Saturday, August 19, 2006

Why are the activities of "a group of preachers" being monitored by security services?

Inside the Islamic group accused by MI5 and FBI
Paul Lewis, (read the complete article at The Guardian )
Saturday August 19, 2006
Thousands of young Muslim men are attending meetings in east London every week run by a fundamentalist Islamic movement believed by western intelligence agencies to be used as a fertile recruiting ground by extremists.
Tablighi Jamaat, whose activities are being monitored by the security services, holds the tightly guarded meetings on an industrial estate close to the area where some of the suspects in last week's terror raids were arrested.
This week it emerged that at least seven of the 23 suspects under arrest on suspicion of involvement in the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners may have participated in Tablighi events.
The organisation - influenced by a branch of Saudi Arabian Islam known as Wahhabism - has already been linked to two of the July 7 suicide bombers who attended a Tablighi mosque at the organisation's headquarters in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. The jailed shoe bomber Richard Reid is also known to have attended Tablighi meetings.
Until now, the leaders of Tablighi Jamaat - which means "group of preachers" - have refused to open their doors to outsiders, shrouding the organisation in mystery.
Tablighi enthusiasts say that the organisation, founded by a scholar in India in the 1920s, has no involvement with terrorism and simply encourages Muslims to follow the example of the prophet and proselytise the teachings of the Qur'an. As one sympathetic imam put it, they were the "Jehovah's Witnesses of Islam".

PS: Interesting to see yesterday's Letters to the Editor: Let's not demonise our fellow citizens Friday August 18, 2006 that includes this letter:

"When you refer to Tablighi Jamaat as "an Islamic group linked by western intelligence to terrorism" (Brother says detainee went to camp run by Islamic sect, August 16), you should also have pointed out it is a huge worldwide missionary movement - socially conservative, but avowedly non-political - whose annual meeting in Bangladesh attracted 4 million attendees this January, and is the second largest gathering in the Muslim world after the annual hajj to Mecca. That a very small number of its followers may have subsequently embraced terrorism should not blind us to the fact that its inclusion in America's list of terrorist organisations is misleading."
Andy Worthington