Ahmad Faraz is currently on trial facing charges of disseminating terrorism publications. Among the publications that he is currently accused of having distributed at the Maktabah bookshop, include works by Syed Qutb, Ibn Taymiyyah and Abdullah Azzam. The trial is currently taking place at Kingston Crown Court.
Defendant: Mr Faraz
Judge: Mr Justice Calvert-Smith
Prosecution: Mr Hill
Prosecution witness: Mr Wilkinson
Defence: Mr Bennathan
Dr Matthew 'Tariq' Wilkinson has been called as an expert witness by the prosecution based on a report he has written advising them regarding the ideological aspects of the material the defendant is accused of disseminating.
Wilkinson is currently a Research Fellow at the Cambridge Muslim College and is on the Muslim Council of Britain's Education Committee.
9 November 2011
Following on from the previous day, the discussion very much revolves around Syed Qutb's Milestones.
BENNATHAN: Mr Wilkinson, we will finish off and we will finish of Milestones fairly shortly, but a couple of really general matters, taking a step back for a good overview for a moment. Throughout your report, and from time to time in your evidence, you obviously used the word "terrorism"; yes?
BENNATHAN: What definition do you bring to that report of terrorism?
WILKINSON: Using an activity that is designed to strike terror in the heart of a civilian population used for a political ends.
BENNATHAN: Good to know. Just one detail, and it may only be a detail, but as a lot of the works we are going to be talking about today, not the later ones, they are about September 11 obviously, a lot of the works have a focus on battlefields don't they? I am not asking you to count them, that is just introductory comment, we see in the books lot of talk about battles?
WILKINSON: Yes, there is talk about battlefields, yes.
BENNATHAN: To help me with that, page 164 of your report, it is your conclusions and it is the third paragraph; do you have page 164?
WILKINSON: Yes I do.
BENNATHAN: Third paragraph you say counts 1 to 19 are vicious and you say why and you have read that: "The most repellent nature ...(reading to the words)... ambush and other terrorist means." Well, listening to your evidence, are we to understand that you think if an army uses ambushes against another army that is a form of terrorism?
WILKINSON: I couldn't speak in terms of international or British law on that point, because that is not my area of expertise. But in terms of Islamic law, if there is a covert action that is not declared by way of a ambush against an enemy that would be considered an act of terrorism.
BENNATHAN: During a war if you ambush the enemy that would be considered terrorism in Islamic law, is that what you are telling us?
WILKINSON: If it was unclear who was doing the ambushing, yes, it would be. For example, if a splinter insurgency group ambushed, let's say, a convoy of American armoured cars, and no one knew who was doing it, as is often the case. That would be considered illegal, yes.
BENNATHAN: Just so we understand that, let us move on from that please. Before we finish off Milestones, can we be clear, do you tell us we should consider you should be an exert on Sayyid Qutb?
WILKINSON: No, I would consider myself an expert, in general, on Islamic theology, and to a certain degree, jurisprudence.
BENNATHAN: Right. Well we spent quite a lot of time on Milestones yesterday, so two final points, please. A lot of what he is writing about is trying to adapt his faith to a complicated political situation, yes?
BENNATHAN: It is a post-colonial situation?
BENNATHAN: Now, different people in the United Kingdom are more or less affected, have been more or less affected by the end of the colonies -- can I be more specific, that is a waffley question, let me rephrase: for example a British Muslim of Pakistani origin is in Britain in part because of the colonies, end of colonies?
BENNATHAN: Now, you don't have that personal, forgive me, I don't want to pry into your family tree, but looking at you and listening to you, you are not someone whose family came here from one of the ex-colonies in the last 1,500 years?
WILKINSON: Not unless you consider Scotland to be an ex-colony?
BENNATHAN: I think it is a current colony or not a colony at all, depending on your point of view. Is this fair that a British Muslim whose -- very often these days -- parents or even grandparents came from a former colony, they may see resonances in this book that are not there to be seen?
WILKINSON: I would certainly accept that someone with that background might empathise with the circumstances of the author of that book as they wrote it more than I would be able to, but that is not really the point that I am making. The point that I am making in my, if you like, critique and commentary on that text is that it doesn't represent a world view that could be considered authentically Islamic.
BENNATHAN: We have debated that, I will move on. One final question, please. I suggested to you yesterday, not that you come to this, "You come to this with a open mind, but not an empty mind" is the phrase I used. We explored your ten years connected with the Norwich group and the project you are currently employed by. Do you remember those questions?
WILKINSON: Yes, if I may just add something to that, because you have taken the bookends if you like of the thing, but a lot of what is in the middle has not been addressed. In the middle of that, if you like the second 10 years, Brondesbury College, history and at certain times Islamic studies and citizenship as well. I was studying at King's College London, and during that period Brondesbury College itself, was set up by a man who was known as Cat Stevens, and is now known as Yusuf Islam, and his training and the foundation of that school are, broadly speaking, from a Salafi perspective. The staff is usually drawn from what you might call a broadly speaking Salafi point of view. I was in a culture that was not in way Sufi, but was much more Salafi-leaning.
WILKINSON: At the same time I was based, for my academic learning, within a university -- as we know, universities are sort of nondenominational society. The Islamic Society of King's College London, again within the tiny moderate -- the Islamic Society there where I prayed, and with whom I associated, was again of a Salafi leaning point of view; not in any way Sufi. So I had an almost exact balance in terms of time and exposure to what you might call a moderate Sufi point of view and a moderate Salafi point of view.
BENNATHAN: That is something you reflected on overnight, I understand that, and you wanted to express it.
WILKINSON: Well, I wish to express that if you are going to explore my religious history it should be a balanced picture.
BENNATHAN: The point I have made -- and for the reasons I have already articulated -- is whether you come to this predisposed to take a dim view of Sayyid Qutb and the people who come after him? You said you don't.
WILKINSON: I don't.
BENNATHAN: That is what I have asked you about. Day before yesterday, talking about this book, talking about Sayyid Qutb. My Lord, this is page 115 of the transcript the day before yesterday: "When it was written, it was written if you like as a howl of protest from a man that, depending on how you look at it, had been very unjustly or not treated." You remember saying that?
WILKINSON: I do.
BENNATHAN: You don't have a transcript, let me read it one more time, the jury don't have a transcript: "... it was written if you like as a howl of protest from a man that, depending on how you look at it, had been very unjustly or not treated. But it was a howl of protest in extremely severe and difficult circumstances." Now, Sayyid Qutb was imprisoned, yes?
BENNATHAN: He was tortured in prison?
BENNATHAN: He was hanged?
WILKINSON: Well, he was hanged -- in the period that Milestones was written he was not in prison.
BENNATHAN: He was actually, but let us not worry about it. I think it was written in prison and smuggled out is the suggestion, but again do you know for certain?
WILKINSON: I am pretty certain that he was released and then wrote it, I mean he was definitely in prison though for his activities and beliefs, yes.
BENNATHAN: In prison for his activities and beliefs, tortured and hanged. Forgive me, you don't say he has been treated unjustly you say a man depending how you look at it had been very unjustly or not treated. What do you say could justify him being in prison, tortured and hanged?
WILKINSON: That is not what I said in my statement --
BENNATHAN: "When it was written, it was written if you like as a from a man that, depending on how you look at it, had been very unjustly or not treated. But it was a howl of protest in extremely severe and difficult circumstances." Okay? You can have a look at the transcript if you like?
WILKINSON: No, I don't need to.
BENNATHAN: You hear what I am saying. You allowed maybe two views of whether he had been treated unjustly?
WILKINSON: Of course any historical circumstances, any number of views, in some -- the job of the historian is to decide which is more just and legitimate than another. I made no indication in that statement which I actually took, I thought that was the most impartial way of presenting my evidence. It was not in any way stating whether I thought he was unjustly treated or not.
BENNATHAN: You allow for the possibility Sayyid Qutb may have been properly imprisoned, tortured and hanged?
WILKINSON: No, I personally don't think. I think it was an unjust treatment, but those who think that the revolution of 1952 and Nasser's government was legitimate in stamping its authority on Egypt at the time would think differently.
BENNATHAN: In discussing Qutb, you allow for the possibility that some will think, "He had it coming" in short terms?
WILKINSON: I allow for the possibility that some people would think that, yes.
BENNATHAN: All right. Let us move on. My Lord, I know my Lord will expect us to do this as thoroughly as we need, but we will I hope slightly quicker. Let us turn to Count 2. Count 2, we remind ourselves is Malcolm X, the bonus disc. I remind myself make sure I have that right, I am fairly confident I have. It is Malcolm X, but it is not the documentary we saw about the black American leader, it is the other disc that you commented on. Very sensibly you didn't comment on the documentary about Malcolm X, you commented on the bonus disc.
WILKINSON: I never received that first documentary.
BENNATHAN: It is not on the indictment, so you don't need to have received it. Now, three passages in particular deal with people who committed acts of violence, all right. We have seen them, we have had it played, you have spoken about it yesterday, so I will summarise them -- well I will come to it in a moment. At least one of them, two of them I think, die in the course of the violence that is being discussed, one driving a car and the other being discussed by his mother, yes? Do you want this part of your report in front of you?
WILKINSON: I have it in front of me, perhaps if you could refer to the paragraph you are talking about that would help me.
BENNATHAN: It is your report, the description that you give is at page 80 of your report, and in particular page 81.
BENNATHAN: All right? You talk about the phenomenon of martyrdom and you talk about Hamas resistance in Palestine. Above that, you talk about Son of Al-Qaeda, which includes the mother of a "martyr". Now, there is various other things and we have them, but I would like to deal with this fairly shortly if we can.
BENNATHAN: Now, you in your evidence told us this. My Lord, I am going to page 76 of the transcript of the day before yesterday: "Suicide and martyrdom Islamically can never be connected." Yes?
BENNATHAN: "They are not terms that can be joined with any meaningful sense, if in Islam you commit suicide you are committing a crime against yourself and your religion." Right? Now, given that is what you told us yesterday, help me with this, if you go to page 83 of your report, please. Top of that page, you say of this bonus disc, and I quote: "In another context this would have been a fascinating debate." What do you mean by that please?
WILKINSON: I mean if, let us say, a student in a war studies department for example had been looking for how people justify suicide attacks as martydom operations and looking to observe a discussion where this debate was taking place. That would have been an interesting debate for them to look at.
BENNATHAN: This starts with the reservation of another context, and I accept you are not applying that to this disc.
WILKINSON: Totally, in a absolutely different context.
BENNATHAN: Let me just see if I can understand what we are saying here: if someone wanted to understand what is going on here, what is going on in the world, why do I open the newspaper and see someone has blown themselves up or died driving a car of explosives into a tank. This might inform them as to what that is all about, or at least one side; is that your point?
WILKINSON: Yes, they see from that -- which people never do see -- how people justify suicide killing.
BENNATHAN: Which people never do see, and that is a point isn't that that the mainstream media, obviously we can choose which channels we watch and which papers we read, but there are aspects of life out there which tend not to make any of the mainstream media?
WILKINSON: Yes, I would not deny that.
BENNATHAN: The point of view of someone who is prepared to risk their life or sets out to give up their life fighting is not one that we would normally see articulated?
WILKINSON: They are not giving their life fighting, they are giving their life by blowing themselves up.
BENNATHAN: We will come to that.
WILKINSON: It is a very very important point.
BENNATHAN: Yes, but it is not the point I am trying to engage at the moment. The point of view of that person, however we characterise their act, is not one we would normally see in The Times, the Guardian, the Sun, the Daily Mail the BBC? That is the point we make.
BENNATHAN: All right. Now, a point you make about actually any number of these books, I think it is your global point is this: it is the effect that these would have on the -- find the right words, it is page 77 for those who have your transcript, but I am sure we all remember it, this is in relation to your tables at the back of your report. You told us this: "What it tells us ..." That is the tables -- you don't need to go to them, because is what you are doing in those tables rather than what it shows:
BENNATHAN: "What it tells us is what I think would be a typical Muslim in the street about the legitimacy of these various zones of war in which Muslims have been involved. Both as to their cause, and as to the way in which fighting has been conducted by Muslims. It is informed by what you might call understandings of a -- not deep understandings that the man in the street has of various Fatwas and jurisprudential positions. And the general feeling that people have about where these things sit on the idea of legitimacy or not." You remember saying that?
WILKINSON: I do.
BENNATHAN: It follows a passage in your report. Is that something you can really do? To tell us what the, "Typical Muslim in the street, with limited understanding, will think"?
WILKINSON: Is that something that -- well I think I am extremely qualified to do that, that would be one of my strongest points of qualification. I also made the distinction, if you remember, at the end of yesterday between what I thought was strictly speaking the correct position in law, and what I thought was the view that I represented here that I believe would be a very typical view. The reason why I say that I think it could be --
BENNATHAN: Not too fast, do carry on.
WILKINSON: The reason why I tried to make that distinction is I do think there is a gap there between what would be the strictly correct position in law, and what people would think. That is not because people would not try to follow the law, but it is because the world is a very complicated situation. If I might just carry on -- the reason why I think I can state that claim to be well qualified to hold this view, is that I have mixed in a wide variety of different communities, I have mixed with Muslim parents, their children, mixed with Sufi Muslims, mixed with Salafi Muslims. I have mixed with people presenting their problems to the Muslim Council of Britain about what goes on in schools, I have done huptas(?) in mosque.
BENNATHAN: Carry on, but don't go too quickly.
WILKINSON: I think in terms of giving the jury a general impression, as far as one person can have an "every man's" point of view on these issues, I think I would be very well placed to do so.
BENNATHAN: There is a danger with one person with a number of degrees, such as yourself -- it is not for me to say, it is not an allegation I make, yet at least. There is a danger that someone with many degrees describing the views of people with a lower level of education crosses the line to become patronising?
WILKINSON: No, if that person does it with research based knowledge and having spoken to people, and having mixed generally with people of different types, I don't think it is patronising, I think it is an attempt just to represent the truth.
BENNATHAN: Would we not expect, if there is such a thing as the Muslim in the street, wouldn't we expect this person to have the possibility of a facility to be a critical viewer?
WILKINSON: Of course, and the picture I present here is a very critical picture. It is a picture which represents the complexity of all these different conflicts, which I think the Muslim in the street is very well aware of.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, I am not sure we are using the same term "critical view". Let me make clear what I am asking about. Let us not pick on Muslims, if anyone, any British resident turns on the television for example, and they are watching a channel which has commercials they will be urged to shop at three different supermarkets, let us say. Now, it would be naive and patronising to think they would feel obliged to go and shop at all three supermarkets; will it not?
WILKINSON: I don't see what you are driving at there, if those three supermarkets had not done market research to the extent that there is some impact on the viewer, they would not bother paying for the space on the television.
BENNATHAN: Nonetheless, no viewer is simply going to accept every advertisement at face value; are they?
BENNATHAN: Similarly, with material like this, do you really think that the -- in your terms, I want to get it right -- "Typical Muslim in the street", do you really think the typical Muslim in the street will look at something like Malcolm X bonus disc and simply drink it in without any critical faculty at all?
BENNATHAN: All right. Now, the three acts of violence that we see -- ?
WILKINSON: If I might just add something though, I think this particular count and other ones, are specifically designed to try and subvert the critical faculty of the viewer and to disenable that person from taking a distanced and critical view of what they are watching. That is why I said it is propagandistic, it is specifically designed to play on the emotions in a very hard way and to therefore disengage the intellect.
BENNATHAN: Gujarat genocide is a very emotive word; is it not? Let me deal with that on the next count if I may, to keep making some progress. Let us be clear, the three categories of people doing violence, I am leaving aside "The Torture Question", I am leaving aside the Osama Bin Laden talk. The categories of people using violence -- I hope we can agree on this -- none of those are suggested to be attacks upon civilians are they?
WILKINSON: Sorry, can you just redirect me, are we talking about to Count 2 now.
BENNATHAN: Page 81 of your report. Son of Al'Qaeda, my Lord, this is set out in the Malcolm X cover which I think is right at the front of our jury files, everyone will remember them so we don't need to go to them. Son of Al'Qaeda, now you have the document, "The Mother of a Martyr", well the "martyr" is talking about someone who is accused of killing a member of the American army; isn't she?
WILKINSON: If my memory serves me correctly, yes, but I don't really remember.
BENNATHAN: The car bomb, we have a car bomb, we have a man singing as he drives off in a car. We think -- looking at it -- he probably is, or is meant to be, in Chechnya; do you have a different view to that?
WILKINSON: My impression was that it was Iraq.
BENNATHAN: Those are our options?
WILKINSON: My reason for that is he called himself "al-Libi" , "the Libyan". I think it is more likely that a Libyan fighter would have fought in Iraq than in Chechnya.
BENNATHAN: We do have documentaries which show a list of the multinational force, if I can call them Mujahideens, in Chechnya.
WILKINSON: I am just saying that is how I had formed my impression.
BENNATHAN: Never mind, we have the material, it may not matter for this point. Again, on all these DVDs, the attacks we see and -- let us not you and I worry about which countries they are in and what English law would say is the technical definition. The attacks we see are on military convoys; are they not?
WILKINSON: I think so, yes.
BENNATHAN: I am talking about the first three DVDs, obviously September 11, utterly different later on.
WILKINSON: If I may just say, the point about suicide attacks even on a military installation, military equipment and men whatever soldiers is that you can never guarantee that you will not kill noncombatants and civilians. The point in Islamic law is that, if in the process of conducting --
BENNATHAN: Do carry on sorry.
WILKINSON: -- of a suicide attack on a military installation, noncombatants are in any way harmed, you have committed this double illegality that I spoke about.
BENNATHAN: We will come back to that later on, you talk about suicide and Islam in much more detail when we reach the third Azzam, Defence of the Muslim Lands. I will return to that fairly soon, if we can make some progress. The third person we see is, I think she is described as an elected member of the Palestinian Authority, a woman who is talking about her son. Although she is drawn into a debate about whether it would be proper to attack Israeli civilians, she says it might be.
WILKINSON: No, she specifically says it is okay.
BENNATHAN: Her son, she starts off at the beginning of the interview by saying her son she was pleased to say was attacking soldiers, I think he was shooting as many soldiers as he could in their barracks --
WILKINSON: He entered a barracks --
BENNATHAN: May I finish. I am so sorry, if we both talk at once it makes it difficult. She is talking about her son, who she describes as a "martyr", as entering a barracks and shooting soldiers until he himself was shot. None of the people we see described as "martyrs" or put in the context that suggests they would be so described are actually attacking civilians on Count 2. I think we are agreed on that.
BENNATHAN: Count 3, again, Count 3 is obviously -- we have covered a lot of this already, but let me take two points. Count 3, Gujarat Genocide is obviously designed to elicit sympathy for Muslims who have suffered to be killed, maimed and raped in Gujarat?
WILKINSON: I think the phrase "elicit sympathy" is a radical understatement.
BENNATHAN: I am trying to be restrained and neutral, to whip up sympathy.
WILKINSON: When I tried to do that yesterday, Mr Bennathan, you took me to task for it just now, on my position on Sayyid Qutb.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: I don't think this is a very productive discussion, we all saw the video, I am not sure you needed to ask the question.
BENNATHAN: Thank you, my Lord, we can take our own judgments.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: I think if we try and focus on the theology as much as possible.
BENNATHAN: I will attempt to move on. The point you have made before, without that type of media, would you agree, most people in the UK would simply not be aware of what you described as communal violence in which Muslims bore the brunt, and in which the police were accused of turning a blind eye?
WILKINSON: If you followed the events at the time you would have known about the events in Gujarat, yes, not in this way, but you would have known about them.
BENNATHAN: You say in your report, this is at page 87, it is dealt with in a way and I quote: "... that exonerates Muslims of all guilt." Can we have Count 3 on the screen, please? Page 87, while that is being done, let us look at your conclusion to save time. Page 87 of your report on Count 3, your conclusion at 13.8.2, do you have the right page, Mr Wilkinson?
BENNATHAN: "Count 3 cannot in isolation be regarded ...(reading to the words)... of Muslim victimhood that exonerates Muslims from all guilt." What I am after actually is the DVD that forms Count 3. Probably my mistake. Counter time 99.33 if we can reach to it. 99.33. Sorry come back to you, Mr Wilkinson, this is what you wrote: "... exonerates Muslims from all guilt in events in which a more impartial commentator would attribute at least partial blame." You say that in your report, don't you?
BENNATHAN: The point you make is that this dreadful series of violence, actually the first thing that happened as far as one can tell from the sequence of events was an attack by Muslims, a mob or group, seem to be Muslims on Hindu worshipers coming back from a place of worship; is that right?
WILKINSON: In this particular case, but can I just elaborate on the point which I am making in the paragraph that you have just read?
BENNATHAN: Please do.
WILKINSON: The point that I am making there is this count and other ones set up the idea that Muslims, in a number of disconnected situations, are attacked purely on the basis of the fact that they are Muslims. Not on the basis of the fact that they are involved in any sort of historical activity.
BENNATHAN: Right and it does that by omitting all mention that this chain of events was -- insofar as we can tell -- sparked by Muslims killing Hindus?
WILKINSON: At some point, but the story is obviously very hard to discern.
BENNATHAN: The story has all sorts of roots and communal tensions and heaven knows what, but your point is in keeping it within reasonable bounds if you want to look at what happened in Gujarat an even-handed way would be to say the first fatalities in this time period was of Hindus dying?
WILKINSON: When you say the first, Mr Bennathan, again that is where I want to take slightly issue with you. At some point, those Muslims that were involved in some sort of attack would probably have been provoked themselves where do you cut the historical episode off.
BENNATHAN: If there had been mention of the Hindus killed before, obviously, in the film it would have been a more balanced piece?
WILKINSON: Yes, if there had been some mention, yes.
BENNATHAN: Counter time 99.33, are we ready to go with that? Thank you very much. This is this introduction, second can we pause it there? "February 24, by election. February 27, 59 Hindus die in a clash with Muslims ...(reading to the words)... from Quesaba(?) in Ayodhya." Had you missed that bit of the video when you wrote your report?
BENNATHAN: Well, forgive me, I thought a minute ago you were agreeing if it had been made clear that the first violence was against Hindus it would have been more balanced?
WILKINSON: No, I didn't say that. I specifically did not say that, I said -- the point I was making is there was some Muslim involvement in in the violence. I tried to specifically identify the fact that the precise moment and causes for that are not necessarily easy to ascertain, but there is definitely some historical involvement of Muslims in illegitimate violence. That is the point I am making, whereas the video presents the idea that innocent Muslims are attacked without any cause whatsoever, just because they are Muslims. That is the message that is repeated again, again and again. That Muslims are attacked just because they are Muslim.
BENNATHAN: Mr Wilkinson, we were all in court when you gave evidence in the last few minutes, and in fact we have the additional assistance of a transcriber, so I am not going to dwell on this, but I suggest moments ago you were saying this DVD made no reference to that initial violence of the deaths of Hindus, and in fact it did.
WILKINSON: Yes, but the force of the DVD does not give it historical cause and consequences, but focuses on the fact that these people died just because they are Muslim, that is the point I am making.
BENNATHAN: Count 4, please.
HILL: I am sorry, if we are moving on, but shouldn't Mr Wilkinson be taken to his own report. The cross-examination is to the effect that he has missed what happened on 27 February --
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: If you want it done now, you can re-examine if you wish.
HILL: Please. Page 85, paragraph 13.3.1 could he be reminded about that and asked about that, please?
BENNATHAN: Page 85, I think the point you are taking was slightly different. Page 85 you set out the history of what actually happened in Gujarat; don't you?
WILKINSON: I tried to give a summary of what appears to be a fair account, yes.
BENNATHAN: Right, so on page 85 is your summary of what would be a fair account?
BENNATHAN: Right, then at your conclusion you say: "It exonerates Muslims from all guilt in events." Yes, page 87?
BENNATHAN: To me five minutes ago now, as we are taking time over it, I suggest you were saying this DVD didn't make clear that it was attacks on Hindus that were the first link in the chain? We were here when you said it.
WILKINSON: What I am trying to make there is the force of the video is not upon this event as the result of a historical chain of events, in which I certainly warrant that Muslims in terms of quantity and quality of the violence were the worst victims. Nevertheless, it tries to present the fact that Muslims were killed because they were Muslims, and not because they were involved in violence. That is the point I am making.
BENNATHAN: Count 4, it starts -- this is your page 89 if you want to follow -- an interview of Moazzam Begg, who obviously or not obviously, you know and the video makes plain was a Britain who was in Guantanamo Bay for a while?
WILKINSON: Yes, I have met Mr Begg as well.
BENNATHAN: Now, you believe his conclusions, the conclusions of him in that interview fall into what you would describe as a conspiracy theory?
WILKINSON: Of that style of conclusion, I definitely think it is on the more rational end of the conspiracy theory style.
BENNATHAN: You also concede, and I am reminding you of what is in your report here, the tone and argument of that interview -- my Lord, the jury will remember who the interviewer is, it is Mr Faraz, that is why I start here -- are rational?
BENNATHAN: All right. Later on -- it then moves to Palestine and halfway down the same page if you have it there, you say: "This is reinforced ..." Again you say it is the suggestion that people are being attacked simply because they are Muslims, that is the theme you say is identified in this video. You speak about Palestine: "... in which the most heartrending and propagandistic way is used to describe a complex set of local problems with global connections and ramifications is presented as a global war on Islam." Yes.
WILKINSON: That is correct.
BENNATHAN: Do you think, coming back to your ability to describe why you suggest to us you have talent, you have experience that helps with this. The Muslim in the streets, is the idea that is happening in Palestine is, "A complex set of local problems". Is that how you would describe it, or is that a description of how you think "The Muslim in the street" would see it?
WILKINSON: I think the Muslim in the street would regard it as a situation of gross injustice. I also think that the Muslim in the street would be able to distinguish between the distinction that is made that is never made during this count, any part of these counts between "The Jews", as a sort of demonised group and the Jewish state of Israel, and the Israelis and particularly the military and the Hawks within that regime.
WILKINSON: I think that the Muslim man in the street would be able to make a destination between those things, and would also recognise that it is a terrible situation of injustice.
BENNATHAN: Your conclusion, I am looking at your page 90, your conclusion on that DVD is: "In my opinion Count 4 [that is 21st Century Crusaders of course] violates section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006, in that it incites people to violent Jihad under no ...(reading to the words)... towards violent, unauthorised terrorist activity. Just look at the first part of that please, I read it out so we have it in entirety.
BENNATHAN: Again the reference to no recognised national or international authority, that is a reference back to your list of things that have to be in place for it properly to be called a Jihad; is that right?
WILKINSON: It is both trying to encapsulate that idea, the fact that a Jihad must be fought under a legitimate authority, and also the fact that if there is a war, under international law it also is fought under recognised national authorities. I have tried to bring in both ideas.
BENNATHAN: The Azzam books I will call them, they are actually our counts 5, 6 and 7. Now, I will take the first two reasonably quickly, because the one which you passed the harsh -- the one on which you passed your highest criticism is the third, "Defence of Muslim Lands"?
WILKNSON: This particular editions of it, yes.
BENNATHAN: Yes, these three books in these editions, we will look at all three shortly then we will spend a bit of time, if we may, on Count 7. Now, these books clearly eulogise the fight against the Soviet Union and the people who joined it?
WILKINSON: Eulogise or even saintify, if you like.
WILKINSON: They make the highest claims for them.
BENNATHAN: Beatify, technically.
WILKINSON: Beatify, well that is a rather Christian term, so we will go for "saintify".
BENNATHAN: All right. They speak very highly, in glowing terms, of those who fought the Soviet Union. If we remember this particular war, speaking highly of these people wasn't the sole preserve of Muslims; was it?
WILKINSON: No, and I would expect many Muslims to speak very highly of those people.
BENNATHAN: Not just Muslims?
BENNATHAN: You may have been doing other things, have you ever seen "Rambo 3"?
WILKINSON: Yes and President Reagan said he thought they were great freedom fighters, not just Muslims.
BENNATHAN: You have seen Rambo 3?
WILKINSON: I haven't seen Rambo 3, no.
BENNATHAN: Originally -- for reasons that are probably clear by history they have changed the dedication -- at the end, as the title is rolled it was dedicated: "To the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan." The Americans changed the ending, you can probably guess about when they did so.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: Is that a government production.
BENNATHAN: We will play it later my Lord if I can find an excuse. Forgive me.
WILKINSON: Mr Bennathan, that point in itself indicates the complexity of these conflicts, because the fact is that in no traditional Jihad would a non-Muslim superpower be supporting an Islamic Jihad. That in itself indicates the complexity of these conflicts.
BENNATHAN: We have been here yesterday, you don't think technically that was a Jihad, but you accept other people, like the head of the main mosque in Saudi Arabia did think so?
WILKINSON: I accepted that that was an acceptable mainstream opinion.
BENNATHAN: All right. You talk about the message of martyrdom, let us be clear Sheikh Tamimi(?) is spoken of as an heroic figure; isn't he?
BENNATHAN: He was not martyred on the battlefield; was he?
BENNATHAN: He was martyred when he died of a heart attack, I think, in Florida when he was fund raising for this particular battle?
WILKINSON: He died a peaceful death.
BENNATHAN: Are people who struggle -- if it was a Jihad -- and die off the battlefield, would they have the potential to count as martyrs?
WILKINSON: On my understanding, no. Martyrs are specifically designed for those people killed in the course of action fighting an authentic Jihad.
BENNATHAN: If needs be we can come back to that with some books late on. Again, there is nothing exclusively Islamic, is there, about lauding people who have died in a just war?
WILKINSON: No. I mean, you know, here I am wearing a poppy.
BENNATHAN: I was going to say, there you are with your poppy, and we are very close to 11 November. Of course it is not a celebratory occasion is it, but yet it is an occasion where everyone knows what Remembrance Sunday will bring; it is an occasion for honouring those who have fallen in just wars?
BENNATHAN: Let us look at one part of Count 5, I am trying to balance getting through 19 counts of the indictment with material the jury, you understand, are very familiar with already and they are hearing some of it later. If I take some of it shortly, no discourtesy is intended. Let us just look if we may -- forgive me, for your report for our purpose. If you look at 98 of your report, please. I beg your pardon, maybe I have given you the wrong reference there. I am so sorry, it is my fault in fact. A point you make is Osama Bin Laden is described again in heroic terms in this book. Do I have the right book? I am so sorry. It is the Lofty Mountain. That is a completely uncharacteristic mistake, in that we have a count in your report entitled "The Lofty Caravan" easily done, but that --
WILKINSON: A typo, excuse me.
BENNATHAN: -- confuses a person. Let us work round it. Now I am going back to my indictment just to remind everyone, not just me, which book I should now be talking about. Count 5 is of course The Lofty Mountain. We will come to "Join the Mountain" later on if we may. The Lofty Mountain talks flatteringly of Osama Bin Laden?
WILKINSON: Very, very flatteringly.
BENNATHAN: In what role does it speak of him flatteringly?
WILKINSON: It speaks of him flatteringly in two main capacities.
BENNATHAN: The first is capacity of command and front line action in the back of the Lion's Den, which was the sort of camp he set up in Afghanistan, I believe.
BENNATHAN: When was that please, which war?
WILKINSON: That was in the Afghan War.
BENNATHAN: Which Afghan War?
WILKINSON: Not the one against the British.
BENNATHAN: The Soviets?
WILKINSON: The Soviet-Afghan War, yes.
WILKINSON: The second important appearance is what Sheikh Abdullah Azzam said about Osama Bin Laden.
BENNATHAN: Page 150, ladies and gentlemen, if we want -- ?
WILKINSON: Page 150 to 152.
BENNATHAN: Let us just take the book out. Again, the context in which, and the backdrop against which, Azzam is speaking highly of Osama Bin Laden is which war?
WILKINSON: Well, in this particular section it makes no reference to which war.
BENNATHAN: It does, I think, if you go to page 152. It is not a criticism, I don't expect you to memorise the books. 152. Eight lines up from the bottom: "To be honest with you, we were very afraid ...(reading to the words)... open fire the Arabs, on the other hand, were leaping up from the trenches, et cetera." It does appear to be in the context of the war against the Soviets?
WILKINSON: That particular quote is, yes.
BENNATHAN: Azzam dies, doesn't he?
WILKINSON: Of course he dies, so it would be.
BENNATHAN: Osama Bin Laden is being spoken of in high terms, but when was this book published? Can we look inside the front sheet, not front cover the first front page. First edition April 2003, all right? It is published what, September to April, it is published something like 18 months after Osama Bin Laden had been, accurately of course, famously blamed for the mass murder of September 11?
WILKINSON: Yes, and the very month the Iraq War, Operation Shock & Awe was engaged, I believe.
BENNATHAN: Right. Whether that would be in time to make this book know, because we don't know about print deadlines. You will be a published author soon, so you will know about these things.
WILKINSON: I am already a published author.
WILKINSON: Thank you.
BENNATHAN: Nowhere in this book is any word praising Osama Bin Laden for September 11; is there?
BENNATHAN: Nowhere in this book is there any word praising Osama Bin Laden for September 11?
WILKINSON: No, for that specific action, no.
BENNATHAN: The praise for him is -- I would suggest if you read the entire chapters -- put firmly in the context of the battle against the Soviets?
WILKINSON: What I have suggested that I think is going on here is that the credentials of Bin Laden as a real warrior are established in that section. He is praised in no uncertain terms: "He comes to the battlefield although he is ill and sick, bravely ..." And so on and so forth.
WILKINSON: Then a general accreditation and attribution to Osama Bin Laden of actually all the qualities that would be attributed to the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him), for someone that knows. For example he tends to the poor, he lives in a poor house, he represents the entire nation. I have never seen a man like him in the entire world, these are the exact sort of things that the companions said about the Prophet Mohammed. For me, this last section is directly attributing to Osama Bin Laden, through Abdullah Azzam, the position as a representative of the Prophet Mohammed, a legitimate one.
BENNATHAN: Thank you. You make that point. It is in your report and we dealt with it. I don't belittle it, but it is firmly established let me deal with the other point and then we will move on. We have seen that these are books where introductions, comments and appendices are added much, much later in some of the books, than the original text. You are a published writer, Mr Wilkinson, how long before the book is printed, a few months before you could probably add a new foreword, it depends how long it takes.
WILKINSON: It depends on the publishing house. If it is a major established publishing house it might be six months, if it is a small private operation it might be a matter of weeks.
BENNATHAN: Even, if it is six months, the people putting this together -- are you happy to carry on?
WILKINSON: Yes, I am fine I have just got to stretch out. Excuse me.
WILKINSON: Can I remain standing.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: Of course. Just that we'd like you in the witness box, as you have heard this morning, so that everybody can see you.
BENNATHAN: The only point is this: if you are right about the six months runs, and you make the point that of course it various. There is a year, or thereabouts, between the attacks on America, New York, Washington of course. There is a year between that in which Osama Bin Laden is notoriously responsible, there is not a word praising him in that context in any introduction, foreword, note or appendices in this book; is there?
WILKINSON: No, but any publisher would be very very foolish to do such a thing.
BENNATHAN: Count 6. Which really is called Join the Caravan. Again, I am going to take, this is one of the shorter books and the points you make are replicated in later books, so I will take this very shortly indeed. The point you make to us is this, is it, that if it was read at the height of the Afghan war in 1987 it might go one way, but if it is read in Birmingham in 2004, 2006, or whenever, it might take people a different way?
BENNATHAN: All right. Again, your conclusion on this and this is page 105, forgive me, page 105. Your conclusion is you consider it: "An indirect encouragement to terrorist action [it is top of that page] its message of Jihad is a universal obligation, fardh ayn ..." We will come to that in Defence of the Muslim Lands which goes into these matters: "Its message is Jihad is a universal obligation, fardh ayn, and its reinforcement in the foreword, no negotiation, lend themselves to that interpretation." Your last paragraph, you think it violates section 2 in that it: "Indirectly incites people to violent Jihad on unjustified theological premises, and encourages a ...(reading to the words)... precepts of Islam." Yes? All right. Of course, the chance that Sheikh Abdullah Azzam had for peaceful negotiation in the context of the Soviet war might not have been very great, might it?
WILKINSON: Sorry, can you just repeat that?
BENNATHAN: The idea of peacefully negotiating with the Soviets might have been a difficult aspiration to fulfil, if we look at the context of the First Afghan War?
WILKINSON: In the context of the First Afghan War, yes, I think I would agree with that. Not that I am a particular expert so the First Afghan War.
BENNATHAN: Let us come in slightly more detail to Defence of the Muslim Lands, because this is the book in which you reach your conclusion furthest up the scale -- if I can use that, as I hope, a neutral term. If we go to page 108 of your report, and if we can take out Count 7, Defence of the Muslim Lands. 108 of your report, you say this, and this is the appendices: "Nevertheless, had this text been presented in a critical context ...(reading to the words)... Jihad I would not have considered it beyond the pale of mainstream contemporary Islamic scholarship."
BENNATHAN: Then you say: "The appendices mark this particular edition as giving a particularly violent ...(reading to the words)... and violent calls to action." Then you specify two appendices which we are going to look at together. All right. Now, we will do that, but let us first just look at the main work for a minute. Are you expert on Sheikh Abdullah Azzam?
WILKINSON: I would like to think I now am, before I came to this trial I knew about his role in the general sense, I know much more about him now.
BENNATHAN: When you say you now are, that is through reading what please?
WILKINSON: Researching through the various books about his life and history, about the Afghan Jihad. Looking at video clips of his conference talks. All right. Good, let us go to what he says then. Can we just start with his debate about the difference between fardh ayn and fardh kifayah. We are familiar with that, fardh ayn means everyone who can has to do it, fardh kifayah means the community has to arrange for somebody to do it?
WILKINSON: Fardh ayn means it is an individual obligation on every Muslim to do it.
BENNATHAN: Let us go, if we may, to page 4, Defence of the Muslim Lands, Count 8, page 4. We start at the top of page 4: "Offensive Jihad, where the enemy is attacked on his own territory, where the disbelievers are not gathering to fight the Muslims the fighting becomes fardh kifayah, with a minimum requirement ...(reading to the words)... with all its available capabilities until their remains only Muslims, or people who submit to Islam."
BENNATHAN: I want to come to defensive Jihad actually, you would not be content with that description of offensive Jihad, we see your description in the report of the four stages in your report, we went through it yesterday?
WILKINSON: I don't think a case can accurately be made for offensive Jihad in Islam.
BENNATHAN: This we can agree on, it is fardh kifayah?
WILKINSON: No, we can't agree on that, because I don't think if there is a case for it, it is not fardh anything.
BENNATHAN: We had the debate about offensive Jihad yesterday.
WILKINSON: No, and we have not really concluded that which is very important. Which is the categorisation of Jihad into offensive and defensive Jihads first started at least 200 years after the death of Prophet Mohammed, when the schools of law, the Shafi school of law started to develop it. The doctrine of any sort of Jihad and especially of trying to distinguish between offensive and defensive Jihad started a long time after the death of the Prophet Mohammed and the earliest companions. It was really done, as I explained, as recent scholarship has shown, as a sort of post hoc justification of what had been going on, rather than a precursor to action.
WILKINSON: I don't accept, first of all, that offensive Jihad is an authentic part of the Koran and the Sunnah. Secondly, I certainly don't accept that this version of it is --
BENNATHAN: Post hoc justification -- allow me to be distracted by that comment for a moment, if I may -- is something you touched on and said Al'Qaeda, on some occasions, it is your view, indulge in post hoc justification. You said words to that effect, have you not, in your report?
BENNATHAN: By that you mean, as I understand it, that on occasions at least, all this theology, all the attempts to say we have done this based on this bit of the Koran, this bit of the Hadiths, is actually making it up later on to justify what we have already done?
WILKINSON: Yes, from what I have seen the classic way is that the martyrdom videos are used as a sort of theological justification for what has already happened.
BENNATHAN: I am not saying you are wrong about this, I am just interested to see the foundation of that assertion. It may be it is an assertion we can all live with very happily. Where do you found that belief that Al'Qaeda to justify post match, if I can use that vulgar term?
WILKINSON: From reading the literature.
BENNATHAN: The martyrdom videos, you say, are a justification after the event?
WILKINSON: The martyrdom videos perform a number of functions, but that is one of them. Obviously the event happens and then, for example, the sort of background of that successful event is sort of superimposed on the back, so obviously it couldn't have happened because the person is dead, so it is sort of put there. At the same time the people that have conducted the operations obviously have been instructed beforehand in what to say.
BENNATHAN: Some of the theological arguments that we see, you are not quoting the books and pointing to these books specifically, but some of the theological arguments that we have been asking questions about and you have been giving evidence about for a couple of days now, are alluded to by terrorists -- let's call a "spade" a "spade" here -- after the event to justify what they have done for possibly different reasons. Thank you. You nod, so we should put yes on the transcript.
BENNATHAN: Let us look at defensive Jihad this is something we spoke about yesterday: "Defensive Jihad, this is expelling the disbelievers from our land, and it is fardh ayn, a compulsory duty on all." I pause there, that much, I think after we looked at the Maliki scholar yesterday, you agree with?
WILKINSON: It depends -- if the area where you live, or a Muslim country is directly attacked then I would accept that it becomes -- no, if the very place that you are living in becomes directly attacked, then I would accept it becomes fardh ayn for you to pick up whatever you can to defend yourself.
WILKINSON: If a place where a generality of Muslims is attacked, let us say for example, the classic example Medina, of the prophet. I would not accept that it is a fardh ayn, because the prophet, when he went to fight those defensive Jihads, left people in Medina.
BENNATHAN: It could be right, it depends on the circumstances?
WILKINSON: As I said, both with this book and the other Azzam books, my main -- although I do have, you know, personally I think enormous theological issues with the thesis that Azzam presents, my main beef with these particular editions was the fact that the bits of them that are particularly violent and particularly illegal seemed to be drawn out in bits that have been stuck on either before or afterwards.
BENNATHAN: That is the appendices, and forgive me I will come to those as shortly as I can make it.
BENNATHAN: No, no, but coming back to the beginning of that answer you just gave. I will ask a question, but let us carry on. The fourth condition, he sets out conditions about page 4: "Disbeliever into a land of Muslims, the rows meet in battle, Imam calls a person forward, the disbelievers capture and imprison Muslims."
BENNATHAN: Then he describes those four conditions in a bit of detail, go over the page. There is a question at the end of this, the first condition, all right? Second line down, page 5, in this edition the Salafi -- just remind us, first line of the text, page 5, just remind us who the Salaf are?
WILKINSON: The Salaf are the original -- either the followers of the companions, or the followers of the followers. The original community.
BENNATHAN: Those who succeeded, the scholars of the four Madh-habs. Is that a proper listing of the four Madh-habs, the four schools of Islamic thought?
WILKINSON: Yes. If I might just add something there, just for the benefit of the jury and my Lord. The Madh-hab, the school of law, just to give you some sort of context. One might think of them slightly like the Christian gospels, in that throughout Christian history there have been any number of gospels and versions of the life of Jesus. At certain points, certain authorised bodies selected the four that we now have as the authorised version, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The same thing happened --
BENNATHAN: Not too fast.
WILKINSON: Excuse me. The same thing has happened throughout Muslim history, throughout Muslim history there have been any number of schools of law that have sprung up at different times. Most people think there have probably been about 70 in total, but various authorised bodies have selected that these four are the closest picture to the life and legislation of the Prophet Mohammed.
BENNATHAN: Let us carry on down the page: "If the Muslims of this land cannot expel the disbelievers." Top of page 5: "If the Muslims of this land cannot expel the disbelievers ...(reading to the words)... then the fardh ayn obligation spreads in the shape of a circle from the nearest to the next nearest." Now, if we cast our minds back to the accepted established scholar whose works we looked at yesterday, the Maliki scholar, he said it is fardh ayn on those in the town and those nearby; didn't he?
WILKINSON: Did he say near or neighbour. I can't remember I have a feeling the Arabic word is actually "neighbour".
BENNATHAN: All right. The next people?
WILKINSON: Let us say London, Luton.
BENNATHAN: Right, the trouble is once you say next or neighbour it is an elastic term that different people could interpret different ways.
WILKINSON: Of course, in different times travel has been easier or not.
BENNATHAN: Travel is easier, maybe if London needs defending we can rely on the brave Mancunians to come down and help us, for example, which is quicker.
WILKINSON: I don't think we can count on it.
BENNATHAN: That has lost half the jury. All right. Forgive me, the point is this. This debate, just go over to the page and look at the next page. Opinions of the four schools of thought. Here we have Sheikh Abdullah Azzam and he goes through the four schools and those are the four schools, page 67?
WILKINSON: They are.
BENNATHAN: He cites scholars from each school and help if you can on this, the four scholars he cites at the top of each paragraph. Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali, are they all proper scholars of those schools?
WILKINSON: They are all scholars of those schools, yes. There have been a massive number of scholars of any one of the schools, like there would have been at any school of law. You could trawl through those and take out bits of them to justify almost anything you like.
BENNATHAN: The point I am coming to, and this is the beginning of a answer you gave five minutes ago. If we look at what Azzam is writing about his description of the defensive Jihad in that time and that context, there are distinct echos, are there not, of the very short passage we looked at yesterday in the Maliki scholar. There are distinct echoes about if it is an attack, an individual obligation, people nearby helping?
WILKINSON: I would accept there are distinct echos, but you must remember that the text we looked at yesterday, I think, is 13th century text and Azzam is writing from the 1980s.
BENNATHAN: Does it come to this, I think Azzam studied -- you studied at Cairo, didn't you?
BENNATHAN: Did you go to Cairo University? Have I made that up?
WILKINSON: No, I didn't. I studied with scholars that came from Al-Azhar University.
BENNATHAN: Azzam, we know, studied at that same university?
WILKINSON: At one point, I think, he did.
BENNATHAN: He studied at the university where scholars who taught you subsequently studied as well?
BENNATHAN: Your closing position on Azzam's analysis of defensive Jihad, at least, is that -- I use a phrase a Muslim academic used a couple of weeks ago now about someone else. Not your cup of tea, but you would not condemn it as being flatly wrong in Islam, you would not say a Muslim learned in Islam could not arrive at those conclusions?
WILKINSON: I would say a Muslim that was not only learned, but also had really deeply considered -- as I mentioned before -- the context of the different war situations would not arrive at this position. Nevertheless, I would certainly accept it does represent a mainstream opinion.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, you would say someone who thought about these matters seriously and deeply?
WILKINSON: What I am really saying is the premise of this Fatwa, if you like, is that position which we have seen recurring throughout the Azzam books. Which is: "Jihad and the rifle alone, no negotiations, no conferences, no dialogue." That position, which is the premise for them, is an utterly un-Islamic one, because the Prophet Mohammed throughout his life, whenever there was an opportunity to negotiate out of conditions of conflicts took it. The Koran specifically demands consultation and negotiation at various different moments; that premise is not a Muslim one.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, I think you used the phrase someone who thought deeply about these matters?
WILKINSON: That is what I am referring to.
BENNATHAN: We did this point yesterday: Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz who was who please?
WILKINSON: The Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
BENNATHAN: A hugely authoritative figure in Islam?
BENNATHAN: We are told, at least, approved of this?
BENNATHAN: Are you suggesting he is someone who has not thought deeply about Islam?
WILKINSON: No, I am not suggesting that. As I said, because of that very fact, I would consider this to be within the pale of the mainstream opinion.
BENNATHAN: Let us come to the appendices, which you particularly identified as changing your conclusions on this book. Let us start. My Lord, we have only been going for an hour and a bit, and we need to take a break at some sensible time.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: I have been asked to take two, because it is such a long morning.
BENNATHAN: Can I try and finish this book and have a break then, my Lord. I know if anyone particularly has simply had enough, I have our shorthand writer in mind, if they indicate, I know my Lord will be flexible if I may say so. Let us go can we to suicide operations, this is page 62 we are going to come to in this book. In your report, you deal with this at page 109, I think. Appendix C, "Islamic Ruling on Martyrdom Operations." This is your paragraph 17.9.2,
BENNATHAN: Mr Wilkinson: "No less than a full-blown utterly spurious justification for and a detailed typography of suicide bombings as martyrdom operations." All right, that was your conclusion on this appendix. Let us just have a look at it. Page 62, let us look at the top please. You have spoken about the website, would you go to the second sentence, let us look at it anyway: "This article originally appeared in Arabic on the voice of the Caucasus website ...(reading to the words)... and other Chechen Mujahideen."
BENNATHAN: It talks about the council of scholars, but right at the beginning it is telling us that starts as being a discussion about a particular situation, geographically and in time; doesn't it?
WILKINSON: Yes, and also it appears in Arabic giving it an authentic feel and touch.
BENNATHAN: The only point is right at the outset it is specifying where and when we are talking about, yes?
WILKINSON: It says it appears on the website, of course websites are international things --
BENNATHAN: Forgive -- please finish?
WILKINSON: You are right it says in the year 2000, but it says on a website, and as I said websites are not bound nationally.
BENNATHAN: You misunderstand me, I am sure it is my fault. I am talking about the suicide they are talking about. The suicide is specified as being in a certain place during a certain conflict?
BENNATHAN: The Chechnya war, you tell us, is a war in which your expression I think the majority of "Muslims in the street" would be sympathetic to the war at least?
WILKINSON: To the cause of it.
BENNATHAN: To the cause. The methods within it we are now going to look at, that is your second column on your chart; isn't it? Page 64 then, please. Top of 64: "Before we embark on a detailed exposition concerning the Islamic verdict on martyrdom operations, it is appropriate for us to first present a brief to the point response. First if you did not know, could you not ask? It is not appropriate if someone is unaware of a verdict to make sweeping statements accusing others of wrongdoing. If those who criticised us had only investigated the issue first, they would have found that the issue is at worst a disagreed issue amongst scholars, such as that we cannot be criticised for following legitimate scholarship." You disagree with this entire appendix, but there we quite clearly have an earlier point being made that other people have different views on this topic; it is plain isn't it?
WILKINSON: Yes I would not deny that there are views on this subject.
BENNATHAN: "Second, we request our respected brothers who seek the truth not to criticise us about anything without backing the criticism with verdicts of scholars, and especially the understanding of the pious predecessors." Now, classic Islamic debate and discussions try to root their arguments in the verdicts of scholars and the understanding of the pious predecessors?
WILKINSON: Salaf, that is referring to the Salaf.
BENNATHAN: People say what is the evidence for that argument, and that relates to the sayings and doings of the prophets, the companions, and the later Hadiths; yes?
WILKINSON: The what, sorry?
BENNATHAN: The Hadiths.
WILKINSON: The Hadiths are specifically connected with in some schools of law to just the sayings of the Prophet and the actions of the Prophet, and in other schools of law the sayings of the Prophet and his companions. There are no further Hadith than those.
BENNATHAN: Thirdly: "Dear brothers and sisters, not every martyrdom operation is legitimate, nor is every martyrdom operation prohibited." Now, you disagree with the second bit of that, but let us just remind ourselves when this is published, keep a finger in that page, "Not every martyrdom operation is legitimate." This is published, if we go back to the fly sheet, August 1996, but it is published again September 2002 -- a year after 11 September, obviously, could be as much as, depending on publishing runs. The people putting this -- deciding to republish this, would obviously have many many months before they send it to the printers to be produced?
WILKINSON: Can you just --
BENNATHAN: Let us not worry about the publishing runs, it is probably a distraction. This is published a year after September 11, it is trust me. Here we have this publishing house, Azzam & Maktabah(?) putting out a book that says: "Dear brothers and sisters, not every martyrdom operation is legitimate." Well, who are they talking about?
WILKINSON: They are translating the original of whatever appeared in the year 2000, before the September 11 attacks.
BENNATHAN: Well, that is true, but the point you have made a number of times is that these books are not being read at the time they are written. You have made the point repeatedly; haven't you?
WILKINSON: Sorry, I don't see your point.
BENNATHAN: All right. The point you have made is well Ibn Taymiyyah may have said this a long time ago, but you have to think about someone reading it now. We have to have partly in mind that this is a book someone is publishing an edition of in 2002?
BENNATHAN: In that book they say not every martyrdom operation is legitimate?
WILKINSON: They are translating an article that they say was written in the year 2000. I see where you are driving at, and I am not claiming that this is written specifically to legitimise or justify 9/11, if that is what you are saying, that is not what I am claiming at any point.
BENNATHAN: "Nor is every martyrdom operation prohibited." You disagree with that, you say that all martyrdom operations -- to use the meaning they attribute to that -- are prohibited?
BENNATHAN: Rather, the verdict differs based on factors such as the enemies condition, the situation of the war, the potential martyr's personal circumstances, and the elements of the operation itself. Thus one may not give a verdict on such operations without having an understanding of the actual situation. "And this is obtained from the Mujahideen and not the unbelievers, how then can you accuse us of ignorance when you are unaware of other situations, let alone the specific details of the operation in question."
BENNATHAN: Again, that whole paragraph emphasises -- doesn't it, I hope we can agree on this -- that whether something is right or wrong will depend on the specific circumstances and a number of specific circumstances?
WILKINSON: Yes. Excuse me.
BENNATHAN: Page 75, please. We will round this up fairly soon. Page 75, in fact 74 and 75. We see a familiar, by now perhaps, a familiar thing happens in these books in that someone having advanced an argument then tries to support it by setting out the texts of the four schools, yes?
BENNATHAN: Hanafi on the left-hand side. Maliki, the one you have particularly studied, but you know about others, Shafi and Hanbali. Just at the top of page 75, let us look at the one with which you are most familiar. Ibn Kawyze Mandad(?), as cited by Al-Qatabi(?) in his (Inaudible). Is that a genuine quotation from the Maliki school?
WILKINSON: The truth is I have never heard of this jurist before this book, but I can tell what you the acceptable range of opinions with the Maliki school are for odds of fighting. The most established odds of being able to --
BENNATHAN: May I interrupt, you did say this yesterday?
WILKINSON: I am going to repeat it, I think it is an appropriate moment to.
BENNATHAN: Well, my Lord, I am trying to make I don't criticise anybody, I am trying to make progress, it is evidence already given.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: You have had your answer, he has never seen this material before. The answer to your question is, "I don't know."
BENNATHAN: Having read this book, you didn't spot that research and say that was completely made up, the answer is there is an awful lot of scholars you don't know if that is genuine not.
WILKINSON: I don't know, but can I say what I do know about this issue, because I think it is quite important. There are a number of ways that laws are drawn up within the schools. One of them is what is called Ijmaa which means, "the consensus of opinion." A number of different opinions are brought together, and jurists within the school decide what they think is the strongest and the best of them, the most authentic if you like. On the matter of odds the fighting, the strongest within the Maliki school, this particular one, is the fighting is allowable at a ration of the strongest one of 1 to 2, so outnumbered by 1 to 2. Although some, and this is exceptional cases, say 1 to 10. That is the most sort of odds that are done. The idea of 1 to 100 is definitely not within the mainstream opinion of the Maliki school.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: That may have been in the mind of one scholar who is quoted here, because it looks as though he was saying 1 to 100.
BENNATHAN: Page 86, please, Mr Wilkinson.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: Sorry?
BENNATHAN: 86, my Lord, forgive me. 86, conclusion. Do you have that page, please?
BENNATHAN: "Finally we should point out this topic needs a much more expansive study, however we are thankful to God ...(reading to the words)... approach us with their feedback and advice, for we are in need of such help." Then the rest, forgive me, I don't diminish it, the rest are general Islamic signings off. Can I call it that without causing offence?
WILKINSON: No, they are not.
BENNATHAN: "Let them fear God in discharging of responsibility, peace and blessings be upon the message of Allah ..."
WILKINSON: No, sir. That is not a traditional Islamic signing off. I have never seen that in any traditional signing off of a treatise, of a conference, or anything.
BENNATHAN: "... and also upon his household and companions and those who would follow them in goodness until the day of judgment. Our final words are, praise to God, lord of the worlds."
WILKINSON: That I have seen before.
BENNATHAN: In your report, and I am taking a sentence we looked at yesterday, both with my learned friend, Mr Hill, and myself, page 168. You said, and you said this, forgive me, you said this globally because it was your conclusion: "None of the texts allow for the possibility of any other point of view." Do you remember saying that, or do you want to go to the passage? I will ask you a question in a second, do you remember saying it or do you want to look at your report?
WILKINSON: If I may just look at the report to make sure of the entirety of what I said, not just a couple of words.
BENNATHAN: 168. Have you read it?
WILKINSON: Erm --
BENNATHAN: You are dealing with a suggestion from a lady called Karen Armstrong that amongst these books are books that are part of an important debate. You said, this is your report, and I will add the bit that you said in your evidence yesterday: "What is more, in Counts 1 to 19 there is no room for discussion whatsoever. In Counts 1 to 19 one specific extremist Jihadi message ...(reading to the words)... must be acted upon without thinking by the vulnerable and impressionable to destroy lives." That is enough context. Well, this bit at least isn't like that, is it, that last paragraph?
WILKINSON: By this point this book has already established a number of things without questioning. The first is that Jihad is a fardh ayn. The second is that the premises, "no negotiations, Jihad by the rifle alone" that Abdullah Azzam refrain that repeats itself. Really what they are arriving at at this point is they want points of very minor discrimination within the possibility of different types of martyrdom to be discussed by different types of people. They are not opening the debate up for a broad view on whether Jihad is in different circumstances permissible or not.
WILKINSON: They are not opening up any critical discussion of the traditions of nonviolence within Islam, they are not opening up discussions in any way for the broader debates, they are just focusing on a nitpicking elements of looking at what type of suicide operation are permissible or not. Having already made the very strong case, without questioning, for the permissibility of suicide operations. It is a minor point of criticality that they have opened up, at the end of having established a very forcible argument.
BENNATHAN: We can see the words there, they are clearly saying there may be more?
WILKINSON: Within this minor feature of it, yes.
BENNATHAN: Actually the idea of whether suicide bombings can ever be justified is a genuine debate within Islam; is it not?
WILKINSON: Within facets within Islam, not within any of the four major schools.
BENNATHAN: Not just within Islam, can you remember the controversy when the then Prime Minister's wife, Tony Blair's wife, Cherie Booth, do you remember what she said that caused a rumpus in this area?
WILKINSON: I think said she could understand why people do it, did she not?
BENNATHAN: You are right, she said something like could understand the frustrations that led people to do this. We can beyond that, you mentioned this yesterday, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, I know what your answer is, because you said it yesterday, but let's take it in stages. Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is a person you rely on as a source in your report, on a number of times in fact, for your view of what Islam is. Do you want to go to the footnotes or not?
WILKINSON: I don't need to, when you say rely on, he is a person that I think in certain matters has come to a very sensible point of view, on certain other ones, I don't he has.
BENNATHAN: Is he a respected scholar?
BENNATHAN: Is he a learned man?
BENNATHAN: Where is he from please?
WILKINSON: At the moment I believe he is based in Qatar but he was trained in Al-Azhar University, among other places.
BENNATHAN: Where is that university?
WILKINSON: In Egypt.
BENNATHAN: Say that again?
WILKINSON: At one point in his career he had strong links with the Muslim Brotherhood, hence his admiration for certain elements of Sayyid Qutb's thought, but not for others.
BENNATHAN: Can we call him mainstream?
WILKINSON: Erm, large swathes of the Muslim world would not think so. If you were from a traditional Hanafi background for example, or any of the major schools, you would probably think not. If were you to ask, as I said, that sort of everyman position, they would probably say on the extreme end of the mainstream, but within it.
BENNATHAN: All right. As a thumbnail sketch, and I am not sure it can be both a thumbnail sketch and a overview, but never mind. If we had to put it in a sentence, he might be regarded as many as within the mainstream, but one end of it?
BENNATHAN: He is a man of learning?
BENNATHAN: A man Islamically intellectually of substance?
BENNATHAN: Would you regard him as a Sheikh?
WILKINSON: Would I regard him as someone that for bits of his thinking I would turn to for help, yes.
BENNATHAN: I don't say this pejoratively at all, don't misunderstand me Mr Wilkinson, but would most Muslim authorities see him as someone more expert in Islam than you?
WILKINSON: Would most Muslim authorities, you mean governments?
BENNATHAN: If you and he were sitting on a the stage with a thousand British Muslims in the audience, who would they think would be the senior intellectual Islamic figure, you or he?
WILKINSON: I think we should make a distinction there. Yes, if you are talking about a conference that was organised to discuss a Muslim matter, he would undoubtedly be the senior figure. Of course, because of some of his views he is very controversial with various governments in the Muslim world, and many non-Muslim governments as well. For example, I think at the moment he is banned from entering the British Isles for his views on homosexuality, in particular, and also about suicide bombings.
BENNATHAN: We won't worry about his homosexuality.
WILKINSON: If you mean, would he pull a crowd? Of course, yes.
BENNATHAN: I say this because, most of the jury, most people in court are not Muslims. We have to have some insight. Forgive me, you have been in the faith for 20 years and you have told us very properly, in detail, about your studies and your experiences, but he is a big name?
WILKINSON: Yes absolutely, undoubtedly yes.
BENNATHAN: For a sustained period of time, at least, he was publicly on the record justifying suicide bombings; wasn't he?
WILKINSON: Yes, he has retracted it, of late.
WILKINSON: Was it two years ago?
BENNATHAN: I don't know, I am asking you?
WILKINSON: I think it was two years ago or thereabouts.
BENNATHAN: I am not sure about that, you said in evidence in yesterday you say it again now, maybe it doesn't matter for our purposes. For a sustained period of time -- he condemned 9/11; didn't he?
BENNATHAN: Yet, he spoke in defence of those who carried out suicide bombings?
WILKINSON: No, he didn't. We should qualify that. He outlawed, as a jurists can, suicide bombings, but he made the exception for the case of Palestine.
BENNATHAN: He said it was permissible for suicide bombings to occur in Palestine?
WILKINSON: Then -- I am almost certain -- he retracted that decision about two years ago.
BENNATHAN: We think he may have retracted it, you would put it higher than "may", a couple of years ago, but let us not get sidetracked. A serious substantial figure, he didn't say anywhere you want you can carry out a suicide bombing; did he?
WILKINSON: No he didn't say that, no.
BENNATHAN: He said they were outlawed, but the exception of them being forbidden was in certain circumstances in Palestine?
BENNATHAN: If we go back to this appendix, the same act is being performed here isn't it, this appendix we have seen is very careful indeed, people may think this is abhorrent that is not the point I make, but are very careful indeed to say this is a decision to be taken in certain circumstances, are they not?
WILKINSON: No, I don't think this is the main thrust of the appendix at all. I think the main trust of the appendix is, if I turn to --
BENNATHAN: It is page 62, and the passage I was particularly talking about on the subject on the subject was page 64? I think the main thrust of this is on page 64 to 81. Maybe a bit further, to just before the conclusion, to page 85.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: Conclusion reads: "So we conclude that one who kills himself because of his strong faith and out of love for Allah and the Prophet, and in the interests of the religion, is praiseworthy." That seems to be the conclusion.
BENNATHAN: My Lord, it does.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: It is the last.
BENNATHAN: It is.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: Then it goes on.
BENNATHAN: Can I draw attention, again, to page 64: "Dear brothers not every martyrdom operation is legitimate, nor is every martyrdom operation prohibited. The verdict differs on factors such as conditions, situation, personal circumstances, operation itself, thus one may not give a verdict on such operations without having an understanding of the actual situation."
BENNATHAN: All right. Look, the jury have the language in the book, I am not going to take much longer on it, one of the things you cite Al-Qaradawi for is your page 22, please, Dr Wilkinson.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: The report?
BENNATHAN: Sorry, Wilkinson report, page 22. This is not the draft, is it? You are talking about Islam middle of the page, do you have the right page please Mr Wilkinson?
WILKINSON: Not yet.
BENNATHAN: Middle of that page: "Therefore the entirety of Islam represents a balance of these elements, that is why the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) called Islam 'The middle way' and forbade his companions from going to extremes." Who do you cite as your authority for that proposition.
WILKINSON: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.
BENNATHAN: The man we are talking about now?
WILKINSON: Yes, I cited him there, because that is where I read the summary of this position, but I could have just put in the Koran and the Sunnah there, and it would have made exactly the same point. I was being academically rigorous there.
BENNATHAN: Would you say of Al-Qaradawi that his arguments about excusing suicide bombings in Palestine in circumstances was, "full-blown and utterly spurious"?
BENNATHAN: You would?
BENNATHAN: You would apply the same language to Al-Qaradawi that you do to this book?
WILKINSON: Yes, my personal opinion about this and this is one I share with a number of diaspora Arab brothers that now live in England, that because of the trauma of the post-colonial circumstances and the condition of the Arab and Muslim world in general, in certain circumstances very eminent thinkers, on particular things, have taken leave of their jurisprudential senses. I think this is one of them that Al-Qaradawi did.
BENNATHAN: Let us to go to your little chart, table 2, at our page 165, can we have that on the screen, please? This is our typical consensual Muslim on recent Jihads, my Lord I have nearly finished the book, perhaps after this is time for a break. Let us look at the chart, let us look at Palestine please, because Al Qaradawi was talking about Palestine, was he not?
WILKINSON: He has talked about other things, but --
BENNATHAN: When he was talking about suicide bombings being allowed, that was the context?
WILKINSON: It was, but it is no longer of course, because he has moved on from that.
BENNATHAN: We think not, but there we are. Stay with me a moment. You were asked to talk us through this table in your evidence in chief by my learned friend, Mr Hill. I am just interested, because we have a tick in the box for Palestine, people would support the struggle, the cause, but then we have mixed views as to what may or may not be justified within that cause?
BENNATHAN: All right. It is just the words you used on that particular topic, forgive me, I will find them, are not flagged up in this note. I am so sorry, my Lord, will you give me a moment I will find it and then this might be a convenient moment. Right well I can remember them if needs be, we can find the reference in the break. The words used, I suggest, were this, you said: "The typical consensual Muslim in the street would not approve of suicide bombs in cafes and the like."
WILKINSON: That is not an exhaustive list, but it is a suggestion --
BENNATHAN: Sorry I interrupted, please go on.
WILKINSON: It is not an exhaustive list, but it is an indication of what people would definitely not agree with.
BENNATHAN: Definitely not agree with suicide bombs, you could have stopped there suicide bombs, but you chose to say, "Suicide bombs in cafes and the like." I am grateful to my learned friend, Mr Friedman if we go to page 80. Let me read you the whole paragraph, Mr Wilkinson, in fairness: "However, most Muslims would not agree with the arbitrary firing off of rockets into Israel territory, killing [my emphasis] innocent people and would not agree with bombings in cafes and the like. Would not agree with a whole gamut of stuff that various bits of organisations related to Hamas have used."
WILKINSON: Again, the methods used -- for a lot of Muslims -- is dodgy, although the cause is a fair one.
BENNATHAN: Now, Most Muslims would not agree with the firing of rockets into Israel territory killing innocent people. Are you saying you suggesting that most Muslims would agree with firing rockets killing Israeli military personnel?
WILKINSON: No, I am not suggesting that. I am suggesting that what the indiscriminate firing off of rockets into Israeli territory does is it kills innocent people.
BENNATHAN: "Would not agree with bombings in cafes and the like." Why did you choose to add the words, "cafes and the like"?
WILKINSON: That springs to mind, some of the theatres of destruction that these things have been let off in, buses, cafes --
BENNATHAN: There was a notorious attack, was there not, where two people went into a cafe, I think in Tel Aviv?
WILKINSON: And in buses and other places.
BENNATHAN: The point is this: if you say to us that suicide bombing even in specific circumstances, even against military targets is simply un-Islamic, no debate, can't be on the same page, why when you are describing the consensual Muslim view do you choose to specify, "Would not agree with bombings in cafes and the like."
WILKINSON: Please re-explain the question, if you will.
BENNATHAN: One could read that as you fighting shy of saying that most Muslims would not agree with bombings, by adding an extra caveat?
WILKINSON: No, I think most Muslims -- or almost all Muslims would not agree with any type of suicide bombing, that is just that because in that particular circumstance those are the most obvious examples where we have heard of that activity happening.
BENNATHAN: You see, I suggest, and we will move on, but I suggest actually the appendix in this book is dealing with an awful subject, of course it is --
WILKINSON: Well, it is dealing with how to do it, and justifying various --
BENNATHAN: How to do it?
WILKINSON: It is saying the usual form is you wire yourself up, that is one of the things, and then there is another way that is described. I can't remember exactly, but it goes through a number of different scenarios where you are preparing yourself for action.
BENNATHAN: I suggest it is actually engaging with an awful topic, in awful situations, Chechnya a particular example. Actually, it is an awful subject, but it is a perfectly proper -- though terrible -- debate to take place?
WILKINSON: I would suggest that you are wrong.
BENNATHAN: Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, for many years -- possibly stopping recently we don't know the exact details -- took the same view.
WILKINSON: Not stopping recently, he would not have taken the same view as presented here, and certainly not in the way it would have been presented.
BENNATHAN: He is a mainstream respected, learned Islamic scholar?
WILKINSON: That particular opinion falls way outside the mainstream, and he has acknowledged that now.
A short break is given to the jury.
BENNATHAN: Mr Wilkinson, you are there, sorry. Defence of the Muslim Lands. One last bit of the appendix, please. This is at page 110 of your report. You describe, this is at paragraph 17.9.6, do you have that, please? You say of the appendices, appendix in this book: "There are other abominable sections in this appendix such as, 18 "The Issue of Using Prisoners as a Human Shield". This section reduces the absolute Koranic prohibition of killing noncombatants, to encouragement to avoid it if possible, to an 'it's alright so long as you don't mean it'. This is a jurisprudential travesty." That is what you say in your report; isn't it?
WILKINSON: Just -- which page of my report?
BENNATHAN: 110. Page 78 for us please in the book, have you found 110?
BENNATHAN: Just be happy I have read accurately your paragraph 17.9.6 if you want to be.
BENNATHAN: Page 78 of Defence of the Muslim Lands, we have the heading. We start, last sentence of 78: "If Muslim prisoners of war." Do you have that please, last sentence page 78 Defence of the Muslim Lands?
WILKINSON: Yes yes.
BENNATHAN: Last few words on page 78: "If Muslim prisoners of war are used by the unbelievers, then it is not permissible to fire on them, except in cases of dire necessity. In the case of women and children of the unbelievers however, they could be fired upon for an expediency of war, even if it is not dire necessity, for war may need such action. The intention should not be specifically to kill the noncombatants." That is what you are talking about in your report; isn't it?
WILKINSON: That is one little bit of that section, yes.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, that is the using prisoners as a human shield -- that is the section I am going to focus on, if I am being overly selective you can be re-examined on it later. Now, we have a book, we have been looking at a book, "Al- Bakara", we have copies of that. If my Lord and the jury can go to divider 5 in the defence file, please.
BENNATHAN: I would like you, please, Mr Wilkinson, to have the book itself, and you can tell us what it is. My Lord, that is the book that the jury will know was left elsewhere when it was copied, and we see it in some photographs, which we don't have to go to now. Thank you, very much. Tell us what it is you are looking at please, Mr Wilkinson?
WILKINSON: It is a collection called Sahi Al-Bakari(?), which means the authentic collection of Al-Bakari, who was a scholar of Hadith, of the first, and usually regarded as the most authentic scholar of Hadiths.
BENNATHAN: Thank you. Let us look at -- now, we have extracted in our folders, but you can have the original. We have the titles and the index of the whole book, but we have picked out the "Book of Jihad" which the Jury, myself, my Lord, and my learned friends have. Let us, in passing, go to page 588 in the book, please, this is 34, the number in the bottom right-hand corner is 34, but Mr Wilkinson has the book and not the extracts. I am using the top right-hand numbers for him. Just in passing, Mr Wilkinson -- do you have page 588 please?
WILKINSON: Yes I do.
BENNATHAN: Chapter 15 at the bottom: "There are seven martyrs other than those who are killed in the Jihad, [ie eight it says] narrated ibn Malik(?) the prophet said the plague is a cause of martyrdom and every Muslim who dies because of it." If we go back to the footnote on 588, the seven that are specified to be in the footnote, they are: "Those who die because of plague, abdominal disease, drowning, underneath debris, during fighting in Allah's cause, and because of burns, pneumonia and delivery." Can we agree that according to some reputable Islamic sources martyrdom doesn't have to be in battle?
WILKINSON: Yes, these, natural disaster, childbirth, those are considered -- yes.
BENNATHAN: Let us come to human shields. Can we go to our page 58 and your page 612. 612 in the book, page 58?
WILKINSON: Sorry, which page of the book itself?
BENNATHAN: Sorry 612, 612, I am so sorry, we are looking at the Hadiths, 612 in the book, but 58 in ours. Tell us when you have the page, please, Mr Wilkinson?
WILKINSON: I have the page.
BENNATHAN: Thank you. Chapter 68: "Is it permissible to attack the enemies at night with the probabilities of killing the babies and children (unintentionally) ...(reading to the words)... warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger?" Over the page please: "The prophet replied they [the women and children] are from them ...(reading to the words)... the institution of Himma(?) ..." If we look at the bottom it is to do with grazing. "... is invalid except for Allah and his messenger." Let us go to 69 as well, immediately underneath: "Killing children in the war, during some of the Gazawat(?) ..." What is a "Gazawat"?
BENNATHAN: It is a raid.
WILKINSON: "During some of the raids of the Prophet, a woman was found killed. Allah's messenger [Mohammed of course] disapproved the killing of women and children." 69 tells us Muslims fighting shouldn't kill women and children; doesn't it?
WILKINSON: Well, no it doesn't, because you can't derive principles of law from a single Hadith like that. So this is a book of Hadith, it is not a book of law or jurisprudence and there is a very important distinction to be made there, because law is derived from Hadiths or a particular consensus of opinion about Hadiths, but single Hadiths don't make a points of law in themselves.
BENNATHAN: I suggest these are illustrations, but see if I can do it from this perspective. If we look at other old religious books, and I have in mind the Old Testament. The rules of war in what we might call ancient times were very brutal. You read the Old Testament presumably when you were doing your degree?
WILKINSON: And when I was just a Christian.
BENNATHAN: The rules of war were very brutal indeed, if you go to Deuteronomy --
WILKINSON: Often there appears to be very few rules at all.
BENNATHAN: Good point, war was very brutal with few rules indeed, I stand corrected. Islam actually advanced tremendously the idea of even in war there should be rules; did it not?
WILKINSON: Yes, I would certainly accept that.
BENNATHAN: In fact, we can probably carry on agreeing for a moment, in fact I would suggest Islam anticipated current human rights laws in laws of wars by over 1,000 years?
WILKINSON: Yes, I think I would agree with that. It was still within the context of its time. Especially to start with it was certainly not a full-blown body of law, but the principles were laid out, yes.
BENNATHAN: You see, what I suggest to you is that Islam, and we see an instance of this and I take your point, you could not build a war on one Hadith alone. There we see -- if you combine 68 and 69 -- that if you are in a war, civilians may get killed, but you must not do it deliberately. That -- I would suggest, it may be over simplified -- is where modern law and Islam take us?
WILKINSON: Can you repeat that, because I think you are making a number of quite big confusions there, if I am honest.
BENNATHAN: Thank you very much, let us try. If you are in a war, and civilians are killed accidentally, it is obviously tragic, but it is not murder?
WILKINSON: No. That is absolutely not the case. As I just tried to say, you can't deduce a binding principle of law from one or two Hadiths, which is what you have done there. The majority of the mainstream opinions of all the schools of law is that noncombatants in war must not be harmed or killed under any circumstance, unless the survival of the whole community is at stake.
BENNATHAN: It is not modern human rights law. Let us talk about recent events. For example, Anwar al-Awlaki, yes, a man killed in Yemen by an American Hellfire Missile, you are aware of him and of that? Now, let us assume that the Americans have a complete lawful right to kill him, because he's a leading terrorist. There may be arguments about extradition and the rest. Assume it is completely lawful to kill him. His teenage son is in the convoy and he is killed too. It is a matter of common sense -- and I suggest Islam does allow for this and I will come to why in a minute --any rules of war must say that if you are conducting a legitimate war and you accidentally kill noncombatants, it may be a tragedy, but it is what happens in war?
WILKINSON: I understand you on this, common sense is a set of prejudices that are agreed upon. That is definitely not the principle by which war is conducted or legitimised in Islam. The collateral damage principle does not apply, if collateral damage is going to be inevitably incurred by warlike conduct, then that conduct becomes illegitimate.
BENNATHAN: If a Muslim is driven to war and fires a bullet at an enemy, and the bullet passes through the enemy and kills a civilian in a building nearby are you saying that Islam would count that murder and forbidden?
WILKINSON: If that fighter thought, and had made a decision that if he was going to shoot that person there was a likelihood, or even a small chance, that a civilian would also be killed on the other side then it would be an illegal act. If it was a total accident without any intention whatsoever or any knowledge of the possibility that that might happen, well then it probably wouldn't be murder, no.
BENNATHAN: For my purposes, that will do. What you just said in much more erudite terms is, "It is all right so long as you don't mean it", is it not?
WILKINSON: I have not said that at all. I have said if you make a judgment, let us make it a slightly more concrete situation. You are in -- it is even hard actually to think of a concrete situation, it is hard to think of a legitimate one. Let us say for the purposes of argument that the insurgency in Iraq had been fought under a legitimate leader, so it was sort of a Jihad. If you were in a market place where a platoon of enemy soldiers was walking through it, if you thought there was any chance that by firing on that platoon of soldiers you would kill someone that might be in the vicinity of that market place then that action would be illegal.
BENNATHAN: Let me take another example, then we will move on and come back to the book, I promise. Second World War. The American, British and Canadian, no doubt other, troops amassed trying to retake Europe on D-day. Before that happened a lot of bombing took place of the fortifications of the guns on the northern French coasts so as to soften them up so they would not kill too many British soldiers. Inevitably some civilians would be killed in that bombing, because bombing is not a precise art. That is murder is it in Islam?
WILKINSON: I would suggest that first of all -- I would suggest that almost all, if not all, modern conflict comes beyond the pale of what can be considered by the jurisprudence of Jihad. Let us say there is another thing, which is "just war". In the case of the Second World War you could make a very plausible case for the fact that Britain, certainly in 1940 at least, and you could extend that to the rest of the free Western world was fighting for its very survival. Certainly Britain in 1940 was, and you could also make the case that if the D-day landings hadn't happened that the Wehrmacht, the Nazi army, would have crossed the Channel and conquered Britain, and wanted to do so. Therefore, you could construe that as act of self-defence, which was fighting for one's very survival. I would not want to make a legal decision about it, but that would be my initial thoughts.
BENNATHAN: You tell us under Islamic law, as you understand it, and we accept, you say, you are not a scholar who can issue Fatwas, I accept that. Your understanding that you bring to these books in this case is that if there was any prospect of bombers killing not just German troops manning guns and defences and the like, but civilians it shouldn't have been done, and such deaths would be murder.
WILKINSON: No, I was saying that if there had been any chance that that action was not part of a defensive war, which it was, fight from the start and in particular from 1940 onwards for Britain in particular. Then I think you could make a case that that damage might be justified, but it would definitely need to be avoided at every cost.
BENNATHAN: You see I suggest that actually, forgive me, through the prejudice that we call common sense, applied to certain factual situations, we are reaching a point where -- not that it matters actually -- human rights law and Islam and common sense come together. If you are in a war, which you should not be resorting to in any way lightly, and if you are attempting to defeat the enemy and you accidentally kill civilians that is terrible and tragic, but it is not criminal. The reason I say that is that is all this passage is saying; is it not?
WILKINSON: No, that is not all this passage is saying.
BENNATHAN: Let us go to the start of paragraph 78 then, then I will move on to Count 8: "The Muslim army is ..." Bottom of 78 please: "The Muslim army is ordinarily prohibited from killing not only Muslims, but also unbelievers." Right, so Muslims, unbelievers living as protected subjects, as well: "... as well as old men, women and children from among the unbelievers." In context that means Muslim army ordinarily are prohibited from killing civilians, yes? That is quite an important starting point; isn't it?
WILKINSON: Yes, but then it carries on. The thrust of it is that actually you may. If you say the author of (inaudible) gives two conditions: "That the Mujahideen try their best to avoid hitting the shield deliberately, that they do not intend to kill people in the shield." That is the bit I am referring to, it is not the absolute prohibition, that is lifted to say that if it happens it happens.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, if we read on: "If Muslim prisoners of war are used by the unbelievers it is not permissible to fire on them, except in cases of dire necessity." Are you saying that is wrong?
WILKINSON: No, it says: "In the case of women and children of the unbelievers however, they could be fired on for an expediency of war, even if it is not a dire necessity."
BENNATHAN: We will get there in a second, it is the sentence before I am asking you to say whether you agree or disagree with?
WILKINSON: Well no, I disagree that any prisoner of war it doesn't matter if they are Muslim or not Muslim, any prisoner of war may not be fired on and not be used as human shield.
BENNATHAN: I suggest this is actually a discussion, again, of the terrible decisions that armies have to take in times of war. That if you make war -- that is why people should try and avoid it -- you have what is euphemistically called collateral damage, and all armies have to face up to that; that is all this section is doing?
WILKINSON: I disagree with that, I think in the context of this count and in the context of this particular section, which if you remember is called "The Islamic Ruling Regarding Martyrdom Operations", we are not talking about conventional war here, we are talking about a justification of martyrdom operations. It is justifying the collateral damage which must inevitably be occurred by the act of a martyrdom operations. Inevitably, that is what it is trying to move round and address. It is not saying that in a conventional war there may be collateral damage although we try and avoid it as much as we possibly can. It is addressing the inevitability of collateral damage in a suicide attack, and that is what I think this is addressing.
BENNATHAN: We will move on, but if you read that paragraph and a half, really. (1) ordinary rules, don't kill civilians. (2) if the other side are using your prisoners as shields in effect, you cannot fire on them except in dire necessity. Civilians on the other side if an expediency of war, even if not dire necessity, war may need such action, but the intention should not be specifically to kill the noncombatants.
BENNATHAN: These are terrible things to have to discuss, but if one is discussing what is right and wrong and when killing is right and wrong, that is exactly the sort of issues you have to engage with. It is not abominable, it actually reflects common sense?
WILKINSON: If we were talking about a treatise or a Fatwa, something that was looking at a conventional Jihad or war then this conversation would make sense. We are not, we are talking about a piece of a section that has been specifically put at the end of what might be a more legitimate Fatwa about Jihad to justify suicide attacks. That is what we are talking about.
BENNATHAN: In a conventional discussion of war this section may make sense, you have just said?
WILKINSON: It would make more sense. I personally wouldn't agree with it, it would make sense.
BENNATHAN: Nothing in that section could justify September 11 could it? The intention should not be specifically to kill noncombatants?
WILKINSON: Sorry, can you just repeat your question.
BENNATHAN: Nothing in the bit we have just looked at would justify September 11, because the section we have been reading ends"... but the intention should not be specifically to kill noncombatants"?
WILKINSON: I don't think this has been specifically put there to justify September 11.
BENNATHAN: That is not my question, can I ask my question again? If you are happy to answer it, fine, if not we will move on. Nothing that is written in those eight or nine lines could justify September 11?
WILKINSON: I think they could be used to justify September 11, or at least be used to gloss over it. For example: "In the case of women and children of the unbelievers however, they could be fired upon for the expediency of war, even it is was not a dire necessity. For war may need such action." That is precisely the type of argumentation that is used in the wills and in the type of messages sent out by Osama Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri, so in the wrong hands that could be read in precisely that way.
BENNATHAN: "The intention should not be specifically to kill the noncombatants." Forgive me, do you suggest to us that the intention of the killers of September 11 was other than specifically to kill noncombatants?
WILKINSON: No, I don't. I think it was specifically to kill noncombatants.
BENNATHAN: I suggest to you, if you actually read that paragraph, nowhere in your report do you actually refer to the first sentence: "The Muslim army is ordinarily prohibited from killing not only Muslims, but also unbelievers living protected, as well as old men, women and children from among the unbelievers." That is quite an important principle; isn't it?
WILKINSON: Yes, no it is.
BENNATHAN: Shouldn't that principle have been in your report?
WILKINSON: Well, that principle was in my report when I outlined -- not in this particular count, Mr Bennathan, you don't need to go to your papers. My general point about this count in particular and some of the other counts is that legitimate rulings and thinking about in particular Jihad and war, but also other things as well, as we saw yesterday with Milestones are interwoven with stuff that is beyond the pale. That is what makes its identification as being legitimate so difficult, especially for people that haven't had an education in Islam, that is my general point.
BENNATHAN: You are happy that first sentence isn't in your report on this count?
WILKINSON: Yes I am.
BENNATHAN: We will move on, on that note to another count, Count 8. The Absent Obligation, we will try and do this, for better or for worse, try, shortly. Now again, this is a book where your comments are: "Were it standing by itself as an historic work one might take one view, but the appendices are particularly unhelpful."
BENNATHAN: My Lord, knows given the timing of the service of the report and the shape of the case. If take this one shortly, we have read it we can return to it later. Not your cup of tea, The Absent Obligation, you disagree with much of what is in it?
BENNATHAN: Clearly, from its introduction, the back page, the context, it would be clear to any reader who can read that Faraj's contribution was written a long time ago?
WILKINSON: 1980, was it?
BENNATHAN: Decades ago, in a different land, with different issues?
WILKINSON: Well decades ago, we are talking about 30 years ago, that is hardly a long time in the grand sweep of history.
BENNATHAN: I won't debate with you how long ago 30 years was, but let us come to again -- it is a book: "The appendices of this particular edition give the whole text a particularly nasty twist, by introducing a justification for suicide attacks in appendix one, and the story appendix. Let us again look at appendix 1 very briefly if we may, appendix 1, page 95. Now, it is about suicide operations -- do you have 95?
BENNATHAN: "The issue is of paramount importance in our times, as we hear the term suicide operations in occupied Palestinian ...(reading to the words)... both past and present have discussed this issue." Now, firstly we remind ourselves if we need to, my Lord, copyright on this book is the year 2000. Whoever is producing this book is doing so before September 11, seemingly, yes?
BENNATHAN: Again, look at which operations they are talking about, Palestine and Chechnya. Now, that is the same, I suggest, as the previous discussion which specifically set out Chechnya, but this has added in Palestine; hasn't it? It starts from the same point as the other discussion of suicide operations?
WILKINSON: Well, in that there was a website to do with --
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, it starts talk being Chechnya, but it adds in Palestine?
WILKINSON: Here it does, but the other one -- I don't think -- did, in fact I know it didn't.
BENNATHAN: I am sorry, I seek to make this point about this, the same points we made about the other discussion. It is not a general exhortation for suicide bombing, it is addressing a very specific issue which is this: on the
face of Islam, suicide is forbidden. All Muslims or nearly all Muslims would know that?
WILKINSON: Yes, all I would say.
BENNATHAN: All Muslims would know suicide is forbidden, so then we see in Palestine and in Chechnya people were in struggles which you say most Muslims would have sympathy with the cause?
BENNATHAN: People are, amongst many tactics perhaps, undertaking mission, operations, attacks call them what you will where they themselves are likely or certain to die? That was in the papers; was it not? What we have here is someone trying to address, understand and argue that the people fighting in a just cause, on some occasions, are Islamically justified in dying in the course of an attack; that is all it is?
WILKINSON: No, it is not. It is a struggle over the definition of the terms, "suicide operations" as opposed -- as it says here: "In fact the correct term is 'martyrdom operations' and the people of knowledge, both past and present have discussed this issue."
WILKINSON: Then, a series of evidences is brought to bear, to prove the fact that these suicide operations are not actually suicide, they are martyrdom. That is what is going on there. It is not connecting it -- the fact that Palestine and Chechnya there is just an accident of time, what it is debating is the principle of whether it is suicide or martyrdom.
BENNATHAN Right. You will concede to Sheikh Al-Qaradawi that he was talking about a specific time and place?
WILKINSON: As I said, I think that is accidental, what he is talking about is the issue of whether we should call it "suicide operations" or "martyrdom operations".
BENNATHAN: You will concede to Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi that he was talking --
WILKINSON: Sorry, you pronounced his name incorrectly, so I didn't understand.
BENNATHAN: I am not sure I even pronounced it. Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, you will concede to him that his suggestion that suicide bombing is allowed in certain circumstances was specific to one place and one time?
BENNATHAN: But you deny that concession to this book?
WILKINSON: I don't deny that concession, I just think that from my reading of the text the time and place is not the issue. The issue is the definition and the understanding if whether it is martyrdom or suicide. That is what is being addressed here, not the time and the place.
BENNATHAN: Page 11, please, same book, "Finally, as this book goes to print." Do you have that at the top of page 11?
BENNATHAN: "Finally, as this book goes to print ...(reading to the words)... and in particular those in Chechnya and Palestine." Again, there is a particular focus, it would seem, of the people writing and constructing this book on those two battles?
WILKINSON: Yes, I agree there, it would, but it is not the time and the place that are being addressed in the appendix that you referred to. That is the context, but the principle is what is being articulated.
BENNATHAN: Yet again, in this book, page 81, please. Do you have page 81, I am sorry, let us go to 95, Mr Friedman -- we just looked at that, I am sorry, my Lord, we did look at that. Page 81?
BENNATHAN: 81. Yes: "Refraining from intentionally killing, women, priests and old men." Ibn UmaR(?) said: A woman was found killed ...(reading to the words)... prohibited the killing of women and children." The story is then expanded and the footnote to that says: "The previous Hadith ...(reading to the words)... because each one of them is in a situation different from the other."
BENNATHAN: On the previous page we have, I suggest, a consistent theme in Islam, in common sense and in law. That if people are accidentally killed in war it may be tragic, but it is not criminal. We have the same point which we just looked at page 80?
WILKINSON: As I said, when you asked me that question before. The issue is, if the fighter suspects that there may be any accidental or collateral damage from an action, he must refrain from it. If it is a pure accident, with no intentionality whatsoever, and likelihood of being able to determine intentionality. In other words, if you walk into a market place strapped up with a suicide belt you may not intend to kill everyone there, but you know it is going to happen. However, if there is no intentionality whatsoever then there can be no blame.
BENNATHAN: Page 81, we have dealt with page 80. I do hear what you say, but we have dealt with it once, just now, so I am moving on. Page 81, again we have one of the books in the first section of our indictment that is saying you should not attack civilians. That is what it means in modern terms isn't it, page 81?
WILKINSON: "Refraining from intentionally killing women and children and priests."
BENNATHAN: Again, the same point as the last book, please. No one who read this and believed it, and guided their steps by it could have -- for example -- taken part in September 11 could they; if they believed that?
WILKINSON: If they believed and followed that particular bit to the letter of what it is saying, no, I agree.
BENNATHAN: No one who read, believed and followed that to the letter could have taken place in the ghastly events of July 2005; could they?
WILKINSON: No one that followed that, no.
BENNATHAN: Why isn't that page in your report on this book, please, or is it? You tell me?
WILKINSON: I don't think that is the thrust of what this Count is talking about.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me. If you are writing a report which frequently talks about terrorism, frequently talks about attacks upon civilians and reviews these various books, wouldn't it have been proper to be balanced and fair?
WILKINSON: "Abused" the various books?
BENNATHAN: "About" these various books. Wouldn't it have been proper and fair to point out that at page 81 we have a prohibition on attacking civilians?
WILKINSON: Throughout the counts, when there has been a passage or a bit that I think significantly alters what I think the general thrust is, I have tried to point it out. If I have missed something, then please forgive me.
BENNATHAN: We have seen an example there of a passage that said don't attack civilians, we just looked at it?
WILKINSON: No, we saw a passage talking about humans as shields -- which is slightly different -- which said you should try and avoid it if they are not believers, which is slightly different.
BENNATHAN: We have seen a passage here that says don't attack civilians, you have agreed with this already, neither of those passages found any place in your report; did they?
WILKINSON: No, I don't think they did.
BENNATHAN: Count 9, please, "The Religious and Moral Doctrine of Jihad". This is Sheikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah. Now, Ibn Taymiyyah is a major historic Muslim thinker?
WILKINSON: Is that a question? It sounded more like a statement.
BENNATHAN: Would you agree, Mr Wilkinson, that Ibn Taymiyyah is a major historic Islamic figure?
WILKINSON: In contemporary times he has become a major figure, his majorness -- if you like -- or his influence, has waxed and waned over the time since he died.
BENNATHAN: You are not an expert on him; are you? That is a question actually, you are not an expert on him; are you?
WILKINSON: Is that my specific field of expertise? No.
BENNATHAN: Would you regard yourself now, having prepared this report, as an expert on Ibn Taymiyyah?
WILKINSON: If you regard expertise as relative to what other people know, possibly. If you regard, would I do a PhD in Ibn Taymiyyah? No.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: You gave us a history of his significance, you don't need to repeat that. Do you challenge it, that he came in and out of fashion?
BENNATHAN: My Lord, that is right, it is simply this and I will put the point and I will move on. This is not an area of particular expertise of yours?
WILKINSON: What this particular book?
WILKINSON: Erm, well my expertise for what I was instructed to do for this trial, was to have the expertise that would inform the jury and guide them in their decision making. For the purposes I have been instructed, I think my expertise is more than adequate and if --
BENNATHAN: Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. Have you read other books by him?
WILKINSON: Ibn Taymiyyah, yes.
BENNATHAN: How many?
WILKINSON: In the original, one.
BENNATHAN: Introduction please let us have a look at that, page 4 of this book. Now at the bottom, we have read this, we have been through it, all right. If I go to certain passages I am not hiding anything, the jury have it, we have been through it before you came and since you came with my learned friend, Mr Hill. If there are things you think alter the meaning of the question or an answer by all means point to them, but you don't have to take us to the book beyond that, I am sure you understand. Bottom of page 4.
BENNATHAN: This is called "The Author", but in effect it is the first text so I'll call it the introduction. "Not one of the Ulamaa dared to say anything to the king, except Ibn Taymiyyah." This is in 699AH we know he is a 15th century Islamic scholar, yes we do, we know he goes back to then. The foot there, look what he is being commended for: "Not one of them dared to say anything to the king except Ibn Taymiyyah. While the others trembled in his presence and would not dare to speak out, Ibn Taymiyyah was uninhibited and strongly defended truth and justice. What is another name for someone who speaks truth to mighty?"
WILKINSON: The first thing to note there is the language of that, which is exaggeratory and also you might call it hagiographic or heroic at least: "Not one of the Ulamaa dared to say anything to the king, except Ibn Taymiyyah. While the others trembled in his presence and would not dare to speak out, Ibn Taymiyyah was uninhibited and strongly defended truth and justice." If you believe the report in that form, then I would suggest you are being rather naive.
BENNATHAN: A normal reader would not believe this -- ?
WILKINSON: Not necessarily. I mean you, not the normal reader. You are not the normal reader Mr Bennathan, you are a very qualified lawyer.
BENNATHAN: I blush. Let us get on. Which Jihad is he talking about there? What type of Jihad?
WILKINSON: He is talking about when the Mongol army, led by a man who was nominally Muslim came to attack Damascus, and he was part of a delegation that went to negotiate with this army.
BENNATHAN: I am so sorry, it is my mistake I am sure. There are a number of ways in which you can struggle, one is Jihad by the sword, there are other types as well; are there not?
BENNATHAN: Which of those would that, "Speaking truth to the mighty" count as?
WILKINSON: Jihad of the tongue.
BENNATHAN: The point that is being praised there -- you say in florid exaggerated language -- and the reason he is being lauded is for Jihad of the tongue, yes?
WILKINSON: I don't accept that, I don't think the point within the context of that introduction is being made that he is making Jihad of the tongue. The point that is being made throughout the introduction is that Ibn Taymiyyah was this massively important an extremely heroic and absolutely un-vulnerable and unimpeachable person. That is the point that is being made. The point that I think you have just made is a point that is made in passing.
BENNATHAN: You think it is made in passing. Over the page, let's see if this is made in passing. At the top of page 6: "However, when Ibn Taymiyyah had the chance to punish ...(reading to the words)... utmost magnanimity and forgave them. Now, again that is a peaceful Islamic virtue; isn't it?
WILKINSON: Yes. Now I have no -- as I tried to explain yesterday, I have, as a Muslim and a Muslim thinker, no argument with Ibn Taymiyyah. I have arguments with the way that he has been appropriated and used by different people at different times.
BENNATHAN: Thank you. No argument with Ibn Taymiyyah is a good starting point to cut through a certain amount of what will follow, and you have expressed that certainly in very similar words before. Let us carry on. Right, now you think both the Sufis and the Salafis have misunderstood his message?
WILKINSON: No. I don't think they have both necessarily all misunderstood it at all. I think the fact that he represented a very broad range of opinion is indicated by the fact that both these groups have used him to justify when they do.
BENNATHAN: Given your previous answer, you are not saying that both Sufis and Salafis misunderstand and misappropriate Ibn Taymiyyah?
WILKINSON: I think Sufis and Salafis have misunderstood and appropriated. I don't think all of them do, which is a slightly different thing.
BENNATHAN: I am reading a sentence from your statement at page 120: "Both Sufis and Salafis misunderstand and misappropriate Ibn Taymiyyah."
WILKINSON: Yes they do, but they don't all do at all times and not all of them do it. May I explain what I meant there and what I mean there?
BENNATHAN: Please do.
WILKINSON: What I meant there is, for example there is a scholarly debate, because Ibn Taymiyyah appears to both support and condemn the practice of the celebration of Prophet Mohammed's birthday, which is what is called the Mawlid, which is a contentious feature of Islamic practice, because certain brands of Salafis say that it was not part of a original practice of the Prophet himself and the companions in Medina. Therefore it is what they call a Bid'ah, an innovation in the religion. Sufis say that celebrating the birth of the Prophet is part of recognising the status of the Prophet and showing our love for him as Muslims. They say, even though it is an innovation strictly speaking, it is a good thing to do.
BENNATHAN: Sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you, do carry on.
WILKINSON: Ibn Taymiyyah appears to present a contradictory picture about this debate, because on the one hand he issued Fatwa and legal rulings saying he thought it was an illegal thing to do, but on the other hand he didn't condemn it and he didn't stop people from doing it in his own time.
WILKINSON: Therefore, it has been very confusing to people to understand exactly where he stood on this particular issue and in general. The opinion that I think is the most convincing is the fact that the reason why he did prohibit it in law, did say that it was illegal, but he didn't oppose it in practice because he said that although he thought it was illegal in law what it actually did to people in terms of reaffirming their connection to the faith was basically a good thing. When it was actually happening it seemed to be doing a good thing, so he was prepared to compromise on his quite hard line position in law.
BENNATHAN: I put my hand up to slow you down is a little, is that the end of that answer?
WILKINSON: Is that sort of clear?
BENNATHAN: Yes. How many, one or two Sufis and Salafis have it wrong, or millions over the years?
WILKINSON: Well, I suppose it slightly depends where the buck stops, when people understand something. There is a scholar, then the person who follows that scholar and so on and so forth.
BENNATHAN: As I understand the way you describe it --
WILKINSON: I think if I may -- sorry, go on.
BENNATHAN: I think if I understand the way you describe it. Millions of other Muslims have misunderstood him, but you think you are right, that is why you have that view?
WILKINSON: I think millions of Muslims have misappropriated him, and I do think like an awful lot of the historical characters people see people anachronistically and entirely through of lens of their own problems and times. They don't try and place these figures in their own times. That, if you like, is what distinguishes someone that does history properly from someone that doesn't.
A protracted discussion takes place about the term ‘kuffar’ as described by Ibn Taymiyyah.
BENNATHAN: All right. We will move on if we may. We will just look at one or two bits of Ibn Taymiyyah. It may be we are agreeing, but time will tell. Let us look at page 33. Let us start halfway down the page. He is moving the topic on to what I have called defensive Jihad: "It is obligatory to take the initiative in fighting those people." We have seen who he is talking about: "As soon as the prophets summons with the reasons ...(reading to the words)... have reached them." Then we reach defensive: "If they first attack the Muslims, then fighting them ...(reading to the words)... the obligation laxes for all others, and the merit goes to those who fulfilled it."
BENNATHAN: Then we go to page 34: "If the enemy wants to attack the Muslims ...(reading to the words)... all those under attack and for the others to help him." Now, again, if we look just at that passage at page 34, this is -- I suspect -- becoming very very familiar to everyone in court. We see in the later sections there a description of defensive Jihad, under attack, do we not?
BENNATHAN: We see the idea of an individual obligation when attacked but a communal obligation when waging war in an army. It is not so very far from the ideas we have been looking at in Maliki literature and the ideas that you said (Inaudible) forgive me, when Sheikh Abdullah Azzam set those bits out, you don't agree with it but it is not that far off the general areas of discussion?
WILKINSON: I have always said that this type of opinion falls within the broad parameters of what I consider to be part of a legitimate debate about Jihad.
BENNATHAN: Let us finish with this book if we may at page 28. This is in your report, and my learned friend Mr Hill didn't take you to it, that is not a criticism, we are all being selective and he knew I was going to come next, all right. Page 28, again, main paragraph: "As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight, such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped and the like ...(reading to the words)... God has said in this respect [and the quotation we've seen before in bold in English] fight in the way of God, those who fight you but transgress not, Allah loves not the transgressors." Now again, you do mention this in your report?
WILKINSON: I do.
BENNATHAN: We didn't go to it but that is fine because we have the report. Again Ibn Taymiyyah is again saying, cutting through, forgive me, some of the historically expressed language, he again is saying don't attack noncombatants, don't attack civilians, isn't he?
WILKINSON: Yes, as he should.
BENNATHAN: Indeed so, but we have now seen that said in the works of Abdullah Azzam, in the work of Faraj, in the book of Faraj, and now in Ibn Taymiyyah, that is to catch up where we are, all right? That appears in all three of those works, doesn't it?
BENNATHAN: So again someone who read, took in and abided by the detail of this book could not, for example, have engaged in the mass murders of September 11 and July 7, 2005?
WILKINSON: No, I would not agree with that. Well, actually I will qualify that comment. If they were to read that particular section that you have just identified going from pages 19 to 35, so the original Ibn Taymiyyah text, and if they had abided by the letter of that, yes, then I agree with what you said.
BENNATHAN: Thank you.
A short break is given to the jury.
BENNATHAN: Count 10, please, let us have a look at "The Army of Madinah in Kashmir". Now, let us remind ourselves, or I will remind you of your conclusion on this book if I may, Mr Wilkinson, it is at page 128. "In my opinion this book violates the section, it incites people to violent Jihad in a way not authorised in Islamic fiqh and provides a guidebook to the conduct of an illegal insurgency."
BENNATHAN: Let us just have a look at one or two passages and only one or two passages. Page 116, please, which has, I would suggest, the closest we have seen so far to the suggestion of an attack in the West rather than in the various places we are talking about, 116 "Army of Medinah",please. Do you have that page?
BENNATHAN: Halfway down the page, when he has been talking about peacekeepers and NATO getting involved, we have the third paragraph on that page: In the fact of such an adversary [peacekeepers and NATO et cetera] the solution may only be 'flank protection to be carried out on the soil of all interfering nations'". That looks like, that looks like, speculating at least, that the solution may be the next thing you do is attack a place in the West, doesn't it?
WILKINSON: Indeed it does, yes.
BENNATHAN: Let us read on: "The indigenous believers that reside in those meddling countries ...(reading to the words)... for this it would seem the most favourable target would be the national economy of the western block." Then we have a war-like passage, I think, from the Koran, is that involved in the next page?
BENNATHAN: "Great stealth is required, to attempt to bring any one of these interfering nations to its knees ...(reading to the words)... possibly not at all but depending on action taken, sometimes resulting factors can be more negative than positive." Over the page, please: "You must labour with all resources at your disposal [and he gives the example of the IRA acting in rural areas, we have read this, and, Mr Wilkinson, you have as well so forgive me going across paragraphs] Muslims should take up further education ...(reading to the words)... where is the Ummah of the middle path?" A confused passage, I would suggest, yes?
WILKINSON: Deeply confused.
BENNATHAN: Deeply confused. At times it seems to be talking about action, even attacks, in the West, but then it ends up calling for the middle path and I for one suggest that it is completely opaque as to what he is talking about with a middle path but middle path is an Islamic term you talked about earlier on?
WILKINSON: It is clear to me he doesn't know what on earth a middle path would be.
BENNATHAN: But even within all this, can I bring you back to something which again is not in your report, but let's just have a look at it. Page 117, even in the middle of all this we agree very confused thing, a show of power minus civilian casualties, so even Al-Hindi when he is writing this book -- and we know what the rest is about, forgive me cutting through it, it is about Kashmir and the insurgency -- but even he has a sentence talking about minor civilian casualties, doesn't he?
WILKINSON: If you look before that, he does add the key word: "Perhaps you may even be proactive only as show of power minus civilian casualties." So he is not there intending to achieve the minor civilian casualties, that is just an outcome of this proactive show of power "perhaps" without civilian casualties.
BENNATHAN: Well, forgive me, do you really think it is fair to attach "perhaps" to that subclause?
WILKINSON: I think that is very important in that particular circumstance.
BENNATHAN: You don't think you are taking the worst possible interpretation of bits of English in these books?
WILKINSON: What I think in this particular case, for example, is that I don't think that this author or other ones would particularly like there to be a massive number of civilian casualties but they are quite prepared to incur them should they occur, that is what I think he is referring to there.
BENNATHAN: All right, we will put that down, we'll round it up with some other books in a minute, we can put that aside for my purposes for the moment. Count 11, the last one I am going to deal with you, actually; Khatteeb(?), Count 11 is a video of the life of Khatteeb -- Khattab.
BENNATHAN: Khattab, I am so sorry, who was a fighter in Chechnya?
WILKINSON: And other places.
BENNATHAN: But that particular documentary deals with that and your conclusion --
WILKINSON: Sorry, could you just quickly draw me to the Count, what Count number was it?
BENNATHAN: I beg your pardon, it was Count 11 and your conclusion is page 140.
WILKINSON: I am there.
BENNATHAN: Thank you. "Count 11 is clearly not in any way a 'remote' work of history but a call for contemporary emulation of a contemporary hero of Jihad. "However, in isolation I would not consider it to encourage terrorism as the war zones in which Khattab was involved were, possibly with the exception of Dagestan, legitimate theatres of resistance, even if not correctly performed Jihad." Then you go on again to make the point about isolation, combination and the rest of the counts in your next paragraph: "As part of the indictment, it can be considered as an indirect incitement to terrorism (...) this is because Khattab's involvement in what can be considered legitimate resistance is likely and, I think, intended to be confused in the context of the other material in the indictment with a call for the violent, nihilistic un-Islamic terrorist warfare such as that propagated by Al-Qaeda's 'scholars' and (...) celebrated throughout the rest of the indictment." So in both paragraphs you make the same point about the bulk of the material.
BENNATHAN: All right. Let us just, if we may, have a stock check of where we are so far. We have talked about the DVDs but particularly, if we may, on the books. I think here is where we are, I don't want to go over it but you will tell me if with we need to, we have an Azzam book which has within it words about not attacking civilians on purpose. We have been to that, yes?
WILKINSON: It has words within it, yes.
BENNATHAN: We have The Absent Obligation that had words within it to the similar effect?
BENNATHAN: We had, we looked at it just now, "The Religious and Moral Doctrine of Jihad" with words in it to similar effect and we had the words we have been talking about which at least contain the phrase "minus civilian casualties" with your --
WILKINSON: You have three words here. Three words. Last three words "minor civilian casualties".
BENNATHAN: Three words there. All right. I appreciate you are looking at all 19 counts when you give your report but so far all the authors (Inaudible) but all the authors have some expression about civilian casualties and no one is unambiguously for the deliberate targeting of civilians, are they?
WILKINSON: Unambiguously for the targeting of civilians, no.
BENNATHAN: Let's look at Milestones, because that's the one I haven't asked you about. Can we go back to Count 1, we are not starting over again I promise, could we look at 2 pages of Milestones if we may. 239 of Milestones, please, and this is in the Hasan Al-Bana or one of the sections. 239, please, top of the page. So this is not Sayyid Qutb's words, this is Hasan Al-Bana writing, okay. Top of page 239 please. "It is forbidden to slay women, children, old people, to kill the wounded, or to disturb monks, hermits, and peaceful who offer no resistance [and then he says look at how the others fight] contrast this mercy with the murderous warfare of the 'civilised people' and their terrible atrocities ...(reading to the words)... the correct understanding of religion and save the world from these injustices." So that is an -- I use the expression, forgive me -- a bang on declaration of not attacking civilians, isn't it?
WILKINSON: Can I just slightly qualify that? The first bit of it is exactly bang on, as you say, up to "offer no resistance", and the second bit of it is, if you like, harking back to this theme which I mentioned as sort of dividing the world up into the sort of perfectly Islamic and the perfectly horrible.
BENNATHAN: It is Manichean, to use your phrase?
WILKINSON: Manichean, yes.
BENNATHAN: Manichean. All right. But forgive me, that is a point you are entitled to make and made about this book?
WILKINSON: That first sentence, yes, I would agree with.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, you didn't draw attention to that in your report, did you?
WILKINSON: No, but on other occasions where I thought that the Fatwas that were in the original drawing upon authentic positions, I did make that point, and also I made the point with these particular appendices that I sort of understood certainly the second one of the appendices but I didn't understand why this particular edition needed to have anything to do with Jihad in it at all, and my point there was you could read Milestones and as part of contemporary edition you might want to pick up the bit of Milestones which deals with art and culture, you might want to pick up the bit that deals with establishing a Muslim society, you might want to pick up with any bit of Milestone, rather than chapter 4 that deals with Jihad, but this particular edition picks up on the bits that deal with Jihad and I don't know why it does that.
BENNATHAN: Page 383, please. Forgive me, this is in the ibn Nuhaas section, yes, which we talked about yesterday (Inaudible) back there as a general proposition but at the foot of 383: "It is not allowed to kill women and children if they don't fight ...(reading to the words)... should not be killed if they are not involved in fighting Muslims." So again, consistent with what we have read in most of the other books, there is a historical merciful Islamic rule of conflict?
WILKINSON: Yes. Totally.
BENNATHAN: Again, I appreciate the indictment doesn't stop there and you go on to Count 19.
WILKINSON: But also, I mean the bit you picked up there, it would be impossible to present a proper treatise on Islamic Jihad or quote one of the classic ones which we discovered this is without having that in it so I am not remotely surprised that these bits that you have identified are in it, because they ought to be. The question that I think is germane to this particular case is why the publisher has chosen to put in treatise of Jihad stuck on the end of Milestones, why is it necessary to stick on treatise of Jihad onto Milestones, because you can, as I say, pick up any other bits, any other theme of Milestones that would be much more suitable for 21st century Britain in order to bring out the good bit of the message of Milestones rather than the Jihad part.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, I don't mean to interrupt but we have had a discussion about why the appendices are there yesterday, I am not going to reopen it, you know what has been suggested to you and obviously we will hear the answers you give. Can we have your little table from page 165 of your report on our screens, please. Actually I think we had better have your table from page 166, forgive me: "The view presented by the indicted accounts on recent Jihad." Simple point, let us just go at the bottom of that table. "Recent Jihad, September, 11 -- The middle column, we remind ourselves, is the cause that lies behind something, the column on the right is the means used in that particular activity, that particular terrorist activity, yes? Now, forgive me, but if the indictment stopped there, (Inaudible) if the indictment stopped there, these books would not entitle you put a tick in either of the 9/11 boxes, would they?
WILKINSON: If the indictment had been entirely based upon the textual counts I would not have mentioned 9/11 in that table.
BENNATHAN: If the indictment stopped there, I have got to Count 11 so I am talking about Khattab as well in some of the earlier (Inaudible) about Gujarat. If the indictment stopped there, I suggest, there is nothing that could be said to approve of either the cause or the carnage that was caused on September 11, are we agreed?
WILKINSON: There is no reference to 9/11 in these particular counts, no.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, Mr Wilkinson, more than that, more than that, the videos, the DVDs, all show heroic Muslims -- put that in quotation marks if you like -- fighting troops and the books all say don't attack civilian targets, don't they?
WILKINSON: They mention that civilian targets shouldn't be specifically targeted, yes, but they also excuse collateral damage in the case of suicide attacks.
BENNATHAN: Forgive me, 9/11 is not collateral damage, was that, that was deliberate targeting of civilians?
WILKINSON: No, I mean, my reference to 9/11, bearing in mind that this table comes in my summary chapter so it is not specific to the textual counts, it is taking into account all the Counts.
BENNATHAN: We understand that. I don't think I am necessarily saying your table is wrong, do you understand?
WILKINSON: No, as I have just said, if it was just the textual counts that we have gone through then I wouldn't have put 9/11 on the table because I don't think it would have been relevant.
BENNATHAN: Because, as I have said, and I won't labour the point, I will say it one last time, all four DVDs we have looked at so far, and I appreciate you get very quickly to a very different (Inaudible), all four of the DVDs look at violence, certainly, but violence with man on man violence, if I can call it that?
WILKINSON: Yes, and I think there is a very good reason for that, a historical reason which is that the nature of what has come to be called Jihadist warfare from the Afghan conflict to 9/11, 7/7 and the period we are now in, what has come under the branding of Jihad has changed out of all recognition during that period so you would not expect books that were published let's say in the late 90s or especially let us say in the 90s to refer to the type of Jihadist violence that has taken place since 2000.
BENNATHAN: It is a sinister later development.
WILKINSON: Well, it is a development but it has become a different thing.
BENNATHAN: But to be fair, some of these books have a published date after (Inaudible) date September 11, but even in these books, ignoring the DVDs, we don't see anyone lauding September 11 and each of these authors, or in the case of Sayyid Qutb, the appendices at least contain -- we've dealt with this really -- contain "don't attack civilians" don't they?
WILKINSON: Yes, because they are treatise on Jihad and one would definitely expect them to.
BENNATHAN: If we stopped there we might have a very different chart from the one we've seen but of course it goes on --
WILKINSON: If we stopped there I would certainly acknowledge that, yes.
BENNATHAN: Sorry, what would you acknowledge?
WILKINSON: That we would have had a different chart.
BENNATHAN: Okay. Now, can I move to a last area I would like your help in and it is this: you have told us that the trouble with many of these books -- and I will try and take them globally -- the trouble with many of these books is that if they were read out of their original and proper context, someone might see them as encouragement to hurt people, to commit acts of terrorism.
WILKINSON: Erm, can I slightly rephrase that which is that my point is that if they are read in conjunction with other bits of the indictment, the force of them with the other bits, taken as a whole, would definitely be an encouragement to terrorism and individually, there is no attempt to guide the reader as to their original context or their purpose and therefore to contextualise the message of the book and in fact quite the contrary, the message of the book is endorsed usually in terms of this is relevant for this and other circumstances which are not particular to this particular book.
BENNATHAN: You see, the problem, I suggest, with taking a "people could take those bits and misapply them approach", if I can call it that, the problem with this approach is this, isn't it: there are bits of the Koran that the words on the page are quite violent, are they not?
WILKINSON: Well, there are verses of the Koran that if you don't read them with the knowledge of the context that they came in and if you don't read them with what comes before and what comes after them could be interpreted in a violent way, yes.
BENNATHAN: "When the sacred months have passed [95 I'm looking at] then kill the ...(reading to the words)... and sit and wait for them at every place of ambush."
WILKINSON: That is one of them, that is one example, that is in the context of treaties having been broken, of an all out war of confederate tribes to destroy the Muslim community in Medina so that's the context that verse needs to be understood in.
BENNATHAN: Koran 2.192: "And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them wherever they have expelled you and fitnah is worse than killing."
WILKINSON: That is the context, the context of treaties being broken and an all out war to destroy the Muslim community.
BENNATHAN: Let us look briefly at Al-Bakara(?) if we may, do you have the book itself there, please. You can put the other books away now for my purposes if that gives you a bit more space.
WILKINSON: Thank you.
BENNATHAN: My Lord and the jury, could we go to our defence file, divider 5, page 26, please. Do you have -- I am sorry, forgive me, it is page 580, you have the original book. Book of Jihad, chapter 1. "Chapter 1, the superiority of Jihad ...(reading to the words)... no possible deeds equate Jihad in reward." Now, that could be read by somebody, couldn't it, to say Jihad is better than prayer, better than fasting?
WILKINSON: If someone came without a knowledge of the sort of the roots of the religion, what's called (Inaudible) the roots of jurisprudence and they didn't know how to use Hadith and they came completely ignorant without any instruction, they could think that, yes.
BENNATHAN: Page 47, please, for us, page 601 for you. Chapter 42, do you have that, please, Mr Wilkinson?
WILKINSON: Yes, I do.
BENNATHAN: Chapter 2: fighting against the Jews. We have a narrator: "Allah's messenger, Mohammed (peace be) said you [i.e the Muslims] will fight against the Jews ...(reading to the words)... there is a Jew hiding behind me so kill him." In other quotation: "The hour will not come until you fight against Jews." Now, again, Mr Wilkinson, we live in a world where there are Muslims killing Jewish people, Israel in particular springs to mind, yes?
WILKINSON: And vice versa, yes.
BENNATHAN: Absolutely. Forgive me, I am drawing from the text of course.
WILKINSON: Deeply regrettably but of course the vast majority of the sort of history of Jewish Muslims relation as a productive existence is almost like a historical aberration unfortunately.
BENNATHAN: If we have someone who is both zealous but has a low level of education, what might they take that as a invitation to do?
WILKINSON: If they had almost no education and if they were encouraged and that was put in by someone who wanted to encourage them to go and kill Jewish people, they could take that to do it.
BENNATHAN: Someone using this out of context might be able to persuade a zealous Muslim with a low level of Islamic education to go and kill Jews, I think that is what we have agreed?
WILKINSON: Yes, I think I would agree with that, yes.
BENNATHAN: You see the trouble is, I suggest, Mr Wilkinson, if that s right then on the test you have been applying to these books, that makes -- forgive me, that makes Al-Bakara a terrorist publication. Is it?
WILKINSON: No, I don't think it is a terrorist publication.
BENNATHAN: Why not, please?
WILKINSON: Because it is not accompanied by a persistent propagandistic message and presentation which portrays one half of the world as meat for the sword or the combat of Muslim and the other as an ideal zone of a perfect Islam which is the sort of world view that is the premise of the Counts that is set up persistently throughout the Counts in a very manipulative way. This book doesn't do that. I think any book of Hadith can be used out of context to justify almost anything which is why all books of Hadith are not books of law, they are books which require people could be guided in the meaning of the Hadith and they are not certainly not books from which law can be derived as I have already said from a particular individual Hadith.
BENNATHAN: Do you recognise where I get the phrase "zealous Muslims with a low level of Islamic education" from?
WILKINSON: Is that my own words?
BENNATHAN: It is indeed. It is your page 164 your conclusion in this way. Do you want to find 164?
BENNATHAN: Please. "In this way Counts 1 to 19 [to be fair you specify the whole of 19] are extremely dangerous as zealous Muslims with a low level of Islamic education or converts to the faith would, I believe, easily be sucked into its vortex of emotive, uncritical unrelenting propaganda." All right, so zealous Muslims with a low level of Islamic education or converts, presumably you mean converts with a low level of education, not people like yourself?
WILKINSON: Yes, I mean converts especially in early stages of their conversion.
BENNATHAN: I mean, converts at an early stage would have, wouldn't they, they would have the Koran?
WILKINSON: They would obviously have access to it and a lot of them would have read it but not all even that.
BENNATHAN: Can we look, please, at one picture and we can do this, forgive me, my Lord, my Lord, I think I will finish now in about five minutes time if that is any help, maybe we can arrange translation between us, can we put everything else away for my purposes, please, and have jury bundle number three, story, please. Jury bundle three, that has a blue dot on it, and it is divider 4, page 21, just to illustrate a point, there are many such examples. Mr Wilkinson, page 21, forgive me, do you have it? It really doesn't matter, you will be very familiar with it, I am taking one example, of which there are many, of story boards, that is to say stills of some of the wills of the -- should look like that.
WILKINSON: I think I should look at it.
BENNATHAN: By all means.
JUSTICE CALVERT-SMITH: Divider 4.
BENNATHAN: Divider 4, my Lord, I am so sorry. Blue one, page 21.
WILKINSON: Page 21.
BENNATHAN: Page 21, please, in divider 4, and it is one example from many. All right? Tell me when you are there, please, Mr Wilkinson.
WILKINSON: I'm there.
BENNATHAN: Right. Now, on that we have, and we have in the higher numbered counts we have 4 or 5 examples of this, if people can't find it, it really doesn't matter. You are there, thank you very much. We have one of the people who carried out what I would describe as an act of mass murder on September 11th, don't we? We are told anyway.
WILKINSON: I would certainly agree with that description, yes.
BENNATHAN: That is who he is is the point?
WILKINSON: Yes, yes, definitely.
BENNATHAN: They speak at great length, don't they?
WILKINSON: They do.
BENNATHAN: They frequently, this is in your report when we come to those Counts but I am not actually going to deal with, for reasons that need not trouble you, they speak frequently in Islamic terms?
BENNATHAN: They quote the Koran?
BENNATHAN: Mr Wilkinson, if it had not been for the existence of the Koran, do you think that young man would think he was going to go to paradise?
WILKINSON: Well, I think actually his opinion of the fact he is going to go to paradise is not based on his own close reading of the Koran, it is much more likely to be based what various scholars have told him about what the Koran says is going to happen to him, especially, of course, because the vast majority of the references to do with anything to do with martyrdom and going to paradise are not from the Koran but they are from the Hadith material.
BENNATHAN: He is relying, isn't he, I mean the idea of Allah, which he mentions, is from the Koran isn't it?
WILKINSON: God is obviously the author, we believe, of the Koran.
BENNATHAN: The Koran is quoted from time to time by a variety of people making their so-called wills, isn't it?
WILKINSON: Yes, yes.
BENNATHAN: So is the Koran, in your view, applying the definition you have been applying to these books we have been looking at, the DVDs I asked you about, is the Koran a terrorist publication?
WILKINSON: Is the Koran a terrorist publication? No. The Koran is definitely not a terrorist publication but if there was an edition of the Koran that drew out certain of the verses and misinterpreted them for terrorist means, then that edition of the Koran would in those particulars be a terrorist publication.
BENNATHAN: See I suggest here is the problem, and I say the Koran is of course not a terrorist publication, because one reads it as a whole, yes?
WILKINSON: One should recite it and interpret bits as they are appropriate to in the circumstances.
BENNATHAN: Because people are critical readers, no one would read the passage, we hope no one would read the passage about killing the Jews and just go out and do it, people we trust have slightly more sense than that.
WILKINSON: Well, we do trust the vast majority of people but unfortunately there are people that literal interpretation of sacred texts -- and this is of course not unique to Muslims -- override common sense and override the sense of decency and sense and they go and do crazy abhorrent things.
BENNATHAN: But the Koran without an appendix saying "So now get a gun and go and shoot a pedestrian" or "Now get a bomb and go to a shopping centre", fails your test for a terrorist publication, without such obscene appendices.
WILKINSON: Yes, if it was the Koran in its revealed form an a reputable translation of it with some guidance to help decide how the translator has chosen his choice of translation, that would be of course absolutely perfectly fine. Of course, I use it and recite it myself regularly.
BENNATHAN: Isn't the problem this, and it is a point I may be labouring, but I'll finish with it now, isn't the problem this -- we've talked about the DVDs, I'm not going to go back there -- but all the books I have been waving at you just now, of course discuss ideas and some in huge detail, some quite complicated books?
WILKINSON: Sorry, Mr Bennathan, can I just shut this enormous volume.
BENNATHAN: Please do. We can all shut this enormous volume if you would like to. None of these books urge people to commit acts of terrorism, I suggest, none of the books I am waving at you now, ignoring the later counts in the indictment?
WILKINSON: What I think those books do is the first thing I think they do very strongly is set up a world view and a mindset that would be proposed to see one half of the world as excellent and good and the other half as impure, improper, foul and in certain circumstances worthy of attack, that is the mindset that I think is established particularly in Milestones but also alluded to in passing in some of the other texts. Then I think that what happens after that stage further is that Jihad and especially the offence of Jihad, is legitimised and bits of it, such as suicide attacks, are legitimised by recourse to either modern treatise of Jihad or classic ones so the mindset is established and then the actions of certain types of Jihad are justified by recourse to Islamic texts, that is what I think happens in these texts.
BENNATHAN: The acts of Jihad are done by placing incitement manuals and lectures on top of these books?
WILKINSON: Yes, within the editions yes.
BENNATHAN: No, forgive me, not by the editions not by Albani(?) not by an ancient treatise, something has to come on top of this to get from these ideas to actual terrorism, just like the Koran, I suggest?
WILKINSON: Sorry, can you just repeat.
BENNATHAN: Something has to build on top of the words of these books, they don't get us to terrorism, they all urge not attacking civilians as an example. Something has to come afterwards?
WILKINSON: Yes, I do think that if it was the text alone and the indictment was the text alone that there would need to be an interpreter or something else to move from the books to actually going out to commit acts of terrorism, yes.
BENNATHAN: Thank you.