Police probe Blair 'death threat'
LONDON, England -- Police in the UK are investigating alleged comments by a spokesman for a radical Muslim group's claim that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is considered a "legitimate target" for Muslims.
The comments were attributed to a spokesman for the hardline organisation al-Muhajiroun, whose headquarters are in north London.
Its spokesman, Abdel-Rahman Saleem, was quoted from Lahore, Pakistan, as saying that Downing Street and military targets in Britain and America had become legitimate targets now that Afghanistan was being attacked.
He is said to have added: "He (Blair) has also become a legitimate target ... This means that if any Muslim wanted to kill him or to get rid of him, I would not shed any tears."
A spokesman at Scotland Yard, headquarters of the London police, told CNN: "We can confirm that we are formally investigating alleged comments made by Abdel-Rahman Saleem as reported in some national newspapers.
"We continue to monitor comments made by other individuals and have been in close consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.
"It remains the policy of the Met (the London police force) to vigorously investigate all such matters."
But Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammed, the leader of the group, said the remarks -- published in several British newspapers on Wednesday -- were taken out of context.
Sheikh Omar, who is himself already under investigation for allegedly pronouncing a fatwa against the president of Pakistan, told the UK Press Association: "I think his comments might have been taken out of context because I doubt he would have said that.
"Mr Blair was visiting Pakistan and he has sent his forces to bomb Afghanistan. Many Muslims there will think he has declared war on Islam.
"Even though Mr Blair has said that is not the case, they will think that."
Anjem Choudary, a member of al-Muhajiroun, told Reuters that those living in Islamic states like Afghanistan and Pakistan had the right to "defend themselves against the aggressors."
Asked if he was encouraging Muslims in those countries to kill Blair -- who on Wednesday was visiting British troops on exercise in Oman -- Choudary said: "Everything is possible in war, you do not make love, you make war."
Choudary endorsed Saleem's statement, saying: "That is true about our members living in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
But he said the group's 7,000 followers in Britain would not try to take the law into their own hands and would take no violent action in the country.
"Those of us living in non-Muslim countries are here as guests so we must support our brothers physically, verbally and financially by non-violent means. Anyway we are not armed."
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