Ravenscourt Park Academic Denies Being Bombing Apologist

Hani Al-Siba'i claims his views on killing civilians were mistranslated

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Islamic radical Hani Al-Siba'i has caused controversy by describing the recent bomb attacks in London as a 'great victory' for Al Qaeda. The Egyptian born academic, who was speaking on the Al-Jazeera network, runs the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies from a home in Ravenscourt Park. He said the attack, which killed at least 55 people, rubbed the noses of the G8 countries in the mud.

Dr. Al-Siba'i has subsequently claimed that the use of the phrase 'great victory' represented the Al Qaeda point of view and not his own. He blamed a poor translation of the interview saying, " I was surprised when two days later I found out that some elements in the media translated some extracts of the programme incorrectly and attributed to me words that I did not utter."

When the interviewer for Al-Jazeera pressed him on the issue of killing innocent civilians, he is reported to have said that the concept of a civilian does not exist in Islamic Law and that people are either of Dar al Harb (which literally translates as house of hostility), meaning any non-Islamic government or not.

Dr. Al-Siba'i disputes the translation of the interview saying that he did not mean to imply that killing 'non-Muslim, non-fighters' was acceptable. He said, "Under no circumstances, the latter should be killed or attacked; those who do that commit terrible crime, because they (non-Muslim non-fighters) are innocent beings. "

Slightly contradicting his earlier statement he went on to say that Tony Blair had made a 'grave error' in blaming Islamic extremists for the attack and that it could equally have been the responsibility of 'American Zionists' or other Western countries unhappy about London's successful Olympic bid. He warned that the Prime Minister would 'pay the price' for his mistake.

According to the Sunday Times newspaper, Al-Siba’i is accused by the FBI of being a former leader of the outlawed Islamic Jihad movement in Egypt which subsequently became part of the Al Qaeda network. Al-Siba'i, who lives locally with his wife and five children, denies any link with Islamic Jihad and although he admits to having known Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden's deputy in Egypt in the past.

The British Government have unsuccessfully attempted to deport Al-Siba'i . The Egyptian government wished to try him for alleged links with Islamic Jihad. Al-Siba'i said he had been a target of the Egyptian authorities because as a defence lawyer he had represented Islamist clients. The courts would not agree to deport him and three others to a country were it was alleged human rights abuses took place and he was allowed to stay. Al-Siba'i was awarded substantial damages as a result of his prolonged detention.

The web site of the Al-Maqreze Centre is registered at an address in Ravenscourt Park. The registrant is Hany Youssef a name used by Al-Siba'i


July 20, 2005