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Inside the Global Jihad by Omar Nasiri

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Nov 06, 10:05 PM

Omar Nasiri (not his real name) worked for European security agencies during the 1990s and infiltrated al Qaeda both in the camps of Afghanistan and in terror cells in London.

His story reveals the extent of al-Qaeda's preparations - years before 9/11- and the British authorities' lack of awareness of the growing threat of Islamic terrorism.

Read extracts here and leave your comments below.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:15 PM on 16 Nov 2006,
  • John Robinson wrote:

The story was dramatic in its own right and did not need sexing up (or perhaps down) to the level of a docudrama.
With copious pointess noises, drumming and irritating fuzzy images the credibility of the story was undermined. The BBC are now out with their begging bowl so how much money was wasted on this tarted up production. Treated as 'news', the average viewer would have been better served without the ludicrous dramatisation.

  • 2.
  • At 11:59 PM on 16 Nov 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

Tonight’s program was interesting but not earthshaking. The performance of the British security services during this period was dismal and the program confirmed this. Anyone who took an interest could see that something was going horribly wrong during those days when Abu Hamza was preaching hate outside the Finsbury Park mosque, with police protection! It seems that AQ were working on chemical weapons from a very early stage after all. Imagine that.

  • 3.
  • At 12:10 AM on 17 Nov 2006,
  • R MacLean wrote:

Re comment from John Robinson, I agree, though basic story had value. But, as usual, it was focussed on the symptoms of the problem and we were not allowed at the end to hear Nassiry's main concern - his analysis of the reasons for all this extremism. 'Islam's humiliation' I think he said - end of programme; we don't need to hear about that, do we?

  • 4.
  • At 11:24 AM on 17 Nov 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

Peter Barron.

Have yet to see this programme... must say IF it is the entire slot will be disappointed... why not leave these documentary type prog's to .. Panorama...!
I expect/trust Newsnight to educate, debate & challenge topical issues.. last nights news on the letter from Yates to MPs was certainly very topical & very hot news , albeit am aware could also be very hot air! Whatever,we expect you & team to drag in those that have their views.
Then discuss the good & bad fallouts..& the many ramifications involved

  • 5.
  • At 01:13 PM on 17 Nov 2006,
  • Fergus Bovey-Hull wrote:

The report was very interesting indeed, though it didn't need to go to the extent of a docudrama to get its point across. What is most interesting is that the interviewee, Nasiri, at no point said he was spying on al-Qaeda. The only agencies he mentioned where the GIA, who where the Algerian based terrorist group, and the French, British and German security services. Anyone who has read 'Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam' by Jason Burke will be aware that al-Qaeda is a myth, not a global organisation of terrorists. It was a fantasy spun by a terror suspect under US questioning, a fantasy that the US has spun even further and the media has swallowed without thought. The sooner this is acknowledged by all parties, the sooner we can adress the real cause of Islamic sourced terrorism and find a way to end the radicalisation of young Muslim men that seems to be sweeping into more and more of their religion. The government changing its foreign policy would be a good start, Iraq has done more harm to the UK's image with Muslims than decades of Abu Hamza ever could.

Furthermore, it it entirely laughable that the testimony of one terror suspect (mentioned in the program) could have sent the US (and several other 'civilised' countries) to war with Iraq. The Neo-Cons had already planned to invade Iraq, and get stinking rich from the military and oil contracts, back even before 9/11. They certainly used the suspect's testimony, but as a justification for the war rather than as a motive for it. If Mr Nasiri believed that he'll believe anything.

  • 6.
  • At 03:24 PM on 17 Nov 2006,
  • Wonderer wrote:

Interesting but I can't help being a bit sceptical about Omar Nasiri. We were told he had been given a pseudonym to protect his identity. Yet during the programme he said something that, if true, would be highly likely to break his cover. Abu Zubeida had told him in Afghanistan that Abu Hamza's hands had not been blown off in combat operations but in mishandling nitro-glycerine. ON said he had reported this conversation to AH. One way or another this is bound to get back to AH, if it has not already done so. AH would presumably know with whom he had such a conversation - if it took place. (I concede that AZ might have said the same thing to more than one person but the number of those who would have repeated it to AH at Finsbury Park would be pretty small.) On the other hand, if the conversation did not take place, ON would risk nothing.

Jihad is the buzz word in the religious and political scenes. Muslims in their various denominations are polarised and differ in defining this critical and sensitive concept which is quite central in the Quran. Some of them put the emphasis the greater Jihad which is struggling with one’s self’s evil and negative habits and desires. Other Muslims emphasise on more militant way to fight using force including weapons for the sake of God against the infidels and the blasphemers. Between the two poles there is a large range of interpretations and understanding concerning Jihad. The increasing numbers of Muslims who support a more aggressive way to live the Jihad have their reasons, motivations and strong convictions which we should not ignore or marginalise.
What the West calls terrorism, millions of other people call it holy acts defending the true religion which is, in their view, Islam. How do we face this incredible phenomenon which facing the world and spreading horror, confusion and fear in the hearts of millions around the globe? The only way to defeat this wave of violence is awareness and understanding the reasons which would motivate hundreds of young men and women to dies for what they believe. It is easy to condemn, demonise or even get extremely angry with, but all that would not solve the mystery and the enigma of this culture of martyrdom. This culture dominated once the Roman Empire when Christians faced bravely the torture and the terror of the Imperial arrogance and ignorance. Every martyr strengthened hundreds to face death with hearts full of praise and faith in Christ.
What is happening today? The Western Empire(s) is subjecting the world to a cultural, economical, intellectual and even military invasions, according to many millions in different parts of the world including the West. What is the West doing to face the facts which may challenge the very essence of the modern mentality of superiority which has grown stronger and stronger since the fall of the Soviet Union and consequently the collapse of the communist regimes in most parts of the world? The violence which we face today has roots we must expose and face in order to pull and burn. This process does not happen by military force or more arrogance or deeper stubbornness and continuous denial to see what stares in our face every single minute. The time has come when we must embrace humility to listen, learn and engage with the people who could truly help raising the awareness for and promoting the mentality of informed respect, intelligent love and challenging dialogue.

  • 8.
  • At 08:55 PM on 17 Nov 2006,
  • SMB 1971 wrote:

'Al Qaeda' is an emotionally-potent oversimplification. It is a convenient label applied deceitfully by western governments to a broad range of individuals and groups. The bases in Afghanistan were remnants of a past war. Many of the people who visited them never came back. Most went of to fight in regional conflicts. A very small number turned their attention to the United States. Osama bin Laden's criminal associates played their best hand on 11 September 2001. It was a dreadful yet spectacular attack that stunned millions. Yet we still give this coward too much credit. Anyone who uses the term 'Al Qaeda' (the base) to refer to the name of a uniquely powerful terrorist organisation immediately loses my respect and attention.

  • 9.
  • At 10:47 PM on 17 Nov 2006,
  • Wonderer wrote:

According to the Rev Nadim Nassar, "What the West calls terrorism, millions of other people call it holy acts defending the true religion which is, in their view, Islam." So is that why the Taleban destroyed the 1700 years old Buddhist statues of Bamyan, a World Heritage site by any standard? Or was it because, as he says, "The Western Empire(s) is subjecting the world to a cultural, economical, intellectual and even military invasions"? Perhaps not. Perhaps it was a Zionist plot.

  • 10.
  • At 12:17 AM on 18 Nov 2006,
  • Maqsood A. Zamir wrote:

How is it that one of the Kyrgyztanis who spilled water as a joke was sent back to Pakistan within one hour of his irresponsible horse play in the lab?

Was that not careless for him to be released so he can to go back and spill the beans about what he had ben doing in Afghanistan?

After so many years of ignoring the Islamic elephant in the room, is it any wonder that so many people still refuse to see it?

The constant 'celebration of difference' that we have been brainwashed with over the last few decades is the main reason why we will never get to grips with the Islamist threat.

Here are ten reasons why the task is hopeless:-,,1072-2349195,00.html

  • 12.
  • At 09:17 AM on 18 Nov 2006,
  • Roger Broad wrote:

1. It was difficult to follow Nasiri's words, because of his accent. Not only Bin Laden's words in Arabic but Naisi'is in English should have been subtitled.
2.Far more serious, the presentation was grotesque: all that nonsense wirth Corera down in a cellar with fluorescent tubes all round him. This is a serious subject, not one thatsubmitted to all that gimmickry. There was a rime when the BBC knew how ro present docvumentaries as documentaries, noit entertainment. This was disgraceful.

  • 13.
  • At 04:14 AM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • last chance saloon wrote:

kuffer the great

Why do we need to hear about this????
Mmm well its shows you the extent of extreme quran can do to you. It is said that within these training camp, it is 50% quran and the rest is training to be a killer.
Wheres the link with god coming from are people so stupid they will be rewarded by blowing themselves up. What do you think god would say,

Well done, I like this war of attrition. you run along to play with your virgins in paradise, while I mark up how many non believers kaffers who are going to hell.

In fact this would make alla a evil god. Al Quida is supported by the devil and if you truely believe in a good god. You have to see what is happening around the world and make a judgemental decision

Is there a link with evil and islam...Can you work it out yet or is someone whispering in your ear for something to say on the matter it all stems from the satanic verses inside one book.

As the reporter involved in the story, I thought I'd reply to a few of the comments.

On the issue of the style/format - we spent quite a bit of effort thinking about what would work. Given that Nasiri couldn't appear on camera a straight interview wouldn't sustain interest for long and there was also a lack of existing film to illustrate certain key aspects of the story so we used a limited amount of reconstruction. I should stress it wasn't a formal 'docu-drama' in which you have the actors reading lines and which sometimes leaves confusion as to where the dialogue has come from and whether scenes are fact or fiction.

On the issue of "Al Qaeda" and the use of the term, I do believe its useful to denote the broader network. The Algerians of the GIA were a key component of the European end of this network and what's interesting about Nasiri's account is just how international and how organised the network was - even in the mid 1990s. At the same time, its very interesting to see how the role of the camps in the mid 90s was not necessarily to centrally train terrorists for Al Qaeda missions but to provide training to fighters to go back and fight in their own jihads.

In terms of protecting Nasiri's idenity and the Abu Hamza story, without going into too much detail, his cover is almost certainly blown already and his main concern in shielding his face and changing his name is allowing him to live something approaching a normal life now.

  • 15.
  • At 08:25 PM on 20 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref JPseudonym #11

I don't know …...

Hopeless, according to the old failing notions e.g. multiculturalism & 'diversity celebration/imposition' (to the point of division) - YES

Hopeless, according the emerging 'renaissance of rights' in mainstream British society - NO

Though interesting comment in The Telegraph about difficulties Selbourne had in getting someone to publish the book [1]

Personally, there will be an inevitable journey in the UK / Europe getting to grips with radical Islam, one or combo of the following:

1) proactively, state & society continues its 'renaissance of rights' *

* the journey it has recently embarked on ref over turning the failed notion of 'multiculturalism' (as touted & imposed by liberal left / left) & all the problems it brought.

2) reactively, the Islamic terrorists & extremists/radicals yet again ramp up the ante (having no notion of subtlety or knowing when to stop) then state & society react accordingly (piecemeal approach).

As for most of the world, it will about reaction to events.

BBC article with a mention of Selbourne [2]

David Selbourne according to wiki [3]




  • 16.
  • At 08:08 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • han wrote:

This is a HOAX, as revealed on Belgian TV yesterday. Why is it that Newsnight so often turns out to be a propaganda outlet for the BlairBush phoney War on Terror?
Newsnight should have checked this guy's story properly instead of beeing an instrument for creating fear. Investigate Stockwell and 7/7 properly and findout about your own governement's acts of terror, instead of behave like complicit propagandaparrots.

  • 17.
  • At 11:26 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • Dvader wrote:


Nothing was revealed on Belgian TV.
However, there was an article in het Laatste Nieuws that claimed the program was fake. But today De Morgen - leftist flemish newspaper - claimed the Laatste Nieuws was wrong.
Strange, do you have Belgian tv in England.:-)

  • 18.
  • At 12:43 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • dvader wrote:

A follow-up to my previous post. Some newspapers in the belgian press are claiming that BBC Newsnight docu was fake because Mr. Omar Nasiri is non other than Said El-Madja. His brothers Yousef El Majda, and Ah El Madjawere were GIA terrorists but Said was just a crook that now fooled the BBC. All of this ,is being said by Belgian terrorist-export Claude Moniquet. He is leading terrorist expert in Belgium with French secret service links. Why did the BBC didn't contact Mr. Moniquet?

  • 19.
  • At 07:51 PM on 26 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref dvader #18

Q. do you have supporting links to your claims?

I believe all three were convicted for terrorists offences (see below)

Think you will find Claude Moniquet is known to the BBC [1a] also interesting other side piece [1b]

To recap, the BBC position [2]

fyi - Claude Moniquet, President of ESISC [3a] [3b]

The Armed Islamic Group (GIA, from French Groupe Islamique Armé) [4]

Belgium Convened a Crisis Meetings in the Wake of GIA Threats [5]

"Belgium - Belgian police arrested 10 suspected Armed Islamic Group (GIA) members in March during raids in Brussels. Police seized false documents, detonators, and some small caliber weapons. During a follow-up raid, police uncovered explosives in a GIA supporter's home. The arrests were part of a joint security operation with France, Britain, Sweden, and Italy before the World Cup soccer match in Paris. In April, Belgium prosecuted three suspected GIA members for the grenade attack in December 1995 on two police officers in Bastogne. Two suspects, Kamel Saddeddine and Youssef El Majda, were convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. The other, Ah El Madja, also was convicted and sentenced to serve three years" [6a] [6b]

Informative Global Patterns of Terrorism 1998 (cover Belgium) a useful reminder to those who memories only go back as 2003 as to when they think 'causes' for 'terrorism; esp Islamic variety, started in the world [6b]




  • 20.
  • At 09:09 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Aliyl Shamon wrote:

Doe's anybody think we may have to fight these jihadists? Not because we want to, but because their prophets say they must kill or convert infidels (like us).
Will talking with them help or maybe even amend their jidah agenda? And what is the probability of peace if we we're to apply this strategy?

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