Suicide bomb backer leads group trying to win Muslim votes for Ken Livingstone
An advocate of suicide bombing is among leaders of a group trying to mobilise Muslim voters to back Ken Livingstone, the Standard reveals today.
For the past year, the group has been working on a strategy to win an estimated 200,000 Muslim votes in an effort to re-elect the Mayor.
It includes a campaign of vilification aimed at his Conservative rival, Boris Johnson. It is being waged by Muslims 4 Ken, led by 39-year-old lecturer Anas Altikriti and Palestinian-born Azzam Tamimi, a supporter of Hamas, the militant group dedicated to the creation of an Islamic state of Palestine.
While Mr Altikriti says he abhors violence and favours dialogue to further the Muslim cause, Mr Tamimi has praised suicide bombers and said he would volunteer for a suicide mission in Palestine.
"For us Muslims martyrdom is not the end of things, but the beginning of the most wonderful of things," he has said. "If I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I would do it. Why not?"
Muslims 4 Ken moves into overdrive this week after months of lobbying for Mr Livingstone among Muslim community leaders, in mosques and among political organisations.
The Islamic alliance backing the Mayor is based in east London and has already drawn on wide support from the area's Bangladeshi community. Muslims 4 Ken grew from Mr Livingstone's links with activists and his generous sponsorship of Muslim causes. Mr Altikriti was instrumental in the Mayor's patronage of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Islamic cleric who was welcomed by Mr Livingstone to City Hall. The Mayor's critics believe his praise of Mr al-Qaradawi was part of a cynical plan to exploit the Muslim vote. Mr al-Qaradawi is banned from Britain over fears his presence may not be conducive to "security and peace".
The last two weeks of the election campaign will see a sustained attack on Mr Johnson based on claims that he is anti-Islam. Volunteers have been supplied with quotes from his journalism over the past 15 years in which he appears to be critical of Islam.
The quotes are deluging internet forums and form part of messages posted in texts and emails sent to exhort Muslims to vote for Mr Livingstone.