Politics & Policy

London’s Jihadists

The U.K. must crack down on resident Islamists.

While the world is busy denouncing the United States for the deplorable behavior of a few soldiers, it is oblivious to growing incitement by Islamist clerics against America and the West. Calling for jihad earlier this month in London, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad told his disciples: “All Muslims of the West will be obliged to become his sword” in a new battle. At the same time, another Islamist, Imam Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, is preaching in London that “it’s okay to kill [those who] work against Islam, by slitting their throats, or by shooting them.”

Such incitement is prohibited by law in the U.K. Under the heading of “Inciting Terrorism Overseas,” section 59 1(a), the Terrorism Act of 2000 clearly states that “a person commits an offence if he incites another person to commit an act of terrorism wholly or partly outside the United Kingdom.” Needless to say, such an act would also constitute an offense if committed in England. Yet these imams and their ilk are free to call for murder with impunity.

The British allowance of this “free speech” has already resulted in a suicide-bombing attack–in April 2003 in Tel Aviv–that cost the lives of three Israelis and wounded more than 50. According to the prosecution attorney at the Old Bailey last week, this attack was planned by Hamas, which recruited British citizens Asif Muhammad Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, whose family members are on trial in London for failing to inform the U.K. authorities. Considering this, and the fact that British law enforcement is busy exposing terrorist plots and arresting members of al Qaeda and other Islamist cells, while British soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.K.’s reluctance to go after advocates of terrorism is puzzling.

This disregard for the law extends to written incitement in the form of magazines and websites, originating from England, calling for jihad. Although Hamas was finally outlawed in the U.K. in September 2003, its publication, Filisteen Almuslima (Muslim Palestine), continued to be published in and distributed from London to the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. In fact, the cover of that September issue carried the horrifying picture of the bloody casualties from a dissevered bus in Jerusalem, as well as the glorified image of the suicide bomber who murdered 23 innocent civilians, many of them babies, and wounded 136.

Inside, the magazine praises and justifies the terrorist attack against Israelis and glorifies the terrorist, Raid Misk, as a heroic role model for potential suicide bombers against oppressors of Islam everywhere. It quotes the Koranic verse that, according to Hamas, gives Islamic religious justification for suicide bombings: “Among the believers, there are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah: Some of them [have already fulfilled their vows and] found their death [in battle]; and some still wait [their turn]. However, they have not in any way broken [their vows]” (Sura 33, verse 23).

And Filisteen Almuslima is not the only Islamist magazine published in and distributed from England, inciting hate, spreading anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Semitic messages, with pro-jihad, pro-terrorist propaganda and calls for suicide bombings.

Al-Sunnah, another Islamist fundamentalist magazine published in the U.K., called in February 2003 for suicide operations against the United States, saying, “There is no other way for the youth of this nation [Islam] other than suicide operations.”

Risalat al-Ikhwan (Message of the Brotherhood) is also a London publication with Muslim subscribers worldwide. This magazine serves as center stage for spreading radical Islamist ideology in the best tradition of the Muslim Brotherhood. This Egyptian terrorist organization was outlawed by Gamal Abd al-Nasser in the 1950s, and despite its influence on Hamas and other internationally outlawed terrorist organizations, it is still out in the open in Western countries.

In October 2003, Risalat al-Ikhwan called for: “Active resistance (muqaawamah) to the occupation and the use of any available means to resist it are a religious Moslem duty, a national duty and a natural right anchored in both international law and the United Nations Charter.” More of this can be found on Hamas’s website.

Judging by the opposition Prime Minister Blair is facing, it seems that these publications influence, among others, former British diplomats, 50 of whom sent him a letter on April 26, 2004, protesting his support of U.S. Middle East policy, stating: “To describe the resistance [in Iraq] as led by terrorists, fanatics and foreigners is neither convincing nor helpful.” These diplomats, in the tradition of Islamist-Arab propaganda, continue to argue, like Lakhdar Brahimi, that Israel is the cause–that it has for “decades poisoned relations between the West and the Islamic and Arab worlds.” It is not surprising, therefore, that the resignation of Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Tonge was not required after she condoned Palestinian suicide bombings, stating in parliament, “I would be a suicide bomber in Israel.”

A police source in London, when asked why this incitement is allowed, responded that law-enforcement officials are “unhappy with the situation,” but that they are unable to prosecute the instigators because “our hands are tied. It’s a political decision.” Political leaders ought to heed the warning sirens before the terrorists strike–as promised.

Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil; How Terrorism is Financed–and How to Stop It, is director of the New York-based American Center for Democracy.

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