WASHINGTON - Just two days before yesterday's horrific attacks on London's mass-transit system, a British court began proceedings to deport a man widely believed to be Osama bin Laden's envoy to the United Kingdom.
Abu Hamza al-Masri, a former Afghan Mujahedeen warrior turned Islamic scholar, stood in the dock on July 5 in London to hear the government he so often pledged to destroy make the case that he has urged fellow believers to kill Britons.
Terrorism experts yesterday were careful not to draw a link between the attacks and Mr. Masri's case, saying the bombings were most likely linked to Al Qaeda's campaign against the West, but in many ways the two matters are deeply connected. The Finsbury Park mosque, where Mr. Masri, 48, often gave fiery sermons imploring his faithful to defend Muslims against an assault from the West is widely considered to be the training and indoctrination ground for the jihadist movement in England.
'The leadership of the European Islamists relocated from Germany to England in the late 1990s. The Finsbury Park mosque was the central point, the embassy, the nexus for many of these groups. It served as both a recruitment and indoctrination school,' a Hudson Institute terrorism analyst, Christopher Brown, told The New York Sun yesterday.
A former CIA analyst and current chief executive officer for the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Michael Swetnam, yesterday said the Finsbury mosque likely played an important role in the London attacks.
Friday, July 08, 2005
The New York Sun's Eli Lake reports on the Finsbury Mosque leader's connection to terrorism: