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British Sunni group condemns bombings

Issues an edict calling attacks anti-Islamic

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Yesterday, 10 days after Islamic radicals carried out deadly attacks on the London transport system, Britain's largest Sunni Muslim group issued a binding religious edict, a fatwa, condemning the July 7 suicide bombings as the work of a ''perverted ideology."

The Sunni Council denounced the bombings as anti-Islamic and said the Koran forbade suicide attacks.

''Who has given anyone the right to kill others? It is a sin. Anyone who commits suicide will be sent to hell," said Mufti Muhammad Gul Rehman Qadri, council chairman.

''What happened in London can be seen as a sacrilege. It is a sin to take your life or the life of others."

The council said Muslims should not use the ''atrocities being committed in Palestine and Iraq" to justify attacks such as those in London that killed 55 when suicide bombers struck in three Underground trains and a double-decker bus, the fatwa declared.

''We equally condemn those who may have been behind the masterminding of these acts, those who incited these youths in order to further their own perverted ideology," Qadri said.

On Saturday government officials dismissed claims that lax attitudes allowed homegrown suicide bombers to develop. The Sunday Times reported that one suspected bomber, 30-year-old Mohammad Sidique Khan, was investigated last year by MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence service, but was not regarded as a threat to national security and was under surveillance.

MI5 began evaluating Khan, a Briton of Pakistani ancestry, during an inquiry that focused on an alleged plot to explode a large truck bomb outside a target in London thought to be a nightclub in Soho, the newspaper said.

The private inquiry reportedly evaluated hundreds of potential suspects.

The Metropolitan Police and a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair declined comment.

The bombings have prompted the government to propose legislation outlawing ''indirect incitement" of terrorism -- including public praise for those who carry out attacks.

The fatwa was issued as investigators in Leeds continued to focus on an Islamic bookshop and a house near the home of one of the four alleged bombers, 22-year-old Shahzad Tanweer.

Tanweer, born in Britain to Pakistani parents, was believed to be one of the Underground train bombers and reportedly visited two religious schools on a trip to Pakistan.

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