Al Jazeera

Muslims feel targeted over Woolwich murder

Members of Muslim communities in southeast London, where two men convicted of killing a British soldier attended mosques and prayer groups, say they have been unfairly targeted by the media and faced Islamophobic intimidation since the May attack.

Members of a Muslim prayer group said they had been made scapegoats for the Woolwich attack. [Simon Hooper]

Members of a Muslim prayer group said they had been made scapegoats for the Woolwich attack. [Simon Hooper]

Speaking to Al Jazeera, members of a prayer group in Woolwich that became a focus of media attention because of the killers’ alleged attendance spoke with dismay of the way in which their community had been portrayed, in the words of one headline, as a “magnet for extremists”.

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Al Jazeera

‘Radical’ cleric denies Woolwich murder links

A Muslim preacher identified in the British media as a “key influence” on the two men convicted over the murder of a British soldier on a London street has denied any involvement with the pair and says he is a victim of press harassment.

Usman Ali. pictured outside the Greenwich mosque from which he is banned. [Simon Hooper]

Usman Ali. pictured outside the Greenwich mosque from which he is banned. [Simon Hooper]

Newspapers including the Sunday Times and the Guardian alleged that both Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale attended a prayer group in Woolwich run by Usman Ali, who the Daily Mail described as forming part of a “powerful web of Islamic radicals and terror convicts”.

The Daily Mail also speculated that the contact Lee Rigby’s murderers had with Ali and others “may have inspired them to attempt to plot a terror attack.”

But Ali exclusively told Al Jazeera that the allegations were “baseless”.

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Al Jazeera

Cleric claims MI5 harassment over airport stops

London, England — Usman Ali has grown used to the routine whenever he passes through an airport on his way in or out of the UK.

Usman Ali says MI5 offered him a briefcase full of banknotes to turn informer.

Usman Ali says MI5 offered him a briefcase full of banknotes to turn informer.

As he walks to catch a flight, or shortly after touching down, he says he will be stopped by police and questioned without access to a lawyer and without the right to silence.

His laptop and mobile phone are examined and their data copied. He has also been searched, fingerprinted, obliged to give a DNA sample and photographed repeatedly.

Ali, a London-based Muslim cleric who travels frequently as part of his work for a charity delivering aid to Syrian refugees, says he has been stopped six times this year alone, and many times prior to that, often for several hours.

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