Feb 8, 2007
Abu Izzadeen heckled the UK Home Secretary last year.
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Anti-terrorism police on Thursday arrested one of Britain's most controversial Muslim figures, Abu Izzadeen, who was watched by millions on television last year heckling Home Secretary John Reid at a public meeting.
Izzadeen, 31, from east London, was held by officers from the Counter Terrorism Command on suspicion of encouraging terrorism.
Izzadeen, who was born Trevor Brooks in Jamaica, was a leading figure in the banned radical Islamic group Al-Ghurabaa and shot to prominence when he heckled Reid during a speech to Muslim leaders last September.
A tall, imposing figure, dressed in white robes, he shouted that Reid was "an enemy of Islam" as the minister tried to deliver a speech calling for Muslims to do more to root out extremism.
Reid's address followed suicide bomb attacks in London by four British Islamists on July 7, 2005, which killed 52 people and injured about 700.
A police source said the suspected offences committed by Izzadeen related to activities in the West Midlands area of Britain last year and not to the Reid speech.
Izzadeen has previously praised the London bombers, while Al Gurabaa emerged from another organization, al Muhajiroun, which called the Sept. 11 attackers "magnificent".
Anjem Choudary, another senior figure in Al-Ghurabaa, said the arrest was connected to a speech Izzadeen gave in Birmingham on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the United States.
"He's given speeches about 7/7 about 9/11 about many things, I think this was on the anniversary of 9/11 indeed," said Choudary who was at the Birmingham speech.
He said the arrest was "a continuation of the witch hunt" by Prime Minister Tony Blair's government and was a demonstration of why Muslims felt under siege.
Patrick Mercer, homeland security spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party, said Izzadeen was a dangerous figure who should be "put behind bars".
"The materials I have looked at ... suggests to me he needs to be out of harm's way," he told Sky News.
Izzadeen's name cropped up in the media again this month after anti-terrorism detectives arrested nine men in Birmingham over a suspected plot to kill a Muslim British soldier.
Two of the men were released without charge on Wednesday and one of them condemned Britain as a "police state" because of the tough security laws Blair has introduced since Sept. 11 2001.
"I would say it is a police state for Muslims," Abu Bakr told the BBC in an interview broadcast late on Wednesday.
" ... these terror laws are designed specifically for Muslims. We are the ones who are being locked up, detained and then told go back to our lives."
Jack Straw, leader of the House of Commons and former foreign secretary, called the remarks "absolute utter nonsense."
"We live in a democracy and what we are sadly having to fight at the moment is people who seek to destroy the very basis of our democracy," he told parliament.