YOU thought Osama Bin Laden's brand of Islamic fundamentalism was as
extreme as it gets, think again. A rival group of Muslim terrorists
exists which regards him as an infidel who has sold out.
Bin Laden's declaration of war against the West has failed to
impress Takfir wal-Hijra, an ultra-hardcore group that has won a
reputation for unbridled savagery in Egypt and Sudan.
Hamza: even he's shockedIts fundamentalism is
so extreme that members have embarked on killing sprees in mosques
against fellow Muslims in the belief that a pure Islamic state can
be built only if the corrupt elements of the last one are wiped out.
In this they see Bin Laden and his followers as pragmatists who
are "excessively liberal". To drive the point home, four of its
members pulled up in a pick-up truck outside his house in Sudan in
1995, spraying it with bullets in an effort to kill him.
Ironically, militant Muslims in Britain who have been happy to
endorse Bin Laden's attacks on western society are indignant at the
prospect of the Takfir threatening them.
"They are nothing but a bunch of extremists," said Abu Hamza, the
claw-handed radical preacher at Finsbury Park mosque in north
London, who outraged public opinion in the aftermath of the
terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center by describing them as an
act of "self-defence".
Hamza, who has encouraged young Muslims to take up a jihad
against the West, is concerned about the Takfir's irrational
"They kill Muslims," he said last week. "These people create
nothing and destroy everything. It is not right to be as harsh as
they are. These people want to be judges and executioners."
Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who runs Al-Muhajiroun, an
organisation devoted to creating an international Muslim superstate,
to include Britain, was equally upset about Takfir last week.
"They are fanatics," said the man whose organisation, based in a
Tottenham industrial estate, has denied endorsing attacks on Tony
Blair after the bombing of Afghanistan started. "They cannot be
compared to Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, who have many eminent scholars
Takfir was founded by Shukri Mustafa, a member of the Muslim
Brotherhood, who was imprisoned in the mid-1960s and joined the
radical disciples of Qutb while in prison. He built the Takfir - the
full title of which means "repentance and isolation" - on his
release in 1971.
Mustafa was executed after he kidnapped and murdered an Egyptian
government minister in 1978. In the early 1980s President Hosni
Mubarak attempted to crush his terrorist group by arresting 350
suspected members, but many escaped into the deserts of north
During its 30-year existence, the Takfir has repeatedly attacked
fellow Muslims as part of a drive to cleanse the Islamic world in
preparation for building a new and pure Islamic state. Last
December, one of its adherents shot 23 worshippers in a mosque of
the pacifist Ansar al-Sunna sect, near the Sudanese capital of
Takfir fanatics have carried out two other attacks on Ansar's
mosques since 1996, apparently because they disagree with its
According to the Takfir's twisted logic, the failure of existing
Muslim regimes to impose full sharia - Islamic law - means they and
their citizens are rebelling against God's sovereignty. While
scholars accept an individual's right to interpret the Koran,
leaving the ultimate judgment to God, Takfir denounces all but those
who copy the behaviour of the prophet Muhammad as infidels and
promises to kill them.
Takfir has attempted to justify its violence by claiming it is
necessary to demolish Islam before reconstructing it in a purer
Its hostility to Bin Laden first erupted in Sudan in the
mid-1990s. Bin Laden settled there in 1991 after fighting the
Russians in Afghanistan. He spent five years in the country building
businesses and his Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation before being
expelled in 1996.
A year before he left he was attacked at his home in Khartoum by
four Takfir members who drove up in a Toyota Hilux pick-up at about
4pm brandishing Kalashnikovs. They were on their way home, having
killed 12 Muslims at a local mosque.
Eyewitnesses say they opened fire on the house and another
occupied by Bin Laden's fighters, but his guards were alert and
fought back. Four of them died, as did three of the four Takfir
members. The fourth was captured by the Sudanese police and hanged.
"After that action, Bin Laden closed the road," said Amar Osman,
a local man who witnessed the attack. "Trenches were dug at either
end of the street, closing it to all vehicles - and after midnight
even pedestrians were stopped, questioned and searched.
"A partial barricade also went up on the side street that entered
the block opposite Bin Laden's house, reducing access to a single
lane. You could get in but not out."
Six years on, the feud may now be resumed because the Takfir are
said to be "angered" at Bin Laden's leadership of a "compromised
jihad". One senior Sudanese government source, familiar with the
previous attempt to kill Bin Laden in Khartoum, said last week:
"They regard him as a sellout. While he concentrates his attention
on freeing Saudi Arabia of American bases, the Takfir think that
everything in contemporary Muslim society is corrupt and should be
A Whitehall source with close knowledge of the Takfir said: "They
do not regard the Taliban as representative of Islam. They do not
take kindly to religion being hijacked for political purposes."
Additional reporting: Soheb Panja