Reformed Muslim radical fears future in Britain
By Luke Baker
British-born Muslim Hassan Butt spent 10 years inside radical Islamist groups, recruiting and training militants, before renouncing violence and trying to help others escape radical Islamist networks.
It is a past he is not proud of, but which he also does not seek to hide when he discusses his experiences.
"I was involved in the whole world of radical Islam from the age of 16 onwards. For 10 years it was my family," Butt told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday, seeking to explain how he became enveloped in a world of "religious hatred".
"I financed terrorism, I recruited people to go to terrorist training camps, I myself have been to terrorist training camps," he said, mentioning Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he spent two years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
But nearly three years ago, Butt began questioning his beliefs and the direction he was taking, and after four British Muslims blew themselves up in London in July 2005, killing 52 people, he began to turn his back on militancy.
But it has not been a simple transition.
"My life was easier being a terrorist than it is now that I am no longer a terrorist," he said, speaking by phone from his home in Manchester, northern England.
"It's not easy being hunted by jihadis who want to kill you, moderate Muslims who think you have betrayed Islam, and the Manchester police who might want to prosecute me."
A court ruled last week that the Manchester police could seize notes and documents from a journalist, Shiv Malik, who is writing a book about jihadi networks that draws on Butt's knowledge and experiences.
Manchester police would not confirm Butt was a target, saying only that Malik's notes were wanted as part of an ongoing investigation. "It would be inappropriate to discuss the detail at this stage," a spokeswoman said.
1) Reformed Muslim radical fears future in Britain