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Blair-link Muslims backed bin Laden

Blair-link Muslims backed bin Laden

Author: Charlotte Edwardes and Chris Hastings
Publication: The Telegraph, UK
Date: March 10, 2002

Leaders of an allegedly moderate Muslim organisation with close links to the Prince of Wales and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, have distributed literature on behalf of Osama bin Laden.

Inayat Bunglawala, a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain, circulated material written by bin Laden, whom he regarded as a "freedom fighter", to hundreds of Muslims in Britain last year.

He sent the material before last September's attacks on the World Trade Centre, but after bin Laden had masterminded the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left 224 dead.

Mr Bunglawala, the organisation's media director, last night admitted to The Telegraph that he had sent an email from bin Laden to "hundreds of other Muslim activists and supporters".

He said: "You have to remember I circulated this information five months before the September 11 atrocity. Then I regarded Osama bin Laden as a freedom fighter in the struggle against the Soviets - so did a lot of other people. I do not support what happened to the World Trade Centre."

The disclosure is a major embarrassment for Mr Blair, who has publicly endorsed The Muslim Council of Britain, as the "mainstream face of Islam in Britain". Senior figures have also been welcomed into Number 10 and St James's Palace on numerous occasions, including at the Prime Minister's key meeting on September 28 to discuss the terrorist attacks and at a reception held by Prince Charles to forge closer ties with the Muslim community.

Days after the US attacks, one of their leaders, Yousuf Bhailok, stood next to Tony Blair at Number Ten while he addressed leaders of the Muslim communities in Britain.

Mahmud Al'Rashid, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council, told The Sunday Telegraph last night: "Our organization does not support extremist activity. I will investigate this information."

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