As the story unfolds in Britain, it seems that the recent terrorist operations have Muslim fingerprints again. It also seems that most, if not all, are foreign-born Muslims. It is of course too early to make any judgments and we have to also always remember the notion of innocence until proven guilty. However, if the persons caught red-handed driving the Jeep Cherokee into the airport (should we award those two the second prize for dumb terrorists after the Fort Dix folks?) were Muslims, then it is tough to argue that again unfortunately, people who claim our great religion, have succumbed to the pitiful state of would-be-murderers.
How tragic it is when these fools not only hurt themselves, their families, and their friends directly, but they also hurt the da‘wah to Allāh and the image of Islam, as well as affecting the lives of so many other Muslims who have to bear the brunt of new government measures. What do these nut-jobs achieve in the end? Does the war in Iraq cease? Do suffering Muslims around the globe earn a reprieve? Do Muslims in the West stop being targets of Islamophobia? No, none of that. Rather, what they achieve is the exact opposite: they achieve in providing ammo for the justification of the Islamophobic rhetoric, and consequently all the wars fought against the “Islamic threat”. If there was ever a lose-lose situation, then these “missions” are big IT!
Back to our topic then, regardless of how many “plots” the American government has claimed to have thwarted in America, I would not call one of them viable AND “imminent”. Most of the those have been put behind bars for “terrorism” have been accused of saying the “wrong” things and/or talking/encouraging “jihad” OUTSIDE America, like in Kashmir or Afghanistan. Many behind bars for long terms including life, like anti-terrorist Dr. Ali Timimi, have been victims of an overzealous/McCarthyish prosecution and biased jurors (I would say that there is a 5% chance of finding a non-Muslim-prejudiced jury in America). Recently, the case of Jose Padilla highlights such a pathetic level of evidence that any average person can read the case details and be dumbfounded how this “dirty-bomb-dangerous-terrorist” was actually relatively benign! In fact, the prosecutors played a tape of Osama Bin Laden from years ago, saying NOTHING about Jose or his co-accused, but just to tell the jury that this message is what co-accused talked about! Images used to taint and blurry the mind of the jurors of course.
The point of the preceeding paragraph is that America has seen nothing of the sort of threat and radicalism that has raised its ugly head in UK and other parts of Europe. I was thinking about some of the reasons for the differences and having never lived in Europe, I can only guess on a few fronts based on my gathering of information from different sources. I would love to hear from Yusuf Smith, other UK bloggers and non-bloggers to add to this conversation:
- Easier access to Europe for would-be terrorist. Land access makes it easier to send operatives to Europe. Once in Europe, it isn't hard to get to UK. Much harder to come to America, and if the purpose is to attack the “Western enemies”, then why go after US, when UK comes easier?
- Muslim immigrants to Europe are very different in their financial well-being and their “assimilation” into the local communities. While I cannot think of one “Muslim slum” in America, there are many downtrodden and “third-ward” Muslim areas in Europe.
- Desperation and poverty is one (though not the only as the recent case may highlight) of the causes of recruitment into radicalism. It is easy to harp about the “kaffir government” when your livelihood is very substandard compared to most of the other “kaffirs”. And then the message can be expanded to include how what they are doing to you by keeping you poor is part of the conspiracy against Muslims and Islam.
- A strain of highly radicalized message has been allowed to resonate in UK for sometime now in the name of freedom of speech. This is a slippery slope of course. The objectivity of the government in discriminating between “radical-terrorist” message and “orthodox-non-violent” message is difficult to trust. But, still, people like “Sheikh” Faisal, Abu Hamza, and the rest of the notorious gang should have been locked up a long time ago. Of course in America, it has gone the other way, with the government infringing on the freedom of speech even when it is completely non-violent, and impeding/blocking Islamic scholars and personalities such as Yusuf Islam, Tariq Ramadan, etc from entering the country. So, balance is needed.
- In UK, it seems that there is increased sectarianism and the lack of national societies that control large sectors of the Islamic Centers and Masajids. While you have mega-Islamic institutes in America such as ICNA, ISNA, MAS, WD, etc., it seems that there is much more fragmentation in UK, with the tiny fragments working mostly separately and independently. So, there is much less oversight.
That is all I could think of. I may be mistaken in my estimations in one or all of the points I have raised above, so feel free to correct me, and add your own valued comments.