Banned cleric Omar Bakri seized

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The Independent Online

Lebanese security forces arrested the Islamist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed yesterday, three days after a court sentenced him and 21 other people to life in prison for carrying out "terrorist acts".

A police statement said Bakri tried to flee when they came to arrest him at his home in Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city, but he was captured after shots were fired at his car's back tyres.

He was one of 47 people sentenced on Thursday who received terms from three months to life imprisonment. Those who received life were sentenced in absentia and have the right to appeal against the verdict. A judicial source said the convicted people "belonged to an armed group with the purpose of ... killing and sabotaging. They also helped terrorists." The source did not specify which attacks were involved but said they took place in Lebanon.

Bakri, a Lebanese citizen of Syrian origin, denied the charges and said the sentence was politically motivated. He said he had not even been informed about the sentencing.

He used to live in London, and became infamous when he referred to the hijackers behind 9/11 as the "magnificent 19". He has been banned from entering Britain for the past five years. He has insisted that his message is peaceful and said the "magnificent 19" comment was a stunt.