Recently a trial concluded in London with the convictions of four would-be suicide bombers whose failed attack on the London transport system took place almost exactly two years ago. It emerged in the course of the proceedings that the bombers’ ambition was to exceed the devastation caused by the July 7 terrorist strike which had taken place two weeks previously and which left 52 dead and more than 700 injured. That this was no empty hope was confirmed by experts who testified that the backpack devices contained a powerful mix of explosive substances previously unseen in Britain. The plot only failed at the last moment because of a flaw in the construction of the detonation mechanism.
The desire to murder as many people as one can is in itself testimony to a truly depraved mind. But the full extent of these people’s evil can only be fully appreciated when we learn of what has been done for them by the country on which they plotted to inflict so terrible a harm.
Now 29, Muktar Said Ibrahim, the group’s ringleader, was 14 when he came to the UK with his parents from Eritrea. Shortly after their arrival, the family was given a council house – a house paid for by the British government – and the young Ibrahim was placed in a public school. A troublemaker from early on, he soon came into conflict with the law. Unemployed after his release from prison, he was given a council apartment plus a jobseeker’s allowance of ₤56.20 per week. Despite his spotty record, he was granted British citizenship in 2004. Making a prompt use of his new passport, he traveled to a terror camp in Pakistan to prepare himself for his suicide mission.
Yassin Hassan Omar, 26, came to Britain from Somalia as a 12-year-old refugee with his two sisters and was placed by social services with a foster couple. He attended public schools and at 18 was given a council apartment as a ‘vulnerable young adult’ where he lived on state handouts. In the six years prior to the attacks he received the equivalent of $50,000 (₤25,000) in housing benefits and $26,000 (₤13,000) in income support.
Ramzi Mohammed, 25, came to the United Kingdom at 14 and was given public school education, courtesy of British taxpayers. After abandoning his partner and his two children in 2003, he was given a council apartment in the popular London neighborhood of Kensington where he lived on government support. Instead of looking for work, he spent his time hanging around radical imams and passing out Islamic literature.
Hussain Osman, 28, arrived in Britain on falsified documents from Somalia and requested political asylum. He was given permanent resident status and an apartment in south London to boot. Unemployed, he lived there on government benefits with his Ethiopian girlfriend and their three children.
Altogether these four jihadists collected the equivalent of nearly $400,000 dollars in various forms of government assistance in the years prior to their strike. High as this figure is, it does not include the healthcare and schooling they received over time. Yet all this generosity failed to elicit even the smallest measure of gratitude. Not only that, it provoked in them sentiments diametrically opposite – a hatred so intense that it gave birth to a desire to commit mass murder. As they put on their death-laden backpacks on that morning of July 21, all the free housing, education, healthcare and income support they had received counted for nothing. The only thing on their mind was murder. This was their payback to the country that provided for them so generously in their hour of need. Inspired by the teachings of Islam, they sought to repay great good with great evil.
Their act throws light not only on their own personal depravity, but also on the larger problem of Muslim discontent as their sentiments are shared by scores of their co-religionists across the western world. No matter how much is done for them, far too many despise the societies from which they so willingly draw support and benefits. We can get some sense of just what we are up against from the suicide note of Ramzi Mohammed which reads in part:
My family, don’t cry for me. But indeed rejoice in happiness and love what I have done for the sake of Allah for he loves those who fight for his sake.
Footage from a surveillance camera revealed the inhuman way in which Mohammed sought to carry out his errand ‘for the sake of Allah.’ As he was connecting the wires to set off the explosion, he purposefully pointed his device toward a mother and her child who were sitting next to him.
A question immediately comes to mind: How we are to live side by side with those whose outlook is irreconcilably hostile to the way we live and think? Those who argue that we must show them that we care could not be more misguided. What more, it must be asked, can a country do than Britain has done for Mohammed and his comrades?
To make things worse, western countries lack the mental and legal framework to handle this kind of moral inversion and are largely unprepared to defend themselves against those whose moral values derive from the concepts of jihad and taqiyya.
During the trial it emerged that two of the 21/7 bombers came to the attention of Britain’s security services which, however, lacked the tools and powers to stop them. In December of 2004, some nine months before the attack, Muktar Ibrahim was stopped by immigration authorities at Heathrow airport as he checked in for a flight to Pakistan. Suspicions were aroused because his baggage contained large amounts of cash, cold-weather gear and a manual on ballistic injuries. After being questioned for nearly three hours, he was let go even though the kind of equipment in his suitcases was of the same nature as that carried previously by British men traveling to jihad training camps or to join Mujihadeen fighters in Kashmir and Afghanistan. Ibrahim’s destination was indeed a training camp and when he returned four months later he had a short list of those who would participate in the 21/7 strike.
This was not the only missed opportunity, however. In May of 2004, Ibrahim was photographed by a police surveillance team in a training camp in Britain’s Lake District. Once again, no action was taken even though it was obvious that the participants – all young Muslim males – were not there to admire the beauties of nature which that part of England is famous for. One of the attendees, who turned an informant, later testified: ‘As far as I was aware, none of those going on the camp had any great interest in outdoor activity courses or climbing. They were preparing themselves for the type of environment they may encounter in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. They were getting fit for jihad.’
Had the police acted, they would have not only broken up Ibrahim’s cell, but may well have foiled the July 7 attack. It emerged later that Ibrahim knew Mohammad Sidique Khan, its ringleader, and that the two even spent some time together in a terror camp. It is very likely that they discussed and perhaps even coordinated their plots. Had Ibrahim been properly interrogated, he may have led authorities on Khan’s trail and the worst terrorist strike on British soil could have been averted. But operating with limited powers and under numerous restrictions, the security services concluded that the kind of evidence they possessed at the time would not pass the criminal mustard.
Countering this evil effectively will require that we fundamentally change the way we approach this problem. To begin with, western democracies will have to start crafting legislation aimed specifically at the destructiveness and murderousness peculiar to their Muslim residents. At the same, restrictions will have to be placed on Muslim immigration, for it is difficult to see how we can survive continued inflows of those who are not only hostile to the way we live, but are so willing to repay with evil the goodwill of their hosts.