Speaking from Lebanon on May 29, Omar Bakri, a radical cleric banned from the UK, described accused Woolwich terrorist Michael Adebolajo as a “freedom fighter.”
Although Bakri has not been allowed into the UK since 2005, he founded a group called al-Muhajiroun that Adebolajo was associated with in 2003 and 2004.
Bakri first founded al-Muhajiroun in Saudi Arabia in 1983. When the Saudis banned the group from the country, he moved it to Great Britain and made a name for himself by using it to celebrate those who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Both Bakri and his group have since been banned in Britain.
According to TIME, Bakri said: “From an Islamic perspective, [Adebolajo] is fighting back against the soldiers who are committing crimes against Iraq.”
Bakri warns that any retaliation against Adebolajo’s “brothers in the UK” will “bring devastation for everybody.”