Blow People Up? What a Surprise!
If we cannot see what is happening, it seems likely that we simply do not want it to be happening. But apparently not enough to try to stop it from happening.
How could a nice young British boy do a thing like this? That is what people said when a British man cut the head off Daniel Pearl in 2002. It was what they said when our British men boarded the London tube trains and blew up their fellow passengers in 2005. It was what they said when a young British student tried to detonate a bomb over Detroit in 2009. And it is what they asked again earlier this month when Abdul Waheed Majeed, a 41-year-old man from Crawley, West Sussex, turned out to have become a suicide bomber in Syria. The strange thing is that a lot of people seem no closer to any kind of answer.
Abdul Waheed Majeed had gone through a story so similar to every previous story that you wonder how wilfully deaf some people must be, or whether there has been a significant section of the press and political class who have simply not been paying attention in recent years.
Because it turns out that Majeed was once a member of the now-proscribed British extremist group, al-Muhajiroun. This is a group that has been linked to more terrorist charges in the UK than any other group, including al-Qaeda. Al Muhajiroun's current de facto leader (since being banned, they operate under a shifting array of names) – Anjem Choudary – has said that Majeed worked as a driver for the former leader of the group, Omar Bakri Mohammad, by helping ferry him to and from his talks. Alas in those days he seems never to have had the urge to blow up the vehicle.
Abdul Waheed Majeed (left), of Crawley, England, poses for photographs moments before driving a truck-bomb into a prison in Aleppo, Syria. (Image source: Jabhat al-Nusra video)
Like many of the members of al-Muhajiroun, Majeed had been a subject of interest to the British authorities over a lengthy period. It has transpired that he attended a talk by the extreme Islamist preacher Abu Hamza (now residing in an American prison after an apparently all-too-brief period in a British one). He had also been involved in weapons caches in Pakistan and been associated with a plot to blow up the Bluewater shopping center in Kent in 2004, as well as having been associated with the 2005 London bombers. And at some point he connected with people who were, in fact, working for law-enforcement in the US.
Then he went to Syria. In the first days of February, 2014, he got into a truck loaded with explosives and drove it into a prison in Aleppo. His last moments can be seen on video. The explosion rocked the nearby area and resulted in the escape of almost 300 prisoners. The attack was large enough to have made headlines even in the morass of tired international coverage of Syria's bloody and hard-to-end civil war.
Of course Anjem Choudary has already praised Majeed: "He was a good father, a family man who was dedicated to make sure all his actions were based on the [religious] texts," he has said. Since the revelation of his links with other British extremists, British police have searched the homes of a number of people, including the brother of one of the Bluewater shopping centre plotters and the home of a man thought to have been involved in trips to Syria.
Of course you can add to this whole picture another portion that is utterly predictable: Majeed had attended extremist meetings. And it turns out that the mosque in Crawley that he attended has itself been investigated by the Charity Commission for apparent financial irregularities. Although the Crawley Islamic Centre and Mosque is a registered charity, for three years in a row it has failed to file any accounts, and was then subjected to a Charity Commission investigation.
All of which is so par for the course that it would hardly be worth mentioning, if it were not for what this attack in Aleppo tells us about Britain. The fact evidently is that many people from around the world have travelled to Syria to fight on one side or other of this vicious, sectarian war. What is noteworthy is that there is precisely nothing in the profile of Majeed that would suggest that he would not at some point take part in an operation of violence. We might be happy that he did not carry out his attack in Britain, or we might feel shame that a British man should go out and carry out an attack in another country, but what we should not be is at all surprised. It seems as if we have been lying to ourselves.
All the time, we have been pretending that a process of "extremism" could happen to anyone. We talk about "alienation" and "counter-narratives." We hear people amazed at each turn at the "Britishness" of the culprits. We were amazed that the 2005 bombers played in cricket teams and ate fish and chips. We wonder that someone could come from the sleepy town of Crawley and go by self-detonating in Aleppo. Yet, amid all the pretend bafflement and shock, there is a more serious truth that sits unaddressed -- and it is not about the sport they like or the food they enjoy. It is also not about the sleepiness or otherwise of the town which they inhabit. And it certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with the country in which they happen to have spent most, or all, of their lives.
It is purely and solely about the extremist religious ideology which they have inhaled -- so predictable, so by rote, one could have written the career trajectory of Abdul Waheed Majeed on a napkin ten years ago. Yet we continue to express surprise. And in that is a problem not just for the world at large, and any particular battle-ground of jihad, but a problem for us. When you continue to be surprised by the obvious, it is clear that the obvious must be a problem for you. If we cannot see what is happening, it seems likely that we simply do not want it to be happening. But apparently not enough to try to stop it from happening. "Oh my, have you heard, another suicide bomber from West Sussex." Now why would that be?
Reader comments on this item
|Applied logic [284 words]||Arthur Lincoln||Feb 23, 2014 12:06|
|And when they return? [42 words]||John||Feb 23, 2014 08:38|
|Reaping what you sow? [53 words]||Paul B.||Feb 20, 2014 16:27|
|Re Douglas Murray's article of Feb. 19 - "Blow People Up?" [480 words]||Pamela J. Leonard||Feb 20, 2014 10:57|
|↔ British courage? [172 words]||Ephesian||Feb 25, 2014 06:47|
|↔ British courage [400 words]||Pamela J. Leonard||Mar 3, 2014 11:40|
|↔ Bravo! [214 words]||Ephesian||Mar 6, 2014 12:02|
|Heads in the sand [92 words]||Ian||Feb 20, 2014 10:18|
|Paradise and Britishness [165 words]||Terence Curry||Feb 20, 2014 08:38|
|Remember them [56 words]||Philip||Feb 20, 2014 01:24|
|It has been happening lawfully for some thirteen centuries [93 words]||Bart Benschop||Feb 19, 2014 22:19|
|Religion [71 words]||Pongidae Rex||Feb 19, 2014 16:06|
|Thank you brave Briton [57 words]||Harry Verdecci||Feb 19, 2014 11:58|
|The unfortunate truth [151 words]||Kaz||Feb 19, 2014 10:01|
|Douglas Murray bursts the PC balloon [106 words]||Steven Buckley||Feb 19, 2014 09:18|
|Surprised yet again [107 words]||Mrs. Rene O'Riordan||Feb 19, 2014 09:13|
|Short memories [19 words]||D. Zuck||Feb 19, 2014 07:27|
|Not so suprised! [149 words]||Ephesian||Feb 19, 2014 07:06|
|In fairness... [10 words]||Philip||Feb 19, 2014 06:24|
|Crawley [130 words]||Tommo||Feb 19, 2014 06:14|
|↔ The ostrich mentality of Europe [163 words]||Daniel Less||Feb 22, 2014 16:12|
Comment on this item
by Mudar Zahran
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.
by Ben Cohen
Now, with the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate having captured key oil wells in the Middle East this year, foreign oil has become an even more lethal financial weapon-of-choice for those seeking to destroy democracy and further escalate the War on Terror.
That President Barack Obama failed even to mention oil as a critical factor in the war against IS during his speech to the nation on September 10, is an omission both revealing and dangerous in terms of how his administration wants to depict the stakes involved in this latest confrontation with the jihadis.
by Lawrence A. Franklin
One Pakistani recruiter of child suicide bombers describes these children as "tools provided by God."
Another Muslim cleric in a madrassa [Islamic boys' school] describes child suicide bombers as "a gift from Allah that we have an unlimited number willing to be sacrificed to teach Americans a lesson."
Using children as suicide bombers will stop when... they stop "condoning the killing of innocents."
by Denis MacEoin
"No religion condones the killing of innocents." — U.S. President Barack Obama, September 10, 2014.
"Islam is a religion of peace." — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, September 13, 2014.
"There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam." — U.K. Imam Anjem Choudary, CBN News, April 5, 2010.
Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur'an in a "moderate" manner. The most famous modern interpretation by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.
If they deviated from the true faith -- as we are seeing in the Islamic State today -- "backsliders," like pagans, were to be fought until they either accepted Islam or were killed.
In India alone, between 60 and 80 million Hindus may have been put to death by Muslim armies between the years 1000-1525.
by Yaakov Lappin
Hamas's long-term ambitions are indistinguishable from those of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Hamas will now focus on its next goal -- trying to strengthen its presence in the West Bank and eventually toppling the Palestinian Authority from power there, just as it did in Gaza. If Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, Hamas would certainly find such a goal easier to accomplish.
Nothing keeps the flames of jihad alight, and Hamas's popularity secure, like frequent wars.