- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2002

LONDON Copies of a videotape that inspired the killer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl to become a terrorist are circulating in British mosques and Islamic bookstores.
At least 3,000 British Muslims have been trained in al Qaeda and Taliban camps in the past decade, the Sunday Times of London reported yesterday, showing that the recruitment of militants in Britain has been far more effective than previously believed.
The circulation of disturbing videotapes is "part of the process of brainwashing," said a source familiar with ongoing investigations by British security services into the Muslim tapes and their distribution.
Ahmed Omar Saeed, who was sentenced to death last week for the kidnapping and murder of Mr. Pearl in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, has credited a video titled "The Destruction of a Nation" for his militant conversion.
The film "shook my heart," Saeed said in a confession to Indian authorities years before his 1999 release from jail. "The reason being Bosnian Muslims were shown being butchered by the Serbs," the confession reads.
A few months after viewing the film, the British-born Saeed went with his father on a business trip to Pakistan and took propaganda videos on the Bosnian war and set up contacts with Islamic militants.
It was not long before he went to the war-torn Balkans with a "convoy of mercy," which he says was also a front for supporting Islamic fighters.
There he met a recruiter for jihad fighters. Soon he went for training in Afghanistan and wound up fighting against Indian rule in the divided territory of Kashmir.
He was arrested in 1994 for kidnapping an American and three Britons, who were freed unharmed in an Indian rescue operation. But Saeed was freed from an Indian prison in 1999 in a trade-off for passengers on an Indian jet that was hijacked to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Saeed was turned loose in Pakistan, where he was free to walk the streets of Karachi and preach his militant message.
In his confession, now in the possession of British police, Saeed explains that he joined the London School of Economics' Islamic Society in 1992 and watched "various documentary films" during a Bosnia Week that the society had organized.
The video comes with a dust cover telling viewers that Bosnia has been "exposed to a new Nazi attack" and shows pictures of a Serbian soldier with a gun inches from the head of a civilian lying on the sidewalk.
The "fund-raising" video offers viewers a combination of songs praising holy war against the infidels and preparations for battle made by Arabic-speaking Muslim fighters.
Gory battle scenes follow, punctuated with cries in Arabic of "Allah is great."
It ends with scenes of fallen holy warriors in white shrouds being lowered into the ground as mourners wearing Afghan-style tunics and white skullcaps call for revenge and victory.
The North London mosque that sells this video has a collection of other videos and audiotapes that continue to attract young Muslim customers.
Especially popular are one on Afghanistan titled "Jihad The Final Victory" and another about the Muslim revolt against Russia in Chechnya called "The Mirror of Jihad."
British police have seized thousands of audiotapes made by extremist Muslim preachers after repeated complaints in Parliament and from prominent centrist Muslim clerics about Britain's lenient approach to radical Muslims.
British Muslims, in particular a movement called al Muhajiroun, continue to recruit young men to fight against the United States and British forces in Afghanistan.
Only a small number of British Muslims were captured by allied forces, and some remain at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But security sources told the Sunday Times that at least 3,000 British Muslims have been trained in al Qaeda and Taliban camps in the past decade, far more than the 500 Westerners previously believed to have passed through the camps.
The assessment is based on an analysis of captured documents and interviews with trainees, none of whom has been arrested, the newspaper said.
All underwent arms and spiritual training, a number were selected to survey potential targets, and an elite group was trained for terrorist operations overseas.
Another tape that has figured in the recruitment drive features a British "holy warrior" urging fellow British Muslims to go to Chechnya to fight the Russians.
A copy of the tape, seized by the Russians in February, has been handed to British authorities in Moscow by President Vladimir Putin's Chechnya specialist. The Russians said several dozen Britons had been recruited to fight in Chechnya.
One leading Islamic centrist, the imam of Brighton, has condemned the sale of radical Islamic videos, which he said are "very appealing and convincing to young minds."
"The youths are driven to fury by seeing the suffering inflicted on Muslims," said Imam Abdul Jalil Sajid, who has received more than a dozen death threats for speaking out against extremists.
"But these videos are dangerous and misleading, in that they fail to show the other side of Islam: compassion.
"We should deny these radicals the oxygen of publicity, and these videos should be stopped," the imam said in an interview.

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