Witness this account of an Islamic terrorist (from CBN News: http://www.cbn.org
The Jihad Trail, Part 3
By George Thomas
CBN News Reporter
October 04, 2001
"In order to love my creator, if I have to kill, I have to kill," says Osman Muqatil.
CBN.com - In Part 2 of "The Jihad Trail" series, CBN News profiled one militant group in London that uses the United States to train its recruits. In Part 3 of this series, reporter George Thomas talks to one of those recruits who allegedly trained in America for jihad.
LONDON-In anticipation of an imminent U.S. attack on Afghanistan, radical Muslims across Britain are preparing to die in the jihad, or holy war, against America. According to Britain's London Times newspaper, young Muslims from that country are volunteering to fight alongside terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
In some cases, militant Muslim organizations have been recruiting, funding and training British Muslims to fight in Afghanistan.
"In order to love my creator, if I have to kill, I have to kill," said 22-year-old Osman Muqatil. He calls himself a "soldier of Islam," and for him, killing in the name of Allah is an act of worship. Becoming a "shahid," a martyr, guarantees him a one-way ticket to "Jena" or paradise.
"Martyrdom in Islam is recognized to be something great, not something small. Meaning that in all the things that you have done in the world, you will be cleansed of, because you sacrificed your body for Islam, for Allah, for the creator," Muqatil said.
Today, Muqatil and thousands of militant faithful like him, believe waging a holy war against the infidels and oppressors in Muslim lands is a divine obligation.
"For us it is something natural, something that we are immune to, that we can just get up and go, get up and fight, we can just get up and train," said Muqatil.
Originally from Pakistan, but born and raised in Britain, Muqatil was 17 when he began his path to jihad. He was recruited, nurtured, and trained for Islam's holy war by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, London's most outspoken radical Islamic leader.
Bakri and his group, Al-Muhajiroun, have boasted of sending up to 2,000 Britons a year abroad to fight for Islam.
"Their job is, when a Muslim land is involved or attacked by foreign forces and comes under occupation, to provide help and support, financially, physically or verbally," Bakri said.
According to press reports, Bakri's "Jihad Network" sends recruits to military training camps funded by Islamic groups in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Pakistan, Sudan and others. These groups are regarded as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.
Several years ago, Bakri introduced Muqatil to the leaders of Sakina Security Services, a London-based firm that trains Islamic militants for jihad.
Muqatil says he signed-up for what Sakina's website calls the "The Ultimate Jihad Challenge." The program, which promises to keep "theory to a minimum," teaches recruits how to ambush enemy forces, engage multiple targets, take hostages, shoot as a sniper, and the list goes on and on.
According to the website, all military training "must be done overseas" because of strict guns laws in Great Britain. In fact, some claim that the most ideal country to obtain such military training is the United States.
"The most popular place is U.S.A. because it is open, it is legal!" Bakri said.
Bakri says relaxed gun laws and access to advanced equipment makes America a more friendly environment for training.
"In America there are more sophisticated equipment and machines and automatic machines and sometimes explosives and survival camps is available where you go and work together as a team," he said. "We use U.S.A. because whenever we go to Afghanistan, U.S.A. labels us terrorist. Okay, so let us go to America. You call us tourists!"
Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper reports strong links between Sakina's leadership and Sheikh Omar Bakri.
Three years ago, Muqatil and several other British Muslim recruits, boarded a plane from London to New York's John F. Kennedy airport. As soon as they landed, they were detained and questioned by airport authorities.
"Five of us were taken into separate interview rooms asking us questions-where we live, where we come from, why we are here," Muqatil said. "They asked as many questions, even to the extent of asking us questions about Osama bin Laden. Now I am not related to him, I don't know if I look like him, and I am not a part of his group, but of course I condone what he is doing and I support what he is doing and I told them that and they did not like it. In fact, they wanted to keep me in detention because of that statement."
But he and the others were released after hours of interrogation. For the next few days, the group traveled by bus, train, car and plane to avoid detection by U.S. authorities.
"The journey we took was in circles for the government. We had to travel down to the south, then we traveled east and from there in the night, we had to travel again. Sometimes we had to go in different ways and then meet at a rendezvous point. It was a very long and tiring journey but that was because of safety reasons," Muqatil said.
Their final destination was "around the Texas area" according to Muqatil. For seven weeks, he joined other Muslim jihad fighters from "America, Canada, there was a quite a few from Africa as well and a small proportion from Europe."
There were 75 recruits in all, being trained for holy war by ex-British SAS elite forces. "And there were many ex-Navy SEALS that were teaching us as well from America in America," Muqatil claimed.
CBN News found no evidence to confirm Muqatil's claim that former Navy SEALS or SAS agents were involved in the military training.
According to Muqatil, many of the trainers were non-Muslims who willing to share their military training expertise for money. "But for us it was an issue of belief, an issue of obligation towards Islam," he said. "In the morning we would be taught by the ex-Navy SEALS or the ex-SAS on hand-to-hand combat and then in the evening we would be taught how to use the firearms and the teachers would switch."
And they became acquainted with a variety of firearms. "Firearms like you could say the handguns, revolvers, we had a chance to fire a few AK-47's and the new types of semi-automatics as well. We trained on the issue of explosives on how to detonate them and how to put them together, and from there basics of how to make home-made explosives."
Bob Blitzer was in charge of the FBI's counter-terrorism division in 1993, and he says there are hundreds of private and legally registered U.S. companies that provide military training. He says anyone with money can easily secure the facility and the expertise.
"So they are going to go to some place where they can get the skills that they need to conduct either military combat or terrorist operations, and frankly speaking, some of those skills they can get here, and get here legally," Blitzer said.
From the Texas area, Muqatil and the other recruits traveled to Pakistan for more military training. A month later, they crossed over the border into Afghanistan. Muqatil was reluctant to say whose camp he attended in Afghanistan, but after a little prodding he announced he was trained in the camp of none other than "the blessed Mujaheed, Sheikh Osama bin Laden."
According to Muqatil, he was taught how to operate tanks, launch missiles, handle explosives and other more advanced training.
At first he did not know who was sponsoring the camp, but Muqatil said when found out that the camp was sponsored in part by bin Laden, "It made me feel great! But unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to meet him. It would have been a great honor and it would have completed my training."
Muqatil knows that Americans who hear he attended a bin Laden camp would call him "...a terrorist, most definitely, a fundamentalist, an extremist. But I am proud of that," he said.
When asked if he considers himself a terrorist, Muqatil became philosophical.
"I am only a terrorist if the people believe I am a terrorist. If they think that I am training because I am a Muslim-then I am a terrorist. If I have proof of Islam rationally in my mind and if that's a fundamentalist, then I am a fundamentalist. If they believe that this man will only do anything to worship his creator, meaning he won't obey man-made law, he would not submit to man in any way, he will not submit to the laws of America or Britain or the United Nations, but he only obeys the law of God, of Allah, then I am a terrorist."
From the bin Laden training camp in Afghanistan, Muqatil crossed over Pakistan and headed to the disputed region of Kashmir. There he and the other Muslim recruits joined hundreds of Pakistani soldiers in a fierce battle against the Indian army. Muqatil says Kashmir, which is under Indian rule, belongs to the Muslims and must be liberated through jihad.
And he says all of the practice he engaged in beforehand paid off in battle. "Oh, most definitely it was worth all the training that we did in America, all the training we had done in Kashmir, and Afghanistan, we used every bit of it and it was amazing," Muqatil said. "I personally killed a few of the soldiers in Kashmir, and it wasn't always easy."
But Muqatil said killing another person was a way of practicing his faith.
"It wasn't easy. It was an act of worship for me. They don't haunt me but I remember them, how easy it is to take life and what man is. Man is so weak, man is so nothing, man is like a piece of twig, where you can break and it shows."
Blitzer explained that the militant Muslims being recruited in Britain are not only preparing to fight wars back home in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "The concern is they are using this country as at least a partial place to prepare terrorists to conduct violent operations against one of our allies," he said.
U.S. and British authorities are investigating the recruiting and training activities of Sakina Security Services. The FBI has asked Scotland Yard to track down hundreds of British Muslims who may have trained at camps in Afghanistan linked to Bin Laden. According to British newspaper reports, the FBI is also looking at Sakina's use of U.S. facilities to train recruits for jihad.
Muqatil's mindset provides insight into the thinking shared by many other militant Muslims. When asked if he would want to fight in another war, whether in Kashmir, Chechnya or anywhere else in the world, he said he would not think twice about it.
"I would do it again and again and again no matter what happens. I will never stop because it is an act of worship, it's an act of reward, it's something that I love. In order to love my creator, if I have to kill, I have to kill," he said.
Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed of Al-Muhajiroun, has denied reports that he recruits and sends British Muslims to fight for jihad. Last week, Bakri insisted in a press release that his group is not engaged in any military training. He also denies any ties to Sakina Security Services.
Meanwhile, British authorities are looking into whether Bakri's activities have violated the new anti-terrorism law. If he is found guilty, Bakri could be imprisoned or deported from Britain.