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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
UK Muslims 'recruited by militants'
Members of the Kashmir Liberation Front
Concerns are raised that Britons fight in Kashmir
Young British men are being recruited to fight in militant Islamic organisations abroad, senior members of the Muslim community have warned.

They say neither the UK Government nor the community itself is doing enough to tackle the problem.

Lord Ahmed
Lord Ahmed says Asian youths are targeted
It comes after allegations that the Briton convicted of killing US journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan had been approached to fight in Kashmir.

Labour peer Lord Nazir Ahmed told BBC Radio 4's Today programme "disaffection and disillusionment" inside the Muslim community offered extremists an opportunity in Britain.

"They have, these people from the Middle East, been recruiting young people and giving them an identity," he said.

"And unfortunately some of them have ended up in countries outside the United Kingdom.

"We haven't done enough as a community, and also I think the government, governments have failed."

Suggesting recruitment attempts were widespread, he added: "In every area in almost every mosque you see young people standing outside giving out leaflets, most of which has no relevance to Islam," he said.


We need to arrange our community so that the young people involved are not so vulnerable to this kind of recruitment

Oliver Letwin
Tory spokesman
Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the leader of the self-styled Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, said that he too believed "foreign agencies are recruiting our young people".

He said factors like racism and the underachievement of Asian youngsters had "marginalised and criminalised" them.

He called for the Muslim men being held in Guantanamo Bay by the US Army as part of the war of terror to be interviewed in Britain to establish what motivated them to join foreign causes.

Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin said the assertions made by Lord Ahmed and Dr Siddiqui had to be taken "very seriously".

He said: "We need to arrange our community so that the young people involved are not so vulnerable to this kind of recruitment."

Sheikh trial

The claims follow the conviction in Pakistan of British-born Omar Saeed Sheikh for the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl.

Allegations were made at his trial that Sheikh was approached in London in the early 1990s by the Pakistani secret service - the ISI.

He was seen as a candidate for training in kidnapping and killing for the Kashmiri cause at a camp in Afghanistan, it was alleged.

But a former ISI director-general denied that the Pakistani organisation had anything to do with recruiting British youths.

General Hamid Gul told Today: "There is not even a single, solitary example of this."

He said recruitment and training at the camps was done by Afghans.

Meanwhile, the family of Sheikh - sentenced to death for Daniel Pearl's killing - fear for his safety in the Pakistani jail where he is being held.

His brother Awais Sheikh told Today he was worried Sheikh would be poisoned by people who did not want him to talk.

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See also:

19 Jul 02 | South Asia
15 Jul 02 | Politics
17 Dec 01 | Politics
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