Radical cleric Bakri chooses Hizbollah lawyer

By Jennifer Lipman, November 16, 2010
Omar Bakri

Omar Bakri

A radical Islamic preacher who was last week sentenced to life behind bars for terrorism charges has selected a Hizbollah leader as his defence lawyer.

Omar Bakri, who was sentenced in absentia but captured by security officials just days later in Libya, has appointed Hizbollah deputy Nawwar Sahili to represent him in a retrial.

No court date has been set yet, but under Lebanese law a retrial is necessary because the Syrian-born cleric failed to attend court.

Before he was arrested at gunpoint in Libya, he had boasted that despite the sentence he "would not spend one day” in prison.

Bakri’s was given a life sentence for his alleged role in training Al Qaeda militants at a camp in Tripoli.
He lived in Britain for 20 years, during which time he was leader of the now-outlawed extremist Islamist group al Muhajiroun.

He has called for “all Israelis must be destroyed", made death threats against Sir Paul McCartney for performing in Israel and after the July 7 London bombings said he would not inform police if he knew Muslims were planning more attacks.

The choice of a Hizbollah lawyer is surprising given that Bakri is a Sunni Muslim while the terrorist organisation is followed by Shiite Muslims.

But in an interview this weekend Bakri called on the Hizbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, to “look at the injustice facing Omar Bakri who backs all resistance (movements) against Israel.”

Last updated: 12:51pm, November 16 2010