Four British Islamist extremists are being trained to fight in Syria at a camp run by radical Islamist preacher Omar Bakri in northern Lebanon, Britain's The Sun newspaper reported on Sunday.
Bakri boasted of his “military-style courses for Islamic fanatics on the lawless border with Lebanon,” The Sun said.
In an interview with the newspaper, Bakri revealed one recruit was a computer programmer in his 20s from London, while another was a Midlands-based IT worker.
And he claimed: “Others like them will follow.”
“Of the four, two of them have Syrian connections. But they are all born in UK and have professional backgrounds,” Bakri added.
“After their training they will do their duty of jihad (holy war) in Syria and maybe Palestine.”
Bakri, 52, came to Britain in 1986 and stayed until 2005, during which time he praised the 9/11 attacks.
The Syrian-born cleric claimed to have trained “many fighters” from other countries, including Germany and France, since setting up home in Lebanon.
He boasted of exploiting the clashes between Israel and Gaza to focus on “military activities.”
He added: “I’m involved with training the mujahideen (fighters) in camps on the Syrian borders and also on the Palestine side.”
The Islamist militant leader was instrumental in developing Hizb ut-Tahrir in the United Kingdom before leaving the group and heading another Islamist organization, al-Muhajiroun, until its disbandment in 2004.
For several years Bakri was one of the best-known, high-profile Islamic radicals based in London, and was frequently quoted and interviewed in the UK media. For example, in December 2004 he vowed that Muslims would give the West "a 9/11, day after day after day," if Western governments did not change their policies.
He has been described as "closely linked to al-Qaida" – having released prepared statements from Osama bin Laden after the 1998 United States embassy bombings.
In 2005, following the July 7, 2005 London bombings the Times reported that "a dozen members" of his group al-Muhajiroun "have taken part in suicide bombings or have become close to al-Qaida and its support network."
Shortly after, he left the UK, where he had sheltered for 20 years, for Lebanon. While in Lebanon he was informed by the Home Office that he would not be allowed back into Britian.
Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said on November 12, 2010 that Bakri was among 54 people sentenced by the Military Court to life in prison with hard labor after being accused of acts of terrorism.
But a retrial was ordered as he had not been present in court and the 50-year-old was released on bail.
The Syrian-born cleric, who also holds Lebanese nationality, has denied he has any links to al-Qaida although he says he believes in "the same ideology."
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