Banned radical cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohamed arrested in Lebanon over ‘links to terrorism’

Syrian-born preacher – who left Britain in 2005 – detained in country hit by sectarian violence

A firebrand Islamist preacher who was banned from the UK after praising al-Qa’ida attacks on the West has been arrested in Lebanon for allegedly supporting terrorism.

Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohamed, a Syrian-born preacher who moved to the UK in the 1980s, became infamous in Britain after reportedly describing the 9/11 bombers as “the Magnificent 19” and the London 7/7 bombers as the “Fantastic Four”.

He also founded the since-banned Islamist organisation Al-Muhajiroun and helped convert Michael Adebowale, who went on to take part in the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London, in May 2013.

Lebanon’s Interior Minister, Nouhad Machnouk, told a press conference yesterday that Mr Bakri Mohamed had been arrested in the early hours of the morning in the city of Aley, in the mountains southeast of Beirut.

“This person has contributed in every aspect in supporting terrorism,”  he alleged.

Lebanon has been embroiled in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims, fuelled by the civil war in neighbouring Syria. Mr Bakri Mohamed, a Sunni, has praised al-Qa’ida in recent speeches, according to the Reuters news agency.

Until last month, he was living in the coastal city of Tripoli, where dozens of people have been killed in clashes between Sunnis and Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam, to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

However, he fled the city after security forces raided houses of people suspected to be involved in the fighting.

In 2005, the cleric left Britain to go to Lebanon, saying he planned to spend several weeks visiting his mother, amid suggestions that he could be tried for treason. It later became clear there had been no prospect of a treason charge. However, before he could return, the then home secretary, Charles Clarke, issued an order revoking his “indefinite leave to remain [in the UK]... on the grounds that his presence is not conducive to the public good”.

He  was previously sentenced to life in prison in Lebanon in 2010, following a terrorism conviction, but was released on bail after witnesses recanted their testimony.

Anjem Choudary, Mr Bakri Mohamed’s spokesman and  a former leader of Al-Muhajiroun, called yesterday for his release in a statement that condemned the “oppressive Lebanese regime”.

“Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohamad has had many lies attributed to him by the Lebanese authority in order to affect his arrest on behalf of the Syrian regime who are keen to stop any opposition to their slaughter of Muslims,” he said.

“Claims that he is representing al-Qa’ida or that he is instigating any unrest are completely unfounded.”

Mr Choudary was accused in November of running a network of groups that was the “single biggest gateway to terrorism in recent British history” in a report. Mr Choudary dismissed the report as “fanciful”.

The report stressed there was no evidence Mr Choudary had directly instigated any terror plot.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Flat out: Michael Flatley will return to the stage in his show Lord Of The Dance
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux / Redhat / Solaris / Puppet / SAN

£65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape