US government was spiteful.

He said: "They are trying to shut me up. I am one of the people who speaks openly."

The audience of 150 were also told that Abu Qutadah, who disappeared in February, was safe and that he believed victory was close at hands for Muslims.

Organisers of the meeting included the militant group al-Muhajiroun, which has encouraged members to join armed struggles abroad.

'Outrageous'

Inayat Bungalawala of the Muslim Council of Britain said the meeting reflected the views of a small minority.

He said: "No mainstream Muslim organization will touch al-Muhajiroun with a barge pole.

"Some of these people have made really outrageous statements.

"It is relentless anti-Western rhetoric that is alienating most Muslims."

See also:

31 Oct 01 | England
29 Oct 01 | UK
29 Oct 01 | England
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