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.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Have you read "Celcius 7/7"- that covers a lot of this... ?

I agree that we do seem to be breeding terrorists.