Monday, January 30, 2006

Angry young men

Thanks again for the intelligent and thought-provoking comments to the last couple of posts,( what a lovely change from being called a lying media whore Psy-ops COINTELPRO agent by some visiting (now deleted) conspiracy theorists!)

I've always thought the bombers were self-radicalised,' self-brainwashed' even, the 'extremists' I wrote about approaching them are mostly other young British men who are further down the road of radicalisation. Sorry, I should have made this clearer in the original Clean Skins post.

Young radicalised men find other young radicalised men. There then forms a classic outsider 'gang mentality', and shared experiences such as repeatedly watching atrocity videos and working out together as well as praying together and taking part in 'outward bound' bonding activities make the group of 'brothers' gel. Thank you for the link to the Horizon programme about suicide bombers, which I didn't see but which matches what I had read about this elsewhere. I wish I had seen it.

I absolutely agree with the commenter who said that the idea that you only need to hang around outside Mosques to be recruited by a media-stereotype of a '' mad mullah'' or meet in a ''sinister'' book shop to be'' brainwashed'' by an ''Al-Q Man in Black'' is a load of rubbish. If the Intelligence services still think that, they are missing a trick. (From this weekend's revelations, though, I don't think they do think that anymore.)

If the media are still implying that sinister bearded foreign terrorists are lurking outside Mosques and Islamic bookshops preying on impressionable young British lads, they are missing a trick too. And such stereotyping is harmful and deeply offensive to the majority of Muslims who attend Mosques to pray together, who visit bookshops to gather material for study and who are unfairly and incorrectly suspected of terror-sympathising.

Indeed, I get the impression that Mosque congregations or Islamic bookshops have very little to say to what is effectively a nihilistic extremist cult. It is not representative at all of what Islam is about, what Muslims believe. Which is maybe part of our problem? These ideas are not mainstream at all, they are about separating away from your fellow Muslims.

All you need is a disaffected youth, his anger, and resentment, and his nihilistic monstrous sense of grievance - and you are off. He can do the rest himself. An Al Q 'handler' need only step in at the very last minute to pick up the ones who have proved themselves the most committed, the most ready to die, to give them the tools and cash and expertise they need for the Final Act. By then the young man will have prepared himself by himself, very diligently. He may have raised money for trips to training schools in Afghanistan, or Pakistan himself, he may have spoken fervently of his desire to fight in a jihad, in Iraq, in Afghanistan…he may even have been to prison already and been further radicalised there.

These people at risk, who pose such a risk to others - the 'angry young men' should be known to people. Teachers. University tutors. Neighbours. Sisters. Mothers. Brothers, Dads, friends, girlfriends, wives. Doctors, dentists, barbers. Youth group workers, social workers. Colleagues. Shopkeepers. Gym owners. Internet café owners. Police, probation officers if they have got into trouble. Immams too, and people they used to worship with. Their behaviour must have changed, their personality. Turning yourself into a bomb takes time, has an that can be spotted by other people if you care enough...

There are clues, if you look for them. This is not me advocating spying on people. This is not me saying '' Muslims must clean up their radicalised elements'', that is as unjust as me, a vicar's daughter agnostic being held responsible for the Christian Voice bigots who denounced Jerry Springer the Opera and who are full of homophobia and hate. I am talking at a much more local level. These are PEOPLE, these young men, who live amongst people, surely there can be some chance of reaching out to them as people? Some intervention? A few words, some concern? Maybe I am naive.

Suicide, depression, and self-hate is reaching epidemic proportions amongst young men. Young men are at the most risk of casual violence. This is UK men in general, of all backgrounds, aged 16-24. Young men are not being cared for or listened to. They are falling through the net. They do not think we care about them. Maybe we don't. But we need to. In failing them, we are failing ourselves.

I do think we are all our brother's keepers. Nobody should have to fall through the net.

As an aside, that was part of the rationale of Kings Cross United - we are all strangers who happened to be on the same train - black, white, asian, all religions or none, all backgrounds, ages, sexualities, beliefs... now we have become friends. We are all humans together. There is hope if you can connect and empathise with other people, people who are afraid, people who have been injured, people who are angry, people who have grievances and griefs too. People with hope, people with courage. Just people, none of whom I knew before July 7th. Communication and empathy: it all starts with that.

So what can be done?
Can we not address the causes of the anger, listen to the grievances - might there be a way of stopping the hate from taking such deep root that some young men think the only way to get their message across is to blow themselves and others to pieces?

A public enquiry, a grown up looking at the issues and problems, they WHY as well as the WHAT of what happened is a start.

Listening to what young Muslims have to say is a start.

It shows we are serious. It won't stop Bin Laden, it won't stop those implacably committed to hate and destruction and despair, but it will do something to answer the anger of those making the first steps towards self-radicalisation.

Over a million people took to the the streets in the biggest demonstration the UK has ever seen when we were preparing for this ill-conceived war . And the Government did not respond, the anger was barely acknowledged.

That has had such a powerful negative effect. How then, can the Government act all surprised when young people seem apathetic, feel that they should give up on legitimate means of self-expression? We all tried to make our point, millions of us, about war, about poverty, and were we listened to? Did anything change? No.

Young people grow up in a quick-fix, instant gratification world. Most don't see the point of polite demonstrations that are ignored. ''Nobody listens. There is no point'' young people say when interviewed in panels, or by papers, or online. Apathy and sullen aggression reign. It looks like the Governement doesn't give a stuff, soesn't want to hear. They won't even let us gather in their earshot now, in Parliament Square. So, in a small but growing number of young people, direct action, even terrifying violence and murder starts to look like the only way to get the message across of just how angry and impotent they feel. This is horrendous. But, we can do something about this.

People can and do calm down if they feel that they are being treated respectfully and that they are being heard. This is why asking questions publicly about July 7th is so important. That is why this casual disregard for legitimate protest and genuine disagreement must stop. That is why it is time for a bit of soul-searching and humility from our leaders. We are grown ups. We can handle it when we get criticised. We can learn from our mistakes. Can't we?

Let's see. I live in hope.

Sign the petition
Write to your MP:

P.S: I recommend a new book by Milan Rai (to be published in April 2006) called '7/7 and the Iraq war' for a well-written account of some of the issues that I have touched upon in the last few posts.


Blogger Dr. Deb said...

Just checking in to say hi.

January 30, 2006 4:38 pm  
Blogger me said...

Hi Rachel

here is a suggestion, which has been successful in the USA.

Why don't you and all the other 7/7-ers, be it survivors, journalists, "conspiraloons" etc, set up your own inquiry/conference?

There have been a number in the USA about 9/11.

I am absolutely positive the Muslims would be very keen to help out too.

This would also embarass Blair, possibly into setting a public one up.

So, waddya think?

January 30, 2006 5:29 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

I want an independent transparent public enquiry, not an ad-hoc mish-mash of whoever has an axe to grind or an interest... the victims for example are the last people to run it because we are clearly NOT independent. We are far too emotionally close to it. And we are trying to get on with our lives, it is not healthy to get dragged into the detail of train times and types of explosion and who bled to death where they lay and why the ambulances took ages and so on and so on. It needs to be independent . Conspiraloons are not independent either, they come at in with an axe to grind. As your interesting blog prooves, Truthman.

I am already trying to embarrass Blair. I am not alone in asking for a public enquiry, M15 are after one, the Tories are after one, many MPS are after one.

Wheels are in motion. Wait and see. This isn't going away but random interested people meeting up in a village hall doing this for fun with no power to demand answers off people is not what we are after here.

January 30, 2006 5:59 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Dr Deb. Thanks for dropping in.

January 30, 2006 6:00 pm  
Blogger the ink slinger said...

Another well thought out, pin-sharp post, Rachel.

Our thoughts.

January 30, 2006 6:26 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Wow. Thanks for that.


January 30, 2006 6:43 pm  
Blogger me said...

Regarding an "independent" inquiry, who would you propose as the inquirer?

Previous examples of "independent" inquiries are Hutton and Butler.


Hutton was the man in charge of Northern Irish Justice during the Troubles, and was also a Freemason. Butler has stated he believes it is good for government to lie to protect itself.

The fact that Blair is refusing an inquiry should tell you how "independent" any "independent" inquiry will be.

You really need to get your own,so you can ask your own questions. Approach the citizen inquiries in the USA for advice as to how to organize one.

Best of Luck!

January 30, 2006 7:32 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Truthman, leave it, please. I am not playing ball. For reasons I have politely explained above.

January 30, 2006 8:14 pm  
Blogger fjl said...

Exactly. (You write so good and so fast it's hard to keep up with you!)
It's nice to be listened to instead of dismissed as a conspiracy theorist etc., when in fact what I do for a living is go get evidence, ( which I shall shortly prove!).. :-)
I know there are conspiracy nutters around, but I'm not one of them.
I signed the petition, whatever some of my colleagues at Special Branch want to say, and you have all my support in this matter. xx
I was on those trains, when I was researching, and I so often think of Philula, one victim, who looks like my boy. I've been through it all, like his Mum. Why didn't they go back and check? He was alive when his friend left? etc. I feel terrible that it was him, and not me. xx

January 30, 2006 10:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Iam a MSc student at Loughborough university doing research into why young people are becoming more radicalised towards the policing of terrorism. I am doing my dissertaion into this and I am seeking comments from young people aged 16-19 or who would be wiling to complete a very short questionair.

February 08, 2007 2:55 am  

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