This is an amazing interview with Omar Bakri, founder of banned British Islamist group Al Muhajiroun, in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, where he has lived since being banished from Britain in 2005, according to the article. Bakri said he knew suspect Michael Adebolajo from his lectures a decade ago and he said he is still in daily contact with students in Britain.
"When I saw the footage I recognized the face immediately," Bakri told Reuters. "I used to know him. A quiet man, very shy, asking lots of questions about Islam."
"What surprised me (is) the quiet man, the man who is very shy, decided to carry out an attack against a British soldier in the middle of the day in the middle of a street in the UK. In east London. It's incredible.
"When I saw that, honestly I was very surprised - standing firm, courageous, brave. Not running away. Rather, he said why he carried (it out) and he wanted the whole world to hear it."
The attack has been vociferously condemned by Muslim organizations across Britain.
Adebolajo, 28, a British-born convert from a Christian Nigerian immigrant family, went by the nickname Mujahid - warrior - after taking up Islam as a teenager in a suburb on the northeast outskirts of London. [snip]
Bakri said his organization Al Muhajiroun had nothing to do with the attack because members had not seen Adebolajo since 2005. However, Anjem Choudary, who took over the leadership of Al Muhajiroun when Bakri was exiled from Britain, has told Reuters Adebolajo attended the group's events until about two years ago.
"Maybe Michael, in the eyes of many people in Britain, Muslim and non-Muslim, they don't condone what he did. They condemn it. But in the eyes of Muslims around the world they don't see him the same way. The Muslims in this country, they are so happy, proud of him. They see him as a freedom fighter attacking a military target."
Read it all here.