Risk Intel Report

Islamic Radicals in the UK: A Double-Edged Sword

Radical clerics, some with overt al-Qaeda ties or membership, have operated in the United Kingdom for years. Three in particular have spent years recruiting terrorists for al-Qaeda and other Jihadist organizations and churning out a new generation of Islamic extremists from among the local population. The laxity with which Britain handled its Islamic extremists, even giving a number of them amnesty so that they could avoid standing trial for terrorist attacks and activities in their home country, prompted French authorities in the 1990s to accuse the UK of striking a unspoken deal with the extremists: you don?t attack here, and we we?ll let you continue to operate. In all fairness, it is pretty unimaginable that the conscious intentions of the British government were that insidious; but such was the extent of Islamic extremism in Britain that it may have appeared this way to the outside. Britain has hosted these individuals for years without being attacked ? partially because of the diligent efforts of British security bodies, but also probably because the extremists did not want to put pressure on their own operating environment. When the British government began cracking down — at the international community?s behest and also because of the September 11 attacks and Madrid train attacks ? and entered the Iraq war, London became a more appealing target. However, both the fiery sermons and actions of Britain?s three biggest radical preachers indicate that the United States has long been Islamist enemy Number One, and efforts on their part to attack it predate the targeting of their own English turf. It is hard to escape the conclusion that London was something of a target of opportunity and that the real enmity of the radical Islamist population, in addition to resources and recruitment efforts, may still be the United States. Abu Qatada served as an al-Qaeda recruiter in London throughout the 1990s. Estimates say he may have sent over a thousand young Muslims to Afghanistan for training. He was convicted in absentia in Jordan for his role in a plot to blow up the Radisson SAS hotel and other sites with a group created by Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. Unsurprisingly, Britain refused to extradite him to Jordan. His adherents include members of al-Qaeda cells uncovered in France and Belgium , in addition to the Hamburg cell headed by Mohammed Atta. The terrorists who carried out the Madrid train attacks attempted to contact him before blowing up their apartment during a police siege. He was arrested in 2002 and now resides in London?s Belmarsh prison, but his adherents, including his chief aides, continue to run free. Even from prison, he still is thought to command numerous devout adherents on the outside. Abu Hamza al-Masri was finally arrested at US behest in 2004. He was also an Al-Qaeda recruiter and an associate of Abu Qatada who is also connected to terrorist plots and activities all over Europe. His sermons explicitly celebrated terrorist acts and called for more. His chief aides remain free, as do a son and stepson who were jailed briefly in Yemen for plotting terrorist attacks there against British targets, as do the members of various Islamist organizations he helped build and that operate legally in Britain. Omar Bakri Mohammed is an associate of both Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada. He espouses the same ideology and founded two groups that are openly ideologically supportive of terrorism: Hizb al-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun . While he claims to share al-Qaeda?s ideology, he lacks the same ?legitimacy? of having direct connections to the al-Qaeda core group of Osama Bin Laden. Last year, he declared to

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