Terror Ban On Muslim Extremists

    {Ministers to put radical groups on a proscribed list despite fears they’ll be driven underground} By Jamie Doward LONDON – A number of radical Muslim groups are to be proscribed despite concern that this will drive them underground where they cannot be monitored. As part of the Prime Minister’s 12-point plan to tackle terrorism, announced after the London bombings on 7 July last year, The Observer has learnt the government is to unveil a list of organisations it wants to ban under the Terrorism Act 2006. The list is expected to include Hizb ut-Tahrir and The Strangers, also known as al-Ghurabaa’, the group that organised protests outside the Danish embassy in London earlier this year. Hizb ut-Tahrir’s aim is to subject the world to Sharia law and ‘bring back Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah [Muslim community] into a struggle with Kufr [non-Muslims]’. Shortly after the 7/7 bombings, Tony Blair signalled his intention to proscribe this group. But such a move will prove highly controversial. Hizb ut-Tahrir claims to oppose violence and it has condemned the 7/7 bombings, as well as the atrocities in Madrid and Bali. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has questioned the merits of banning the group, as have human rights lawyers. ‘The Prime Minister correctly said fighting terrorism is an ideological battle,’ said Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty. ‘How are we to fight the war of ideas if non-violent political groups are driven underground?’ Such a step could harm the war on terror. ‘Criminalising free expression surely will make the job of police and intelligence services that much tougher, not to mention the spike in membership that these groups will receive once they’ve been banned,’ she added. A spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir accused the government of behaving dictatorially: ‘To ban us would not be a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness.’ Critics point out that many proscribed groups simply adopt a new name and structure. Members of another radical Islamic group, al-Muja Anjem Choudhury haroun, which the government signalled it was going to proscribe, disbanded and re-formed as al-Ghurabaa’. Al-Ghurabaa’ organised the 3 February protest outside the Danish embassy where demonstrators waved placards reading ‘Butcher those who mock Islam’ and ‘Kill those who insult Islam’. One of its spokesmen is Abu Izzadeen, who has described the 7/7 suicide bombers in London as ‘completely praiseworthy’. On the eve of the anniversary of the 7/7 attacks, Izzadeen was filmed preaching to a group of Muslims in Birmingham, mocking the victims of 9/11 and warning of further terror attacks in Britain. A spokesman said banning it would stifle debate and lead to further distrust between the Muslim and non-Muslim world. ‘The government wants to silence any opponents of its policies,’ said Anjem Choudhury. ‘Organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir or Al-Ghurabaa’ have been doing nothing other than ideological or political struggle, exposing the government’s policies and calling for the introduction of Sharia. This government claims to support liberalism and freedom. Why does it not allow groups with different policies and ideologies to challenge it?’ In the Commons last Thursday, the Leader of the House, Jack Straw, signalled the action against radical groups. He said a motion would be put before Parliament this week to approve the Terrorism Act 2006 (Proscribed Organisations) Amendment Order 2006. A vote on this will rubber-stamp measures to proscribe groups claimed to glorify terrorism. In conjunction with the vote, the government is expected to unveil the new list of those it will ban. Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: ‘We have major differences with Hizb ut-Tahrir, in particular its non-participation in the democratic process. Having said that, we think banning it is entirely wrong. It is non-violent.’

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