updated 7/17/2006 5:59:41 PM ET 2006-07-17T21:59:41

Britain on Monday banned two Islamist groups operating in the country, invoking for the first time a new law against glorifying terrorism.

Home Secretary John Reid issued an order in Parliament to make it a criminal offense for a person to belong to or encourage support for al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect.

Both groups are believed to be splinters of al-Muhajiroon, formed in 1996 by Omar Bakri Mohammad to promote a global Islamic state. The group was officially disbanded in 2004, and Bakri Mohammad has been banned from returning to Britain.

The orders make it illegal to arrange meetings in their support, or wear clothing or carry any article in public indicating support or membership.

Al-Ghurabaa spokesman Anjem Choudary reacted with outrage, arguing that the government had failed to engage in a viable dialogue with Muslims.

“The easy option when one is losing an argument is to ban the opposition voice. And that’s what’s happened here,” Choudary said. “We (al-Ghurabaa) are not a military organization; we have only been vociferous in our views — views concerning everything from the government’s foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan to the host of draconian laws, which they’ve introduced against us in this country.”

Representatives of the Saved Sect were not immediately available for comment.

The order also banned the Baluchistan Liberation Army and Teyrebaz Azadiye Kurdistan.

A second draft order adds two alternative names for the Kurdish PKK, which is already proscribed as a terrorist organization. Those names are Kongra Gele Kurdistan, and KADEK.

“I am determined to act against those who, while not directly involved in committing acts of terrorism, provide support for and make statements that glorify, celebrate and exalt the atrocities of terrorist groups,” Reid said.

“I am also committed to ensuring that those organizations that change their name do not avoid the consequences of proscription,” he said.

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