November 22, 2007


OK. I wrote notes in the breaks. Not sure how complete this is going to be but the trade off of being face to face above the jury rather than behind Hamid with the journalists is going OK. The occasional argument with court staff, but its an uncomfortable situation. I'd spoken to Musa and Mrs Atilla about yesterday and both came down rather worried. Joel greeted them and Atilla's two year old daughter warmly totally unaware of who they were. They were certainly unaware it was him who had cast aspersions on Atilla's character the day before. Neither stayed long enough to hear Atilla's name brought up late afternoon.

Anyway from the beginning.

Joel asked Hamid if he had friends who were Jihadi trainers in Afghanistan as he had claimed at one of his house meetings. He said that was cobblers. he had made that up to impress people. He exaggerates things to make himself look better.

We heard this morning of Hamids many trips abroad. Working with an Islamic relief charity over the road from his Islamic book shop in Hackney he picked up enough medical equipment from Kingston hospital to fill 9 40 foot shipping containers. The biggest available. He met these containers at the port in Karachi where it took 9 days to clear them, split them into lorry loads and set off into Afghanistan. This was 2002. (I later heard an excited journalist comparing this to the dates when the Crevice plotters were in Pakistan.)

He drove with the trucks to various refugee camps where they were received by hospitals along with food. Next he spoke of a trip they planned to Grenada. they were detained by anti-terror Police for 9 hours on the way out. One of the Policemen who was OK with them gave them a cup of tea and said that they had been detained too long to attempt a trip to Southern Spain and suggested they go to Bordeaux (?) instead, where the second longest sand dune in the world was. You could camp where you wanted etc. They took this advice, loved it and have been back since. We saw film of them running about, breaking off sticks, running up and down hills. At one point they reach a depression in the ground where Hamid declares an Alien spaceship is going to land.

He also drove to Loch Ness in the snow, which was beautiful. We were introduced to the camping trips Hamid organised to the Lake District. He had found the place the morning after a long and fruitless search which had ended up with them all sleeping in their cars. They drove up in the morning and knocked on the door of what looked like an abandoned property. Unsure what to do they pitched the tent up hill, visible from everywhere so that the owner could see them when he arrived. They also chose to camp on a hill because the ground around the house was fairly waterlogged. This later proved to be fortunate as sometimes young kids who would drink and smoke and shout would camp around the house and neither groups disturbed each other.

They kept coming back to this spot for years. The camping trips were all about discipline. A lot of those who came to Hamid's house meetings were coming off drugs or out of prison. It was very hard to be a Muslim these days. Hard to keep out of the wrong company. If the Police saw people waving sticks, Hamid doesn't buy expensive walking sticks, he breaks a stick off where he finds one and if the Police officers saw someone playing with a stick, they could easily have made a misguided assumption.

Next we moved onto 9/11, 7/7 and 21/7.

Hamid didn't believe 9/11 was done by Muslims as Muslims can't kill innocents, or commit suicide. Why would Afghanistan bomb the US inviting a superpowers wrath when they couldn't even afford food? Things were bad after 9/11 but they were much worse after 7/7. He would take his family to Margate where people would shout "Terrorist! Osama!" and suchlike and spat at him. Musa Brown told him the morning of 7/7 that bombs had gone off and advised him not to take his dawah table to Marble Arch. He didn't follow this advice and went down. All afternoon, with public transport halted, people passed him walking home shouting abuse at him. At one point a Policeman regularly on the beat there advised him to pack up and go home. He took this advice. Explaining his text message that evening "We fear no one except Allah. We cannot change etc" he said this was a common Muslims phrase.

Joel asked him his attitude to training. He said it was part of the Koran. He had spoken to a blonde woman in his shop who turned out to be Bosnian. One morning people who she had previously been at peace with came to her house and dragged her husband out. She escaped with her kids to the woods where she met others and took flight. He was aware of what could happen even in developed countries where populations turned on Muslims. He allowed the BBC to film after they had spoken to him on his dawa stall. They turned this into a documentary called "Don't Panic I'm Islamic."

Next we came to the 21/7 guys.

He knew all of them from visits to his house. They would bring each other on his camping trips. Once when he was on holiday two of them took over his dawa stall. When he returned they stayed about until they had a argument with Police. Hamid said he didn't hear any racial abuse or give any. He lost the case the Police brought against him, a case which the others didn't turn up for. He had had an argument with them about the situation. When one of them turned up with his own dawa stall he chased him off his patch. He didn't see them after that. If one of them was in the proximity of his house on 8/7 and another on 15/7 in might have been because they came to a meeting at his where Muslims were all saying

"How could this happen? Muslims wouldn't do this."

When he recognized the 21/7 guys from the TV a few weeks later he thought "I can't believe these guys have done this."

Next we dealt with the subject of Atilla Ahmet. He had met him when he was brought to his house by someone called Moon? Noon? Something like that anyway. He spoke about the trustees at Finsbury Park being a bad bunch, they were in league with Blair etc. Joel asked him if it was wrong to criticise your fellow Muslim brothers and whether Atilla was committing this sin to which Hamid replied in the affirmative. He said that one of the trustees was his personal friend and that he successfully negotiated between the waring factions to get the Mosque open for Ramadan.

(see Inside Finsbury Park Mosque 1 and 2)

He was asked about his relationship with Islington Borough commander Barry Norman. He said Mr Norman liked him because he knew how to speak to him. He said one of the conditions of the peace which was made was that Atilla didn't bring any more unsavoury media attention on the mosque. He said Atilla was a nice guy, but he was influenced by those around him and broke these conditions with an inflammatory interview. Those around Atilla soon accused hamid of being in league with MI-5 etc, so he left the mosque. Atilla later ( I presume when he was chucked out of Finsbury park) appeared at Hamid's house and said "You were right."

Obviously I am paraphrasing. He said all this in his own very endearing Cockney/Gujaratii isms and looked very relaxed throughout.

I spoke to a court representative (Not Hamids) on the way home. He said that it was often the way things went when one of a number pleaded guilty that they got a bit loaded on and that it was unlikely to affect Atilla's sentencing.

More tomorrow if pos. I'd say more tomorrow insh Allah but I am not a Muslim so I won't.



Anonymous said...

Do you know the name of the Islamic charity that Hamid was involved with? Also, is the bookshop that he ran the Al-Qur'an Islamic Book Centre at 22 Chatsworth Road?

DAVE BONES said...

yup, The charity was over the road. Do pass on details if you find them. The journalists seemed very excited by this information.

African neocon said...

I was wondering when Hamid's trips (to foreign lands) would come up. In the park he would often boast how he went to assist 'Muslims' (and met Gen Dostum). I always told him assisting to transport 'stuff' under the guise of ‘other stuff’ couldn't be seen as a humanitarian act (when you look at who the recipients were). I’m also guessing the prosecution will also have copy of video/cds of his more humanitarian ‘activities’ that he did over there (as he would occasionally bring them to the park)?

DAVE BONES said...

I've not seen a film of Hamid in Afghanistan yet.