When the British Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond says in his article in the Sunday Times that the actions of young Muslim Britons fighting for ISIS are an “utter betrayal of our country, our values and everything the British people stand for” he speaks for all right-minded people including the vast majority of Britain’s nearly three million Muslims.
However, as is evident by the British Muslim jihadists murdering innocents, engaging in depraved beheadings, spreading terror across Syria and Iraq – a very tiny minority of British Muslims continue to be hell-bent in trying to attack the very country that is their place of birth, the same place which has allowed their families and communities to openly practice their religion without fear or restriction and the same place their ancestors chose to migrate to, half way across the world to seek opportunity.
Whether it is the most recent case of ‘Jihadist Johnny’ — the terrorist from London beheading the American, James Foley — or of the LSE-educated Londoner Omar Sheikh who was arrested and jailed in India in 1994 for acts of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and then later exchanged along with Hafiz Saeed (mastermind of the Mumbai terror atrocity) for the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in December 1999, or the terrorists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale who beheaded Drummer Lee-Rigby in Woolwich in May 2013.
One thing they all have in common is the journey of radicalisation from being a pious peaceful Muslim to a tweeting, machete-wielding and AK47-totting fanatical jihadist.
While it can be said that Britain has been too busy in the politics of apologies, identity and appeasement, at the same time Islamist extremists have been too busy in driving forward their hate-preaching radical agenda of turning their medieval poisonous ideology into modern reality. They have simply filled the void left by the ineptitude and inability of the British Muslim clergy and community leadership in connecting with its youth.
It was a logic-defying decision to grant asylum to Abu Qatada in 1994 followed by the ‘decade of delay’ in deporting terrorists like him who openly call for the killing of Britons as infidels. While we could only muster a muted response to the very deliberate, highly coordinated and sustained program of ‘Islamisation’ of our schools under Operation Trojan Horse.
It is scandalous when we continue to grant visas and asylum to hate preachers and it is shocking to see our reluctance to withdrawing British citizenship or indefinite imprisonment of those wanting to destroy Britain and its free way of life – we have, for far too long, been tolerant of those that are intolerant of us.
When we inexcusably continue to allow hatemongers like Anjem Choudhry to freely peddle their poisonous ideology of bringing Sharia to the United Kingdom; when local councils like the London borough of Greenwich, without proper scrutiny, help fund centres such as the Glyndon community centre where extremists such as Al-Muhajiroun’s Usman Ali (whom the local Woolwich mosque spent £30,000 in legal costs to exclude) have been known to spread their hatred radicalsing the evil minds of the murderers of Drummer Lee Rigby; when we are willing to let extremists from around the world gather in Woolwich outside Belmarsh prison to break their Ramadan fast while holding a ‘Belmarsh Iftar’ in solidarity with the Islamist terrorists inside; is it not as though that we ourselves are guilty of tarnishing those red poppies with our misplaced tolerance of such anti-freedom, anti-British and treasonous elements?
Many commentators have been far too quick to wrongly suggest that the problem of extremist radicalisation is solely down to individuals ‘self-radicalising’ themselves via online jihadist forums or that they are just ‘misguided’ ‘lone wolves’.
The truth in most cases is that in the absence of articulate English-speaking, media savvy Imams, there has mostly been some sort of influencing figure propagating extremist ideology into young, idle and malleable minds looking for answers. What we have had is the moderate voices among the British Muslim communities drowned out by a growing clamour of extremely loud extremist voices from within and externally by a growing anti-Muslim extremism fuelled by ignorance, fear and hate.
This has very much led to the poisoning of so many of the present generation of young British Muslim men who seem to be far more plugged in to the world around them, yet far less integrated with the rest of society than their fathers and their grandfathers — people who despite knowing little English and coming from a more orthodox culture to settle into a foreign and unfamiliar place, were far more at ease with those around them.
When images from the ISIS frontline are tweeted back into Britain, one thing it certainly does, other than act as jihadist recruiting propaganda, is fuel yet more ignorance, fear and suspicion among a growing number of anti-Muslim, bigoted and racist extremists.
However, it is not from these inhumane, twisted and extremist ideologues that we must seek wisdom, inspiration and direction, but from the shining beacons of humanity, community-cohesion and integration such as the fifth Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Arjan Dev ji who in 1588 invited the Muslim saint and direct descendant of Caliph Umar bin al-Khat-tab, Saint Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of the holiest Sikh temple – the Sri Harimandir Sahib - Golden Temple in Amritsar. That is the level of co-operation, integration and sophisticated tolerance that is needed to create a truly ‘united in diversity’ society.
What is needed is our very own new coalition of the willing, consisting of authentic British Muslim leaders (not the usual failed ‘Citizen Khan’ type self-appointed community leaders), genuine community champions, public figures and politicians to provide leadership and head a vocal, just and coherent fight to defend the young British Muslim from the threat of (mostly internationally-backed) radicalising hate preachers who have hijacked so many Mosques, Madrassas and community centres. Like the new Modi Government in India, with its Rs 1 billion program for modernisation of Madrassas, we must also look to work with British Muslims to bring in some sort of regulation of Madrassas and active vetting of preachers by local Muslim communities.
What is needed is for us to answer the calls of the Yazidis and the Kurds to help them survive the ISIS aggression and to defend themselves from their oppressors. We must fight and defeat these ISIS terrorists that threaten to bring terror back to our streets. As our Parliamentary candidate for Dudley North – Afzal Amin called for recently, we need boots on the ground and with our expertise in counter-insurgency our Army is well placed to defeat this rapidly escalating threat before it reaches our shores. While there, we must also ensure, along with our international partners, that there is no social and governance void left in places like Iraq or Syria for extremism to find a home.
What is needed is for us to form a new Axis-Of-Good to target and destroy terror havens across the world which continue to provide moral, technical and financial support and crucially the training centres equipping young British Muslim men with deadly expertise in bomb making and guerilla warfare – ranging from the horn of Africa, to Afghanistan, to the most sophisticated training camps run by seasoned ex-military personnel in the North West Frontier province of Pakistan — the first port of call for any aspiring Islamist extremist.
After all, it was while conducting liquid explosive experiments with the Pakistani Army that extremist preacher Abu Hamza had lost his hand and left eye. Most recently, ISIS demanded that the USA release Pakistani chemical and biological scientist – Aafia Siddiqui in exchange for James Foley.
We must ensure that we end decades of identity politics which has only worked to divide Britain along the lines of colour, ethnicity and religion. We must ensure that all communities are properly integrated and feel proud to speak English, proud to fly the Union Jack and proud to be patriotically British first and only then to celebrate their diversity as Hindus, Christians, Muslims or Sikhs.
We have only one nation, we must work to redouble our efforts to strengthen its foundations by rekindling a patriotic fervour amongst the minds of all our youth that being British is great, that being British is going-places and that you should ‘Believe in Britain because Britain believes in you’.