Thanks to the good auspices of the Sunday Times, we now know that the leading imam of the al-Madina Mosque in Beeston where the 7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, and Hasib Mir Hussain had grown up is now praising their actions. Additionally, the Times reports that Khan, considered the leader of the 7/7 cell, “had attended sermons in Yorkshire by [imprisoned Muslim cleric] al-Faisal and tapes of al-Faisal’s teachings were still circulating within his mosque.” These disclosures will create yet more embarassment for the British government, which has gone to great and some would say rather implausible lengths to separate the 7/7 attacks from either al-Qaeda or existing Islamist networks in the United Kingdom, but it is not entirely unsurprising.
As Dr. Rohan Gunaratna noted tongue-in-cheek in Inside Al Qaeda:
As Colonel Gaddafi told the Americans in the wake of 9/11, “If you want to combat terrorism, bomb London and Riyadh.” For once Gaddafi was right; London was the unwitting host to several Islamist groups and Saudi Arabia was tacitly providing the finance.
It has now been 4 years since Dr. Gunaratna wrote those words and while London has indeed been bombed, little has been done to fundamentally dismantle the Islamist infrastructure in the United Kingdom. While the UK has successfully prosecuted senior al-Qaeda leaders, notably Abu Qatada, the network’s highest-ranking representative in Europe, and more recently Abu Hamza al-Masri, the more fundamental issue of shutting down the terrorist infrastructure remains unaddressed by the Blair government. According to The Scotsman, by the UK government’s own records there are still more than 100 terror suspects yet to be prosecuted. The British government will of course claim that these individuals are under surveillance and their activities constrained, but this claim is put to lie by the fact that 7/7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan was himself was determined not to be a threat by MI5, a designation that did nothing to prevent him from carrying out the attacks.
The continuing threat from UK-based al-Qaeda and allied groups can be demonstrated clearly by the recent designation by the US Treasury Department freezing the assets of the leadership and several front organizations associated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya), most of which appear to be headquartered in either Birmingham or Manchester.