“A String of attacks that will continue and become stronger”
The failure of the Bush administration to take the threat of Bin Laden and Zawahiri seriously and to capture them continues to leave Americans and others at risk.
British authorities have arrested 21 members of a terror cell, apparently British-born or British-bred persons of Pakistani or South Asian origin. They were planning to hijack 6 to 10 American planes at Heathrow Airport in London, and to bring on board liquid-based explosives that they would mix while sitting in their seats.
Regular readers know that I believe that Ayman al-Zawahiri has been recruiting terrorists in Britain, using al-Qaeda-affiliated radical Pakistani groups such as Lashkar-e Tayyiba or Jaish Muhammad. Al-Zawahiri had in his possession the suicide statement tapes of Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. Many UK Muslims of South Asian origin are from Mirpur in Kashmir, so these Kashmir-oriented affiliates of al-Qaeda have special appeal to them. (South Asian Muslims tend to feel that Kashmir was illegitimately grabbed by India and is being oppressed by a Hindu state.) Why did al-Zawahiri have these tapes in his possession, and why was he commenting on them?
On 7/7, 2006, Zawahiri released the final tape of Shehzad Tanweer: Tanweer said,
“What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger.” . . . Tanweer says in a Yorkshire accent on the film that attacks will continue “until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq”.
Even if this cell is not directly connected to Zawahiri, that he and Bin Laden can come on television and the internet and continue to encourage copycate al-Qaeda-style attacks is a huge security problem that needs to be solved much more urgently than the problem of which clans rule the small city of Ramadi in Iraq.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed to the radicalization of second-generation UK Muslims. They oppose those wars by a large margin. Some 80 percent of UK Muslims oppose the Iraq War, and only 10 percent approve of it. The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is also a matter of great concern to them, and a radicalizing factor for young people.
Only 1 percent of UK Muslims believe that the 7/7 bombings were “right.” But 13 percent of UK Muslims (who are about 1.6 million persons in a population of 60 million) believe that the 7/7 bombers are martyrs. Another 16 percent believe that while their action was wrong, their cause was just.
On the other hand, 56 percent of UK Muslims think that their government is not doing enough to combat extremism, and nearly half want surveillance of mosques. About a third say they would be proud if a family member joined the British police. The community is clearly deeply divided, with a minority attracted by extremism and a majority that is very worried about it and wants something done.