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Londonistan

01/05/2004 | by Fighel, Jonathan (Col. Ret.)  

In May, two British citizens carried out a suicide attack on a popular jazz-pub in Tel-Aviv. Assif Muhammad Hanif and Omar Han Sharif were taken from a human reservoir of terrorists which has supplied fighters for “Jihadist” struggles worldwide, from Chechnya to Afghanistan.

Muslim terror organizations from all over the world view Britain as a “launching pad” for enlisting fanatics, who are then sent to other counties to operate terror cells as part of a network of hard-core radical Islamic activists. The lax immigration laws, the strict adherence to the individual’s right to privacy and the budgetary limitations to which British services have been subjected for years, have enabled terrorist organizations and their potential supporters in Britain to exploit the country for the fundraising and recruiting.

Only after the attacks of 11th September 2001, did Great Britain accept the fact that its legal network was outdated and unable to meet the challenges of the modern world. In February 2001, scores of international terror organizations were declared illegal in England, most of them Islamist. New legislation was put into effect enabling the authorities to place suspects under unlimited administrative detention, and banks were empowered to freeze assets and bank accounts of individuals and organizations suspected of involvement in terrorism.

But while the legal framework was undergoing far-reaching changes, the mind-set of the British security services—and of the British political system—remained unchanged; the new reality has not yet been really internalized. Years of neglect, during which the authorities turned a blind eye to the use of British soil for the support of terrorism elsewhere, had transformed Britain into a hothouse for radical Islam (see Radical Islam In the U.K.). The situation was such that Britain’s capital became known as “Londonistan” among Islamic radicals. In some areas of London, videotaped sermons are on sale, calling for the killing of all infidels and Jews; leaflets are distributed on street corners, urging Muslims to travel to various hotspots around the world to wage Jihad; while radical preachers incite the faithful to take up arms against the “Crusaders and the Jews.” In the wake of the terror attacks in September 2001, videotapes were distributed calling on all Muslims to prepare for Jihad and promising Paradise and 70 virgins to those who die in the name of Jihad.

Al Muhajiroun

In a city well-stocked with fanatics, perhaps the best organized—and certainly one of the most vocal—radical Islamic organization is Al Muhajiroun. The organization was founded in 1986 with the aim of restoring the Khalifah—the Islamic “world state.” Its spiritual leader, Sheikh Omar Bakri-Muhammad once said, “I want Britain to become an Islamic state. I want to see the flag of Islam raised in 10 Downing Street.” Al-Muhajiroun spokesman Anjem Choudrey said, “we would like to see the implementation of the Sharia Law in the U.K. Under our rule this country would be known as the Islamic Republic of Great Britain.”

Sheikh Omar bin Bakri Muhammad, born in Syria, is a well-known link between Osama bin Laden’s network and various Palestinian organizations. He is the founder of the London branch of Hizb Al-Tahrir (the Islamic Liberation Party) and of the organization “Jama’at Al-Muhajirun” (“the Emigrants”, a reference to those who accompanied the Prophet Muhammad on his Hijra from Mecca to Medina).

Bakri presents himself as the spokesman of Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front to Jihad against Jews and Crusaders. This organization, by Bakri’s own admission, is involved in fundraising for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and is “in touch” with Hizballah. Bakri also claims that he recruit volunteers for training in paramilitary camps located in the U.S. and Lebanon. In a recent interview, Bakri said that The International Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders, created by Osama bin Laden, actively supports Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. “We collect funds to be able to carry on the struggle; we recruit militiamen and sometimes we take care of these groups’ propaganda requirements in Europe.”

Hizballah

According to Bakri, The Islamic Front recruited volunteers in Britain and sent them to Jordan, where they awaited opportunities to infiltrate into the West Bank and join the uprising against Israel. Recruits were also sent in recent months to Lebanon, where they were trained in Palestinian refugee camps. In the Ein Al-Hilweh camp, for instance, new mujahideen are being recruited and trained with the aim of opening up an additional front in south Lebanon. He added that the International Islamic Front is also in touch with Hizballah and with Islamic movements such as Usbat Al-Ansar, which are determined to fight for the liberation of Jerusalem. 

In Britain, fund-raising activities for Hizballah are conducted via a number of organizations and activists:

§ The Lebanese Welfare Committee, LWC, the political arm of Hizballah in Great Britain, organizes fund-raising and propaganda activities.

§ The HELP Foundation, established in 1987 to collect funds for Lebanon, is suspected of collecting funds for Hizballah activities.

§ Ahmed Al-Sifi, a Lebanese who operates an Islamic center in London, forwards bank drafts to Jameeyat-Al-Abaar (a Lebanese charity which assists the Palestinians through the Abrar Charitable Societies).

Conclusions

Radical Islamic charitable organizations and mosques identified with global Jihad, continue their activities undisturbed. These elements serve as an operative and ideological platform, which produces activists such as the two British terrorists, one of whom blew himself up in Tel Aviv last month.

Although in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, there was a partial British awakening—mainly due to the fear of mega terror attacks occurring in the UK—which brought about a change in British legislation, there is still no active preventive policy against the use of British soil for the support of terrorist activity outside of the country. British preventive activity over the past year has been extremely sluggish, notwithstanding some action taken against various targets suspected of being terrorist centers, including some regarded as sensitive Muslim sites. British activity reflects a lack of understanding on the part of the British political echelon that the “Axis of Evil” has a transit base on their land. The radicalization of the British Muslim community can only increase in the coming years. The two British suicide bombers are part and parcel of the same phenomenon currently sweeping the Muslim world, in which young Muslims are induced to sacrifice their lives in the name of Jihad. Nor is this phenomenon confined to the Arab world; it thrives unhindered under the umbrella of individual freedom in the West as a whole, and in Great Britain in particular.

The condolences to the victims of Britain’s home-grown bombers sent by Britain’s Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, are a worthy gesture, but they are too little and too late. What is needed is British action, together with heightened intelligence cooperation and an immediate fundamental change in perception.

The investigation will shed light on what occurred. But this will not help the situation unless the British authorities commit themselves to pro-active action in the fields of operational intelligence and deterrence, not only with regard to terror threats to Britain itself, but also threats to other countries emanating from Britain. Just as Britain can be proud of its commendable proactive approach before and during the Iraqi war, Britain’s leaders must take the same approach to counter-terrorism. This will require the country’s security forces and their political bosses to roll up their sleeves and get to work on a long-term counter-terrorism plan, without the usual concessions to political correctness.