Convicted terrorist Babar Ahmad has given an extraordinary interview to the BBC in which he admits he supported the Taliban and obfuscates over ISIS. Ahmad also did his best to help his “childhood friend” Sadiq Khan by playing down their relationship. With mixed results.
“I remember every Saturday he used to be standing at a stall for the Labour Party on Tooting high-street. If I’d see him I’d just go up to him and shake his hand. So he’s just someone that I knew that I’d just see walking through the streets… [Since release from prison] I was travelling home one night on the tube with my lawyer I just bumped into him I shook his hand.”
Khan refused to go on to the Daily Politics to explain his friendship with Ahmad today…
On Monday the BBC is interviewing Babar Ahmad, “the godfather of internet jihad” who pleaded guilty to providing material support for the Taliban. For years there have been unanswered questions about Ahmad’s links to Sadiq Khan. Khan insisted Ahmad was innocent, their meetings in prison were bugged by the spooks, and Khan infamously changed his story about their relationship three times. Will this interview finally provide us with some answers?
In the New Statesman today, Khan admits he has met Ahmad twice since he was released from prison last July. He also claims he was never “close friends” with Ahmad:
“We never went to each other’s houses. We weren’t close friends but we knew each other growing up – we’d see each other at mosques. When you see people at the mosque you don’t discuss politics and stuff. It’s, ‘How you doing? How’s things?’ You may play cricket together, as most kids do at the park and stuff. I can’t remember having an argument about his views in detail.”
Yet this version of events is directly disputed by Ahmad’s sister, Sara. She says:
“Sadiq Khan has been a friend of Babar’s since they were boys and a wonderful supporter since his arrest.”
Monday’s BBC interview must surely ask Ahmad whether Khan is telling the truth when he says they were never friends. What did Khan say to the self-confessed terror supporter when they met in the last eight months? It is also a chance to clear up once and for all whether Ahmad has any further connection to Khan, be it by blood or marriage, that has not yet been declared publicly. Five years since Guido first asked, these questions have never been answered…
Sadiq Khan has spoken about extremism and terrorism:
“I want action to be taken against those on the other side of the net and with the ISP [internet service provider] maybe. We need to make sure communities have the confidence to come forward. It is a challenge for the police to be approachable and are seen to treat people well.”
According the Guardian the Labour Mayoral wannabe said ‘his biggest concern was grooming taking place in the “ungoverned spaces – the bedroom, internet, front room” rather than in mosques and schools, where more could be done to address it openly.’ Noble words…
So how is Sadiq’s track-record when it comes to those looking to recruit converts in the “ungoverned spaces – the bedroom, internet, front room”?
As the BBC reported in 2013:
“A British man who spent eight years fighting extradition to the US has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. Babar Ahmad, 39, from south London, admitted conspiracy and providing material to support to terrorism and faces up to 25 years in jail. He admitted the offences in a plea agreement hearing in a federal court hearing in New Haven, Connecticut.”
And who was it that was a prominent and vocal cheerleader for the Free Babar Ahmad campaign?
Khan has never given a straight answer on his exact relationship to Ahmad, telling three different versions of how they know each other – ranging from a constituent to a childhood friend. He told the House one version of events, No. 10 another and Ahmad supporters something completely different.
The BBC describe Ahmad as “the godfather of internet jihad”:
“He was a pioneer when it came to using the web as a tool of jihadist propaganda. If you wanted to find the face – and voice – of Generation Jihad, it would be Babar Ahmad.”
Yet Khan calls him a friend.
How is that meant to make sure London has “confidence” in Khan’s “biggest concern”?