Special Reports

Muslim radicals in Britain will celebrate terror attacks

LONDON - Extremist Muslim clerics will meet in London Sept. 11 to celebrate the anniversary of the attacks on the United States and to launch an organization for Islamic militants, an organizer of the conference said Saturday.

Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed of Al-Muhajiroun, a radical group that supports making Britain an Islamic state, said the conference will argue that the terror attacks were justified because Muslims must defend themselves against aggression.

The event at Finsbury Park mosque in north London, "Sept. 11, 2001: A Towering Day in History," will also mark the launch of the Islamic Council of Britain.

Mohammed said the council will aim to implement Sharia law in Britain and will not exclude al-Qaida sympathizers.

The conference will discuss the "positive outcomes" of Sept. 11, which delegates perceived as a battle against an "evil superpower," he said.

"I did not praise Sept. 11 after it happened, but it becomes more clear now why they did it, although I personally regret the loss of life," he said.

Mohammed said he had secured a six-figure sum to fund the Islamic council, which would build a dozen Islamic centers, launch a Web site and hold classes for Muslims.

Also due to attend the meeting on Wednesday are Yasser al-Sirri and Abu Hamza al-Masri, a cleric at the Finsbury Park mosque, which is widely regarded as a center of radical Islam in Britain.

Al-Sirri has been accused by the United States of sending money to Afghanistan to sponsor terrorism. British officials in July dropped extradition proceedings against him, saying there was not enough evidence.

The Egyptian-born Al-Masri, who is one of Britain's most contentious Muslim radicals and who lost his hands and left eye fighting in Afghanistan, is a prayer leader at the mosque.

A British citizen since 1985, he is protected from extradition to Yemen, where he is wanted in connection with bombings.

Mainstream Muslim leaders have criticized previous conferences by Al-Muhajiroun and other extremist groups.