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Reporters on the Job

Meeting Radicals In London : The genesis of today's story about radical Muslims in Britain (page 1) began shortly after the July 7 bombing. We contacted reporters James Brandon and John Thorne, two journalists in London who speak Arabic and have recently been working in the Middle East, including Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Morocco.

John had written a Monitor story last fall about how Muslims in London feel about becoming more "integrated" into the mainstream of British life. In the course of reporting that story, he was introduced to Khalid Kelly, an Irishman who had converted to Islam in a Saudi jail. At that time, John also heard Abu Osama speak to a group of conservative Muslims in a rented hall. "I'm not sure why Kelly invited me to that event. I was the only non-Muslim there. Perhaps he was trying to get some attention for their point of view about Islam," John says.

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For today's story, he called Mr. Kelly, who suggested that they meet after a Friday service at a small mosque in East London. "James and I went expecting to see Kelly alone. But I recognized Abu Osama from the meeting last fall," says John.

As they observed the street sermon and spoke with those in the crowd, they found the comments chilling. "In the Middle East, you often hear a lot of bravado about jihad from young Muslims," John says. "But these men were older. The Iraqi talked about his children. Another wondered if his father's work visa contractually obligated him to protect Britain. There was a specificity about their discussion about striking at Britain or Iraq that was particularly worrying."

David Clark Scott
World editor