Radical Muslim cleric arrested in Lebanon

Last Updated: Sunday, November 14, 2010 - 21:55

Beirut: A radical Muslim cleric was on Sunday
arrested at his home in northern Lebanon two days after a
military court sentenced him in absentia to life in prison in
a terrorism trial, authorities said.

Omar Bakri Mohammed was taken into custody without a
struggle in the city of Tripoli, police and security officials
said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are
not authorised to speak publicly.

Mohammed, who holds Syrian and Lebanese citizenship,
lived in Britain for 20 years where he headed the
now-disbanded radical Islamist group al-Muhajiroun.

He left Britain for Lebanon in 2005 and the British
government barred him from returning.

Lebanese officials said Bakri was among 54 people
sentenced on Friday in trials of militants who fought deadly
clashes with the Lebanese army in 2007. Bakri was convicted of
"belonging to an armed group with the aim of carrying out
terrorist acts and plotting to kill Lebanese soldiers."
Judicial officials said Bakri was sentenced to life
because of his failure to show up for his trial.

Bakri insisted he never received summons.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press on
Friday, he said the charges were "lies and fabrications."

Bakri also said his lawyer informed him he had 15 days
to turn himself in and appeal the ruling.

It was not immediately clear why authorities did not
arrest Bakri earlier. He appears often on Lebanese TV stations
as a guest on political talk shows and does not live in
hiding.

Bakri became a focus of British attention after he
said he would not inform the police if he knew Muslims were
planning attacks such as the July 7, 2005, bombings in London
that killed 56 people.

The cleric, who also has been criticised in Britain
for his fiery sermons, said his Muslim faith prevented him
from reporting fellow Muslims to the British police.

Britain later said it had barred Bakri from returning
to that country because his presence was not "conducive to
public good."

PTI



First Published: Sunday, November 14, 2010 - 21:55

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