Back when Butt was a wannabe Celebrity Extremist

I was trawling through the internet and came across this piece from back in 2004, published in the New Statesman:

It is a wonderful, typically British scene. I am sitting in a Manchester curry house, wondering whether to choose the Madras or the korma. The place is humming with Arabic, and a number of extended families have gathered to eat at adjacent tables. A few children skip past. My lunchtime companion is, at 24, three years younger than me. His name is Hassan Butt, and he’d like to martyr himself in Britain for the sake of Islam. I order the korma.

In the past year, Hassan and I have become steadfast dining partners, if not exactly firm friends. Over curries, pizzas and saccharine soft drinks, in London and Manchester, I have discovered what makes him tick. “Pray to Allah that he accepts me as a martyr,” he muses. “If that’s tomorrow, then tomorrow. If not, then whenever Allah wills.” Why don’t you get on with it, I ask. “Everything needs to be done in an organised manner, with the current organisations that are working around the world.”

This is the same Hassan Butt, now a Celebrity Ex-Extremist preaching to Muslims on how they should avoid extremism. Draw your own conclusions on Butt’s suitability as a fount of knowledge on Islam and extremism, and on the British attitude of ‘keeping our enemies closer’.

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