By Ed West
September 29th, 2009
This is the new face of al-Qaeda: out go the beards, Arab robes and backdrops from Luke Skywalker’s home planet, Tatooine; income dark suits and sixth-former curtains that look like they’re covered in a layer of grease.
The man making threats to his compatriots is Bekkay Harrach, better known to his Islamist buddies as Abu Talha al-Almania, “the German” (like the French, Spanish, Turkish and Persians, and the Welsh for some reason, the Arabs call the Germans after the Alamanni tribe). He’s all of 32, although with his youthful looks he’d struggle to get served (admittedly that’s not going to an issue in Taliban-controlled Waziristan).
Harrach is originally Moroccan, but his video warning came as the Pakistanis found a village apparently full of white German Taliban. From the Telegraph report it sounds like it even has its own estate agents:
A recruitment video presents life in the village as a desirable lifestyle choice with schools, hospitals, pharmacies and day care centres, all at a safe distance from the front.
It sounds better than Haringey.
In the video, the presenter, “Abu Adam”, the public face of the group in Germany, points his finger and asks: “Doesn’t it appeal to you? We warmly invite you to join us!”
According to German foreign ministry officials a growing number of German families, many of North African descent, have taken up the offer and travelled to Waziristan where supporters say converts make up some of the insurgents’ most dedicated fighters.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which has a foothold in several German cities, has capitalised on growing concern over the rising profile of German forces in Afghanistan. Their role has become increasingly controversial in Germany in recent weeks after dozens of civilians were killed in an air strike ordered by German officers.
Last night a foreign ministry spokesman told The Daily Telegraph they were now negotiating with Pakistani authorities for the release of six Germans, including “Adrian M”, a white Muslim convert, his Eritrean wife and their four year old daughter, who were arrested as they were making their way to the “German village”. They are particularly concerned about the welfare of the child.
A couple of years back there was a surge of Germans converting to Islam, and among these there seem to be many young people attracted to the most extreme form. And while the self-hating Germans may be especially vulnerable, it’s easy to see why teenagers immersed in modern youth culture are attracted to radical Islam.
There is, firstly, the political currents. Among the youth of western Europe anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism is the norm, so that unless a 17-year-old happens to pick up a copy of the Spectator or read Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal, he or she will not know any different from the mainstream opinion that America is a war-monger destroying the planet, Israel is causing conflict between the Muslim world and Europe, and white racism stops Africa progressing. And with Communism dead and socialism weakened, global Islamism is the number one international opponent to American capitalism. To those who see no moral difference between the US and the gangster states of Asia and Africa, and their proxies, the Taliban might even be seen as the underdogs.
Then one has to look at the influence of youth culture. Most British terrorists have first been immersed in certain strands of hip hop music before turning to hard-line Islam – it means the violence, misogyny, homophobia and hatred of the West in general, and sometimes of Jews in particular, is there long before anyone even mentions “Allah”. Though Harrach has more of an emo look, the fusion of African-American hip hop culture, radical Islam and a wider, vaguer Third World anger has spread to every western European classroom.
Then there is the nihilism - if a white non-Muslim teenager wants to fulfill his internal death wish and lust for fame and revenge he has to find a gun and take it out on his classmates. That might put him on the 10 o’clock news, but so much better to do it for a wider cause, and reap the benefits after one’s death by finally having sex (if you so wish to believe).
But the biggest attraction, for teenage boys at least, is Wahhabism’s puritanical view of sex. Teenage boys are obsessed by sex. But the pursuit of sex often makes them unhappy, angry and frustrated, and this is aggravated in a culture where sex is everywhere and where, it seems, everyone else is at it. In a world where sex has become cheap and meaningless, and where women are encouraged to see themselves as fit only to be some gangster’s bitch or this month’s Katie Price, some of the more thoughtful men yearn to idolise and idealise them as wife material (there have been puritanical youth culture movements in the past, such as the Straight Edge scene that emerged in the early 80s in California). As youth culture has become raunchier, the danger of this reaction has strengthened.
Most of all teenagers yearn for idealism. To people growing up in Germany radical Islam is both sufficiently non-European (indeed, anti-European) while also having the manly and moral qualities of strength and brotherhood that attract drifting young men, who in the past might have opted for Nazism and Communism.
And, most of all, it’s the ultimate rebellion.