Blair names key Is­lamist preacher he tried to de­port

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Robert Verkaik

FORMER prime min­is­ter Tony Blair has named an Egyp­tian Is­lamist preacher liv­ing in the UK as a key in­flu­ence among ji­hadi ter­ror­ists, nearly 20 years after he first tried to de­port him.

Mr Blair has pub­lished a re­port link­ing cleric Hani al-Sibai, to 13 ji­hadists, in­clud­ing Mo­hammed Emwazi, also known as Ji­hadi John, and El Shafee El­sheikh, an­other of Isil’s so-called “Bea­tles”, as well as Seifed­dine Rezgui, who opened fire on tourists on a beach in Tu­nisia in 2015, killing 38 peo­ple.

The Blair re­port claims Sibai, who lives in Ham­mer­smith, west London, “ap­peared on TV sta­tions in­clud­ing Al Jazeera on the day after the 7/7 bomb­ings, ex­press­ing his sup­port for 9/11.”

Sibai has de­nied be­ing linked to ter­ror­ism or in­flu­enc­ing Bri­tish ji­hadists.

Birn­berg Peirce, Sibai’s so­lic­i­tors, said he “to­tally de­nied” the sug­ges­tion that he had rad­i­calised Mo­hammed Emwasi.

“To the best of his knowl­edge, he never met him, and does not un­der­stand how this sug­ges­tion can ever have arisen,” said Birn­berg Peirce.

“Mr al-Sibai has al­ready set out in de­tail his rea­sons for con­sid­er­ing that the ac­tions of Emwazi and Is­lamic State are not con­sis­tent with Is­lamic teach­ing.

“Mr al-Sibai also de­nies rad­i­cal­is­ing El Shafee El­sheikh, just as he de­nies any connection to Seifed­dine Rezgui.

“Mr al-Sibai has for some con­sid­er­able time been on record through re­peated public state­ments, as con­demn­ing Is­lamic state and their ac­tions. He asks we re­peat his con­dem­na­tion of the killing of in­no­cent peo­ple wher­ever this oc­curs in the world.”

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