the trenchant British political commentator Melanie Phillips published a volume
that quickly became a best seller on both sides of the Atlantic. Titled
Londonistan, it was the first major attempt to explain how and why the UK had
become what Phillips termed “the epiCentre of Islamic militancy in Europe” – a
hub for recruiting, financing and promoting Islamic terror and extremism.
incentive behind the book, and the urgent need Phillips felt to arouse the
public’s awareness to the major problem it faced, was probably the London
bombings on July 7, 2005, the worst terrorist attack to take place on British
that morning, explosions tore through three trains on the London Underground,
killing 39 people. An hour later, 13 people were killed when a bomb detonated
on the upper deck of a bus in central London. In addition, more than 700 people
subsequently established that the attacks were carried out by four suicide
bombers with rucksacks full of explosives. The investigation characterized the
four as “ordinary British citizens,” but the British public was forced to
recognize that these relatively unassuming young men, living what appeared to
be quite normal lives, had been radicalized by extremists living freely in
Britain and operating from institutions functioning legally on British soil.
Britain’s laissez-faire attitude towards immigration had meant that Centres of
extremist Muslim thought had been established across the UK without any
effective system of control.
Lorenzo Vidino of George Washington University, an expert on Islamism in Europe
and North America, has explained in detail how, since the early 1960s, Muslim
Brotherhood members and sympathizers “moved to Europe and slowly but steadily
established a wide and well-organized network of mosques, charities and Islamic
By way of
an often stealthy, but steady and sure, expansion of influence and activity,
the Brotherhood now has active branches in the United States, the United
Kingdom, Germany, France, Austria and numerous other European countries.
becoming the leaders of ISIS and al-Qaeda, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin
Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahiri (the current head of al-Qaeda) all belonged to the
Brotherhood. Its basic principles lie at the heart of both ISIS and al-Qaeda.
In founding the Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, Hassan al-Banna declared, “It is
the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all
nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”
ambition of the Muslim Brotherhood is boundless. Its strategy, stated quite
openly by its leaders, is to create situations in which Shari’a law can be
imposed on states, which can then unite and expand. “The presumption,” said
Prof. Bernard Lewis in his book The Crisis of Islam, “is that the duty of jihad
will continue… until all the world either adopts the Muslim faith or submits to
ruthless obsession with imposing its version of Islam on the entire globe is,
in the view of its adherents, of such paramount importance that its achievement
justifies the use of any means, however excessive. The more confusion,
dissension and terror created the better. Those willing to sacrifice their own
lives in pursuit of these ends are martyrs.
the teachings promulgated by radical Muslim preachers in Britain beginning in
the 1980s to willing or vulnerable young Muslims. In November 1999, a UK
newspaper reported that Muslims were receiving weapons training at secret
locations in the UK. The report identified Anjem Choudary as a key figure in
recruiting for these training Centres. Choudary was convicted of soliciting
support for a proscribed organization, namely Islamic State, and was imprisoned
Park is a district in the north-east of London. In 1994, a new five-story
mosque was officially opened in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles and King
Fahd of Saudi Arabia, who had contributed funds for the building. Three years
later a fanatically radical cleric named Abu Hamza al-Masri became its imam,
and soon the mosque was being described as “the heart of the extremist Islamic
culture” in Britain.
One of his
disciples was Richard Reid, born in London in 1973, a young criminal who had
been in and out of prison from the age of 16. During his incarceration in 1992
for various street robberies, he converted to Islam, and on his release in 1995
began attending the Finsbury Park Mosque. Here he fell under the sway of
terrorist talent spotters and handlers allied with al-Qaeda including Djamal
Beghal, one of the leaders of the foiled plan for a 2001 suicide bombing of the
American embassy in Paris, and then Abu Hamza.
22, 2001, Reid boarded an American Airlines flight between Paris and Miami,
wearing shoes packed with explosives, which he tried unsuccessfully to
detonate. Passengers subdued him on the plane, and in 2002 he plead guilty in
US federal court to eight counts of terrorism, and was sentenced to three life
terms plus 110 years without parole.
By the end
of 2014, Islamic State had reached its physical apogee. Spread across Syria and
Iraq, it covered more than 34,000 square miles and controlled millions of
people. At the same time it was claiming responsibility for a succession of
horrific terrorist attacks across the world, causing the deaths of thousands.
At its high point, ISIS was attracting thousands of young Muslim recruits, both
male and female.
an especially fruitful recruiting ground. In November 2014, Labour MP Khalid
Mahmoud told the media that he believed as many as 2,000 British citizens were
fighting alongside Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq.
One such UK
citizen who achieved worldwide prominence was a young man described by a former
school friend as “a typical northwest London boy.” Mohammed Emwazi was born in
Kuwait, but moved with his parents to the UK at age six. He attended a good
school, and went on to university where he graduated in computing. In late
2013, he joined ISIS on the Turkey-Syrian border.
2014, ISIS issued a video showing the beheading of US journalist James Foley.
Just before the gruesome murder, a man standing beside Foley, dressed in black,
wielding a blade and speaking in a British accent, delivered a warning to the
US government. He then appeared to start cutting at his captive’s neck before
the video faded to black. The next screen showed James Foley’s body on the
following months, a series of similar videos were issued showing further
beheadings. In at least two of them, the masked figure himself appeared to kill
his victim. The man in black with the British accent was later positively
identified as Mohammed Emwazi.
12, 2015, US officials reported that Emwazi had been hit by a drone strike in
Raqqa, Syria. His death was confirmed by ISIS in January 2016.
Green is a district in east London. It sprang into sudden prominence in
February 2015, when three schoolgirls attending the Bethnal Green Academy
suddenly disappeared. CCTV equipment at Gatwick Airport caught the three –
Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana – leaving the country. Another
image showed them several hours later at a bus station in western Istanbul.
were following their friend – Sharmeena Begum, no relation – who had fled to
join Islamic State the previous December. Media reports suggested that
Sharmeena had been targeted for recruitment by a group known as the Sisters
Forum, affiliated with the Islamic Forum of Europe that met at an east London
three teenagers reached the Syrian border, they were picked up by smugglers
working for ISIS and taken into the group’s territory in northern Syria. Once
there, they were each married off as “jihadi brides” to foreign fighters, three
of the thousands who had flooded in from across the world. In Nazi fashion, Islamic
State aimed to raise a new generation of children supporting its so-called
caliphate, and grooming young women to the cause was key to that plan. A month
later, five other girls from Bethnal Green Academy, all aged 15 or 16, were
barred by the High Court from travelling abroad.
2019, a heavily pregnant Shamima Begum resurfaced at the al-Hawl refugee camp,
along with 1,555 other women and children who had travelled from abroad to join
ISIS. Her two Bethnal Green companions were believed to be dead. Shamima and
her Dutch-born husband had retreated with ISIS to their final stronghold of
Baghouz in eastern Syria, and when the caliphate faced final defeat by
US-backed Kurdish-led forces, they fled.
interviews with British media, Shamima begged to be allowed to return to the
UK, but when questioned she said she did not regret joining ISIS, and that she
was “OK” with the beheadings she had witnessed.
story initially was that she had been nothing but a Muslim housewife, but
later, after she had given birth and this baby had died like her previous two,
reports emerged that Shamima had played an active role in the caliphate’s reign
of terror. It was claimed that she had been a member of the Hisba, the
ISIS morality police, a feared group which enforced the organization’s strict
interpretation of Islamic law. There were also allegations that she had
stitched suicide bombers into explosive vests, so they could not be removed
result, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped Shamima of her British
citizenship, and barred her from returning to the country – a decision
currently being appealed in the British courts, which in a typically British
gesture of tolerance, have granted Shamima and her supporters legal aid with
which to pursue their case. Londonistan is living up to its reputation. ¦
Source: Jakarta Post