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A nation must think before it acts.
On August 10 the British authorities thwarted an Islamist plot seeking to destroy in-flight some ten transatlantic flights to the United States and arrested 21 suspects. While most details are unavailable at this time, this episode, a little after last year’s bombings in London, is unsurprising.
The elaborate planning and number of individuals necessary for such a major coordinated operation suggests at least some link with the Al Qaeda central core leadership in Pakistan. This impression is reinforced by the known pattern of Al Qaeda to repeat and improve on attacks that have previously failed. The World Trade Center was twice the target, as were US Navy ships in Yemen, and in 1995 an elaborate plan (“Oplan Bojinka”) to blow up eleven trans-Pacific flights to the U.S. was discovered in Manila by accident. Additionally, Bin Laden/Al Zawahiri have long been trying to reassert some direct control over elements of the Al Qaeda “nebula”—for instance in Iraq after Al Zarkawi’s death.
From what is known, those involved were Muslims from Britain, of Pakistani background—just as the majority of the July 7, 2005 bombers were. No surprise there, either. The 1.6 million Muslims in England are the least integrated, let alone assimilated, anywhere in Europe. There are two major reasons for this, one historical and specific to Muslims, the other cultural and characteristic to Britain.
Muslims in Britain overwhelmingly originate from the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India), with a large and dangerous recent influx of Algerian “asylum seekers”—mostly Islamists fleeing North Africa after losing in the bloody civil war there. A large number of the Pakistanis in England come from Kashmir, a particularly radicalized area of the subcontinent, and Pakistan is itself a country increasingly under Islamist pressure. Indian Muslims and Bangladesh are also more and more attracted by Islamist fundamentalism—and all of them maintain close family, social, ethnic and ideological ties with their relatives in London, Manchester or Leeds. Youngsters are sent from England to study Islam in one of the thousands of Pakistani radical Islamic schools—madrassas—and brides are imported from Pakistan in large numbers. At least until very recently, numbers of self-proclaimed imams from Pakistan have been allowed into Britain despite their lack of any formal training or even basic knowledge of English.
Even a liberal like The New Statesman’s Martin Bright in his When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries: The British State’s Flirtation with Radical Islamism (Policy Exchange Limited, July 2006) recently felt obliged to protest the British government’s preference for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) as “representative” of the Muslim population, when in fact the MCB is close to the Islamist radicals of Jamaat-i-Islami in Pakistan. Jamaat-i-Islami was created by Maulana Maududi who, with Sayyid Qutb, was one of the two most prominent ideologues of the entire Al Qaeda and other Salafi groups. The mayor of London, “Red” Ken Livingstone, behaves like a soul mate and friend of Yussuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s main ideologue today (and a supporter of suicide bombings in Israel).
According to a Pew opinion poll last month, only 7 percent of Muslims in Britain see themselves as British citizens first, while 81 percent identify themselves as Muslims first (compared to 42-46 percent for Muslims in France and even 23-59 percent in Egypt). Five years after 9/11, a majority of them still do not believe that Arabs had anything to do with that event—that after Bin Laden himself admitted it—no wonder, when even Dr. Mohammad Naseem, chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque, claimed in July 2005 that “Muslims all over the world have never heard of an organization called al-Qaeda.”
And that is the crux of the problem. When Aazam Tamimi, a pro-Hamas British Islamist, noted “We have more religious freedom in Britain than in any Muslim country,” he stated the obvious, but he also added that “Our grievances against Britain are not religious but political.”” When widespread and self-inflicted alienation, denial of reality and a widely shared, but mostly unfounded sense of victimhood dominate the Muslim population of England, there should be little surprise that it produces suicide bombers.
Given these realities, and notwithstanding that many Muslims are not radical and some cooperate with the authorities, for British police commissioner Sir Ian Blair to proclaim that “Communities, not police, defeat terrorism” one has to wonder if he reads polls or instead prefers to obey the prevailing winds of political correctness. And prevailing they are. Case study: in early 2003, a former Taliban intelligence officer and son of a senior minister of the regime was given indefinite leave to remain in Britain after entering the country illegally, hidden in a container ship. The reason? “He told the Home Office that his position in the Taliban made it impossible for him to return to Kabul without fear of torture and even death.” To help with his case, he received “free” (i.e. at taxpayers’ expense) legal aid. Nor is he alone. At the time, lawyers disclosed that at least two other Taliban fighters’ asylum applications were being processed, at a time British soldiers were dying in Afghanistan fighting against Taliban remnants.
In another case, in February 2000 an Afghan Ariana plane with 78 people on board was hijacked in Afghanistan by nine armed individuals and forced to land in Britain. The hijackers, who claimed persecution by the Taliban, received short sentences (between 27 months and five years) and upon release a court decided that they could not be deported to (by then post-Taliban) Afghanistan because “their lives would be at risk” and that they acted “under duress.”
As Charles Moore mordantly put it in The Telegraph, “Mr Blair says this decision is `an abuse of common sense,’ and so it is. But in upholding such an abuse, the judges are only doing what the law tells them, and the person most responsible for passing that law is Mr Blair. Physician—or rather, barrister—heal thyself.”
Now even Tony Blair and his new Home Secretary, John Reid, bitterly complain about lenient judges and existing laws. But the problem is not just judges or their interpretation of laws—after all, in England, Parliament has the last word, not the judiciary, as in the U.S. The laws have not been significantly or sufficiently changed because leftist Labor MPs and opportunistic members of the opposition objected. “Londonistan” still exists, as the thwarted terror attacks prove once again, and its root causes are to be found equally in Muslim rejection of British values and British elite rejection of common sense.