The Maktabah bookstore in Birmingham has long been notorious for its promotion of extremist literature. Here is a report from 2007, after the third police raid on the premises in eight years:
Books and DVDs promoting suicide bombing, glorifying terrorism and advocating the killing of homosexuals have been on sale at the Birmingham bookshop raided by police last week as part of their investigation into an alleged plot to behead a British Muslim soldier.
Last year an undercover Observer reporter visited the store, Maktabah al-Ansar, and was sold a handful of extremist literature and DVDs.
Maktabah, which is Arabic for library, has been raided three times under the Prevention of Terrorism Act because of the inflammatory literature on its shelves and has links with several terror suspects. Nobody from the business has ever been charged with an offence.
One DVD, 21st Century Crusaders, begins by stating: ‘History remembers two colours: black, the ink of scholars; and red, the blood of martyrs.’ Footage is shown of the 9/11 atrocities with a poem that says: ‘Suddenly their storms arise to demolish their fortresses and proclaim to them we shall not stop our raids until you abandon our lands.’ Pictures of Jews are subtitled: ‘Brothers of pigs and monkeys.’
“21st Century Crusaders” opens with Moazzam Begg of Cageprisoners. That’s hardly the only Maktabah connection with Begg. He was one of the founders of the bookstore. He also worked at the store and was arrested there by anti-terrorist officers in 2000. He was released without charge and is reportedly no longer involved.
This is the kind of activity Begg’s Maktabah engaged in:
In 1999 Maktabah published the Army of Madinah in Kashmir, written by Dhiren Barot, who used the alias Esa Al Hindi. In the book, Barot, a Hindu convert to Islam who is currently serving a life sentence in jail after pleading guilty to terrorism offences at the Old Bailey last November, accuses western troops of invading Muslim countries and urges followers to strike back.
The new operators certainly stayed true to the extremist cause. They were sorely missed when the shop was closed in the 2007 raids. Here’s one lament:
Everyone was talking about Maktabah [Maktabah al-Ansar Islamic bookstore]. What happened to it? It seems to have only just gone down this month?
Apparently it was THE place to get Islamic books, dvds, flags, etc. Even Yvonne Ridley praised it.
Here’s another, which cuts right to the chase:
May Allah protect the Maktabah brothers who for years have been doing a job nobody else had the courage to take on – inciting the believers to jihad fee sabeelillah [jihad in the path of Allah].
The next step for Maktabah was a big online operation. It pushed DVDs of al Qaeda preacher Anwar al Awlaki and other extremists.
Not any more. The site (maktabah.net) is down now. Here’s why:
A 30-year-old man has appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London charged with 30 terror offences.
Ahmed Faraz faces 19 counts of distributing terrorist publications and 11 counts of possessing material likely to be of use to a terrorist.
Viv Goddard, prosecuting, said Mr Faraz was a British national who had been in control of a Birmingham bookshop called Maktabah and a website.
She said he worked in an IT job until the end of last year.
Gareth Peirce, defending, said Mr Faraz denied all the charges against him.
This is not Mr Faraz’s first brush with the law. He also goes by the name of Abu Bakr. In 2007 he was arrested at the bookshop in connection with the plot to behead a British soldier. He was released without charge, complaining that Britain is a “police state for Muslims”.
The latest arrest and the charges are not surprising. Maktabah continued to push Awlaki even after news emerged of links between him and the underwear bomber, as well as connections to several other terrorist cases in earlier months, including the attack on Fort Hood. In the end, continuing to promote Awlaki was so brazen and stupid that it brings this clip to mind:
So, once again one of Moazzam Begg’s extremist ventures has ended in failure. Good.