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How extremists groomed loner to be suicide bomber

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Oct 2008

How Terrorists Recruit Female Suicide Bombers | Observer


•  How extremists groomed loner to be suicide bomber

•  Bishops say Islam ignores women's rights

•  Is conversion of religion right?

•  Malaysia: Malaysians warned not to question Islam

•  Arab Muslims in Brooklyn Find Power in the Voting Booth

•  GAZA: Hamas denies tension with Islamic Jihad

•  LOS ANGELES: Filmmakers Condemn Sheriff Baca for Trying to Silence Film about Radical Islamists

•  Group places ads for Islam on buses

•  The BBC will tackle Islam differently to Christianity, admits its Director General

•  Severe economic crisis threatens Pakistan's stability

•  Kuala Lumpur Malaysia bans Hindu Rights Action Force

•  Urged on by al-Qaida: the 'vulnerable' convert to Islam who tried to blow up a restaurant

•  RIYADH: London hosting book show on Kingdom and Islam

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



How extremists groomed loner to be suicide bomber

16 October 2008

By Craig brown

How Terrorists Recruit Female Suicide Bombers | Observer


TO THOSE who knew him, he was a "a big friendly giant" or an "oddball recluse".

Nicky Reilly was 6ft 1in and weighed 18 stone but had learning difficulties and a mental age of ten.

The 22-year-old's imposing physique masked more than just a vulnerable mind ripe for exploitation. It harboured a hatred for the West and a desire for martyrdom that drove him to attempt a botched suicide attack.

Yesterday, Reilly, a Muslim convert, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to attempted murder at the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter on 22 May.

He had been preparing the attack when a bomb went off in his hands in a toilet cubicle.

Yet despite the apparent callousness of his intentions, those involved in prosecuting him say he was a victim himself. With a low IQ and a history of mental problems, including Asperger's syndrome, Reilly was a troubled character who seemed destined to live the rest of his life in his mother's council house in one of the toughest areas of Plymouth.

He would spend hours closeted away, surfing the internet in his darkened bedroom or at a local café. After he strayed on to fundamentalist Islam websites, Muslim extremists saw an opportunity to mould Reilly's pliable mind, rendered obsessive by Asperger's.

Reilly converted to Islam in 2004 and extremists cultivated in him a hatred of the West. Last year he changed his name to Mohammad Abdulaziz Rashid Saeed-Alim.

Neighbours who knew him were quick to label him a "reclusive oddball", who used an image of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York as a screensaver.

But the full extent of his manipulators' influence was only revealed when police discovered his suicide note, in which he chillingly paraphrased a comment made by Osama bin Laden in the wake of the 11 September attacks and adopted by many radicals, stating: "We love death as you love life."

It was not just a burning hatred that his religious mentors instilled in Reilly – they also gave him the tools with which to express it. It was also on jihadist websites that he discovered how a highly volatile bomb could be constructed using caustic soda, kerosene and nails.

However, the reason the extremists had chosen Reilly to carry out their attack was the same that led to its failure.

Shortly before 1pm on the day in question, he locked himself in one of the restaurant's toilet cubicles and started to construct the bombs. He intended to run into the dining room with them clasped to his stomach, where they would detonate.

But even if the would-be bomber had the misplaced courage to go through with the plan, he did not have the mental capacity to carry it out.

One of his bombs began to detonate in his hands, spewing burning caustic soda over Reilly, scarring his face and arms.

CCTV images show him stunned and staggering from the restaurant after his plot backfired, to be arrested and taken to hospital.

In hospital, detectives listened as he gave vent to the propaganda that had been instilled in him, outlining his plan and his desire to kill himself and as many other people as possible.

But the simple picture of the hate-filled Islamic terrorist is one that his mother, Kim Reilly, rejected yesterday. She said her son had been an easy target for the online extremists.

It is a view echoed by Deputy Chief Constable Tony Melville, who investigated the plot. "We believe he was preyed upon, radicalised and taken advantage of," he said.

Police hunt You Tube accomplices

POLICE are hunting at least two Islamic extremists who helped Nicky Reilly, a Muslim convert, in his attempted suicide bombing of a restaurant, it emerged last night.

Reilly, who yesterday admitted the attempted bombing of the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter, had also considered bombing a shopping centre, a police station and Devonport Dockyard. Police said Reilly was "tutored" via an extremist website after being contacted through his YouTube webpage.

At the Old Bailey, the judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, said Reilly began to plan the attack in 2008 and researched buying materials for a suicide vest.

"There was some debate, which is revealed by comments on the computer, about what sort of person should be targeted in due course, whether public servants such as police officers or other public servants or ordinary citizens.

"In the end, the decision was made to target ordinary citizens in a restaurant," the judge said.

Reilly, of Plymouth, who appeared in court via a video link, admitted preparing a terrorist attack and attempted murder. He will be sentenced on 21 November.

The full article contains 785 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.



Bishops say Islam ignores women's rights

October 18, 2008

Catholic bishops attending a synod at the Vatican have said Islam does not respect internationally enshrined women's rights, the ANSA news agency reported, quoting a spokesman.

The criticism that Islamic tenets flout the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights came during a meeting of Spanish-speaking bishops at the three-week gathering, the report said.

The Catholic Church, in its relations with Muslims, "should keep in mind their conception of marriage and the family, which does not accord women the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights", said the spokesman, Julian Carron, quoting from a summary of the discussion.

For this reason, the bishops called on the church to exercise "caution" in its efforts at rapprochement with Islam, Carron said.

On Thursday, the synod released an interim report that urged "caution" in relations with Islam while noting "important points in common" between the two faiths: "resistance to secularisation and liberalism, defence of individual human life (and) affirmation of the social importance of religion".

Of the 331 people taking part in the synod on the theme of the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, 25 are women experts or observers.

Many of them have spoken about the role of women in the church and asked that it be underscored in the final document of the synod, which ends on October 25.



Is conversion of religion right?

Kiran Pio

October 18, 2008:

I believe that a person becomes a Christian, or Hindu or a Muslim only when he or she believes in Christianity, or Hinduism or Islam respectively.

But we live in a world or country that believes or rather feels that a person's religion is determined by his name, his parents and ancestors.

A baby who is given the name Ram and born to parents Arjun and Lakshmi is considered to be a Hindu by default, when actually he is in no position to comprehend something called religion or god.

The only forces and factors that determine one's religion are default factors like your name, parents, ancestors, caste, creed, place of birth and country.

But if given a thought, aren't people who preach actually giving you the freedom to choose one's own god?

(Disclaimer: takes no responsibility for the views expressed in the article. The article published has been written by a user and does not in anyway reflect the opinion of


Malaysians warned not to question Islam



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- An influential council of Malaysia's state rulers has warned people not to question the supremacy of Islam or the special privileges enjoyed by the country's ethnic Malay majority.

Racial and religious tensions have increased in the past year as minorities have become more vocal in their complaints about an affirmative action program that they say unfairly favors Malays. They also complain that their religious rights are being ignored.

In an unprecedented comment on current affairs, the sultans of nine states did not directly accuse the Chinese and Indian minorities of stoking anti-Malay feelings, but said recent statements and forums "held by certain quarters" had "caused provocation and uneasiness among the people."

Questioning the special position of Malays "can lead to disunity and racial strife that can undermine the peace and harmony," the state rulers said in a statement.

The warning underscores the social tensions in Malaysia, where Muslim Malays are about 60 percent of the nation's 27 million people. Chinese and Indians, who are mostly non-Muslims, comprise a third of the population and friction among the three ethnic groups is always below the surface.

The lengthy statement issued Thursday night follows a two-day meeting of the sultans, known as the Conference of Rulers. The hereditary sultans, who are Muslim Malays, occupy ceremonial offices but wield considerable moral authority among Malays.

"It (the warning) is quite unprecedented and I think it is coming in response to what the country is facing - what the rulers perceive as the fracturing of racial harmony," said Tricia Yeoh of Center for Policy Research think-tank.

Last month, an ethnic Chinese opposition lawmaker was accused by a Malay newspaper of being anti-Islam. She was detained by police for a few days but no charges were filed. In August, lawyers were forced to abandon a conference on religious conversion after protesters stormed the forum.

The statement reiterates the supremacy of Islam, the special position of the Malays and the guarantee to protect minority rights - all enshrined in Malaysia's constitution.

"Non-Malays should not harbour any apprehension or worry over their genuine rights because these rights are guaranteed," the statement said.



Arab Muslims in Brooklyn Find Power in the Voting Booth


October 18, 2008

As they pressed their foreheads to the sidewalk in front of the Islamic Center of Bay Ridge, a group of Arab men finished their noon prayers on a recent Friday. Unable to squeeze inside the mosque, they worshiped alongside a bright red table that held voting literature and buttons that said, “I’m Arab and I vote.”

“Yalla vote, Yalla vote,” Jihad Kifayeh, 17, shouted as he pressed voter registration forms into the hands of his elders outside the mosque in Brooklyn. Yalla means “hurry up” or “let’s go” in Arabic.

He is among several dozen Arab Muslim teenagers in South Brooklyn who are volunteering for voter registration drives, campaigning for local politicians and taking neighbors to the polls. Many, like Mr. Kifayeh, a senior at Fort Hamilton High School, have persuaded their parents to register to vote for the first time.

Their efforts are part of a political awakening, stirred by the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks that has brought a growing number of Muslims into the electoral process.

“Some of my people are scared to vote,” said Mr. Kifayeh, whose family moved to New York from the West Bank city of Ramallah when he was 3. “They think their opinions might be criticized, particularly after 9/11. But it’s better that our voices are heard by the politicians.”

During the 1980s and 1990s, as a large Arab Muslim community took root in South Brooklyn, its leaders struggled to get their voices heard. Their events were rarely attended by local office holders. The community could not deliver many votes because older immigrants tended to stay away from the polls, doubting their ballots would matter.

“We came from countries where the government changed the votes,” said Zein Rimawi, 54, one of the founders of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge. “Here in our country, the votes count, and votes can change a government. We had to convince older people that their votes would count.”

While leaders of the Arab Muslim community were skilled at running mosques, a local school and several civic groups, they were relatively unsophisticated when it came to politics, Mr. Rimawi said. But after Sept. 11, many of those leaders realized they needed to become more politically astute to gain the respect and attention of elected officials.

With the help of a few supportive neighbours, they discovered a basic truism of American politics: “You vote, you exist. You don’t vote, you don’t exist,” Mr. Rimawi said.

Ralph Profetto, 74, a district leader for the Democratic Party, was among those who helped the local Muslim community after the attacks. “I am an Italian-American,” he said. “When I grew up, people said all Italians were Mafia. I knew how they felt when people said they were all terrorists.”

Mr. Profetto went around the neighbourhood, taking off his shoes as he walked into mosques and explaining to worshipers the importance of forming a voting bloc, and what arguments to make to persuade neighbours to vote. Mr. Profetto covered the basics, like how a voting machine works.

And he told Muslim audiences that politicians ought to be judged by their deeds not their words. “I registered 362 voters in 2001,” Mr. Profetto said, referring to Arab Muslims. “Now there are several thousand.”

The number of Arab Muslims registered to vote in South Brooklyn increased by about 60 percent from 2000 to 2006, according to an analysis by John H. Mollenkopf, the director of the Centre for Urban Research at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

At the same time, certain perceptions among local leaders have shifted. “Five years ago, common wisdom among some politicians was that you shouldn’t be perceived as working too close with the Arab-American community,” said Stephen A. Harrison, who was the leader of the local community board from 2001 to 2003. “It could be used against you. I never subscribed to that.”

As a Democratic candidate for the Congressional seat that includes Bay Ridge, Mr. Harrison said he received more than $60,000 in contributions from Arab Muslim store owners and professionals. Mr. Harrison lost in the September primary to Michael McMahon, a City Council member who represents Staten Island.

Mr. McMahon had scheduled a fund-raiser on Saturday with Muslim leaders, in a hall next to the Beit Al-Maqdis Mosque on Sixth Avenue. “I’m from Staten Island and was not that well known in Brooklyn,” he said. “It’s the same outreach I do in the Italian, Irish, Asian and Russian communities.”

Mr. Rimawi believes local politicians now realize the value of cultivating good will among Arab Muslims. “Politicians are like wolves,” he said. “They can smell votes and they can smell money.”

These days, politicians are more commonly seen in Muslim pockets of South Brooklyn.

When the Nablus Sweets store on Fifth Avenue had a grand opening this summer, Councilman Vincent Gentile and State Senator Martin J. Golden were there, eating pastries and cutting a ribbon for a photograph for Aramica, a bilingual Arab-American newspaper. And Mr. Gentile and a fellow councilman, Domenic Recchia, attended the graduation party for a storefront after-school tutoring program.

Nine local elected officials attended the Arab-American Association’s annual community Ramadan dinner last month. And in a sign of how the political dynamics have changed, residents received automated calls in Arabic before the September primary from Mr. Harrison, urging them to vote for him.

For community leaders, the political success of other ethnic communities is seen as a road map for the maturation of the Muslim community in South Brooklyn.

“We look at the Italian community, the Jewish community and the Greek community,” said Wael Mousfar, the president of the Arab Muslim American Federation. “They started like us or even worse off. And in many cases, when they are strong enough, they have their own candidates for office. Eventually that day will come for us. This is the beauty of our system, the American system — anyone can join.”

More Articles in New York Region » A version of this article appeared in print on October 19, 2008, on page A35 of the New York edition.



 Hamas denies tension with Islamic Jihad

GAZA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic Hamas movement on Saturday denied reports about tension between exiled leaders of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

    "The ties between the two movements are unique and on highest levels," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom, adding that "the reports that there are troubles between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are untrue."

    According to the reports, tension arose after Hamas piled pressure on Qatar to exclude the small faction of Islamic Jihad from attending a conference about Jerusalem held four days ago in Doha.

    The reports said that Hamas politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal was behind the curtain not to invite the Damascus-based Islamic Jihad Secretary General Ramadan Shalah to the conference in Doha.

    It said that the Islamic Jihad was not invited to the conference because it opposes a ceasefire Egypt brokered in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Israel.

    The Islamic Jihad has yet refused to comment on the issue.

    "Our position is not to confirm or deny these reports," said Nafez Azzam, an Islamic Jihad leader based in the Gaza Strip.


Filmmakers Condemn Sheriff Baca for Trying to Silence Film About Radical Islamists

'Why would the Sheriff condemn us for warning about radical Islamists who want to kill Americans?'

Oct. 17, 2008

LOS ANGELES, PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca used the authority of his office today to speak out against the promotion of "Obsession," an award winning documentary about radical Islamists' war on the west.

"Why Sheriff Baca would discourage Americans from viewing this important documentary is baffling," said Obsession producer Raphael Shore. "The movie is responsibly made, to suggest otherwise is a distortion of the truth. Why would the Sheriff condemn us for warning about radical Islamists who want to kill Americans?"

Obsession, distributed by Clarion Fund, has received positive coverage in many respected media outlets, including on CNN. It aired as a special on Fox News. The film has been screened in hundreds of locations from college campuses to Capitol Hill. "This documentary has helped millions of Americans learn about the threat of radical Islam," said Shore.

Baca appeared at the Islamic Center of Southern California with representatives of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). MPAC has advocated to the U.S. Government on behalf of Hezbollah and Hamas that those organizations no longer be recognized by the U.S. as terrorist organizations.

"We are very clear in the film that there is a difference between radical Islamists and moderate pro-western Muslims. In fact, the first statement in the film reminds viewers that radical Islam does not represent the views of the vast majority of Muslims," said Shore.

Our film is designed to help Americans understand that the agenda of radical Islamists is anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-free speech ... in fact it's anti-American," said Obsession director Wayne Kopping. "Why would Sheriff Baca defend that agenda?"

SOURCE Clarion Fund

Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved End of Story



Group places ads for Islam on buses

Oct. 15, 2008

A Muslim group called Gain Peace has spent nearly $30,000 to place ads for Islam on Chicago Transit Authority buses serving the city's North Side.

The move is part of a month long campaign to dispel popular misconceptions about the religion, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

Though most people interviewed by the Tribune said they hadn't noticed the ads, Gain Peace is calling the campaign a success.

"We had eight conversions, close to 400 calls and we've had close to 75,000 hits on our Web site in one week," Sabeel Ahmed, director of the Chicago-area group, told the Tribune.

One of the converts is Moses Robinson who saw a CTA bus with the group's ad while on a break from work. Robinson said he converted to Islam after calling the number on the side of the bus and meeting with Gain Peace.

The campaign is doing so well, Gain Peace said it plans to continue the ads for an additional six weeks, the Tribune reported.

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



The BBC will tackle Islam differently to Christianity, admits its Director General

By Liz Thomas

15th October 2008

BBC programme-makers tackle Islam differently from Christianity, its director general has admitted.

Mark Thompson was responding to criticism from comedian Ben Elton, who accused the BBC of being scared to make jokes about Islam.

Mr Thompson said: 'What Christian identity feels like to the broad population is a little bit different to people for whom their religion is also associated with an ethnic identity which has not been fully integrated.

Mark Thompson ben

Sensitive: Director general Mark Thompson (left) said coverage needed to consider the feelings of Muslims because they are a religious minority after Ben Elton (right) accused the BBC of being too scared to joke about Islam

'There's no reason why any religion should be immune from discussion, but I don't want to say that all religions are the same. To be a minority I think puts a slightly different outlook on it.'

Mr Thompson, who spoke at a lecture for think-tank Theos, said shows critical of Islam would be shown if they were of high quality.

Elton made his comments earlier this year in an interview with Christian magazine Third Way when he was asked if too much deference was shown to religious people.

'I think it all starts with people nodding whenever anybody says, 'As a person of faith ...',' he said.

'And I believe that part of it is due to the genuine fear that the authorities and the community have about provoking the radical elements of Islam," he said.

 'There's no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass.  They might pretend that it's, you know, something to do with their moral sensibilities, but it isn't. It's because they're scared. I know these people.'

 However Thompson's admission was met with derision by Christian and media groups.

 Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, said: 'Mr Thompson seems to be saying that because Islam is a minority religion it should be treated with kid gloves.

 'This is ridiculous. All religions should be treated with equally and with the same approach. I think the reality is that the BBC treats coverage of Islam and Muslims differently because it is terrified of offending them. It is political correctness. The BBC is simply not bothered about offending Christians despite the majority of this country being of that faith.'

 John Beyer, director of Media watch, said: 'All religions need to be treated in the same way, otherwise how can the BBC claim to be impartial?

 'I think that any approach to religious debate and discussion that is not impartial is not what the BBC should be doing.'

 The corporation faced accusations of blasphemy from Christians after it broadcast controversial stage show Jerry Springer – The Opera live on BBC2.

 A record more than 47,000 complaints were made against the show which was strewn with expletives and featured Jesus, Mary and God as deviant guests on Jerry Springer's TV show and up to 300 swear words.

 However Mr Thompson, a practising Catholic, did insist that programmes that criticised Islam would be broadcast if they were of sufficient quality.

 He revealed that his religious beliefs did play a part in the editorial decisions he made.

 In his speech last night, the executive claimed there are now more programmes about religion on BBC television and radio than there have been in recent decades, whereas coverage has declined on ITV.

 A BBC spokesman said: 'People should look at his actual comments rather than trying to infer additional meaning that isn't there.

 'What Mark Thompson said is that all religions are not the same - he did not say Islam, or indeed any faith, should be treated more sensitively than Christianity.  In fact he made it crystal clear that no religion should be regarded as off limits for the BBC.'



Severe economic crisis threatens Pakistan's stability


McClatchy Newspapers

 A worsening economic crisis in Pakistan is pushing millions more people into poverty, and experts fear that it could help Islamic extremists recruit new converts.

 The crisis began early this year, as democracy was restored after more than eight years of military rule. Now Pakistan's hard currency reserves have shrunk to $3.5 billion, and without an international rescue package, America's key ally in the fight against al-Qaida is likely to default on foreign debt repayments in the next two months, economic experts said.

Inflation is running at 25 percent, according to official figures, electricity is in short supply, and Pakistan's currency, the rupee, has been devalued 25 percent against the dollar. Investor confidence has fallen so low that on Monday, police had to surround the Karachi Stock Exchange to protect it from angry investors. The Exchange already had lobbied the government unsuccessfully to be allowed to close for two weeks.

 Terrorist acts by Islamist insurgents have accelerated capital flight and discouraged foreign direct investment. Depositors are lined up at banks to withdraw their money or to send it abroad.

 "The canvas of terrorism is expanding by the minute," said Faisal Saleh Hayat, a member of parliament and a former interior minister under Pervez Musharraf, the U.S.-backed former president. "It's not only ideological motivation. Put that together with economic deprivation and you have a ready-made force of Taliban, al-Qaida, whatever you want to call them. You will see suicide bombers churned out by the hundred."

 "In Pakistan, there are a huge proportion of people just above the poverty line. A slight shock in their income can push them below the poverty line," said Sadia Malik, director of the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre in Islamabad, the capital. "This is the kind of shock that would have pushed a huge number of people into the poverty trap."

 The prices of wheat, rice and milk have more than doubled in the last year. The price of flour used to make roti bread, the food staple, has jumped from 12 rupees (15 cents) a kilo last year to 28 rupees (35 cents). Economists warn that prices would spiral even higher if Pakistan defaulted on its foreign debt.

 Before the crisis, an estimated 56 million Pakistanis - around a third of the population - already were living below the poverty line, as measured by their daily caloric intake. Millions more are likely to have joined them now.

 One direct impact of the economic slide is that the poor will have to rely increasingly on free education offered by Madrassas, or Islamic schools, Hayat said. Islamic schools, some of which have been accused of inculcating children with Islamic extremism, also offer free food and clothing. Although most Madrassas aren't radical, critics say they churn out pupils who are ill-equipped to join the labour force.

 Faiyaz Ahmed, a taxi driver in Islamabad, said that due to his sinking income, he had to withdraw his two youngest children from regular school and was now considering putting them in a Madrassa or sending them to work.

"We depend on God - not the government, not the president," said Ahmed, who until recently was a supporter of the governing Pakistan Peoples Party. "Only God can save us now from this mess."

 Much of the problem traces to government. During his last two years, Musharraf tried to bolster his flagging appeal with enormous subsidies that the country couldn't afford for wheat, fuel and other staples.

 The new government, led by Asif Ali Zardari, who became president last month, has unveiled its own spending commitments, including a $450 million fund to support the poor.



Malaysia bans Hindu Rights Action Force

16 Oct 2008,

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Government has banned the non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), branding it as a threat to national security. (Watch)

 On Wednesday, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar issued a statement declaring Hindraf, which has been advocating ethnic Indian rights since late last year for the minority community, an illegal organisation.

 He said the government move followed the result of monitoring and investigations by the country's Registrar of Societies (RoS) since Hindraf was formed.

 "As a result of the investigations, the Home Ministry, as per its authority under sections 3 and 5 of the Societies Act 1966, has declared Hindraf unlawful and detrimental to peace, public order, security and the moral values of Malaysia," he said in the statement.

 Albar accused the Hindraf of exploiting "racial issues which caused an uprising against the government and created hatred between them and the Malays. I feel that if we don't rein in their activities, they will continue to jeopardise security and public order, our country's sovereignty, as well as upset the harmony among races."

 Hindraf came into international focus after it organised a massive rally on November 25 last year to protest alleged marginalisation of the ethnic Indian minority in this country.

 More than 20,000 people attended the rally, which was branded as illegal by the government. The large participation took the Abdullah Badawi government by shock. A large section of the ethnic Indians supported the Hindraf as they felt that the Malaysian Indian Congress, led by Samy Vellu, had done little to uplift the community over the past several decades. Source:


Urged on by al-Qaida: the 'vulnerable' convert to Islam who tried to blow up a restaurant

A "vulnerable" convert to Islam, who attempted to blow up a busy lunchtime restaurant in Exeter, was aided and encouraged by al-Qaida sympathisers abroad, police revealed yesterday.

 Mohammad Rashid Abdulaziz Saeed Alim - known as Nicky Reilly to friends and family - had scouted out alternative targets in Plymouth including a police station, the Drake Circus shopping centre and Devonport dockyard, the Royal Navy's base for refitting nuclear submarines.

 Appearing at the Old Bailey via video-link, the 22-year-old, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, admitted the attack on the Giraffe restaurant in May this year. It failed because one of the home-made devices he was priming in the restaurant toilets partially exploded and he was unable to get out of the cubicle.

 Speaking from Belmarsh Prison, Saeed Alim answered "guilty" twice to charges of attempted murder and preparing a terrorist attack. He wore a blue, short-sleeved shirt and dark navy tie. Saeed Alim became interested in Islam, the court was told, when he was 16 or 17. He began preparing his bomb attack in January, researching terrorism and watching a YouTube video titled Home-made Bomb.

 The judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, said: "He became increasingly drawn to violent action in support of fellow Muslims in revenge for perceived persecution and to the idea of himself personally becoming a martyr." He also bought a suicide vest.

 "During the early months of 2008 he was in frequent touch with two other people, as yet unidentified, with whom he discussed his intentions and from whom he received a certain amount of encouragement and information," the judge said. "There was some debate - revealed by comments in the computer - about what sort of person should be targeted, whether public servants such as police officers, other public servants or ordinary citizens."

 He built two types of improvised explosive devices, one using caustic soda and the other kerosene. "He ... tried to increase the potential for injury and death ... by putting chemicals in glass bottles and filling those bottles with around 500 nails.

 "He travelled to Exeter on the morning of May 22, by bus from Plymouth with six bottles, three containing caustic soda, three kerosene and another chemical contained in drain cleaner."

 After the explosion, the restaurant manager evacuated everyone. Saeed Alim, who was injured and covered in blood, was arrested at the scene.

 In interviews with police, he said he intended running into the restaurant clutching the devices to his stomach where they would explode and kill him. "His recollection is that he was not able to open the lock on the cubicle door by which time the first device had exploded," Stuart Baker, prosecuting told the court

 Debbie Simpson, the assistant chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, said the aim had been to "kill and injure members of the public" and "spread panic". She revealed that Saeed Alim took photographs of the bombs before setting out. Two other men arrested in connection with the inquiry have been released without charge. Simpson said the Giraffe restaurant was probably targeted simply because it was near where the bus stopped in Exeter.

 Saeed Alim faced many problems. Kerim Fuad, defending, said he had "rather simple characteristics". The police said they treated him as a "vulnerable adult".

 He has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, which meant he struggled at school. Friends say that as a boy he tended to retreat into a fantasy world. He was obsessed with James Bond, and he would imagine himself as a super-spy.

 As a teenager, his height and weight earned him the nickname BFG - the Big Friendly Giant, after the Roald Dahl story. But friends claim his mental health deteriorated after he split with his first serious girlfriend. He harmed himself and was admitted to local mental health services.

 He shared a small flat in King Street, in a deprived area of Plymouth close to the city centre, with his mother, Kim, her partner and two half-brothers. Three months before the attack in Exeter, his younger brother, Luke, 20, was sent to a young offenders' institution for six years after admitting beating and kicking a Polish worker unconscious before robbing him in a city centre alleyway. On the same night, Luke Reilly robbed a 16-year-old.

 Within hours of the attempted bombing, Devon and Cornwall police said they believed he had been preyed upon and radicalised because he was vulnerable. Saeed Alim, who remains in custody, will be sentenced on November 21. The defence will present psychiatric reports about his condition.

'My son was brainwashed'

Kim Reilly, Saeed Alim's mother, said her son had been "brainwashed". He began to change because of "all the people that he was hanging around with," and began to express extreme views. "He believed that he was on the right path, he had found the right religion and this was the right way of life," she told the BBC.

 "He would have had to have instructions or guidance from someone. Somebody has brainwashed him, he has done the work and they are walking free."

 His grandfather Raymond Reilly said yesterday: "Nicky is a lovely boy and we all love him dearly. The people who preyed on him chose him because he was vulnerable and a sick boy. He has never been into drugs and never smoked and never drunk and never been in trouble with the police before. He would not hurt a fly and is a wonderful grandson. The people who radicalised him have taken him away from us."

 The influence of extremist websites is clear in a suicide note Saeed Alim left at home. In it he paid tribute to "Sheikh Osama" (bin Laden) and called on the British and United States governments to leave Muslim countries. Echoing a comment made by bin Laden in the wake of the September 11 attacks and adopted by many radicals, he said: "We love death as you love life."



London hosting book show on Kingdom and Islam

RIYADH: An international book show on Islam and Saudi Arabia will start in London today to enhance understanding between the West and the Kingdom.

 Ghainaa Communications and Studies is organizing the show in collaboration with Saudi student clubs and schools in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

 "The show is designed to give a clearer view about Islam and Saudi Arabia, and will remove any misconceptions in the West," said Mohammed Al-Bishr, head of the research team overseeing the project. "This is the second show of its kind after the one held in Riyadh last year."

 He added that the books to be displayed are in English and French and would tackle issues often raised in Western media about Islam and the Kingdom.

 Al-Bishr noted that 77 scholars, intellectuals, politicians and media persons from the Kingdom, the rest of the Arab world, Russia, Japan, Greece, France and the United States have taken part in the project. He added that the participants expressed unbiased viewpoints on contemporary issues concerning Islam and Saudi Arabia.

 A series of lectures and cultural seminars on current situations of Muslims and their future challenges will be organized on the sidelines of the show, which will take place at the Hilton Hotel in London.

 "The seminar will be a good opportunity for Britons to exchange views on various issues relevant to the subject," he said.

 Lecturers in this seminar include Rodney Wilson, a professor from the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University; Sir Alan Munro, former UK Ambassador to the Kingdom and executive board member of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce; and Hamad Al-Majed, deputy chairman of Saudi Arabia's official Human Rights Commission.

 Al-Bishr said the seminar will discuss the bases of dialogue between civilizations and frame its future hopes.  Source: