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Al-Qaida recruitment videos placed on web

By Jeremy Reynalds
web posted November 11, 2002

Portions what are believed to be of secret al-Qaida training tapes show a rare glimpse of life inside the terrorist organization.

A source who contacted me on condition of anonymity was sent the tapes by the controversial Islamic cleric Abu Hamza of the Finsbury Park Mosque.

Video on these tapes indicates links between Abu Hamza and his Finsbury Park Mosque to al-Qaida as well as Kashmiri, Chechen and Palestinian terrorists and the individuals behind World Trade Center One.

Abu Hamza

The tapes also feature discussion about the bombing of the American Embassy in Africa and how al-Qaida was responsible. Abu Hamza suggests the reasons for the assault. His knowledge is detailed enough that he appears to have obvious links to the attackers.

In another of the videos there is a defense of Islam and a tirade against Christians and Jews. The speaker says there is a "crusade" against Islam by the Jews and that Israel wants to destroy Islam and dominate the world. The speaker cites Osama bin Laden as an example of the persecution of Muslims, saying that he was "framed and forced into isolation" and was used as a scapegoat to arrest many Muslims. Abu Hamza is also held up as another example of persecution by the authorities. The same speaker says that Abu Hamza's home was raided one night and he was arrested.

There are many indications suggesting a strong connection between Al Hamza, al-Qaida and bin Laden. For example. Bin Laden's official website (closed in August 2001) was www.supportersofshariah.org. Abu Hamza's was www.supportersofshariah.com. There are also hundreds of news stories linking Hamza to al-Qaida. For example. A Google search of "Hamza Al-Qaeda" resulted in 6590 links, such as www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/4191532.htm, www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E6439%257E819913%257E,00.html and www.aberdeennews.com/mld/aberdeennews/2002/09/28/news/4191532.htm

But who is Abu Hamza, whose mosque has been described as one of the most dangerous in Europe. Time Magazine Europe provided a fascinating portrayal earlier this year.
(at www.time.com/time/europe/magazine/2002/0408/cover/hamza.html). The article read in part:

"Fiery, eloquent, charming Abu Hamza Al-Masri, 43, is the imam of the North London Central Mosque in Finsbury Park, the most controversial in Europe. Shoe bomber Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui (the so-called 20th hijacker), Djamel Beghal and other radicals have been in his congregation. Born in Egypt, Abu Hamza studied engineering there and in Britain. After working as a civil engineer in the U.K., he went to Afghanistan in 1993. There he lost both hands and an eye in an explosion. Since 1996, he has been imam of the Finsbury Park mosque."

Despite a British High Court order banning him from teaching at his mosque, Abu Hamza continues to do so (http://www.muslimeen.co.uk/sos/home.htm).

There is a fascinating story of courage, determination and commitment behind the individual who obtained the tapes. "Albert" (not his real name) told me some of that story.

After setting up a fake Islamic web site and gaining the trust of the extreme Islamic fundamentalist community, Albert decided to go one step further. He told me in an e-mail interview that he started to write to Abu Hamza, telling him how much he admired his work. Then under the pseudonyms of Ali Khal and Pervez Khan, Albert also called the mosque. It didn't take Albert long to see that Abu Hamza and his associates appeared to have a general hatred of all white non-Moslem people in general.

Continuing to gain the confidence of Abu Hamza, Albert then told him that he wanted to recruit people in England to join the Kashmiri terrorists and the al-Qaida but he could do a much more effective job if he could use some old al-Qaida training videos.

He wrote:

"Abu Hamza said he would send some and after several more phone calls and several e-mails in which I had to act as a supporter of evil and hate whites, the postman came with a box of some 20 cassette tapes, newspapers from Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnia. I listened to every tape and made copies for my Indian and Russian friends. I did contact the British police, but they never bothered coming. I think that they thought I was nuts or lying, or that I had been sent Elton John's top 20 hits. But they were very wrong as good reports from Indian intelligence came back."

The video tapes came soon after. Although Abu Hamza told Albert that most of them had been removed from the mosque or hidden, he said he would nonetheless sort out a selection and send some.

I wondered what Albert's motivation was in now making these tapes available to a worldwide audience.

By e-mail he told me that he wants to expose the al-Qaida in the United Kingdom and show that the British laws on refugees are too soft. "Now the whole world can see that the United Kingdom is a major terrorist training base and support center for the al-Qaida."

Albert added that the most important thing he wants accomplished by the release of these videos is for the world to see that Abu Hamza is a "major player" for al-Qaida. "He must be taken off the streets and be deported to Yemen where he is wanted," he told me.

Portions of the videotapes are available for viewing and downloading at http://johnathangaltfilms.bravepages.com/.

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is pursuing his PhD in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work can be viewed here and weekly at www.americasvoices.org. He may be contacted by e-mail at reynalds@joyjunction.org.

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