A Syrian-born Islamist cleric who taught one of the men accused of hacking to death an off-duty British soldier on a London street praised the attack for its “courage” and said Muslims would see it as a strike on a military target.
In an interview in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, where he has lived since being banished from Britain in 2005, Omar Bakri, founder of banned British Islamist group Al Muhajiroun, said he knew suspect Michael Adebolajo from his lectures a decade ago.
“When I saw the footage I recognised the face immediately,” Bakri told Reuters. “I used to know him. A quiet man, very shy, asking lots of questions about Islam.”
“What surprised me (is) the quiet man, the man who is very shy, decided to carry out an attack against a British soldier in the middle of the day in the middle of a street in the UK. In east London. It’s incredible. “When I saw that, honestly I was very surprised — standing firm, courageous, brave. Not running away. Rather, he said why he carried (it out) and he wanted the whole world to hear it.”
The attack has been vociferously condemned by Muslim organisations across Britain.