British imam who recruited murderous teens to radical Islam asks 'why wasn't I arrested?'
THE "GODFATHER" of Western jihadism who invented the indoctrination techniques now used by Islamic State to lure young Brits to the Middle East has admitted he is stunned he has never been arrested for his crimes.
Abu Muntasir admits he does not know why he has not been arrested
Reformed radical preacher Abu Muntasir acted as a recruiter for Muslim extremists for nearly two decades, plucking disaffected youngsters off the streets of Britain and turning them to the jihadist cause.
In a startlingly frank admission, he has now admitted: "I inspired and recruited, I raised funds and bought weapons, not just a one-off but for 15 to 20 years. Why I have never been arrested I don't know."
Muntasir's work developing new recruiting techniques in the West was so important he came to be known as the "Godfather" of the British jihadi movement.
He is attributed with grooming "thousands" of disaffected young Muslim men, and readily admits he "opened the door and the trickle turned to a flood".
The repentant cleric, who has since turned his back on extremism and violence, also said it is wrong to make excuses for those going to fight in the Middle East.
GETTY More than 700 Britons have now travelled to fight for Islamic State
Why I have never been arrested I don't know
In a tearful interview, he said: "If I've done those things which have terribly upset people or hurt people I should be forgiven, I should forgive others as well.
"I cannot hate, hate is not what Muhammad taught. I have been forgiven, I will forgive, that's the least I can do.
"You have the right to punish me if you think that's fair I will take all that.
"If people want to call me a coward, fine. I'm a coward."
The 55-year-old, who now lives in Suffolk, used his own experience of fighting for the jihadi cause in Afghanistan and Burma to spread radical Islam during the 1980s and 1990s.
He also organised arms shipments to extremist fighters and set up sermons at British mosques where renowned hate preachers indoctrinated disaffected Muslims.
Speaking today, he said: "There is grooming, no doubt - I know how we used to convince people by ignoring a lot of facts on the ground, ignoring reality and alternative views amongst Muslims and Muslim teaching.
"So the parents need to have more communication with their children, they need to have more of an overseeing aspect of how to be a good parent.
Reacting to the news that a 17-year-old is believed to have become Britain's youngest ever suicide bomber, he added: "It's totally despicable what he has done, it is an abhorrent crime, and we should be very careful."
His distraught parents say the radicals who sent him to his death preyed on his "innocence and vulnerability".
PA British teenagers Kadiza Sultana, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase fled their homes to join IS
Muntasir made the startling admissions in an upcoming episode of the ITV documentary series Exposure titled Jihad: A British Story.
His comments came as a number of moderate Muslims warned that Islamic State is becoming so good at grooming young Britons it is like a "corporate entity".
The typical age for Britons joining jihad has fallen by ten years during the Afghanistan War, to between 14 and 26 years old now.
For the first time, significant numbers of Muslim women and young girls in the West are joining the conflict too.
This has largely been driven by the extremists' effective use of the internet and social media to appeal to large numbers of young, disaffected Muslims in the West.
Islamic State has a crack team of online propagandists based at a nerve centre in its de facto capital Raqqa, who spend all hours of the day and night promoting the group's vile ideology on the internet.
Haras Rafiq, managing director of counter-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, said Islamic State are selling jihad as a fun "gap year" experience to naive Westerners.
He said: "Youngsters are looking for solutions to problems and grievances they may have.
"These grievances may be either real and genuine, perceived or partial.
"It could be anything - that they are bored, that they are looking for adventure or suffering from racism.
"In the case of women it could be that they are suffering from cultural regressiveness.
"What happens is that they are driven to charismatic recruiters either offline or online and then they find a solution to their problems which has a theological justification under it.
He added: "Isis is almost like a corporate entity, this is 21st century jihad and getting their message out to people is very important to them."
Qari Asim, imam at the Makkah Mosque in Leeds, said that young people were being drawn to extremism by a "deluded gang of criminals" who billed it as a "utopian dream".
He added: "The perpetrators are pretty much acting like paedophiles, they groom these young individuals over time - radicalisation isn't an overnight process.
"They prey on these vulnerable young people and brainwash them, and religion is a unique passion so they tend to use religion to brainwash these young individuals for their own political aims and gains.
"Mosques, imams, have been very clear and vocal on such issues - that suicide bombing is not allowed in Islam. Suicide bombing is unlawful in Islam because it results in one taking his own life, and also bringing terror and harm on others."