25 Jun 2014

‘No life without jihad’ – why the change of heart?

Paraic O’Brien confronts the Saudi cleric who spoke at the al-Manar centre in Cardiff, where one of the ‘British jihadis’ worshipped.

“We will only overcome humiliation with jihad”.

This is what Saudi cleric Sheikh Mohamed Al-Arifi told a crowd in Egypt last year, proclaiming that “Muslims have no life without jihad”.

With as many Twitter followers as Wayne Rooney, Al-Arifi has immense pulling power and appeal.

He spoke at the al-Manar centre in the city of Cardiff, where one of the three ‘British jihadis’ worshipped.

Young Britons Nasser Muthana, 20, Abdul Raqib Amin and Reyaad Khan, also 20, appeared in a video by Isis encouraging British Muslims to go and fight in Iraq.

The father of Nasser Muthan, Ahmed, believes his other son, 17-year-old Aseel, is also in the Middle East and said they were both “brainwashed” in the UK.

Paraic O’Brien asked al-Arifi, speaking from Saudi Arabia, whether he had met the Muthana brothers, but he said he could not remember doing so.

When asked what he thought about Isis, he said: “What I have read on the internet is not good.”

He added: “I would say to all the young people in Britain – don’t go to Syria.”