A British jihadist (part two)
Taseer: Clearly you have a sense of an enemy. What is the face of this enemy? Is it America?
Butt: At the moment, America.
Taseer: Who else is part of it?
Butt: You have an apparent enemy and a hidden enemy.
Taseer: The apparent enemy?
Butt: The American enemy. As far as I’m concerned, you have America spearheading the attack, followed by Britain, France, the EU, the UN, the World Bank, the IMF…
Butt: Thailand, especially after what happened recently. [Attacks on Muslim rebels in the south of the country]
Taseer: What does it take to join the enemy?
Butt: To support them. The Japanese only have 500 troops in Iraq; as a result they’ve declared war on Islam. China from day one has been testing its nuclear missiles in the Xinjiang province; it’s a Muslim province, so China is another enemy of Islam. As far as we’re concerned, until an Islamic government makes treaties with these people, the world, for me, is an enemy. But there will be people who we prioritise, so I won’t start attacking the South American states. I have bigger and more important enemies to deal with, those who are having direct influence in the Muslim world, like America.
Taseer: In your capacity as a teacher and leader, what is your wish for the British Muslim?
Butt: I would say every Muslim needs to be proud of Islam, without feeling inferior, and to read a book by Mohammad Assad, a convert from Germany in the 1930s. As far as I’m concerned, the British are still ruling the subcontinent, and the way they’re doing that is by the inferiority complex. They instil this idea that people have to follow the western design in order for them to progress. It was such a clever ploy by the British. 100 or 200 years ago, their security services were much more intelligent than they are today. My advice to Muslims is start to get out of this inferiority complex, start to realise that Islam is beautiful, don’t be ashamed of it. If someone says jihad, don’t be ashamed; if someone says hijab, don’t be ashamed. What Allah says is good is good, what he says is bad is bad, don’t be ashamed of saying what is good and bad. This is my advice, be proud of being a Muslim, not only be proud, be loud about that. If you watch a really good movie, you’ll go out and tell the whole world: “That movie was just so brilliant, you’ve got to watch that movie, you’ve got to see it.” It’s the same way with Islam. If you believe it is the truth, if you believe it is the most beautiful way of life, if you believe it is the divine word of Allah, don’t keep it to yourself, tell the whole world about it and don’t be ashamed of it. British Muslims, especially, have this platform, because something said in London or Britain can reach the whole world. The Muslims in the middle east don’t have that benefit or the liberty we have. We must take advantage of it.
Taseer: Is military action part of the plan?
Butt: If someone wants to go into military action, I would encourage them, because Allah says in Surah Taubah, “From the believers I ask for their wealth and their life and the best among you are the ones who fight and kill and be killed for me.” This is the promise that Allah makes. These people are the ones that gain the supreme success. For me there is nothing bigger if somebody goes out there and kills for the sake of Allah or is killed for the sake of Allah.
Taseer: Why suicide bombing?
Butt: There is a difference between suicide and martyrdom. Suicide is about unhappiness, depression. That’s not what these people are. These people have an urge to be with Allah, to be with the Prophet, live among him, to be close to him. They are happy before committing these actions. They are probably at the highest level any human being can be before doing this. They are the most peaceful and content. There is a complete and utter difference between martyrdom operations and suicide operations: with the former, you want to do it not because you are fed up, but because you are happy to enter the next step of life, which is the afterlife. With the latter, you are completely and utterly fed up with life.
Taseer: You’ve claimed in the past to recruit British people for martyrdom operations. Who are they?
Butt: The majority of people who, after 9/11, went to Afghanistan like myself were educated. They understood the reality of this war, and many came from secure family backgrounds. They had wives, children; they had no reason to leave. But they had a call within themselves that was urging them to go forward.
Taseer: What’s the position of the radical Islamic movement in Britain today? Is it growing or declining?
Butt: I do believe that support is growing. In the public eye it seems as though only a tiny number of Muslims are making this noise, but the fact is that only a tiny number have the courage to speak out. The rest won’t, simply because they’re worried about being persecuted by the government.
Taseer: What about the imams? Are they helping?
Butt: There are many brilliant imams in this country, and then a lot who are not so brilliant. My main grievance with the imams is that they are not public enough. Maybe they know better than me because they’re older and more experienced. But I’ll give you an example: the letter that was sent out publicly by the Muslim Council of Britain to the mosques saying that we should be spying on one another. I spoke to ten different imams—from London, Birmingham and London—in ten different masjids; all ten disagreed with the letter, but they never publicly said so. The letter said that you should spy on Muslims and report them if they were involved in any Islamic activities. Even when the IRA was being attacked in Britain, many priests had their anonymity protected by law because they were religious people. They were under no obligation to inform the police about any potential terrorist attacks by the IRA. So why the hell would we as Muslims go around spying on one another?
If the MCB letter had been a private thing then fine, but this was public and these people need to be corrected publicly. In Islam, for example, if somebody is a homosexual under an Islamic government, but practices it within his own home, Islamically he won’t be punishable because he’s not coming out with it publicly. So in that sense homosexuality is fine for him. The moment he comes out publicly with it, it becomes an issue for the public. My grievance with these imams is that they aren’t saying these things publicly—why does it take someone like me, who is 24 years old, who has no Islamic credentials except with the youth I speak to who look up to me? Why are you imams, you people who have gone through the Islamic disciplines, not coming out and saying that this is haram? This is completely and utterly unacceptable in Islam.
Taseer: What about your future?
Butt: I believe I have a bigger and bigger role to play. Yesterday I was talking to five or six senior brothers about our different roles. I was saying that if I had a passport, I wouldn’t be in this country, and I kept saying to these guys, you’ve all got passports, you don’t have any problem, why are you not leaving the country? But then one of the brothers made a very beautiful point. He said, “Every decade or century Allah makes somebody different, so initially you had political thinkers like Hassan al-Banna, Maududi, Sayeed Qutb. But now we have reached the more militant side of Islam, so you have Osama, Zawahiri, and Emir Khatab and Baseyev in Chechnya. Throughout time, each will have their own role to play.” And I do believe that I’ve got a bigger role to play and when that time comes, I will make my preparations to play that role.
Taseer: It’s martyrdom, isn’t it?
Butt: Absolutely. It’s something that makes me really depressed being stuck in this country because I know I’m so far away from it. I know that if I was to pass away in my sleep, then I would not have the mercy of Allah upon me because I have been such a bad person. And I don’t see myself in any way as getting into heaven that easily, except through martyrdom.
Taseer: Where would you go if you got your passport back?
Butt: Probably Yemen and Syria initially, because at the moment I’m wanted in Pakistan for supposed involvement in an assassination plot on Musharraf.
Taseer: After Yemen and Syria? The enemy that you would finally confront would be the US, right?
Butt: Yes. Maybe America will be destroyed in my time, maybe I’ll have something completely different to do. But I need to learn Arabic. As an English/Urdu-speaking person, I can see the beauty of Islam from the outside, but I really can’t have access without Arabic. It’s like having a beautiful house and only being able to see through the windows how beautiful it is inside. That is how I view Arabic. I believe the Arabic language will give me that key to access those things I don’t have access to at the moment. Once I learn Arabic, inshallah, I will get myself militarily trained. It’s like the Jews in Israel: conscription is incumbent upon every male and female.
Taseer: Why do you see it as something that ends in death? There are a lot of soldiers who don’t see their fight as necessarily ending in death.
Butt: Because death for us signifies the next stage of life. It signifies the beginning of eternal life. That’s something we cannot understand, comprehend or really appreciate. For me, it’s like when you say to a child, “Don’t open the cupboard” and curiosity gets the better of him and he wants to know what’s there. Only this time it’s not curiosity; I’m sure that the next stage of life is going to far exceed the pleasure of this life.
Taseer: You’re looking forward to death?
Butt: Absolutely. As long as it’s done properly. I’m terrified of dying normally, growing old, grey.
Taseer: You don’t see that as a selfish impulse, to care for nothing but your own salvation?
Butt: Ultimately, that’s everybody’s. The mother loves the child more than anybody. But even she, on the day of reckoning, will not look at the child; Allah says she will think of herself, solely of herself. Ultimately, that is what it’s about: I’m going into my grave, you’re going into your grave, everyone is ultimately going into their grave. In this duniya (world), we have as much as we can want, but ultimately it is for the benefit of your soul. It is the only point in Islam where an individual is actually allowed to be selfish.
Taseer: You’ve asked for martyrdom in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya: what do these causes have in common?
Butt: They’re all just causes in which Muslims are being attacked by a foreign occupier.
Taseer: But why isn’t an un-Islamic government just as much a problem, Pakistan for instance?
Butt: Absolutely. I pray that Allah accepts the man who made the second attempt on Musharraf’s life a few months ago. He did it as a martyr. The common thing for everyone around the world is jihad but the places you talked about—Chechnya, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan—are occupied. Then you’ve got unoccupied ones: Riyadh, Bali…
Taseer: What kind of psychological strength or make-up do you need to be a martyr?
Butt: It takes a hell of a lot. You have to be at peace with yourself and have that comprehension. It is such a difficult thing to actually do. It’s a level I’m not at, at the moment, without a shadow of doubt. Omar Sheikh [The LSE-educated killer of Daniel Pearl] is the only British Muslim I’ve met who is at that level… I think Mohammad Hanif and Omar Sharif [the two British Muslims who travelled to Israel as suicide bombers in 2003] were at that level too. Did you watch the video Hamas released of them? They looked so happy, and here I am, sitting here depressed, aggravated, frustrated and I look at them looking so happy and so at peace with what they’re going to do, that I can only begin to imagine what kind of piety they are at to be able to say, “Allah here I am. This is what you’ve given me and this is what I’m giving back in return.” That’s what the spiritual side of the training is there for, and many of the camps—which have now been dismantled—concentrated on that spiritual aspect, on making sure you know why you’re doing this. Like I said, it can’t be curiosity: you have to know that you will get to heaven.
Taseer: Do you think killing Daniel Pearl was part of Omar Sheikh’s fight for Islam?
Butt: Whether he killed Daniel Pearl or not, I don’t know to be honest with you.
Taseer: If he did?
Butt: If he did, I’m sure Islamically he knew what he was doing.
Taseer: Would you approve of it if he did?
Butt: Absolutely—journalists have always been used as spies. Even Lawrence of Arabia, who was a spy, was initially a journalist. I believe Pearl was a spy: he deserved everything he got.
Taseer: What about Kashmir, have you been involved in the fight there?
Butt: I have lectured there twice to English students in the Pakistani-controlled area. I lectured in Islamabad in one of the hotels, with someone from Kashmir, I can’t remember the brother’s name now. He then invited me to give two separate lectures in English, to English students about how I think they should be focusing their lives. It was very productive. Kashmir is a place that has been forgotten by the world media. It’s a shame. Personally I’m not the biggest supporter of the Kashmiri jihad, because I believe a lot of it is political gaming rather than pure jihad. I see a lot of innocent lives being wasted for political motives.
Taseer: For the motives of the Pakistani government?
Butt: Yes, forcing the Indian government to keep 750,000 troops in such a small area places it under massive economic pressure.
Taseer: Is Lashkar doing good work?
Butt: I’m not a supporter of Lashkar-e-Toiba, I see them as very government-backed. I think this is a general problem in the Pakistani organisations. The minute they start attacking the government, they fear losing everything they have built up and that is a weakness in every group I see. For me, the key concept of being a separatist is that if I ask you to sacrifice your life, your wealth, your health, then you do. Ultimately, the aim is to achieve what I would say is the goal for Islam, for example to liberate Kashmir. I think Kashmir has always been a proxy war for Pakistan, and they’ve never really wanted to liberate it. I even remember speaking to General Zahir Abbassi and Hamid Gul: both of them said, “Really, if we want to liberate Kashmir, we could do so very easily.” Lashkar has 200,000 followers, we only allow in 8,000 mujahedin at a time in that area. Why? Because if we sent everyone in there it would become unoccupied, and India wouldn’t have the economic burden of having to station 750,000 troops there. It’s really disappointing.
Taseer: Why have the predicted terrorist attacks on the US and Britain following the Iraq war not happened?
Butt: If someone was to attack Britain, they would be a completely and utterly loose cannon. It would be someone who wasn’t involved in the network… I mean the jihad network. A bomb in London would be strategically damaging to Muslims here. Immigration is lax in Britain—you know as well as I do that London has more radical Muslims than anywhere in the Muslim world. A bomb would jeopardise everyone’s position. There has to be a place we can come.
Taseer: So there is general agreement among the different groups not to attack Britain for strategic reasons?
Butt: Definitely, there is a central sense that we will not damage something for a bigger picture, but we will concentrate on our own areas.
Taseer: Why not more attacks in America?
Butt: America is much more difficult to get into than Britain—it’s so far from the rest of the world.
Taseer: Do you see future attacks there?
Butt: Definitely, I can’t see it stopping. As they say, cut the devil’s head off. I believe that the head is America, and one of the arms is Britain. Cutting the arm off won’t have an effect; cutting the head off will, so that’s why I say attacks look more likely in America.
Taseer: What does it take to get past the various screenings that you have in your own group?
Butt: It’s very hard, especially in Britain, where all of a sudden you’ve got the MI5 openly saying they are recruiting…
Taseer: Trying to infiltrate the groups?
Butt: Yeah, it’s very difficult. For all you know I could be working for them. Things are working a hell of a lot slower than they used to. I’m of the philosophy more of Ramzi Yousef: take precautions, but keep them to a minimum because otherwise you’re not going to get anywhere. I’m of the opinion that if somebody’s a spy, he’s a spy, and he can only do what Allah has planned for them. So I’m not really going to be concerned for myself. I will carry out the very minimum checks.
Taseer: What kind of checks?
Butt: If it’s somebody I brought in myself, I would get to know them and culture them. I would hope that, even if he were a spy, by the end of his time with me he would be converted anyway. He’d say, “I can’t do this.” Assuming he is not a spy, I’d make sure I know where he’s come from, who he knows. If he knew nobody, he would start right at the bottom and we would have to go through all of the procedures. But if he says I’m affiliated with X, Y and Z, I could take up references with those people, I’d make sure he’d done the things he’d claimed to have done. You always have references in the radical Muslim world, that’s how it works. You can go to Pakistan and reference me from such and such a place and they’d say yeah, we know him. Then I’d go back to the person and ask if he’d gone under a different name than the one he’s giving me, and if there’s a slip halfway down the line, I’d say I’m sorry we can’t help you, inshallah there’s somebody else who can.
Taseer: So there are very few who come in clean with no record?
Butt: No, very few. On Saturday evenings on this very road, we used to have Islamic stalls and we would actually recruit people from the stalls, take their contact details, and start building up a relationship with them, meeting them, and giving them the necessary Islamic culture for them to have the Islamic identity. But I would not push anyone to do anything unless they came to me. I would never tell anyone, “I think you should do military training.” I will never say that to anybody because it’s something that has to come from the person’s heart.
Taseer: Are there a disproportionate number of Pakistanis who want to take part in this sort of thing?
Butt: In Britain, the majority I know are of Pakistani descent and really are fed up with the British way of life, British standards; they are even fed up with un-Islamic Pakistani culture and traditions.
Taseer: Like what?
Butt: This issue of obeying your elders even if they’re wrong, remaining silent at their mistakes. Forcing women to cook and clean and do nothing else. They’re fed up with these stigmas.
Taseer: So would women have a stronger role in an Islamic society?
Butt: Oh yeah, I believe that women are the forefront of this war. If our women were correct in their minds, my job would not be necessary. If our sisters were teaching the children from a very young age to love jihad, to love Allah, to live for Allah, to die for Allah… I think they have the biggest the role to play.
Taseer: And it’s not the economic conditions of the Pakistanis that make them well suited.
Butt: Not any more. The majority of the Pakistanis here are well established, they own their own homes, they’re not on mortgages any more, many have gone to university, they don’t have any problems, The Muslims who have the problems are the Somalis and the Bangladeshis, these are the economically deprived ones. But the Pakistanis have really got to grips with why they came here. Initially it was for economic reasons. I guess that’s why the youth is a lot more responsive. The elders came here for economic benefit, so they were a lot less willing to come out publicly with their opinions, whereas the youth now are more disillusioned with what’s going on around them. They’ve had everything they needed and they’re rejecting it.
Taseer: You’ve had your passport revoked, right? What has the government told you?
Butt: Yeah, the official answer is that I am under investigation for links to terrorist activities and organisations and until these are cleared my passport is being held so that I don’t leave the country. They told my solicitor that the moment I leave this country I will be considered a threat to national security; as a result they bind me to Britain. This is now becoming a breach of my human rights. I am supposed to be able to travel freely to any country I want.
Taseer: Are you under constant surveillance?
Butt: As far as I understand, yes.
Taseer: Do you think they’re watching our interview now?
Butt: I wouldn’t be surprised if they knew about it, but whether they were watching it, I have no idea. I know my phones are most likely tapped. That’s why I was quite surprised when you rang me because that number is very private, and only very few individuals have it. The other numbers keep changing, but that one I keep.
Taseer: When you were arrested, why couldn’t they build a case?
Butt: They had nothing. The whole basis for my arrest was probably the information that you gathered off the internet. That’s what made me realise at that point that I’d never been under observation until that day.
Taseer: Do you feel any guilt about using a country’s freedoms to strike against it? If you were in any of the Muslim countries, you would be in jail.
Butt: I guess it’s the British blood inside me. The British have been known for centuries to abuse everyone’s resources. When they took over my father’s homeland, the subcontinent, they reaped the resources, they raped the lands, even now the Queen’s crown is made from jewels that don’t belong to Britain. I’ll hold my Islamic beliefs. I’m just continuing a trait of the British people.
Taseer: A tradition of deceit?
Taseer: You do see it as deceit?
Butt: Yeah, war is deceit.
Taseer: This is a war isn’t it?
Butt: I don’t see it any other way.
Taseer: Then how do you feel about a group like al-Muhajiroun which seems to say it’s a war, but refuses to recruit?
Butt: It’s their get-out-of-jail card. And this was one of my biggest concerns. I can understand they see war as deceit and they say it’s not the aim behind the organisation and perhaps they do it behind closed doors, but I say you shouldn’t be such big articulators of the war if you aren’t willing to carry it out. This was our big difference. I’m not saying what they’re doing is un-Islamic, but it’s something I was feeling uneasy about as a Muslim. I could do it no longer, I was feeling hypocritical.
Taseer: If it’s a war, you need soldiers, right?
Butt: Yeah. I’m not a soldier. My role is someone who tries to use the western media to get our message across. I remember speaking to one maulana (master) who I look up to a lot. At that point I was saying, “I really want to go and fight.” And he said, “Look, you have access to many things we don’t. Go and utilise it, the war has many different fronts. We can’t come to Britain. You think we have a lack of mujahedin waiting there? We’ve got hundreds and thousands of them. You’re from Britain, you can use the media, you speak their language, you’re an educated person, you have the passport, go there and utilise it. When the time comes for you to fight, if Allah wants that, you’re going to do that. Don’t worry about it.” So the war has many different fronts, and in the meantime that selfishness you were originally talking about is suspended until I get to an age where I can say: “I’ve done my best now, I have to think of my individual soul,” and then, inshallah, I will go and fight.
Taseer: And Omar Sheikh Bakri?
Butt: I have respect for him. He’s an aalim (scholar), and he’s much older than me, but I have my differences with him as well. It came to a point where I could no longer keep myself affiliated with his group, not because I disrespect them in any way, but because it would have been hypocritical to be with them and hold these views. I need to break loose because the views I was going to give would not be the views of the organisation al-Muhajiroun.
Taseer: Was the parting peaceable?
Butt: With any organisation I’ve been with, the parting is like a divorce. It’s quite messy. But we’re Islamic-minded people and we’re still in contact, and I have a lot of respect for them. They’re still more vocal than the majority of the Muslims in this country.
Taseer: What was the route to Afghanistan?
Butt: Just through Pakistan. It really amazed me that anyone could do it. You could get anything you like across the border and at that time with the Pakistani government being very friendly, it was never guarded as it is today.
Taseer: That fight still continues?
Butt: Yes—the sad thing is that while the world media focuses on Iraq, a lot is happening in Afghanistan.
Taseer: Are people still going?
Butt: Yes, though not as many from Britain. The doors have been closed. They need people who are already trained. They don’t have time to start training people and sending them over.
Taseer: What was your university experience like?
Butt: Until we got there [Wolverhampton], there had never been any Islamic activity. There was a group of 15 of us and we all decided to go to the same university and we recruited another ten to 15 in the next couple of months and we came out very explosively. We had Islamic awareness weeks, we demanded a prayer room, washing facilities.
Taseer: Was it radical?
Butt: It was absolutely radical and I think the university authorities felt really, really threatened. I even remember having visits from the so-called community leaders of the Muslims asking, “What are you doing?” Wolverhampton is only a small city, but we were sticking posters all over it. It was a really good experience, we radicalised the university a lot.
Taseer: You were expelled. What for?
Butt: I was accused of getting Muslims to assault a homosexual student. Now I don’t hide my views about homosexuality: in Islam it’s forbidden. If someone wants to do it privately, go ahead and do it privately, don’t come out publicly with it. At the time, we were the largest society on campus because all the Muslims had joined us. Our grant was £500 and there was another society, I think the music society, which had fewer than 100 members and they had £5,000-6,000. I was really pushing this; I went to the racial equality person. I wasn’t as radical as I am today, but just as active and aggressive. But I got rejected. I realised that the racial equality board didn’t see Muslims as a race, hence we didn’t have equal rights.
Anyway, with the assault case, they eventually got some “witnesses” to come forward. It was the most bizarre case—here I was in my final six months of university. I had spent two and a half years studying for a law and politics degree, and they were refusing to give not only the names of these witnesses, but not even their statements.
Taseer: But you didn’t do it?
Butt: No, I did not do that at all. If I had done it, I would have come out openly. I would have acknowledged it. At that time, I believed more in political Islam, arguing, debating, having dialogues—this militant side of Islam came later. I was so surprised by the case. I wanted to say, “How do I know you haven’t just made this whole thing up?” Fair enough, the witnesses couldn’t be present, but at least give us their statements, their names, just so we know they are not made-up people. By the time we got the solicitor involved, my year had collapsed and it would have taken me another two years to graduate. It was enough for me.
Taseer: Did you like being in Pakistan?
Butt: I loved it, I’ve never had a better two years in my life. I see Pakistan as the only country having the potential to lead the Muslims out of the disarray they are in today. I see Pakistan as that nation.
Taseer: But the government isn’t to your taste?
Butt: Obviously the government is the problem. I think the people are the most amazing I have seen in my life: people who experience hardship every day, and still have faith that Allah will give them something. The problem is that you have this very tiny minority that is always portrayed as the majority of the opinion in Pakistan.
Taseer: Who rules Pakistan?
Butt: The elite, you know how it is.
Taseer: I know it’s a big question, but what’s your wish for the global order, how would you like to see it readjusted?
Butt: I don’t see it happening in my lifetime. 1,400 years ago you had a small city-state in Medina, and within ten years of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Islam had spread to Egypt and all the way into Persia. I don’t see why the rest of the world, the White House, 10 Downing Street, shouldn’t come under the banner of Islam. And this is what we believe: we are going to set the foundation for Islam bringing true peace, true security to the world.
Taseer: Will there be a lot of killing?
Butt: I can’t see it not happening. Even what I say is very naïve. I can see Islam bringing peace to humanity for a short period, but man being what he is, being very rebellious and arrogant, he will naturally cause rebellion.
Taseer: You’ve spoken about martyrdom for yourself. Would you send your children into it?
Butt: It’s funny you ask me this because my mother is arranging for me to get married. Unlike Pakistani tradition, which doesn’t allow you to speak to the girl beforehand, I’ve made sure that I’ve spoken to the sister, that I’ve met her, that I’m compatible with her. Obviously I’m not going to date her or court her.
Taseer: Have you ever dated anyone?
Butt: No, never in my life. It’s one thing I was never really that interested in. I started practising just about the age most guys started getting interested in girls. But I’ve always said to my mother, I must have someone like-minded. She must be at least as extreme as me, if not more so. I’ve already said to her—the sister my mother has got me engaged to—that I expect her to become a martyr before I do and I expect my children to be exactly the same. Do you remember the Moscow theatre siege? When you had all those sisters… when I saw that, I said to my mother: you have to marry me to someone like that, I’m not going to marry anybody who doesn’t have those kind of views. My mother has found me someone who has just as strong views as those sisters did. I looked at that and I felt so ashamed of myself that day, women doing Muslim men’s jobs while we’re sitting here and they’re carrying out this awesome display of courage.
Taseer: Have you ever had a moral lapse as far as Islam is concerned?
Butt: Absolutely, we’re human, we all have our lapses. Yesterday: I told my brothers that I always fear that if I die tomorrow without dying a martyr, I would go to hell. I can’t see myself as getting into jannat (heaven) with the actions that I’ve done, I’ve done so little for Islam. There’s so much in my character I would love to improve. I see myself as a very weak Muslim who can only get better.
Taseer: Have you ever drunk alcohol?
Butt: No, and I’ve never smoked a cigarette.
Taseer: So what now? Where do you go from here?
Butt: First things first, I fight to the foremost to get my passport back. The quicker I get that back, the faster I get my plan of action together. Since leaving al-Mujahiroun, I have formed this group around me and I’m focused on this. There are about nine of us and we’re not willing to accept anybody else now because we have the same ideas, the same thoughts. Each one of us may be playing a different role from the other, but we act collectively to gain a wider picture. Once I get my passport back, I definitely see myself becoming a face for Islam in the future, something Muslims have been lacking for a very long time. This is not out of pride, or arrogance or ambition. Rather, I believe I have the ability, and I pray to Allah to give me more ability.
Taseer: Tell me, why did you agree to do this interview?
Butt: Unlike other Muslims I understand the power of the media. At university I studied a module that showed me how media has impacted politics. I realised that the media was probably the most powerful tool, even more powerful than military warfare: using the media you can change nations, public opinion—you can get your message out there. Ayman al-Zawahiri actually propagates that: “Yes, you can be a martyr, but you’ve only done half your job unless you get your message out there.” I think this is missing generally in the Muslim world. The Taleban’s biggest weakness was that they didn’t have any media outlet—when they eventually tried to get a grasp of the media it was too late. For me, the more we can expose ourselves the better. Even though what we say may be edited and twisted and taken out of context, I still believe that Islam twisted is better than no Islam. As a result of that, even if ten people criticise me, so long as one agrees with me, that objective is being fulfilled.
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