Paul Alster
Israel-based print and broadcast journalist

British peer offers $10 million bounty for Obama and Bush

Hot on the heels of rabid anti-Israel politician George Galloway having won a landslide by-election and been returned to parliament to represent an overwhelmingly Muslim constituency in the north of England, a Muslim peer from the same region has been suspended from Britain’s Labour Party pending investigation for allegedly placing a $10 million bounty on the head of both Barak Obama and George W Bush.

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, a life peer and member of the House of Lords, reportedly made the comments during a speech to an audience in Pakistan where he appears to have been incensed at the placing of a $10 million bounty for information leading to the capture of Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the leader of the militant Islamic group Lashkar-E-Taiba, the organization believed to have been behind the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 174 people, including Israeli Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah following an armed siege at their Chabad centre in the city.

Lord Ahmed is a long-standing and outspoken critic of Israel and has even been reported to have called for those British citizens that come to the Jewish state as volunteers to be prosecuted for war crimes!

His views, (although not commonly held by members of his party), have been finding a growing audience in Britain in recent years with radical Islamists and anti-Israel supporters, making the outspoken Muslim an increasing embarrassment to the mainstream of the centre-left British Labour Party.

According to British newspaper reports, the Labour Party – whose leader Ed Milliband is Jewish – has suspended Ahmed pending investigation into his alleged comments in Pakistan last Friday, and the official opposition to Britain’s Conservative/Liberal coalition government has quickly moved to distance itself from Ahmed’s comments, saying “If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable. The international community is rightly doing all in its power to seek justice for the victims of the Mumbai bombings and halt terrorism.”

Ahmed, who served a short prison sentence in 2009 following a fatal road crash near his home in Rotherham, West Yorkshire, has denied making the comments during his speech in Pakistan and has asked his party to produce evidence that he made the outrageous statement, in which he is also alleged to have added that he would sell his home and all his assets in order to provide the reward for the capture of Obama and Bush. Al Arabiyah further reported that “Ahmed described the bounty on Saeed as “an insult to all Muslims and by doing so President Obama has challenged the dignity of the Muslim Ummah”. 

If the allegations regarding Ahmed’s comments prove to be true then nothing less than expulsion from the Labour party will do, and Milliband and his shadow cabinet will be well aware that anything less than the removal of the Muslim peer from his party could have massive repercussions in relations between Labour and their supporters in the US.

Quite how easy it will be however to take his peerage away is quite another matter, as it is hard to recall any such precedent in British political history. Ahmed’s peerage however is for life and is not hereditary, so unlike those peers who sit in the House of Lords and pass the title down from generation to generation, Baron Ahmed of Rotherham will thankfully be the one and only incumbent of the title that could very well prove such an embarrassment to the whole British political scene. Doubtless Milliband will hand all disciplinary decisions to a committee and not take any unilateral action that might suggest that religious politics could be behind any decision to remove Ahmed from mainstream British politics.

Ahmed’s alleged comments have once again brought under close scrutiny the behaviour of a seemingly growing section of the British Muslim community, a group whose outspoken anti-British, anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, and many would strongly argue anti-Semitic behaviour, is placing a growing strain on tensions not only between British Jews and Muslims, but also British Muslims and the wider, white English majority. Quite where this will lead only time will tell, but this latest incident involving Ahmed, (a friend of the outspoken anti-Israeli Swedish-based writer ‘Israel Shamir’, who he invited to launch a new book from the House of Lords itself back in 2005), is yet another sign of the simmering tensions that are coming closer to the boil between the British establishment and the increasingly radical Muslim minority.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago when the despicable George Galloway was voted into parliament to represent Bradford West, Britain appears to be ever more a hostage to its own Freedom of Speech laws that have been repeatedly abused by anti-Semites and anti-Israel campaigners for too long, and which act as a safe haven for those wishing to undermine true democracy by exploiting flaws in a law that was enacted to offer genuine freedom of opinion, but has been repeatedly hijacked in modern times by distasteful and hateful extremists.

About the Author
Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist with a special interest in the Israel/Palestinian conflict and Middle East politics. He is a regular contributor to a variety of international news websites including The Jerusalem Report, and was formerly's main Middle East correspondent. He can be followed on Twitter @paul_alster or at