Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sunday Times Interview

Reforming the Radicals - originally called 'Looking For Paradise: Musa's Story' (I might put it up for comparison tomorrow) - is now online. The original was much longer and had more of Musa and much less of me in it, but there you go.

Be interested to know your thoughts

UPDATE: Some of the 4 hour interview is on Dave Bone's blog, along with archive footage of Atilla and others from the Abu Hamza/Finsbury Park Mosque days

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Blogger fh said...

Impressive work. I'd love to hear more about how they reacted, personally, to you as a victim, a target. As you struggled to understand the bombers, did you get any sense that they had tried to understand those they targeted?

April 13, 2008 12:41 am  
Blogger thegirl said...

Great interview Rachel, it made for fascinating reading. And I second the commenter above; I'd also like to get an insight into how they reacted to you.

April 13, 2008 12:52 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thamk you for the feedback - I really appreciate it

It started off as 5000 words, after 4 hours of talking ( to Musa, who of course is entirely innocent of terrorism charges).

The original interview is quite different to this piece which was edited and also added to ( re. recent news about Butt, Hussein et al). There was much more of Musa and very little of me. I get sick of reading about me. I want to tell other people's stories.

As direct result of this interview, Musa talked to Atilla in prison,( which he does regularly) and Atilla came out with the message that he wanted to apologise to the UK and US people for what he had said in the past to hurt them.

This is extraordinary, especially considering Atilla's mistrust of journalists.

When I spoke to Atilla, he confirmed the apology with great sincerity, and then wanted me to visit him properly, in Belmarsh, which I am going to do.

Musa was an extraordinarily generous interviewee. It is fair to say that we are now friends. He was deeply grateful that someone had listened to him, and seen him for who he was, not labelled him for his past or his brother - something people have unfairly done since he was 11 years old

Ditto Atilla, who responded to someone being genuinely interested in him as a man, not a caricature of a hate-preaching bad guy.

I must thank Dave Bones again for his 5 years of work which preceded this - it is because he gave of himself and took time to reach out to the men around Finsbury Park, finally attending the trials of several men who were convicted of terrorism offences, that Atilla and Musa trusted me with this.

It was a privilege to talk to them; I hope to keep talking to such brothers. I think much may come of it.

April 13, 2008 1:42 am  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

They are a typical London- Cypriot family really eh.

fh- I can help you there.

They didn't target anyone. Atilla spoke in theory about an Islamic right to target those in power as architects of the War on Terror, which is illegal. He also stupidly included banks in this etc. Its clear incitement. He pleaded guilty. I'll leave it to you to guess how many Muslims might say similar things unrecorded.

He also famously sung a Jihadi calypso when he was totally loosing the plot falling out with his wife in quite an ugly and embarassing manner in front of his friends.

Not exactly cold hearted planning.

April 13, 2008 7:15 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Bizarre, the header and sell are there and the links from the UK news home page but the article is offline.

April 13, 2008 7:52 am  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

I saw that. Did I say th wrong thing on my blog? Give them a ring..

April 13, 2008 8:13 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

It's back!

Sometimes this happens.

April 13, 2008 8:18 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Dear God, I've just seen the strap on the front page. It makes me look like I'm some kind of one-woman Missionary Movement. 'Kin 'ell. The headline and the captions are a bit dodgy as well.
I'll definitely put the original up tomorrow.

April 13, 2008 8:44 am  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Very VERY interesting article (I read it on line so can't comment on the front page). I learn such a lot from your blog. I hope you will be able to tell us about your visit to Atilla in a future post or article.

April 13, 2008 8:55 am  
Blogger fh said...

It started off as 5000 words, after 4 hours of talking ( to Musa, who of course is entirely innocent of terrorism charges).

Yes, of course. I'm sorry if I seemed to imply he was a bomber, which clearly he isn't. I was thinking of him more as an interlocutor on behalf of the bombers. But I now suspect even that's unfair to him too.

I'm looking forward to the fuller version and to further excerpts of the interview on Dave's blog.

One thought: Atilla's conversion from mob foot soldier to terrorist seems to have happened almost overnight.

“He changed within weeks,” says Musa, who was initially thrilled when his brother gave up smoking, swearing and “naughty stuff” and started praying five times a day.

This is something we need to understand much better than we do -- ie, what the gangs and radicals have in common, and how they are able to recruit our kids.

It was the same in N. Ireland, where the line between the Republican and Ulster "militaries" and ordinary mobsters was always thin and extremely porous.

April 13, 2008 12:17 pm  
Anonymous Hakkan said...

Please pass on my good wishes to Musa - I am impressed how he has managed to cope so well after being locked up for so long.

Congratulations on one of the most balanced articles I have seen in the Sunday Times

April 13, 2008 4:21 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

fh - Atilla got done for making speeches, not for being a terrorist - he never trained, he never did anything - he just went to meetings and gave inflammatory interviews when encouraged by the media.

He changed from being a bit of a geezer to being a very devout Muslim; unfortunately, his new friends were at the extremist end of the spectrum at Finsbury park Mosque - he stepped in to help with security and it all went downhill from there. He was not well-versed enough in the Qur'an to challenge what he was being told. And as Musa said, he was seduced by the attention and limelight

I do honestly think, having talked to him, that Atilla would
never, ever bomb anyone, or even want to do so. Unfortunately, the blood-curdling speeches he was encouraged to give were inciting murder - and as we know speeches can be the fuel for bomb-makers if not their bombs.

Atilla had an appalling start in Islam with Abu Hamza - it could all have ended up so differently.

Since he studied the Qu'ran in detail, he's realised that he was being led up the wrong path.

April 13, 2008 4:39 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks for the comments everyone - will pass them on.

April 13, 2008 4:39 pm  
Blogger fh said...

I do honestly think, having talked to him, that Atilla would
never, ever bomb anyone, or even want to do so.

I'm very happy to accept your judgment on this, having come to respect it on so much else.

Should he be in jail at all? As a free speech advocate, I have misgivings about criminal prosecution with regard to words rather than deeds.

April 13, 2008 4:58 pm  
Anonymous Rose said...

Musa comes over very sympathetically, congratulations on the article - it is very good indeed.

Good luck to Musa, and well done Atilla for apologizing. I do think we need more reports of this kind of thing.

There is too much hysteria about 'Muslims' and 'extremists' - Muslims are are people like anyone else, with different views.

April 13, 2008 8:54 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

I'm all for people who have previously incited murder, chamging their minds and going and un-inciting murder by preaching love instead of hate, peace instead of war . And if they can do that, then I think they shouldn't be in jail. They are more useful out of it.

April 13, 2008 9:21 pm  
Blogger musa said...

Hi to all the people and rachel and dave.I want to thank every one for their comments,hakkan and rose the warm words and understanding towards my brother and myself. THANK YOU RACHEL VERY VERY MUCH FOR PUTTING THE UNEDITED VERSION ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU ALL AND PEACE TO YOU ALL..MUSA AHMET

April 13, 2008 9:38 pm  

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