Outrage as Bin Laden supporter targets city

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SCOTTISH sympathisers of Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror group are targeting American tourists in Edinburgh with a leaflet calling for the murder of US civilians.

Al-Qaida supporter David Allison - whose actions were described as "stupid and irresponsible" by a spokesman for Edinburgh’s Central Mosque - has already begun distributing the leaflets on Princes Street.

And he is planning to print thousands more leaflets supporting the architects of the September 11 attacks.

Mr Allison said: "We want to show solidarity with al-Qaida and Iraq. We plan to let American tourists know that not everyone is in favour of [George] Bush and [Tony] Blair’s war in Afghanistan."

Mr Allison, from Dundee, claimed to be part of a network of al-Qaida supporters who call themselves "Al-Quaeda Scotland". He admitted that the leaflets were designed to shock.

"We will be specifically targeting Americans during the Festival to let them know that there are people who are opposed to the US war against innocent people in Afghanistan," Mr Allison said.

"Obviously we expect an aggressive response, but they have to find out there is another point of view which they will not have heard in their own country."

Mr Allison, a photographer and freelance computer expert, describes himself as a "political green" with Hindu religious beliefs. He warned that his group would be targeting US performers during the Fringe, adding: "There is an American band appearing at the Festival who we are planning to target by distributing these leaflets outside.

"We will continue these activities and are happy to listen to people’s views if they are opposed to the leaflet."

The leaflets show a picture of Bin Laden with the headline "Al-Quaeda Scotland".

They reproduce an extract from a fatwa or religious edict declaring a holy war on the US and its allies. The signatories include Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, chief of the Egypt-based Jihad Group, and other Islamic extremists.

The extract attacks US policy on the Middle East and calls for Muslims to take the law into their own hands: "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies - civilians and military - is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country."

A representative of Edinburgh’s Central Mosque fiercely condemned Mr Allison.

"It is a very stupid and irresponsible thing to do. Islam teaches that all life is sacred," he said.

Tourist chiefs said the leaflets would cause serious offence to visitors, especially from the US.

More tourists come to Scotland from the US than any other country with some 400,000 Americans spending around 200 million annually. A spokesperson for the tourist board VisitScotland said: "This sort of thing is not helpful when we’re trying to encourage US visitors to Scotland.

"Having said that, people are entitled to their freedom of speech. Hopefully, people will treat the leaflets sensibly."

Lothian and Borders Police spokesperson said: "We are aware of the leaflets." The spokesman refused to say whether they would take any action against Mr Allison.

One city resident told of his disgust when he received one of the leaflets as he walked down Princes Street. He said: "These leaflets are offensive. I’m all for freedom of expression but this guy is clearly a lunatic."