Sunday, November 30, 2008

Global Jihad: Why is Britain a net exporter ?

Signs of the times: Just another speculative headline about the role of Britons in Global Jihad

As some of the facts surrounding the terrorist attacks in Mumbai become a little clearer, it seems doubtful whether any of the terrorists were British citizens or had significant connections with Britain.

That a connection with Britain could be assumed following a terrorist attrocity in India, says something about the role of Britain in Global Jihad. No one would jump to that conclusion about many other western countries. Any country can suffer terrorism but Britain is one of the few countries to be a net exporter of islamic terrorism and possibly unique amongst western nations in that respect. What I mean by "net exporter" is that Britain plays a role in more overseas terrorist incidents than are carried out on its own soil by foreigners or by its own citizens.

How did Britain reach this unenviable status ?

There are many reasons but I will try to summarise what I see as the main causes:

1) A long history of political tolerance. Britain and especially London has long been a place where disidents and radicals could come and express their views freely. A walk round London's Speakers' Corner will show that Islamic fundementalists, Zionists, cocmmunists, fascists and just about any lunatic who wants to speak can be heard speaking at some time or another. Everyone from Karl Marx to "out of favour" contemporary Russian oligachs has found London a good place to come and speak and operate freely, something that wouldn't be possible in many other countries. Free speech is something that has seemed somewhat threatened lately but it is something I am always keen to defend. On its own Britain's openess and valuing of freedom has not resulted in its role in Jihad, but it is a necessary condition.

2) Britain's colonial history. The fact that Britain colonised somewhere on every continent at various times in its history has resulted in people from every continent coming to Britain. A much repeated line, that I couldn't prove, is that 300 languages are spoken in London. There are certainly a lot. Again, widescale immigration could not alone account for Britain's status as a centre for Jihad, but it is a necessary condition.

3) Britain's "multicultural" approach. Since major immigration began in the 1950's Britain has general taken a multicultural approach. This means it does not expect all its immigrants to become like native Brits but that each nationality and religion should be respected for their differences. Putting it like that it sounds harmless enough and probably started for sincere enough reasons. Until recently Britain had no oath of allegiance, we are rather embarrased by too much flag waiving and we argue amongst ourselves about how European we should become.

The smaller nations of the UK, notably Scotland and Wales have in contrast always been very proud and patriotic. England as by far the largest nation has always been more reticent about its merits. Northern Ireland was divided, but that is another issue.

Multiculturalism in practise meant that schools celebrated Eid or Diwali alongside Christmas. This is despite Britain having an established Church and offiicially being a Christian country. All religions were celebrated in schools which generally meant that they were seen as equally important or unimportant as the case may be. Britain as a whole has long been on a secular route in contrast to some of its minority groups who are as devout as ever. Therefore Britain was an officially Christian country, secular in reality but recognising all religions as equally valid while smaller groups, Muslims and Catholics included, became more numerous than the number of practising Christians in the Church of England. The great majority are not athiests but keep their religion and spirituality to something that could be found on the "Mind, Body Spirit" shelves of WH Smith.

The worst example of bland, embarrased multiculturalism was Birmingham City Council's decision to abolish Christmas in favour of "Winterval" a festival that celebrated all major religious festivals from Eid, to Hannakah to Diwali. Thankfully this has since been reversed but it gives an indication of the cultural and spiritual state of the nation.

Multiculturism made everything it touched bland and meaningless. Is it therefore surprising that with Britain's long history of free speech, its wide ethnic mix especially of peoples from the Indian sub-continent, that other forces were able to inhabit the vacuum left where British national pride and Christianity had given up ?

The City that gave us Winterval ultimately gave the world Rashif Rauf, a 27 year-old implicated in the 2006 plot to bring down many transatlantic airliners between London and North America using liquid explosives in soft drink bottles. Rashid Rauf was recently killed by an American airstrike in north west Pakistan.

The 2005 London Bomb attacks (both 7/7 which killed 52 people and the failed 21st July attacks) were perpetrated by home grown jihadis. The suicide bomber, a phenomenon thought limited to Israel, Iraq and similar places suffering the extremes of terrorism was brought to the streets of London by British passport holders. The leader of the 7/7 attacks , Mohammed Sidique Khan was himself an example of multiculturalism. He worked with recent immigrant school children, as a "learning mentor". He visited the House of Commons with his school and his Mother-in-Law attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of her work with the muslim community.

Other British Jihadis have included:

Richard Reid, from Bromley, failed shoe bomber of an American Airlines flight between Paris and Miami in December 2001.

Asif Mohammed Hanif, from London, who killed three people by blowing himself up in a pub in Tel Aviv in 2003.

Moutaz Almallah Dabas who was arrested in Berkshire for his alleged role in planning the Madrid train bombings of 2004 that killed 191 people.

Abu Hamza, who openly preached Jihad in London.

Nicky Reiley, a low level muslim convert, who attempted a rather amateurish and failed suicide bomb attack on a restaurant in Exeter in May 2008.

The two doctors who attempted the Central London and Glasgow Airport car bombings in June 2007 had both been working in the UK and one was British born.

It seems that Britain is punching above its weight in terms of Jihad.

When I was at university in London in the mid-90s, organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir were just another student society. To be perfectly honest, I never gave them a second thought. They were clearly quite serious muslims and used to advertise discussions on subjects like Kashmir and the Palestinians. However university is a place for free speech and many views and nothing seemed unusual. It was only when the leader of Hizb-ut-Tahir, Omar Bakri Mohammed, praised the 9/11 hikackers as the "magnificent 19" that people began to take notice. In 2005, after 7/7, the organisation was banned in the UK. However in the 10-15 years before many UK students had been members. It is likely that many of those former students will hold views sympathetic to Islamic terrorism.

It will be interesting to see if there are any British links with the Mumbai attacks.

Britain has taken an unfortunate lead in the supply of participants in Global Jihad. British forces have reported hearing Yorkshire and Midlands accents when intercepting Taleban radio messages in Afghanistan. Multiculturism has not lead to inclusiveness. It has lead to ghettoisation. Within some of those cultural ghettoes some pretty extreme ideologies have developed. Since 9/11 we have begun to see the fruits of some rather unpleasant seeds start to emerge.

While not wanting everyone to be the same, we would do well to encourage the acceptance of some fundemental values in this country. Without them we may go on exporting Jihad for some time to come.

Friday, November 28, 2008

British Jihadis ?

The Telegraph is reporting:

"As Indian troops cleared the last terrorists from buildings across Mumbai this morning, UK authorities were following up reports on local news channel NDTV that the terrorists included 'British citizens of Pakistani origin' ".

I have been meaning to write about the phenomenon of the "British Jihadi" for a little while. If there was "British" involvement in these attacks, it is certainly not the first time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Every Year

I was thinking today that terrorism is pretty much a fact of life the world over.

Understandably people focus on 9/11 due to its sheer scale and horror. However since 2001 there have been numerous terrorist attrocities like the one in Mumbai overnight, often involving British victims:

October 2002- Bali- 202 deaths including 24 Brits

November 2003- Istanbul- a branch of HSBC Bank and the British High Commission were bombed killing 30 people including the British Consul General and a number of other Brits.

March 2004- Madrid- 190 deaths in an attrocity that arguably changed the result of the subsequent Spanish general election.
2004 also saw a dreadful upsurge in Iraqi terrorism including the kidnapping and beheading of Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan, English and Irish respectively.

July 2005- the "7/7" bombings in London resulting in 52 deaths on the underground and a London bus. A subsequent plot on 21st July 2005 failed resulting in no serious injuries.

August 2006- the plot to bring down numerous transatlantic flights between London and the USA was uncovered and stopped. A plot to bomb German trains also failed.

June 2007- failed car bombings in central London and an attack on Glasgow Airport by terrorists who also happened to be qualified doctors. Fortunately the only death was one of the perpetrators.

May 2008- a failed suicide attack on a restaurant in Exeter, a more typically English town it is hard to imagine. The perpetrator was a muslim convert called Nicky Reilly.

November 2008- Mumbai attacks targeting Indians but also singling out Brits and Americans. At least one British man has been killed.

This is but a snapshot of all the attacks accross the globe and the numerous attempts that are prevented each year.

In relation to terrorism it is more a question of "when" rather than "if".....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Global Scourge

It has been a busy time at work. The VAT changes have caused a big headache due to the very short time available to implement them. I have had no real time to devote to this blog.

However such issues are surely put in perspective when events such as those in Mumbai this evening occur.

As fate would have it one of the senior partners of the firm I work for was visiting Mumbai with two colleagues. They were staying in one of the hotels attacked this evening but good fortune was smiling on them as they checked out this morning and flew to Dehli.

The reality is that terrorism can strike anywhere. It certainly has in London.

I have been meaning to write for sometime about the fact that so many of the terrorist attacks on British soil (whether successful or attempted) have been perpetrated by people "born and bred" in this country. Time has been against me but for now I am just thinking of all those caught up by events in India.

Brits are certainly always a desirable target for terrorists and there are reports this evening of British and American passport holders being looked for by the terrorists.

The style of the attack, using guns in multiple locations, is a new development and shows the dreadful creativity of terrorism to evolve as security evolves.

Whereever we are it seems terrorism is a global scourge.

Monday, November 24, 2008


To change the rate of VAT in less than a week is, quite simply going to cause chaos for many businesses accross the country.

Of course, a tax cut should be welcome but the changes announced today do not seem at all well thought out.

Worse still are the dreadful borrowing figures with figures next year set to reach £118 billion.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Déjà vu ?

Does this weekend's almost confirmed appointment mean a Clinton will once again be leading the "Free World" ? If nothing else, they appear to be getting closer.

The cartoon below is from the Times ( . With apologies to those who feel this blog is rather more transatlantic than its title suggests.........

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Being Prepared ?

It is perhaps my recent viewing of "Spooks", the lightweight but highly entertaining BBC drama on the British security services that has heightened my imagination when walking about London. Most of the plot in the latest series of Spooks has been around the security services battling to stop various Al Quaeda plots in London.

Like millions of people, my journey to work was interrupted during the last major terrorist attack in London on July 7th, 2005. I count myself fortunate to have been nowhere near any of the four bombs that day. However even nearly 3 and a half years on, I find myself edgy on my thankfully infrequent underground journeys around anyone who looks both to be obviously muslim and carrying significant baggage. Of course it is prejudice but I don't feel it is entirely irrational. For instance, I would be completely at ease sharing a tube carriage with a sikh carrying a large rucksack or indeed a muslim carrying nothing more than the morning paper. My unease is very specific and depends upon at least 2 conditions being met.

On Friday, I took a lunchtime walk out to Bishopsgate in the City. A large group of school children were blocking access to the pedestrian crossing I wanted to use and then an arab looking man, complete with full beard apppeared with a large black "hold-all" bag which he proceeded to rummage in. Despite being out in the open, the fact I was stuck waiting for the school party to clear while a man with the "right" criteria started rummaging in a large bag immediately put me into an episode of "Spooks". The stupidity of the situation was that I was not sufficiently convinced of my fears to:

a) Do anything towards the arab looking man
b) try to move the school group along more quickly or
c) get out of the way myself.

In reality I knew that, despite my fear, this man was unlikely to pose a threat. Nonetheless I was slightly alerted. When the school group cleared, I crossed the road and saw the same arab looking man crossing with me, still fiddling in his bag. I made a beeline into Tescos where I was aiming to go all along and was relieved the man did not come in too.

At the last minute, I saw his rummage rewarded, and he produced a bottle of Lucozade from the bag. My fears, such as they were, being proved misguided. However I doubt I am the only Londoner who thinks like that.

It is stories like this which warn of the potential for a major terrorist incident in the "Obama transition" period that keep the fear levels bubbling away. Three and a bit years ago, before I started this blog London suffered significant terrorism. There is every reason to think that it could happen again sometime. Therefore, tolerant as most Londoners are, I think many people in this city still get a bit nervous when stuck next people that fit their personal mental image of what a terrorist looks like. Spooks isn't helping either !

Suffer the little children

If the media coverage this week could be seen as in any way representative of how children get treated in Britain, it could only be concluded that this is a dreadful country.

At least four separate and unrelated cases stand out within the last week:

1) A mother is on trial for faking the kidnap of and drugging her own daughter which lead to one of the biggest ever police investigations in the country.

2) Two very young boys were killed by their mentally disturbed mother in Manchester.

3) The investigation into abuse at a Jersey children's home continues, albeit with some positive news suggest no murders occured in the "home".

4) Receiving most media coverage and political attention is the dreadful killing of "baby P" a 17 month old baby tortured and killed at the hands of his mother, her "boyfriend" and a lodger at their home in Haringey, North London. Tabloid coverage seems to consist of a competion to describe ever more depraved aspects of the people involved.

It is difficult to understand if these cases are symptomatic of some wider malaise in society (one common thread is that all the children involved did not have their natural father featuring actively in their lives) or if they are just uniquely awful cases that happen to reported around the same time.

The failure of the authorities to prevent the baby's death has rightly received much attention but one cannot overlook the responsibility of those directly involved in the baby's death. Due to the destruction of evidence and the difficulties of proving who in the house ultimately killed the baby, all three have been found guildty of "causing the death" of the baby rather than murder. It is a legal technicality but in reality means a much lighter sentence.

It seems like they have got away with murder. However they must surely face justice for what they have done to an innocent. As the words of Jesus speaking about children are written in the Bible:

"Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him if a millstone were tied around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the ocean." Matthew 18:6

There is no denying the evil of those who seek to harm children. Our laws and our society would do well to recognise that further than it does at the moment. I do not believe these cases are representative of the country in general but for each case that such horrors do occur in, the country is shamed nonetheless.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Remembrance Sunday

Today is Remembrance Sunday and Tuesday will mark 90 years since the end of the First World War, the war in which Britain suffered its worst ever casualties (significantly worse than the Second World War).

Remarkably there are still a tiny band of surviving veterans from the First World War and I understand three were at the march past at the Cenotaph in London today.

The fields of northern France and Belgium are scattered with British cemeteries and these always make moving places to visit. Some are even visible from the speeding Eurostar train between London and Paris. I once visited the forests around Verdun in France and found the rusting shell of a hand grenade from the First World War. That physical link made the war all seem very real. I wondered if anyone had been killed or injured by the hand grenade that I held in my hand.

In that war the British were also in action in Turkey which was an ally of Germany. The plan was to attack a German ally to the south and end the stalemate to the north in Europe. The British forces together with very significant numbers of Australian and New Zealander forces landed on the end of the Gallipoli penninsular.

The history of the Gallipoli landings is the subject of countless books and a number of films. Put simply, it was a military diaster for the British and their allies. In 9 months of occupation the allies lost over 40,000 men with with 100,000 injured. The never gained significant ground and were eventually forced to withdraw. The military strength of the Turks was a great surprise to the British and their commander Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk) went onto lead his nation a few years later. The British First Lord of the Admirality, one Winston Churchill, ended up being demoted for the disaster. History went on to show that he did also have some strengths !

We visited Gallipoli two years ago and it is beautiful, haunting strip of land overlooking the Dardenelles. Below is a photo we took at Helles Point, the initial site for the allied landings. A British memorial and cemetery can be found there today.

Helles Point Gallipoli, Turkey

For anyone interested in the Gallipoli campaign, a 2005 film based on the letters of soldiers from all sides is strongly recommended. The trailer below gives a flavour although do not be put off by the Hollywood tones. The film is better and more subtle than the trailer suggests. (There are several films with the title Gallipoli but the one I am recommending was made in 2005 and is factually based).

Today with the British and others still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and the commitment of further forces to the latter being an overlooked aspect of the Obama manifesto (overlooked at least for the most "luvvie" of his supporters. I doubt Oprah , Dimbleby et al will be volunteering for the front line !), it seems sadly certain that we will will have more troops to remember next year.

We remember all those who have died for our freedoms.

The bodies of 5 British soldiers preparing to return home from Afghanistan in June this year having paid the highest price. (photo from Daily Telegraph website)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Remember, remember

well, it seems to be the eighth of November this year.

All over London it sounds like a war has broken out as fireworks explode everywhere.

As the nearest Saturday to November 5th most people and most official firework displays are taking place today. For anyone reading who is unfamiliar with this festival this is how we remember the failed attempt by Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators to blow up Parliament in 1605. He was apprehended on November 5th.

We are in essence celebrating the saving of Parliament. I guess that is still something worth celebrating (just about :-)).

The short clip is our own very modest bonfire. Bonfires and one year olds don't really mix. The fireworks exploding all of south London tonight should be audible in the background.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Of Mutts and Living Presidents

This is the great hope of the world (according to the media at least).

Sometimes you just couldn't make it up :-)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Helping Yourself

I wanted to use a quote from Janet Daley in my last post but I couldn't find somewhere that it fitted well.

Therefore I will post it on its own. I think it is of relevance both to those who feel very fearful at the election of an unknown quantity and also to those with unrealistically high expectations of Obama. We should not expect too much from Obama and if we expect the worst we can still do some things about it. In the end, we may just need to help ourselves.

After all Obama is just a man and just a poltician:

"..........Little wonder that his candidacy is being mistaken for the Second Coming.

What will this mean for the future? What if, as will almost certainly be the case, the great deliverance fails to deliver? The disillusion and sense of betrayal may create divisions in American society that will be greater and deeper than any we have seen for a generation. The sense of hopelessness and bitter disappointment may well be - as Americans say - toxic. Then again, maybe American politics will simply get the grown-up message that no one mortal is the final answer: that the fulfilment of the American dream must always lie within the individual and not with the government. To be fair, Obama himself suggests this when he tells the crowds, "It's not about me - it's about you."

The full article can be found here.

President Obama

Not superman but for better or worse he is American President

A few final thoughts on the election of Barack Obama, before we start turning to "real life" again:

1) Whatever one thinks of him, he appears to have won a genuine mandate from the majority of American people. This was no "landslide" as some are calling it. At least 52 % to 47 % is not a landslide in my book. You don't have to look far back to find bigger margins in the popular vote. 1996 saw 49 % to 40 % in Clinton against Dole. Nonetheless the margin was sufficient to make all reported cases of local incidents of intimidation and fraud (as I noted yesterday) not relevant to the overall final result.

2) It is a significant milestone to have a black President (in not wishing to totally forget that he happened to have a white mother !). America leads the world in opportunities for its minority groups. A black Democrat president follows on from two black Republican Secretaries of State. This is the culmination of a wider trend. This shows to be a myth the allegation that America is a particularly "racist country". Instead we should reflect that America is unique in having a minority ethnic group leader. It is difficult to see the same happening in other countries with significant minority groups. There is no sign this will happen anytime soon in Brazil, Canada, France, Australia or Britain to name just a few.

3) His biggest obvious strength by a mile is oratory. His other talents are unproven.

4) His policies are vague and tend towards the "redistribution of wealth" rather than the creation of wealth. He has made trade protectionist noises. If these two traits are reflected in the reality of his policy it would be bad news for the American and world economies.

5) His promises to reduce military expenditure are unfortunate in their timing when the world needs a stronger American military more than ever. Which other nation can stand up to oppressors on the continent of Obama's father ?(Congo and Somalia are pressing issues with the latter a base for Islamic militants so presenting security as well as humanitarian concerns). Which other nation can subdue potential threats from Iran,keep the lids on Iraq and Afghanistan and prevent total collapse in Pakistan ? Which other nation can act as a counter weight to a resurgent Russia that today announced it was moving missiles to the Polish border ? Which other country will deter any crazy actions from North Korea under its ailing leader ?
All these issues are threats to people around the world and ultimately to us all. We would do well to think a little more widely before cheering in a leader promising "Change" and not much else.

6) His regime will be strong but not completely unfettered. The Republicans will control over 40 seats in the Senate so may have some chance of delaying or curbing any plans that are too damaging.

7) He has two years to prove himself before America's next major vote in the mid-term elections in 2010.

Finally, he is not the candidate I preferred but this is not the first time I have supported the losing side in an election (I suspect it won't be the last either !). For now he is President Elect of the USA and there is nothing else to do than wish him success and hope he proves his doubters' worst fears wrong. He has two years with an enviably free hand to achieve something great for his country and the world. What he does in that time will prove his real character and motives once and for all.

I hope my worst doubts on Obama are proved wrong

There is a lot of detail still to come but the numbers look like Obama has won.

I am not putting up with Dimblebore on the BBC anymore !

I just hope his powers are not completely unfettered by the Senate.

There will no doubt be a lot of froth in the press tomorrow. Give it two years and I think we will have a more realistic picture.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Night Shift

I am staying up for a while to follow the US results. I have work in the morning but these seem times and events of sufficient importance to warrant a bit of lost sleep.

I am not sure if I can face a smug "Dimblebore" on the BBC so I am following events online for now. It is actually possible to get a wider more balanced picture by switching between various mainstream news providers and other blogs etc.

I will turn in either once the result becomes clear or if it all gets too depressing !

Will Rove be proved right ?

The architect of the Bush election victories, Karl Rove is predicting a clear if not landslide Obama win.

I think my views on Obama are fairly clear from previous entries. There are some ludicrously inflated expectations of what his election will bring. That will mean a lot of very disappointed people within a year or so.

Obama's own policies, such as they are, are all about redistribution of wealth by raising taxes. If he sticks to this, it can only be bad news for the US and by extension world economy.

Any reduction in the US military will be a green light to aggressors and tyrants the world over. I certainly don't see any candidates from Europe for the role of world policeman.

All in all, I find the prospect of Obama bad news. A dangerous cocktail of wildly inflated expectations coupled with policies that may weaken the last superpower do not inspire me. I am therefore struggling to understand why so many welcome the election of Obama.

In fact I hope that this time Mr. Rove will be wrong !

Free and Fair Election ?

Maybe not in Philadelphia. A side the BBC and CNN may not show. Here a couple of Black Panthers "stand guard" outside a polling station. They are challenged by a rather brave concerned citizen complete with his camera phone:

Naive and Delusional

If Obama wins tonight, here is one of his many supporters who will experience a dose of reality in the coming months.

She believes that Barack Obama will help her pay for her "gas and mortgage".

How do people manage to get so deluded ?!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Turkeys voting for Christmas ?

That is the simplest analogy I can think of.

America's strength has in the past been based on a low tax, deregulated economy where those who work hard are rewarded while those who don't may struggle.

Obama's policies, such as they are, all seem aimed at rolling back these areas of strength , not to mention weakening the military and in the process giving a freer hand to potential tyrrants the world over. Who else will challenge them ?

If Obama wins tomorrow, I can sincerely say that I hope my worst fears will be proved wrong. There is no pride in being right when predicting disaster.

America needs a socialist-based,redistribution of wealth model like a hole in the head.

Whatever Obama's strengths of oratory and the potential to make history, his lack of experience combined with notions of wealth redistribution make a vote for him like a turkey voting for Christmas.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Terminator and a glimmer of hope

At the eleventh hour there is a glimmer of hope that America can avoid some of the European diseases like mass ranks of welfare recipients living as clients of an ever growing state. Despite the silver tongued words of Barak Obama, that is in essence what he seems to promise: higher taxes, a scaled down military and a much enlarged welfare state dedicated to "the redistribution of wealth".

While all serious commentators seem to agree on the result of the Presidential election, the polls do seem to be narrowing. Now at the eleventh hour a poll gives John McCain a lead in Ohio. This is signifcant as this state has been won by the winning side in every election since 1960.

If McCain wins Ohio on Tuesday (and if he also wins the presidency as well) I feel that in no small part will he owe something to "the Terminator" or Arnold Schwarzenegger. He gave a good humoured, uplifting speech with clear reasons why Obama will be bad news for America (and by extension the world). There is a chance, albeit far from certain that a corner has been turned. His speech can be seen below: