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Islamic Terrorism Rife in U.K.
[Opinion] The government's actions have turned moderates into extremists
Liam Bailey (wordsworth)     Print Article 
Published 2006-11-12 14:32 (KST)   
Britain was shocked Friday when the head of MI5 announced that it was tracking around 30 "priority one" terror plots in the U.K. involving 200 groups, and some 1600 dangerous extremists, mostly British born and linked to al-Qaida. Eliza Manningham-Buller also said that she believed in the not too distant future the threat could be from chemical or nuclear attacks, adding that "martyrdom" videos showed that extremists were clearly motivated by their interpretation of U.K. foreign policy as anti-Muslim, "in particular the U.K.'s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan."

In a video by one of the 7/7 bombers, released shortly after the attacks, only the Iraq war was cited as a reason for the attacks. This is because even Muslim's can see the reasoning behind the Afghanistan invasion, given the carnage of 9/11 and the strong links between the perpetrators and terrorism central Afghanistan.

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The media made a mockery of the justification for the Iraq war, however, illuminating the "sexed up dossier" and the 45 minute strike lie, leaving Muslims to wonder at the true reason for obliterating Muslim land. So when the U.K. under Tony Blair went ahead with its part in the Iraq war, despite protests from millions of people, including many Muslims, many young British Muslims rebelled against our way of life, creating an element of separatism within our Muslim communities.

Blair and Bush's actions before the Iraq war lay the foundation for the separatism that war later created. On display at Guantanamo Bay was severe discrimination against Muslims, who were guilty -- and tortured to admit it -- until proven innocent, all under the watch of two supposedly democratic governments. Guantanamo Bay also showed Muslims and non-Muslims alike that the U.S. and U.K. governments clearly felt it was okay to treat Muslim's as second-class citizens. Muslims were not entitled to the same basic rights as non-Muslims, such as being innocent until proven guilty, having the right to legal counsel or to protection under the Geneva Convention preventing torture.

A survey in July/August 2006 found that the separatism, worst in young Muslims who are alienated and disillusioned by British foreign policy, is focused on their religion. As they become more devout, they stop enjoying Western comforts and pastimes. I believe their drifting away from British roots and British friends makes them ripe for radicalization by, as Manningham-Buller said, "friends, families or organized training events in Britain and abroad."

The 7/7 bombings, an unintended consequence of the U.K.'s support for Guantanamo Bay, and involvement in the Iraq war brought the war on terror to U.K. shores, leading to heightened security in the capital and increased pressure on the intelligence services.

Religious discrimination against Muslims in the U.K. increased after the 7/7 attacks, which also showed, long before the MI5 chief's announcement, that the increasing separatism within young Muslims, can easily turn into extremism and "home-grown" terrorism. This increased the demonization, discrimination and persecution of Muslims, which in turn increased Muslim separatism, and the vicious cycle began.

The MI5 chief also said that the number of cases had increased by 80 percent since January. This can't be put down to Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq alone. The 7/7 attacks heightened the pressure on the government, which led to intelligence mistakes and changes in homeland security and foreign policy. The first intelligence and police mistake was the Forest Gate raid.

The Forest Gate raid angered Muslims because of the shooting, the unnecessary level of force (250 officers were involved) and the almost immediate suspicion in the media that the raid was launched on flimsy intelligence. Subsequent stories unfolded in the coming days, revealing that the raid was launched on the flimsiest of uncorroborated intelligence from -- according to his own lawyer -- an "utter incompetent". Serving a sentence under the Terrorism Act of 2000, Abu Bakr Mansha reportedly gave the information in return for a transfer to a more lenient prison. Blair's support for the raid showed Muslim and non-Muslim Britain that the U.K. government felt that the current massive problem of terrorism being carried out by Muslims, gave it the right to openly discriminate against and persecute Muslims. This further demonized the Muslim community and fueled the vicious cycle of discrimination and separatism.

The 7/7 bombings also enabled the government to pass new terror legislation: the Terrorism Act of 2006.

The changing or expansion of the definition of terrorism, and the inclusion of the "glorification of terrorism" as a charge in the Terrorism Act of 2006 worried civil liberties campaigners, who feared anyone campaigning against the government could be accused of glorifying terrorism and therefore be arrested. The new laws and police powers, especially longer detention of terror suspects, extended to 28 days without charge, and extended stop and search and interception powers -- surveillance, phone taps and room bugs -- have and are causing anger within the British Muslim community. Even the government's information commissioner fears that Britain has become a surveillance society.

Muslims, especially the young have been complaining about increased persecution by the police since before the 7/7 attacks, especially the stop and search powers of the Terrorism Act of 2000 being used excessively and disproportionately against them. As I have said, the 7/7 attacks increased pressure on the police, so the extension of stop and search powers in the new bill -- mid 2006 -- meant even more young Muslims were being stopped and searched. Devout Muslims with the stereotypical Islamist look -- like Osama bin Laden -- were increasingly targeted by police. This isn't entirely the fault of the police, potential terrorists are likely to be Muslim, but excessive stopping and searching is doing more harm than good.

The best chance the police have in the fight against terrorism comes from regular, reliable intelligence from within the Muslim community rather than continuing to demonize and create the impression of discrimination with comments like Blair's after Forest Gate, that more raids were likely. Practically saying that stopping another attack is more important than the obvious mistreatment and shooting of a subsequently innocent -- second class citizen -- Muslim, decreases the chances of obtaining intelligence and therefore of effectively fighting terrorism.

The Israeli-Lebanese conflict was another possible turning point between growing levels of Muslim separatism and the current heightened threat from extremism and terrorism, or as Manningham-Buller put it, between "passive sympathy" and "active terrorism."

Blair's handling of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict again showed double standards and discrimination against Muslims, in that he and Bush condemned Hezbollah's killing of Israeli civilians in rocket attacks but allowed Israel to continue indiscriminately killing Lebanese -- Muslim -- civilians, even as most other world leaders were calling for an immediate ceasefire. Some Muslims must have thought that the only way to stop the Israeli bombardment was for Hezbollah to defeat Israel, leading to many moderate Muslims, especially in the Middle East, taking up arms in jihad and going to Lebanon to fight.

I'm sure many of Britain's young Muslims were extremely angered by the heavy civilian death toll. The vivid images in almost every news report, like the 34 children killed in Qana, may quite possibly have radicalized some young Muslims in Britain and around the world, saving the terror networks and radical clerics a job. Blair's support for such carnage undoubtedly increased the separatism among British Muslim communities, leaving yet more young Muslims ripe for radicalization. More worryingly, with so many jihad videos just a Google away, some possibly actively sought out terror networks to join.

The next step in turning passive sympathy to active terrorism was Jack Straw's publicity stunt comments that Muslim women wearing the veil was a barrier to communication and would hinder the integration of Muslim communities. He added that he felt all Muslim women should voluntarily remove their veils. The debate brought support for his remarks from several other prominent government ministers. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis feared the veil was creating a voluntary apartheid.

As I wrote in a previous article, Jack Straw's comments and those supporting them could eventually lead to government-sanctioned apartheid, by denying Muslim women the same rights as everyone else to wear what they want in a "free" country. As the first Muslim peer Lord Ahmed said, Jack Straw's comments and the ensuing debate added to the demonization of and discrimination against U.K. Muslims coming from the top of government down. This again increased separatism, making the job of recruitment far easier for terror networks and radical clerics.

So, in attempting to stop another 7/7, the actions of the U.K. government, police and intelligence services have demonized Muslims and given the impression that persecution of Muslims is okay in light of this new threat. Every action that did this increased the feeling of separatism within young U.K. Muslims. As 7/7 and the MI5 chief's announcement showed, this separatism has been increasingly turned into extremism by radical clerics and terror groups. Therefore, because of these ill thought out policies, especially those put into force since January, the U.K. now faces an incredible threat from "home-grown" Islamic terrorism.
This article will appear on War Pages.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Liam Bailey

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