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Vestlige regjeringer strekker seg langt for å få frigitt gisler i Irak. Etter 7/7 ga den britiske regjeringen muslimske ledere beskjed om at de måtte legge seg mer i selen neste gang det var en gisselaksjon. Det gjør de nå for å redde 74-årige Normann Kember.

Men mobilisering av radikale muslimer som Det muslimske brorskap reiser nye spørsmål: Hva vil de ha til gjengjeld? Ikke alle er like happy med «hjelpen».

Den andre store muslim-organisasjonen i Storbritannia, Association of British Muslims, har sendt Anas Altikriti til Bagdad. Foreningen har nære forbindelser med Brorskapet i Egypt.

Det sies at det er lettere å få ledende muslimer med på å gå i forbønn for Kember, som er med i fredsorganisasjonen Christian Peacemakers Team. CPT var inne i Fallujah og rapporterte da amerikanerne angrep, og de var først ute med Abu Ghraib. Men 24. november ble Kember tatt sammen med tre kolleger, to canadiere og en amerikaner.

Altikriti og ABM har fått Hamas, Hizbollah, Brorskapet og Qaradawi til å fordømme kidnapping av uskyldige som Kember.

Etter 7/7 bestemte den britiske regjering seg for å oppgradere et regjeringsutvalg som heter Engaging with the Muslim World. En ung mann, Mockbul Ali (25), fikk utvidede fullmakter og en stab til rådighet. Men forslagene hans sjokkerte en del av embetsmennene i Whitehall.

The move was not popular in parts of Whitehall, especially when Ali pushed for greater links between the government and radical Muslim groups. In one internal memo, circulated within the Foreign Office, he shocked senior officials by arguing the Muslim Brotherhood was a ‘reformist’ and moderate group. In another email, Ali pushed for al-Qaradawi to be allowed to enter the UK, something that was likely to inflame public opinion. ‘To act against al-Qaradawi would alienate significant and influential members of the global Muslim community,’ Ali wrote in a confidential Foreign Office email dated 14 July, 2005.

Later in the same memo he hinted, presciently, how al-Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood could become increasingly important to the Foreign Office. ‘Qaradawi would be the first port of call when encouraging statements against terrorism and the killing of Muslim civilians in Iraq.’

The fruits of this policy shift can now be seen in the outpouring of Muslim opposition to Kember’s kidnapping. Muslim leaders admit that, if the more radical elements of their community had not been wooed, securing condemnation across the Muslim world would have been far more difficult.

A Whitehall source admits, this time around, building a coalition of Muslim support around a committed peace campaigner has been easier than for Bigley, a contractor. ‘Kember is a totally different set of circumstances,’ the source said. ‘Bigley could have been viewed by some in the Muslim world as an interloper. The Muslim leaders have realised Kember gives them their best opportunity to achieve a result following 7/7.’

As the MAB’s Hibatullah concedes: ‘With Bigley we couldn’t do anything in terms of saving his life. But this time around we could go the extra mile, given our stance against the war.’ Some, though, believe that Whitehall is engaged in playing a dangerous game. As one person alarmed by the policy shift puts it. ‘You have to ask yourself what these groups want in return. You have to ask yourself: at what cost?’

Hostage: how the Muslim world battled for the life of Norman Kember