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Jihad support worries Europe

Last updated on: April 27, 2004 13:06 IST

The call for a jihad is finding increasing favor among many in Europe, says the New York Times.

 Hundreds of young Muslim men are answering the call of militant groups affiliated or aligned with Al Qaeda, the paper quotes intelligence and counter-terrorism officials in the region as saying.

'On working-class streets of old industrial towns like Crawley, Luton, Birmingham and Manchester, and in the Arab enclaves of Germany, France, Switzerland and other parts of Europe, intelligence officials say a fervor for militancy is intensifying and becoming more open,' the paper says.

In Luton, England, a former industrial town north of London, 'a small group of young Britons whose parents emigrated from Pakistan after World War II have turned against their families' new home. They say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street,' the Times said

'They swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his goal of toppling Western democracies to establish an Islamic superstate under Shariah law, like Afghanistan under the Taliban. They call the Sept. 11 hijackers the "Magnificent 19" and regard the Madrid train bombings as a clever way to drive a wedge into Europe.'

Unless Europe acceded to Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's terms for a truce by withdrawing their troops from Iraq, "all Muslims of the West will be obliged to become his sword" in a new battle., the paper quotes  Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad, leader of the radical Al Muhajiroun,  as telling followers in the town of Slough, west of London. "It is foolish to fight people who want death - that is what they are looking for," he warned.

"You may kill bin Laden, but the phenomenon, you cannot kill it - you cannot destroy it. Our Muslim brothers from abroad will come one day and conquer here and then we will live under Islam in dignity," he said.

According to the New York Times, counter-terrorism experts are alarmed over the dramatic increase in terrorist "chatter" picked up by them, and fear an imminent strike in Europe.

Members of Al Qaeda have 'proven themselves to be extremely opportunistic, and they have decided to try to split the Western alliance,' the report quoted an official as saying. 'They are focusing their energies on attacking the big countries' - the United States, Britain and Spain - so as to 'scare' the smaller states.

'Mainstream Muslims, however,  are outraged by the situation, saying the actions of a few are causing their communities to be singled out for surveillance and making the larger population distrustful of them,' the paper said.