“Fifty-two. That’s not even breakfast for me.”
Those were the words of an Islamic preacher in Britain, Mohammed Hamid, who liked to call himself “Osama bin London.” Hamid was referring to the fifty-two people murdered by Islamic jihadists in the London bombings of July 2005, and was boasting that his own plots would lead to, presumably, lunch and dinner -- far more deaths. One police official, discussing surveillance tapes made of conversations inside Hamid’s home, said, “There was repeated talk of finding and killing nonbelievers.”
Hamid was a member of the “London 7,” a jihadist gang that established training camps in the British countryside, where they prepared for large-scale attacks on British non-Muslims -- and who even planned to open training camps in the U.S. as well. Two of the gang members pleaded guilty to terror charges Tuesday, but this case is far from over. Its implications ought to be studied closely by government and law enforcement officials.
The establishment of jihad training camps in the British hinterlands raises disquieting questions with no easy answers: How many more might be there? How can they be detected? Questions like these should lead to considerations of the wisdom of the current no-holds-barred immigration policy, and of the loyalty of the larger Muslim community in Britain – questions that have never been satisfactorily answered. Exposure to the jihadist, Islamic supremacist ideology, says the self-styled British “former Islamist” Ed Husain, “that radicalism, that extremism, that ‘them-and-us’ mind set -- starts here on our streets in Britain.”
Why does it start on the streets in Britain, and what can be done about that? According to the Associated Press, “Hamid, originally from Tanzania, hand-picked recruits from mainstream mosques, inviting them for radical meetings at his home and then selecting a smaller number to attend the camps, police said.” Yet whenever law enforcement officials have broached the topic of monitoring activity inside mosques, they meet a barrage of indignation and criticism. The core problem is that, for all their ballyhooed condemnations of terrorism, peaceful Muslims in Britain and America have not moved in any great numbers to expose those who hold jihadist sentiments, much less to separate themselves from them and expel them from their mosques. There is no wall of separation in the British or American Muslim community between Muslims who accept Western pluralism and just want to live ordinary lives and those who hold to the same ideology of jihad and the destruction or subjugation of infidels to which “Osama bin London” had dedicated his life. There is no easy or reliable way to distinguish a Muslim who may be working to top the death total of the July 2005 London bombings from one who abhors the very idea.
In such an environment, new methods are needed. Yet in both Britain and America legislators and judges continue to work against legitimate and legal anti-terror initiatives. In Britain in mid-February, a judge overturned the convictions of five Muslims who downloaded pro-jihad material from the Internet. And in America, after House Democrats allowed a surveillance act to expire last week, if telecom companies monitor jihadists’ phone calls as they plot terrorist attacks, jihadists can sue the telecoms and tie them up in the courts. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey wrote last week to the House Intelligence Committee: “We have lost intelligence information this past week as a direct result of the uncertainty created by Congress’ failure to act. Because of this uncertainty, some partners have reduced cooperation.”
Of course, not every Muslim in Britain or the United States will fall prey to the likes of “Osama bin London.” But the London 7 case demonstrates anew that the more law enforcement officials depend on the politically correct assumption that there is little or no sympathy for the global jihad among Muslims in the West, the more they put us all at risk. This week ABC sent two actors – one dressed as a veiled Muslim woman and the other playing the part of an “Islamophobic” store clerk who treated her rudely – into a store in Waco, Texas, in order to gather evidence of American xenophobia and racism. A far more dramatic documentary might be made of the London 7 case – of young Muslims in Britain actually working toward the violent deaths of their non-Muslim fellow citizens. And it didn’t seem to enter into the minds of anyone at ABC that the fact that all too many Muslims go in for such training – even in the West – may be responsible for some of the frustration and resentment that boiled over from a few obnoxious people in their “Islamophobia” documentary.
Muslims in Britain and the U.S. have skillfully portrayed themselves for years now as the victims of unjustified suspicion. The London 7 case is just the latest one to indicate that a good deal more forthrightness, a good deal more honesty, a good deal more transparency, ought to be forthcoming from them, if they really wish to deflect such suspicion. Otherwise, some later “Osama bin London” finally will top the July 2005 death count – and his grisly achievement will stand forever as an assault on innocent people that could have and should have been prevented, and one more step on the way to the disintegration of the West before the jihadist onslaught. This can be prevented. But it is getting late.