Some of you might remember Hassan Butt: a Manc lad from Al Muhajiroun who in 2002 predicted that young Brits recruited by the Taliban would return to the United Kingdom and launch terror attacks. At the time, his claims were treated with scepticism, and were dismissed by Downing Street.
Facing arrest in Pakistan, Butt returned to the United Kingdom. He was arrested in this country, but later released.
Butt re-emerged in 2005 in Prospect, where he gave a revealing interview to Aatish Taseer. You might want to re-read it, to give you some idea of how far Butt has come in less than two years:
I used to be part of al-Muhajiroun, but we parted because of differences… They have this idea—derived from the Koran, a valid Islamic opinion but not one I believe is applicable to British citizens—of a “covenant of security.” This means Muslims in Britain are forbidden from any military action in Britain. Now, I am not in favour of military action in Britain, but if somebody did do it who was British, I would not have any trouble with that either. Islamically, it would be my duty to support and praise their action.
Now read Butt’s remarkable interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes“.
Butt admits having raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for jihadists from “doctors. People who were businessmen. Professional people basically who wanted to donate substantial amounts of money” and from “drug dealers who were told that their activities would be cleansed for a percentage of their earnings”
He also claims to have “personally recruited between 50 and 75 people to receive training in Pakistan; thousands more were being recruited elsewhere in Britain”.
He also claims that the 7/7 ringleader told him that “he first became attracted to radical Islam because the tradition he grew up with was forcing him into an arranged marriage.”
Butt describes his initial political position as follows:
“We’d talk about the suffering of the Muslims all over the world,” Butt tells Simon. “We were very well-versed in the Koran, in the verses of the Koran, in the sayings of the Prophet and show that how it was permissible for people to go around killing innocent men, women and children.”
“You would explain to them why it’s permissible to kill innocent men, women and children?” Simon asks.
“Well, a better way to put it is, we would take away the innocence from the person so they were no longer innocent men, women and children,” Butt explains.
“So, men, women and children would become non-innocents?” Simon asks.
“Become non-innocent and hence, combatants and allowed to be targeted,” Butt says.
Then, following the 7/7 London Bombings, Butt changed his views:
He began asking questions of his handlers, theological questions. He wanted to know whether the bombings could ever be justified in Islam. He waited and waited for answers. Months later, he was summoned by his handlers to a meeting in the Middle East. But he wasn’t given answers, only new orders.
“They were trying to force me into Iraq to fight basically,” Butt says.
“So, to summarize, you’re asking, basically, why should we be killing innocent people?” Simon asks.
“That’s correct,” Butt replies.
“And the answer you eventually received is go to Iraq and perhaps carry out a suicide mission?” Simon asks.
“Go to Iraq to basically – the actual word that they used was that I needed ‘reprogramming.’ And Iraq would give me the opportunity to basically be reprogrammed for what I needed I mean. I was quite shocked at the analogy,” Butt says. “To think that will, firstly, I’m neither a computer nor a robot. And I don’t know on your say so, I do on God’s say so. And if you can’t justify to me or prove to me that this is what God wants, then I’m gonna have to go my separate ways.”
Asked if he was frightened, Butt tells Simon, “Shocked more than frightened. But, yes, it definitely, I was intimidated at that point.”
Butt says it was after that meeting that he began answering his questions, himself.
“What I’ve come to realize is that killing for the sake of killing, and killing in the name of Islam for the sake of killing, is completely and utterly prohibited. And there’s a big disease, a big problem and a cancer in the Muslim world. And it’s a very dangerous cancer, and it needs to be dealt with,” he says.
How? “And I really believe, if Muslims can pluck up their courage to ask questions, regardless of the consequences, then I do see that there is still hope, you know, to solve, to cure this cancer,” Butt says.
Hassan Butt made his about face public last January at Cambridge University, at the debating union. For the first time he revealed that he had left the network and announced his strategy to confront radical Muslims.
“The position of moderate Muslims is that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Do you buy that?” Simon asks.
“No, absolutely not. By completely being in denial about it’s like an alcoholic basically. Unless an alcoholic acknowledges that he has a problem with alcohol, he’s never gonna be able to go forward,” Butt argues. “And as long as we, as Muslims, do not acknowledge that there is a violent streak in Islam, unless we acknowledge that, then we are gonna always lose the battle to the militants, by being in complete denial about it.”
Butt’s private life is a shambles right now. His family has called him a traitor to Islam and his former friends from the network have threatened his life. He’s writing a book about his transformation and his challenge to Muslims.
He says he wants to make right what he calls the bad work he did before – bad work that may have included more direct involvement in terrorism than fund raising and recruitment.
Asked if he considered the work he used to do bad, Butt says, “Yeah, absolutely, not just bad work. I mean, bad is an understatement. It’s evil, wicked work.”
What’s the most evil, wicked thing he did?
“It’s not something that I want to talk about on camera,” he tells Simon.
Asked if he loses sleep over his past deeds, Hassan says, “Yeah.”
How does he atone for them?
“Well, hopefully, by the work that I intend to now start,” Butt says. “Whatever it costs, I’m willing to make sure I see this through to the end.”
I wonder where this will lead. Given his admissions on jihadi fundraising, will he be arrested? Precisely what does Butt now believe?
Whatever Butt does next, I don’t think that his comments on the “violent streak in Islam” will make him a natural poster boy for the Muslim Brotherhood/Mawdudist strand of Islamism.
(Hat tip: SK)