Yes, there are a lot of silly articles in The New Republic. But there is also great reporting, like Peter Bergen’s and Paul Cruickshank’s “Clerical Error: The dangers of tolerance,” on the radical imams that Great Britain has sheltered for the past decades. Here’s one chilling excerpt:
But it was only after September 11 that Al Muhajiroun began to draw significant media attention. Shoe-bomber Richard Reid was found to have attended some of its meetings. Bakri later hit the headlines when he tried to organize a conference to celebrate the “Magnificent 19,” a reference to the 19 September 11 hijackers. On April 30, 2003, two Britons of Pakistani descent attacked a nightclub in Tel Aviv, killing three. One of the attackers, Asif Mohammed Hanif–who appears to hold the distinction of being Britain’s first suicide bomber–used to hang out at Bakri’s offices. Omar Khan Sharif, who failed to detonate his device and was found dead in the Mediterranean Sea a few days later, also attended several Al Muhajiroun meetings. After the Tel Aviv attack, Bakri told The Daily Telegraph, “I knew Sharif very well, and he used to attend regularly at my sessions. He was my brother, and I am very proud of him and any Muslim who will do the same as him.” Bakri told us that Sharif had asked about the Islamic justification for suicide bombing, but denied any role in the attack.
Bakri’s name is also linked to a bomb plot broken up by British police in March 2004. Five British Pakistanis are awaiting trial for planning to use half a ton of ammonium nitrate, which they had been storing near Heathrow Airport, to hit targets in the United Kingdom. Several of the plotters, including a brilliant young cricketer, Omar Khyam, attended Bakri’s meetings. Khyam’s uncle told an interviewer: “Omar was a normal kid until Al Muhajiroun started preaching their hatred ’round here.”
Bakri told us that, while he had known some of those involved in the ammonium nitrate plot, they had cut their ties with Al Muhajiroun, finding his group “too moderate.” They did not believe, for instance, in Bakri’s “Covenant of Security.” This novel construct, for which Bakri attributes Koranic justification, proscribes Muslims living in Britain from waging jihad there. Bakri’s Covenant of Security was never more than a wafer-thin lid on the pressure-cooker atmosphere his inflammatory preaching had created. And, in 2004, during a tirade outside the U.S. Embassy against abuses at Abu Ghraib, Bakri declared the Covenant dead. Bakri also told Publica, a Portuguese magazine, that a “very well-organized” group in London “has a great appeal for young Muslims…. I know that they are ready to launch a big operation.” Alarmingly, Bakri told us that he thought there were more attacks to come. Even he expressed concern at the “jihadist tendencies” of some of his former followers who now “insult” him for not directly urging attacks on Great Britain and who “really dream, day and night, to be like Abu Musab Zarqawi.”
TNR is a bargain, especially the “only online” rate.