The planning of violent atrocities continues in Britain. The government has still failed to curb the spread of violent agitation, and a necessary, firm and united opposition to radical Islam remains lacking at the official level.
If the U.S. authorities are beset by questions about their capacity for the prevention – or lack thereof – of Islamist terrorism, similar questions need to be asked about the response to terror conspiracies in Britain.
In the U.S., the debate is fed by the continuing, controversial aftermath of the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, including Ambassador John Christopher Stevens and three of his compatriots, last year, as well as by the recent bombings in Boston.
In Britain, two important legal proceedings have concluded, as announced at the end of April, in Birmingham and London. On April 26, three men, Irfan Naseer, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, were sentenced. They had planned a bombing attack to rival the atrocities of September 11, 2001 in the U.S. and the London metro assault of July 7, 2005. Naseer and Ali received 18 years in prison, and Ali was ordered to serve 15 years. Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali will also see the judgments against them supplemented by probation (“licence,” in British legal terminology).
The three headed a terrorist cell in which eight other participants were found guilty and face time behind bars, as well. Rahin Ahmed received 12 years, with a further five on probation; Ali’s elder brother, Bahader, was sentenced to six years, and Mohammed Rizwan and Mujahid Hussain to four.
Four more members of the cell had gone to Pakistan for terrorist training, but had drawn back from participation in criminal acts. Nevertheless, the four – Ishaaq Hussain, Shahid Khan, Naweed Ali and Khobaib Hussain – each received penalties of 40 months in prison.
Second, on April 30, six men – Anzal Hussain (brother of Ishaaq Hussain, above), Omar Khan, Mohammed Saud, Zohaib Ahmed, Mohammed Hasseen, and Jewel Uddin (also suspected of involvement in the previously-mentioned case) – pled guilty to plotting an attack on a political demonstration by the anti-immigration English Defence League (EDL). When they arrived at the scene of the event, however, it had already ended, and the EDL members had left. Evidence against the six in the EDL assault plan included sermons by the late Yemeni-American Al-Qa’ida leader, Anwar Al-Awlaki. The six await sentencing in June.
Although it would appear that Britain has been successful in thwarting such conspiracies, the UK government, simultaneous with its legal pursuit of extremists, has attempted to resolve the challenge through political accommodation with Islamist fanatics.
In an example of such conduct, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Pakistani-born minister for faith and communities in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition headed by Prime Minister David Cameron, spoke in March at a meeting of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).
FOSIS has been criticized by Cameron’s home secretary, Theresa May, for its failure to distance itself from extremist ideology; May has refused to meet with FOSIS leaders. …read more