In an unposted article today in London's Daily Mail, David Williams reports on a dossier presented on behalf of Home Secretary David Blunkett to a Special Immigration Appeals Commission. The dossier "admits that Britain was a safe haven for supporters of worldwide terrorism and … says Britain remains a 'significant base' for supporting terrorism." Most chilling to Williams is the list of attacks that Islamists living in Britain are accused of supporting:
1995/96, Algerian terror attacks on French cities;
1997, attacks in Algeria;
1998, suicide bombings on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania;
1998, planned attack on U.S. embassy in Albanian capital Tirana;
1998, attacks in Jordan;
1999, attempted attack on Los Angeles International Airport;
2000, planned bombing in Strasbourg;
2001, planned attack in Paris;
2001, assassination of Afghan Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Masood;
2001, the Al Qaeda September 11 suicide hijackings in New York and Washington;
2002/2003, planned attack by North African terrorists in Britain. .
Williams omitted other instances of British-based terrorism.
- Yemen: Several young British Muslims (including Mohammed Mustafa Kamel, son of Abu Hamza al-Masri), took part in a 1999 hostage seizure that led to four deaths.
- Israel: An attack by Asif Muhammad Hanif on Mike's Place in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2003, killing 3 and wounding 50.
- Pakistan: Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh engaged in various acts of terrorism in Pakistan, including the murder of Daniel Pearl.
- India: Again, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was active in India, notably in a 1994 kidnapping of Western tourists in India.
- United States: Richard Reid's attempt to blow up an American Airlines jet in December 2001.
- Kenya: The anti-terrorism police arrested and deported Graham Andrew Adams, a British national who converted to Islam at the age of 18 and is also known as Ahmad Halid Adams, on suspicion of possessing illegal arms, including hand grenades. (December 19, 2007)
Comment: That makes at least 12 countries that have suffered actual or planned depredations coming out of the United Kingdom: Afghanistan, Albania (attempted), Algeria, France, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania, United States, Yemen. I will continue to add to this list as British-based Islamists target other countries. (May 22, 2003)
- Iraq: an article in the Times (London) on "70 British Muslims join Iraq fighters" gives an overview of this problem. (June 26, 2005)
- Bangladesh: A British citizen known only as Faisal established an orphanage that local security forces raided on the grounds that it was used as a training camp and arms factory for Islamist terrorists. (March 25, 2009)
In other developments:
Aug. 9, 2004 update: I analyse the flip side of this problem – whereby the United Kingdom is not targeted by its own resident Muslims – in "Does a "Covenant of Security" Protect the United Kingdom?"
Aug. 29, 2006 update: Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation says that the United Kingdom poses "a direct security threat to the US." For what it's worth, Lyndon LaRouche demanded in 2000 to "Put Britain on the List of States Sponsoring Terrorism."
Sep. 4, 2006 update: Peter Bergen & Paul Cruickshank argue in the New Republic that last month's thwarted London airline mega-plot means that from an American point of view, "it can now be argued that the biggest threat to U.S. security emanates not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan—but rather from Great Britain, our closest ally."
Apr. 4, 2007 update: Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security, SAYS another 9/11-style attack could be launched by Muslims from Britain or Europe who feel "second-class citizens" and alienated by a "colonial legacy." The U.S. government is determined to build extra defences against such "clean skin" terrorists from Europe. "We need to build layers of protection, and I don't think we totally want to rely upon the fact that a foreign government is going to know that one of their citizens is suspicious and is going to be coming here."
Feb. 7, 2009 update: "CIA warns Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the US" reads the Sunday Telegraph (London) headline. Excerpts from the article by Tim Shipman:
American spy chiefs have told the President that the CIA has launched a vast spying operation in the UK to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain. They believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the US under the visa waiver programme is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.
Intelligence briefings for Mr Obama have detailed a dramatic escalation in American espionage in Britain, where the CIA has recruited record numbers of informants in the Pakistani community to monitor the 2,000 terrorist suspects identified by MI5, the British security service. A British intelligence source revealed that a staggering four out of 10 CIA operations designed to thwart direct attacks on the US are now conducted against targets in Britain. …
The dramatic escalation in CIA activity in the UK followed the exposure in August 2006 of Operation Overt, the alleged airline bomb plot. The British intelligence official revealed that CIA chiefs sent more resources to the UK because they were not prepared to see American citizens die as a result of MI5's inability to keep tabs on all suspects, even though the Security Service successfully uncovered the plot. MI5 manpower will have doubled to 4,100 by 2011 but many in the US intelligence community do not think that is enough.Feb. 1, 2010 update: On the related topic of Great Britain's impact on Muslims who spend time there, leading Nigerian author Wole Soyinka, 76, has some harsh words: "England is a cesspit. England is the breeding ground of fundamentalist Muslims. Its social logic is to allow all religions to preach openly. But this is illogic, because none of the other religions preach apocalyptic violence. And yet England allows it. Remember, that country was the breeding ground for communism, too. Karl Marx did all his work in libraries there."
Soyinka correctly notes the importance of the 1989 edict by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie but ascribes more to it than I would:
It all began when he assumed the power of life and death over the life of a writer. This was a watershed between doctrinaire aggression and physical aggression. There was an escalation. The assumption of power over life and death then passed to every single inconsequential Muslim in the world—as if someone had given them a new stature. Al Qaeda is the descendent of this phenomenon. The proselytization of Islam became vigorous after this. People went to Saudi Arabia. Madrassas were established everywhere.
Noting the British pride in its openness, the now-American resident added: "I doubt you can have the kind of indoctrination schools in America as you do in the UK … The Muslims there are open Muslims, whereas in Europe they tend to go into ghetto schools." More strangely, Soyinka states that the Nation of Islam provides an "antidote in the United States to fundamentalist Islam" and that Muslims in the United States "have to go abroad to find radical teachings." Hardly.
Aug. 3, 2010 update: The first major study of this topic, Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections, just came out from London's Centre for Social Cohesion. I discuss this study in an article today, "Britain's New Export: Islamist Carnage."
June 14, 2013 update: The just-mentioned study looked at British-based terrorism around the world; now the Henry Jackson Society has published an analysis of European-based terrorism against the United States, The European Angle to the U.S. Terror Threat.
Nov. 24, 2013 update: Nick Lowles, writing for the "HOPE not Hate" think-tank has produced an eye-popping claim, summarized in an article by James Slack in London's Daily Mail, "How French spies plotted to kill Abu Hamza on a London street." Lowles claims that French security services were so concerned about Islamist terrorism against the 1998 football World Cup series, that they toyed with two plots: one would have kidnapped the notorious hook-handed Abu Hamza and sent him to France, the other would have assassinated him in Great Britain and shifted the blame for his death to a right-wing organization, Combat 18.