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Top U.K. Law Official Angers Muslims

Shouting protesters interrupted Britain's top law official during a speech Wednesday in which he urged Muslim parents to watch their children closely for signs of extremism.

Home Secretary John Reid was speaking to a Muslim audience in east London when a man began berating him as an "enemy of Islam and Muslims."

"Shame on all of us for sitting down and listening to him!" shouted Abu Izzadeen.

After a few minutes, Izzadeen was escorted from the building.

After being interrupted briefly by another man later in his speech, Reid said: "I wish they would stay, I do. I wish they would ask questions, which we can engage in dialogue."

Reid called on his listeners to do their part in a "battle of values."

"There is no nice way of saying this," Reid said. "These fanatics are looking to groom and brainwash children, including your children, for suicide bombing, to kill themselves in order to murder many others."

Relations between the government and many British Muslims have been strained in recent years by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the July 7, 2005, London transit bombings.

The London attacks, which killed 52 commuters and the four British-bred bombers, heightened concerns about radicalization within Britain's Muslim community of 1.6 million.


Many Muslims feel they are unfairly targeted for suspicion and bear the brunt of the government's tough new anti-terror measures enacted in the Terrorism Act of 2006.

Several high-profile anti-terrorist operations have increased the feelings, particularly a June raid on a house in east London in which a man was shot. He and his brother were later released without charge.

In other related developments:

  • One of the most recent uses of the Terrorism Act came Wednesday, as a British man was charged in London with collecting information about potential terrorist targets and traveling to Pakistan for terrorism training.

    Habib Ahmed, 26, of Manchester, was scheduled to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, in central London, on Thursday. Ahmed was charged with collecting or making a record of electronic information relating to potential terrorist targets likely to be useful to a terrorist. Police alleged the offense occurred between Jan. 29, 2002, and Aug. 24 this year. He also was accused of attending a weapons training camp in an unidentified area of Pakistan to prepare him for terrorist acts.

    Both offenses are violations of the Terrorism Act 2000. Terrorism training also is a violation of Britain's Terrorism Act 2006.

    His arrest has not been linked to this summer's alleged terror plot to blow up U.S.-bound jets, or the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings.

    Seventeen British Muslims arrested last month have been charged in connection with the alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners in flight.

  • Also on Tuesday, London's police force pleaded not guilty to charges related to last year's killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, shot by officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber.

    De Menezes was shot seven times in the head by anti-terror officers as he sat aboard a train at a subway station in south London on July 22, 2005.

    The incident came just two weeks after the suicide attacks on London's transit system, when tensions still ran high in the capital for both residents and law enforcement.

    Four other attempted attacks were thwarted the day before De Menezes was shot.

    No individual officer was charged in the case, although the force as a whole faces charges under health and safety legislation.

    Prosecutors charged the police under the act because officers allegedly endangered the public's safety during the operation. The next hearing will be Jan. 16.

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