Bakri's son seized with £13k at airport

bakrySource AOL News

Exiled Islamic cleric Omar Bakri has insisted that £13,000 seized from his son by anti-terror police at Heathrow Airport was a gift from friends.

Speaking from his mother's home in Beirut, Lebanon, the preacher said the money was "clean" and that he expected it to be returned within weeks.

Bakri warned the British authorities they were "playing with fire" by "hassling" him and his family.

He said: "I want them to check it. I want them to declare that the money is clean money. It's not going to terrorism.

"It's not dirty money or laundered money. I'm not running away from paying tax. We are not like this.

"It's money from friends to Omar Bakri and my family. My son was carrying it to see me and surprise me.

"The police have nothing against my family but they want to hassle my son. I am sure they will release it."

Bakri was barred from Britain last August after the then home secretary Charles Clarke ruled his presence was "not conducive to the public good".

His son, Abdul Rahman Fostok, 23, was stopped at Heathrow Airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Beirut.

Some of the cash was apparently stuffed in a brown envelope marked "Daddy".

Bakri has five other children.

Officers from Scotland Yard's new Counter Terrorism Command seized the cash and Fostok was allowed to continue with his journey. He was not arrested.

Scotland Yard said a hearing will take place at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court to determine what will happen to the cash.

Bakri said he has no plans to return to the UK and is now enjoying living in Lebanon "much much more".

He said he was busy preaching both in person and via the internet and that the money comprised of gifts from his supporters in the UK.

"I am still addressing the Muslim community at large in Europe, America, Britain and Canada in English, talking on the internet," he said.

He added: "I never said I wanted to come back to the UK. My family wish me to, yet I said I would not return even if they granted me Queen Elizabeth's throne."

Bakri said his son was making a 10-day trip to Beirut, his first, and they had been sightseeing together.

The cleric hit the headlines in July when he was turned away from a Royal Navy vessel carrying refugees from the conflict in southern Lebanon to Cyprus.

At that time his wife, Hanan Fostok, of London, said Tony Blair would have "blood on his hands" if anything happened to him during the fighting.

Mr Bakri is believed to hold dual Syrian and Lebanese nationality.

He was given political asylum to remain in the UK in the 1980s. He founded the now-disbanded radical Islamic group al-Muhajiroun, which was based in Tottenham, north London, and earned the nickname the "Tottenham Ayatollah".

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