Organizers of ‘Shari’a for America’ Rally Anticipate Fatwa on ‘U.S. Interference’ in Islamic Lands

By Patrick Goodenough | March 3, 2011 | 5:13 AM EST

The Shariah4America Web site features doctored photos like this one, showing the White House with a dome, minarets and Islamic flag. (Image: Shariah4America)

( – A Lebanese-based radical cleric notorious for his fiery sermons and support for jihad soon will deliver a fatwa regarding “U.S. intervention in Muslim lands,” according to a controversial Islamist group that says it plans to hold a pro-shari’a demonstration at the White House on Thursday.

A Web site promoting Thursday’s so-called “Shariah4America” rally says the fatwa – an Islamic religious injunction – will be delivered by Omar Bakri Mohammed.

“With the unwarranted interference of America in the Middle East, and having been left with no other alternative, the impending fatwa will clarify the reality of the crusade against Islam and Muslims as well as the appropriate response to a very bitter foreign policy,” it says.

The site describes Bakri as “one of the leading scholars of the Islamic world.” In fact, the Syrian-born fundamentalist cleric is better known in Britain, where he lived from 1986 to 2005, as a radicalizer of young Muslims and an apologist for terrorists.

He called openly for jihad against America, Israel and Britain, admitting to signing up recruits to fight in places like Kashmir and Israel, and to sending young men for jihad training in the U.S.

After 9/11, the organization led by Bakri, al-Muhajiroun (“The Emigrants”), began holding events on the anniversary of the attacks, extolling the “19 brave and courageous Muslims” who carried out the deadly hijackings.

Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian-born, Lebanon-based radical, is reportedly planning to issue a fatwa on “U.S. intervention in Muslim lands.” (Photo: Shariah4America)

Bakri left Britain quietly for Lebanon in August 2005, at a time when British authorities were clamping down on radicals in the aftermath of the London bombings the previous month.

The British government than banned him from returning, and also announced it would proscribe al-Muhajiroun. Others in the group, notably the man described as Bakri’s deputy, Anjem Choudary, continued to operate under other names, including the Savior Sect and Islam4UK, with the Lebanon-based Bakri acting as “spiritual leader.”

The British government in January last year formally banned Islam4UK under that name and that of its earlier incarnation, al-Muhajiroun.

The Shariah4America Web site calls Bakri the worldwide leader of al-Muhajiroun.

‘Revive the caliphate’

Anjem Choudary, who remains closely associated with Bakri, is reportedly organizing Thursday’s pro-shari’a event in Washington, in conjunction with a New York-based Islamist group calling itself the Islamic Thinkers’ Society.

Thursday marks the 87th anniversary of the formal abolition of the Islamic caliphate by Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The caliphate had existed in various forms since the days of Mohammed. Proponents of reviving the caliphate range from the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda, and both Choudary and Bakri fall into that camp.

While it is not clear if the planned event in D.C. will go ahead, several groups are planning counter-demonstrations on Thursday. They include the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), whose president Zuhdi Jasser denounced the event as “an affront to very idea of America.”

Jasser in a statement challenged American Muslims to take a stand against the shari’a-promoting ideology.

“The silence of American Muslims against the Islamic state and political Islam allows radical groups like this to speak for all Muslims,” he said.

The Shariah4America Web site features doctored photos like this one, showing the White House with a dome, minarets and Islamic flag. (Image: Shariah4America)

Also opposing the planned rally is the Liberty Alliance Coalition, which plans a press conference near the White House at noon on Thursday to “call for an end to false accusations of ‘bigotry’ and ‘Islamophobia’ designed to silence those voicing concern about the threat of shari’a law to the Constitution.”

A London newspaper reported last month that Choudary would be accompanied on the visit to Washington by an associate, Abu Izzadeen, who would also speak at the event.

Abu Izzadeen is a Muslim preacher who served a three-and-a-half year prison sentence in Britain for inciting terrorism and terrorism fundraising.

Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) recently wrote to the State Department and Homeland Security Department, urging them to deny visas to both Choudary and Abu Izzadeen.

“Anyone convicted of a terrorism charge should not be allowed to step foot on American soil,” she wrote.

Bakri associate Anjem Choudary has been depicted in British media as a publicity hound. (Photo: Choudary Web site)

Choudary has long been portrayed in British media as a publicity-seeking rabble rouser, who uses shock tactics to make headlines. The Shariah4America Web site features doctored photographs of the Statue of Liberty draped in a Muslim veil and the White House sporting a dome, minarets and Islamic flag.

His association with Bakri goes back more than a decade, and the two reportedly co-founded al-Muhajiroun.

Choudary at one stage also chaired a London-based organization called the Muslim Cultural Society (Bakri was a trustee) until the British government’s Charities Commission revoked its charitable status. The supposedly charitable group acknowledged raising funds and recruiting fighters for jihad in places like Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow