Sky News is reporting that Omar Bakri Mohammed has been sentenced to life in prison in Lebanon. He has apparently been convicted, in absentia, for fundraising for al-Qaeda. Bakri told Sky:
"Now in Lebanon, on behalf of the Western powers, to please US and UK, Lebanese authorities take decision against 54 brothers," he said.
"I don't know any one of them. They gave 25 of us (a) life sentence... for a crime we did not commit at all.
"Maybe myself, radicalising people as you like to say it, but no crime has been committed, neither in Lebanon or abroad."
Those of us who have followed the life and times of Omar Bakri know he is a charlatan and a liar. What strikes me as suspicious about this story is that Bakri has told Sky News about it himself. There seems to be no obvious reason why he would do that unless he is misguidedly trying to garner some kind of sympathy vote.
What we do know for certain is that Bakri, if incarcerated, wouldn't last long. I'm reminded of how much he loved talking big in London about jihad and fighting the Israelis. In fact, I remember him once telling people that anyone who ‘turns their back on the jihad in the battlefield is a kafir'. Of course, when the IDF attacked Lebanon following the capture of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah in 2006, did Bakri stand to fight his mortal enemy? The enemy against whom he preached so loud and boldly on the streets of London? The enemy he was just itching for a chance to fight?
Did he heck. When the IDF came, Bakri went running - seemingly oblivious to the irony - to the Royal Navy for help. The BBC reported at the time:
Among those who tried to board the ships was radical preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was banned from Britain last year.
He said he had been turned back by officials because he did not have a British passport.
If news of this sentence is true, then it is welcome news. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Focus on Islamism is a blog dedicated to analysing and exposing the modern ideological phenomenon known as Islamism.
Shiraz Maher is a writer and broadcaster.
Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens is a PhD student at King's College, London. He has contributed to various online and printed publications including, The Daily Telegraph, Lebanon's Daily Star, Standpoint and NOWLebanon.
To contact the authors, click here
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