Muslim radicals say more to come

LONDON - Radical British Muslims passionately defended the September 11 attackers yesterday and told the world to expect more strikes like last year's devastating attacks in New York and Washington.

"The United States has to suffer more so it can learn obedience," leading London-based Saudi dissident Dr Muhammad Al-Masari told a news conference after a controversial meeting at a mosque in the city.

The meeting was called to discuss the "positive outcomes" of last year's attacks in the US, in which more than 3000 people died. Provocatively entitled A Towering Day in History, it drew hardline Muslims from around the world.

Syrian-born cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad told reporters Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network was still intact and was "a powerful organisation".

He predicted revenge if the US attacked Iraq, which has become the new focus in US President George W. Bush's self-declared war on terror.

Egyptian-born cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who has been linked to bin Laden and al Qaeda, railed at Bush on his way into the meeting.

"We call on everyone to tell that crazy man to stop bringing war beyond his borders," he said.

Afterwards, he said: "It looks like the message of bin Laden has been heard in America -'you will not be safe'."

Police kept a close watch on the meeting at the Finsbury Park Mosque, which was attended by around 1000 people.

Some 50 members of the far right British National Party gathered outside to protest, unfurling white English flags bearing the red cross of St George, and a banner which read "Islamic Terror Out".

A handful of anti-fascist activists also turned up and were kept in check by police, who arrested one man for possession of a knife.

The scenes contrasted starkly with those at mosques elsewhere in Britain, where moderate Islamic groups went on a public relations offensive to prove that the vast majority of Britain's two million Muslims were opposed to violence.

At Britain's largest mosque, next to Regent's Park in London, the Islamic Society of Britain held a ceremony for the victims of the September 11 attacks.

A cleric read a verse from the Koran and Joe Ahmed-Dobson, a British convert to Islam, said the religion would never support attacks on innocent people.

- REUTERS

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