UK-based Islamist group may have Syria terror links

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London, Apr 11: A radical Islamist group, which has an active recruiting presence at many British universities, may have links with an al-Qaeda backed terror outfit in Syria, media here reported today.

The UK arm of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) has a strong following at University of Westminster where Mohammed Emwazi -- dubbed Islamic State (IS) militant Jihadi John -- was a student.

Terrorist

The group, whose name translates into Party of Liberation, has launched attack on civil activists in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, aided by al-Qaeda led Nusra Front, The Times newspaper reported.

HT seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East, where citizens would live according to a literal interpretation of the Quran.

However, the global organisation claims to use only non-violent methods.

The group's UK arm, which former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and current PM David Cameron both vowed to ban, has an active recruiting presence at many British universities.

The UK branch, founded in 1986 with the help of Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian national also associated with other radical Islamist groups, remains a legal organisation.

Last month, UK home secretary Theresa May refused again to commit to a ban on the group as official reviews of the organisation have consistently failed to find sufficient grounds under anti-terror legislation on which to proscribe them.

Despite being open about having the same ambitions for an Islamic caliphate as Isis and the Nusra Front, HT has always been careful to distance itself from terrorist organisations when speaking to the media.

Taji Mustafa, HT's spokesman in the UK, denies that the group is working with the Nusra Front in Aleppo.

"Hizb ut-Tahrir is an independent organisation and is not linked to Nusra Front or any other movement. We reject the insinuation that [we] are involved in attacks in Syria," he said.

PTI

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