Some background reading...
Some depressing background which may be handy in the next few days and weeks...
This book by Daniel McGrory and Sean O'Neill tells the story of the extent of the radicalisation of hundreds, even thousands of young men at Finsbury Park Mosque by extremist preacher, Abu Hamza. Despite repeated warnings from the French, Algerian, U.S and other foreign intelligence services, the cleric who took over the huge Mosque which was under Hamza's control, was allowed to run a training and recruitment centre, where young men were encouraged to sign up for jihadi training - in effect, a 'terrorist factory'.
The hero of the book for me is Reda Hussein, an Algerian journalist who risked his life to operate undercover in the Mosque and feed information back to the Algerian and French security services about the alarming extremist message being not only sanctioned, but preached and actioned within its walls. What an appalling shame that his warnings were not heeded in full by the UK security services who come over as depressingly incompetent and dismissive of the threat being hatched under their noses in the late nineties. And I can't help wondering what might have happened, if they had taken the warnings more seriously and investigated properly, earlier? Because this wasn't just some ranting demagogue sounding off, this was an organised network committed to turning young men into parasites who worked against the State, making them enemies of the community in which they lived, and in the case of recruits like Richard Reid, the 'shoe-bomber', walking weapons of mass distruction.
The local Finsbury Park Mosque Board of Trustees spent £14,000 trying to get Hamza evicted, and they went to the police and Charities Commisssion several times to try and get the hate-preacher removed. The Mosque Trustees were roughed up for their pains by Hamza's thugs. The congregation's complaints were ignored for years. And more and more hotheaded youths flocked to hear the exciting preacher with his rebel message, his exciting-sounding 'combat training weekends' and his credit-card fraud and benefit-cheating base in the dosshouse set up - where the women's worship area in the Mosque basement had once been, in happier days. ( And that tells you it all, really).
Abu Hamza's trial was, interestingly enough, due to start on the week of July 7th 2005, the week of the London suicide bombs. Other radicalising forces active in influencing youthful UK Muslims with a message of violent jihad included Omar Bakri Mohammed, and Abdullah el-Faisal. Mr. Faisal was sentenced in 2003 by a British court to nine years in prison for urging violence and murder. Omar Bakri Mohammed was banned from returning to Britain when he left the country - but continues to broadcast his messages to his followers on the internet.
Typical rabble-rousing rhetoric of these preachers can be found in these extracts from the speeches of Abu Hamza, played during his 2006 trial
''Killing a Kafir who is fighting you is OK. Killing a Kafir for any reason, you can say it, it is OK - even if there is no reason for it''
''There is no liquid loved more by Allah than the the liquid of blood".
"Whether you do it by the lamb, or you do it by a Serb, you do it by a Jew, you do it by any enemies of Allah," - Abu Hamza, taken from sermons played in court during his trial.
And here is the result...
''Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood'' - Mohammed Siddique Khan 'martyrdom' video
The hate message spread from the late nineties through to the present day, through DVDS and websites and preaching tours. Groups such as Hizb ut Tahrir, active and then banned on many UK campuses began to cause concern, following warnings from appalled UK Muslims - and the groups were investigated in programmes such as this 2003 Newsnight report by Imran Kahn which warned...
''An influential British Muslim has told Newsnight that unless action is taken against an extreme Muslim group operating in the United Kingdom then we could soon be experiencing terrorist attacks along the lines of those in Baghdad and Jerusalem.
Hizb Ut Tahrir or HT is an Islamic splinter group, which is banned in many countries around the world. It operates freely in Britain.
But Newsnight has discovered that its website promotes racism and anti-Semitic hatred, calls suicide bombers martyrs, and urges Muslims to kill Jewish people...''
Watch the programme here.
Other groups which attracted young radicals who were ripe for 'jihadi training' included Abu Hamza's The Supporters of Shariah, later renamed the 'Saviour's Sect', or Saved Sect, ( still going strong, it seems, click the second link) and Al Muhajiroun which is investigated here in another Newsnight special report by Richard Watson.
(I have read the transcripts of such young men given in court, from terrorist trials and what is noticeable is what nasty, posturing little prats they are. Calling them ''terrorists'' glamorises them, frankly. They are scummy little criminal gangs of overgrown boys parading their giggling murderous fantasies and back-slapping each other into vicious schemes of mayhem to compensate for their own only-too-glaring inadequacies.)
People like the repellent Abu Hamza and his dorky henchman Haroon Rashid Aswat had regular meetings with the UK security services, who were apparently reassured that though these men preached inflammatory violent jihad in the UK, they would actually not 'bite the hand that feeds' under what was called ' The Covenant of Security' (which is the understanding that a Muslim guest in a non Muslim country must behave peaceably on its soil if he himself is left in peace.) The threat posed by men like Hamza and Faisal was not taken seriously until it was too late, for just 'keeping tabs' on these men was not enough, never enough.
(Never mind the moral position of turning a blind eye to young men going off abroad with the avowed intention of learning how to kill people, and whether their targets might be UK soldiers, tourists or embassies, as long as those boys don't do anything on 'our' patch, it's all fine, no? And what of the wider moral position of knowingly lettting men plot murder and terrorism in other lands and the diabolical pact of assuming because you give them the freedom to do so whilst living here, you will be safe - at the expense of other people's deaths?)
If only security services had listened to the words of brave men like undercover agent Reda Hussein, or the local Muslims at Finsbury Park mosque who tried to warn of what was going on under their noses, they would have found that this was not mere firey hot air being preached, but an organised operation preaching murder and treason and sending young men away for weapons training in order to act on the violent message. Yes, act. Act with the contacts they had made, with the bombs and detonators they had been trained to construct, act on the message of hate and violence they had listened to, downloaded, watched, imbibed, that this was a 'war', and that they were 'soldiers', and they needs must fight and kill and maim, in the name of God.
And so here is where we got to in 2005...
Richard Watson on Mohammed Siddique Khan, File on 4, 25 October 2005
'The bombers have been portrayed as so-called
clean-skins - people with no history of extremism, people the intelligence services could
not be expected to stop. But File on 4 can reveal that the group’s leader, Mohammed
Siddique Khan, had extensive contacts with an international Jihadi network, which British
intelligence either missed or ignored...'
This is all just background, to fill you in and remind you of the context of what's coming shortly. There'll be a lot more soon.
I'm being careful, because we are waiting for a court case to end after which reporting restrictions will be lifted.
Anyway, you know what to do....wait and see, keep an eye on the news...
And yes, of course I'm pissed off about it all. It's absolutely heart-breaking that we have ended up here. It's a tragedy for Islam in the UK, a tragedy for all of us, and for fifty two families, an appalling wound that will never go away.
See also On Intelligence Failures, M15 Chief Quits, New Calls for a 7/7 Inquiry, my House of Lords speech
More writing on similar subjects on this blog...
Bringing It Home, A 'Completely False Sense of Grievance', Waiting for the Narrative, What Makes a Suicide Bomber, The F Word, Beards And Rucksacks, Playing Fairer, Clean Skins, Minding Our Language, Hassan's Letter from Leeds, 7/7 & the Bradford Riots, Reaping the Whirlwind.
Oh, and all the stuff in the sidebar, obviously. It was December 2005 when I started researching this and banging on about it. Never mind, onwards we go...