Clashes feared after cleric arrest

THE arrest of a radical Muslim cleric at his home in northern Lebanon yesterday is expected to prompt major demonstrations in the UK today.

Omar Bakri Mohammed was taken into custody without a struggle in the city of Tripoli, police and security officials said. Mohammed, who holds Syrian and Lebanese citizenship, lived in Britain for 20 years where he headed the now-disbanded radical Islamist group al-Muhajiroun. He left Britain for Lebanon in 2005 and the British government barred him from returning.

Lebanese officials said Bakri was among 54 people sentenced on Friday in trials of militants who fought the Lebanese army in 2007. Bakri was convicted of "belonging to an armed group with the aim of carrying out terrorist acts and plotting to kill Lebanese soldiers".

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Judicial officials said Bakri was sentenced to life because of his failure to show up for his trial.