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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Profile: Omar Bakri Mohammad

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News community affairs

Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad
Omar Bakri Mohammad says he would never co-operate with police

So who exactly is Omar Bakri Mohammad? Is he, as the Sun declared, a "Bombers' Pal" or merely a brilliant self-publicist?

The self-styled radical cleric caused a media storm after the London bombings, declaring that the only people he blames for the London bombings are the government and British public.

Until the order allowing him indefinite leave to remain in the UK was revoked - thus excluding him from British soil - the government had also named him as one of three people it was investigating for having possibly committed treason.

Asked whether he condemned those inspired by Osama Bin Laden, he said: "Why [would] I condemn Osama Bin Laden for? I condemn Tony Blair. I condemn George Bush. I would never condemn Osama Bin Laden or any Muslims."

Hate figure

Ever since 9/11, Bakri Mohammad has been a hate-figure of the highest order for wide sections of the British press.

To what degree he is a genuinely dangerous individual, or simply someone who would like other people to think he is, remains extremely difficult to quantify.

His public pronouncements have outraged many people. But, at the same time, his organisation appeared to be small and unattractive to many of the young Muslims he aimed to attract.

Born in Syria

Bakri Mohammad was born in Syria in the late 1950s, where he became involved in the Muslim Brotherhood, a revolutionary organisation which provided the foundations for Islamist political ideology.

In the West, the organisation is popularly thought to have a violent agenda, although many analysts say its character is far more complex.

A lot of opposition politicians in Egypt associate with the banned movement - but many of those who believe in violent means quit to form splinter groups, including Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon considered to be Osama Bin Laden's chief ideologue.

Born Syria in 1958
Involved in Muslim Brotherhood
Travelled through Middle East
Established Al Muhajiroun
Sought asylum in the UK
"Disbanded" Al Muhajiroun in 2004
Suddenly left UK for Lebanon, August 2005

What happened to Bakri Mohammad is unclear. He is believed to have gone from the Muslim Brotherhood to Hizb ut Tahrir, another banned Islamist organisation, and later travelled around the Middle East, eventually fleeing in the 1980s for political asylum in the UK.

Bakri Mohammad later fell out with fellow London-based ideologues such as Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, a former nightclub bouncer currently awaiting trial on one anti-terrorism-related charge and a number of further alleged racial-hatred offences.

The Syrian activist and his band of followers have spent the subsequent years trying to develop the "Al Muhajiroun" organisation in the UK.

By 2001 it had become a well-known radical group which had sought to recruit in Muslim communities, principally outside mosques in poorer areas - although it' is not clear whether its membership has ever been anything other than a handful of disenchanted young Muslims.

Within the Muslim community itself, it was largely reviled for pulling off clever media stunts that attracted media attention, such as describing the 9/11 hijackers as the "Magnificent 19".

Bakri Mohammad says he disbanded the group in 2004. But there is a widespread belief that many of his followers have simply reconstituted themselves in new groups.

Watch Omar Bakri Mohammed's interview



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