Even before the dust have settled over the carnage that took the lives of 22 innocent people and grievously injured 116, including eight year old children and women in a suicide bombing after a grand concert in Manchester on May 23 the popular London daily ‘The Times’ flashed on its front page on May 27 ‘UK home to 23,000 jihadists’ and wrote the (British) ‘intelligence officers have identified 23,000 jihadist extremists living in Britain as potential terrorist attackers’. Strangely the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi and the Westminster killer Khalid Masood were once under surveillance and for some unknown reasons they were taken off the surveillance list. Later both went to become mass murderers.
Five months back the US intelligence informed the British intelligence MI5 about Salman Abedi’s suspicious movements but the information was not taken seriously. UK parliament election is scheduled for June 8 and the two major political parties, the Conservatives and the Labour seem divided as to the cause of such regular terror attacks in Britain. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader publicly blamed the British military action overseas for terrorist attacks in the UK. But Theresa May the current Prime Minister and the Conservative Leader refuses to endorse Corbyn’s views and says ‘there can never be an excuse for terrorism.’ The truth is the menace of jihad militancy first took its roots when Afghanistan was lost to the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda following the withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan. It is now a matter of fact that the Taliban were created by the CIA with the help of the ISI of Pakistan to fight a proxy war with the Soviets in Afghanistan. Once the Soviets withdrew the Taliban took over and US and its allies lost control over them. Then came the 9/11, the direct invasion of Afghanistan by US and its allies, including Britain followed by the invasion of Iraq, Libya, Egypt, attempts to destabilise Syria the fuelling of the so called ‘Arab Spring’. Nothing worked as per the plan of the US and UK and their allies and today the world have become a more dangerous place to live in than it was two decades back. From Afghanistan to Egypt, from UK to France the militants are on the loose looking for the next target to strike and kill the innocent.
That UK has become home to jihadists is no big news. A country known for its tolerant and liberal views have been home to millions of people mostly from its former colonies. Once Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya was invaded, Syria and Yemen continuously bombed and innocent people killed and displaced, they had no other option to flee their country and seek refuge in countries of Europe as no Arab country will open their door to let in the hapless. UK which have had immigrants for more than a century, was a much sought after destination for these wretched people but UK did not take enough care to monitor what happened to these new comers. Many of them, especially the teenagers were easy victims to preachers of jihadism, killing of innocent people in public places, irrespective of religious beliefs and faith. Last October, a number of main stream dailies published from Britain disclosed that the British prisons are becoming incubator of jihadists as those arrested on charge of militancy are kept with those arrested on charge of other petty crimes. The militants find it convenient to indoctrinate these non-militants into the world of militancy. Once a petty criminal is released there is every possibility that he will come out as a possible militant ready to strike somewhere. Every prison has a Chaplin (Mullah for Muslims) who preaches the words of God to the prisoners once a week; in the case of Muslims he leads the Friday prayers. It was also revealed that the screening board that selects the Mullahs for the Muslims are drawn from the members of Jamaat-e-Islam of Pakistan.
These Mullahs also preache radical views in their sermons and motivates the inmates to donate to the cause of jihad! Jamaat has a very strong footing in UK and every year raises millions of GBP in the name of charity. It is alleged that the largest portion of this money are unaccounted and goes for terror financing. Ramadan is the best month for raising money from the simple religious minded Muslims. All the eight Bangla TV channels practically rents out their entire month’s time slot to professional money raisers who virtually sells ticket to heaven to anyone donating money in their fund. These professional money raisers are usually flown in from Bangladesh, in Business Class, and booked for the entire Ramadan in some five star accommodations. They will raise money in the name of madrasa, mosque, and health care centres. These sorts of fund raising are also done by Pakistanis and Nigerians but except the Bangladeshis others are not that generous in donating money. Seeing the success of Bangla TVs fund raising one Pakistani TV, IQRA recently started Bangla channel just to raise fund. A big portion of the money raised by these fund raisers goes for terror financing, in UK and to Bangladesh. I was told by a responsible officer from the Bangladesh High Commission in London that they brought to the notice of the relevant authorities regarding such fund raising but nothing happened.
In recent times quite a number of Bangladeshis, including entire families have been found joining ISIS in Syria or Iraq. Many of the young people who become radicalised are indoctrinated by Mullah preaching hatred in mosques and Islamic centres. There are many Muslim preachers (Mullahs) in Britain who preaches tolerant views of Islam but they are disliked by these radicals; Salman Abedi was one such person. There are a number of ISIS recruiters operating in UK and in other parts of Europe. In UK and US who become radicalised were simple God fearing folks in Bangladesh. Many prayed five times a day, followed the religious edicts, never subscribed to radical ideas. But once these simple people come to UK or US, fall into wrong hands and become easy victims to the hate mongers. Usually the would be jihadists are recruited by local agents, given a preliminary idea what it means to be a jihadist and then sent to Europe from where they take a flight to Turkey to be received by a local agent and then smuggled into Syria for further training and indoctrination. Abedi whose parents are Libyans migrated to UK where Abedi was born.
Abedi’s parents went back to Libya to participate in the overthrow of Gaddafi. Abedi made frequent trips to Libya. The French intelligence disclosed that he might have made trips to Syria. Though Abedi’s parents participated in the toppling of Gaddafi they do not seem to hold liberal views of Islam as Bush-Blair originally thought. They wrongly believed that everyone who participated in the overthrow of Gaddafi believed in modern democracy and subscribed to liberal views. They were totally wrong. Bush and Blair were victims of flawed foreign policy and the world is paying a heavy price for it.
Unless countries of the West, including UK, take a hard stand on clamping down on the Islamic radicals, things may get worse. In UK, Labour leader Corbyn proposed ahead of the general election that there should be a combing operation in Manchester and in other cities to weed out the terrorists. Conservative leader May disagrees. Corbyn proposed once his party is elected and forms government, UK will reverse its policy on unskilled immigrants to allow more of them to come to Britain. It is a welcome decision but the authorities must be careful as to who gets in and what they do and preach. UK and US owe to the world to make it more peaceful and safe for its inhabitants. Only selling arms worth billions to some countries will not serve any purpose. It might make the world more dangerous and insecure.
The writer is an analyst and a commentator