The United Kingdom is going through some troubled times. It has seen a spate of terrorist strikes in the past two months and the problem of radical Islam is spreading fast and wide. Late on Sunday night, a van rammed into worshippers who were leaving the Finsbury park Mosque.
The agencies suspected that it was a case of terror activity and clearly symbolised the fear of radical Islam. This incident took place in the same month when attacks were reported from Manchester and London Bridge. The Islamic State has been claiming most of these attacks, but when looks at the Finsbury park Mosque incident, the attack is quite telling. It clearly represents the rise of radical Islam in the UK, the footprints of which were left behind by Abu Hamza, the hook-handed radical Islamic preacher, Abu Hamza.
The bouncer who radicalised London:
Abu Hamza al-Masri also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa and Hook Hand came to the UK in 1979. The 58 year old Egyptian cleric who was born to a naval officer studied cvil engineering before landing in England. His first job in the UK was that of a bouncer. In 1986, he granted citizenship in the UK.
Hamza became interested in the civil war being fought in Afghanistan. He even took part in that war where he lost an eye and hand. His hand was replaced with a hook and this gave him the title, Hook Hand.
In the year 1997 he returned to Britain and took to active preaching. The same year, he took over as the Imam of the Finsbury park Mosque. He was considered to be God-sent. He was never interested in money and worked as an Imam for a meagre salary.
The rise of radicalisation:
His fluency to converse both in English and Arabic made him an instant hit with those attending the Mosque. While in the initial days, he appeared to be moderate, over the years, his speeches became radical in nature. The views expressed him were so strong that the Finsbury park Mosque became the centre of radical Islam.
He preached a violent version of Islam and the Mosque over the years became the main shelter for radical elements. He not just preached radical Islam, but also went on to train many inside the Mosque on how to use ammunition, the AK-47 among other weapons.
In the year 2002, he was quoted as saying, " I ask God to give Osama Bin Laden a long life." He also went on to say that the only government he appreciated was the one being run by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
A recruitment centre:
Over a period time the Finsbury park Mosque turned into a recruitment centre for the al-Qaeda. Several migrants from North Africa and the Middle East found shelter in this Mosque. After spending time with Hamza, they would then travel to the terror camps in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
During his talk with the recruits he would criticise Muslims who enjoyed a comfortable life. Muslims who enjoyed the comforts of life are sinners as their brothers elsewhere are suffering he would say. He said that the only solution for the Muslims is the establishment of a Khilafa or an Islamic state. There is a need to undergo violent training to carry out Jihad, he would also say.
It was only in the year 2003 when all the damage was done that the British police decided to investigate Hamza and the Finsbury park Mosque. He was jailed in 2006 and later deported to the United States of America. After the raids in 2003, the Mosque was closed down. It re-opened only in 2005. In the year 2015, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by a US court on a host of charges that included, hostage taking, plotting and also setting up terror camps.
The Finsbury park Mosque which was re-opened in 2005 saw a new set of trustees taking over. They have been making attempts to change the image that was set up by Hamza. Till date the tag of extremism is still attached to the Mosque and Sunday's attack only proves that further.