Life in prison for extremist preacher Bakri

By Jessica Elgot, November 12, 2010
Omar Bakri

Omar Bakri

The Islamic extremist preacher Omar Bakri – who once called for the death of Sir Paul McCartney for playing in Israel – has been sentenced to life in prison in Lebanon.

The Syrian-born cleric was sentenced in his absence at a military court in Lebanon for allegedly helping train members of Al Qaeda at a camp in Tripoli. He is currently in hiding with relatives in Lebanon.

In December 2000, Bakri called the Holocaust "a tool used by Jews in order to justify their own hegemony over Muslims in Palestine. Much worse crimes have been committed against Muslims in Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine."

That year he had issued a fatwa against Israelis. He told the BBC: “We are talking about a cancer in the heart of the Muslim world and that is Israel. It must be eradicated and removed."

He later told a rally outside London Central Mosque: "All Israeli targets are legitimate for you. All Israelis must be destroyed."

In 2008, he threatened Sir Paul McCartney when he played a concert for Israel’s 60th birthday celebrations, saying: “If he values his life, Mr. McCartney must not come to Israel. He will not be safe there. The sacrifice operatives will be waiting for him."

Bakri, who lived in the UK for nearly 20 years, said he did not recognise the authority of the court as “the judge was General Mizar Khalil who is a Shia Muslim, whereas I am a Sunni scholar.”

He denied operating a training camp and said: “If I go to prison there will be protests in Australia, the US, UK, everywhere.”

Bakri moved to Britain in the 1980s but his indefinite leave to remain was revoked in 2005 and he was banned from re-entering the country after moving to Lebanon.

During Israel’s invasion of the country in 2006 he tried to flee Lebanon on a Royal Navy vessel evacuating British citizens but was turned away.

Last updated: 1:15pm, November 12 2010