Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Homeland Security and The British Terrorist Threat

 Michael Chertoff (pictured) succeeded Tom Ridge to the post of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on February 15, 2005.  A graduate of Harvard College in 1975 (magna cum laude) and Harvard Law School in 1978 (again, magna cum laude), Secretary Chertoff has served as a federal prosecutor and US attorney for the District of New Jersey and also for the Southern District of New York.
 
 On Wednesday April 4, British newspapers the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that Michael Chertoff made a warning that should be heeded in the US and Britain.  He warned that Muslim terrorists from Britain or Europe could one day be the perpetrators of a 9/11 styled attack upon the United States.
 
 He spoke to the Telegraph prior to his visit to the UK on Thursday to meet Britain's Home Secretary, John Reid.  Secretary Chertoff said that the US was planning to take extra measures to stop "clean skins" (those with evil intent but no criminal record) arriving from Britain and Europe.
 
 Michael Chertoff stated: "We need to build layers of protection, and I don't think we totally want to rely upon the fact that a foreign government is going to know that one of their citizens is suspicious and is going to be coming here."
 
 Secretary Chertoff additionally stated that email addresses and credit card details from European travelers to America should be made available to US authorities.  He would have no tolerance of "the idea that we're going to bargain with the European Union over who's going to come into the United States" over the Visa Waiver Program.  This scheme was introduced in 1986 and now involves 27 countries.  Michael Chertoff said: "We have an absolute right to get this, in the same way that if someone wants to be a guest in my house I have a right to ask them who they are and get identification."
 
 He added: "Our Muslim population is better educated and economically better off than the average American.  So, from a standpoint of mobility in society, it's a successful immigrant population.  To some degree, the whole country is a country of immigrants, and therefore there's no sense that we have insiders or outsiders.  In some countries [in Europe], you had an influx of people that came in as a colonial legacy and may have always have felt, to some extent, that they were viewed as second-class citizens, and they've tended to impact and be kind of clustered in some areas."
 
 A core within the group of 19 individuals who carried out the 9/11 attacks comprised well-educated individuals.  Education is no guarantee that a person will not be a radical.  Nor were the 7/7 bombers particularly "alienated".  They had an ideology in which they saw themselves as chivalrous champions of the Muslims whom they saw as "suffering" in the Ummah (the global Muslim community).
 
 The general point that Secretary Chertoff is making is, however, undeniable.  Since I joined the FamilySecurityMatters.org team last year, I have constantly tried to stress the dangers of the lax attitude towards terrorism and extremism from the authorities in Britain (and the European Union).
 
 Even MI6, Britain's offshore security agency, has connived with the "Engaging with the Islamic World Group (EIWG)" a branch of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is run by a 26-year old former Islamist, Mockbul Ali.  EIWG supports and funds engagement with Islamists such as Qatar-based Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the "spiritual leader" of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi has issued a fatwa declaring that it is acceptable to murder Israeli civilians in suicide attacks.
 
 There are several reasons for Secretary Chertoff to be doubtful "that a foreign government is going to know that one of their citizens is suspicious and is going to be coming here."
Mohammed Sidique Khan, leader of the four-man suicide team that killed 52 people on London Transport on July 7, 2005, had been investigated by MI5, Britain's homeland security agency a year before 7/7.  MI5 decided that Khan was not "important" enough to continue monitoring.  They seemed unaware that since 2000, Khan had been involved in Al Qaeda and its affiliate organizations.  MI5 even had surveillance tapes in which Khan was discussing bomb manufacture, but deemed him not to be a threat.
The British government is led by Tony Blair, an ally of America in the War on Terror.  However, the same UK government has chosen Islamists from the Muslim Council of Britain to influence and even dictate its policies.  The US declared the British-based charity Interpal as a terrorist entity on August 23, 2003.  This group channels funds to Hamas and also to intermediaries who distribute money to families of suicide bombers.
 
 The government-run UK Charity Commission has consistently refused to outlaw Interpal, even when confronted with evidence of its support for terrorism.  The same Charity Commission allows the Markaz Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith to be classed as a "charity" (Number 272001) even though at mosques run by the group some disgraceful attitudes are preached.  These include hatred for non-Muslims who are called "liars", the advocacy of Muslims marrying pre-pubescent brides, and contempt for the principles of democracy.
 
 Tony Blair's introduction of the Human Rights Act of 1998 has meant that not only is it now almost impossible to deport Middle Eastern terrorists to their countries of origin, but nine Afghan terrorists and their families have even been granted citizenship under the terms of this act.
 The Blair government has been given ample warning of the dangers of its homegrown extremists.  In February 1995, a year and a half before Blair was elected into power, Muslim students from Hizb ut-Tahrir stabbed and bludgeoned an African student to death at a college in east London.  Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain at that time was run by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed. This Syrian-born Islamist and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood had arrived as an "asylum seeker" from Saudi Arabia in 1985.
 
 In 1996, Bakri formed Al-Muhajiroun, a more extreme group than Hizb ut-Tahrir.  This group was officially disbanded in October 2004.  By this time Al-Muhajiroun had been involved in at least two suicide bombings abroad and one plot to blow up nightclubs, shopping malls and other targets in Britain, involving seven members.  One of the suicide attacks happened in Mike's Bar in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2003, where three people died and 60 were injured.
 
 Despite his openly avowed support for terrorism, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed was never prosecuted.  He lived on welfare in Britain for 20 years, preaching hatred and contempt for democracy. Because of the Human Rights Act, he could not be deported to his country of origin (Syria) for fear of his receiving torture there.  It was only when Bakri went to Lebanon shortly after the 7/7 suicide attacks that the Home Secretary at that time, Charles Clarke, could ban Bakri from returning to Britain.
 
 In August 2005, Tony Blair said he intended to ban the other group founded by Omar Bakri Mohammed, the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir.  In spite of Blair's statements the group, which supports the destruction of democracies to create a Muslim super-state of "Caliphate", is still operating with impunity in Britain.
 
 Britain can not rely upon the European Union to assist it to combat homegrown terrorism.  Much of the extremism in Britain has been made possible because of its own authorities' poor assessment of the gravity of the situation.  Britain's young Muslims include those who are among the most extreme in Europe. Yet the UK media and politicians would rather promote bland multiculturalism than acknowledge that the problems of terrorism and extremism need to be stopped at their source.
 
 Arranged marriages are followed by most Muslims in Britain of Pakistani descent.  These unions allow individuals to enter Britain from a country with its own extremism, and instantly to become citizens, with no previous checks on their history.  Should these individuals, whose previous records and attitudes are unknown, be allowed to freely take part in the US visa waiver program?
 
 Before 1986, all British travelers to the US had to apply for visas.  Since the Visa Waiver Program came into force, it has already been abused by Richard Reid.  On December 22, 2001, he boarded Miami-bound American Airlines Flight 63 in Paris, where he tried to detonate explosives hidden within his shoe.  Reid had been a criminal who had spent time in prison, a fact which would have been discovered through visa-vetting.  Even if Reid had been made to apply for a visa to arrive in the US, there would have been little to prevent him boarding a plane.

 

Richard Reid had an internet associate, Qari Hafiz Sajid Badat, who was designated as a terrorist by the US Department of State on December 19, 2005.  An extradition order had been made for him by the US in October 2004.  Sajid Badat was born in Gloucester on March 28, 1979.  He was arrested on November 27, 2003 and taken to the high-security Paddington Green police station in London for questioning.  On February 28, 2005 he pleaded guilty under the terms of the 1993 Explosives Act and the Terrorism Act 2000. He was later sentenced to 13 years' jail.
 
 Sajid Badat was a prime example of a "clean skin".  When arrested, he was living with his parents in St James Street in Gloucester.  He had attended the Crypt Grammar School in Gloucester.  He was described by a neighbor as a "walking angel", yet he admitted that he had planned to become a second shoe bomber.  According to prosecutor Richard Howell in his trial: "It is clear the plan was that Reid and Badat would bring down a passenger aircraft at similar times in late December that year (2001)."
 
 Another associate of Badat was Ali Abdulaziz Ali, a Guantanamo detainee and cousin of convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef.  What makes the case of Sajid Badat disturbing is that he lived a mere 8 miles from the British government's main center of surveillance, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham.  Badat had been plotting to blow up a plane right under the noses of the people most able to detect such activity.
 
 Badat had traveled to India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan.  He had apparently attended both the Khalden and Darunta terror training camps in Afghanistan.
 
 The true potential of US-bound aircraft bombings by British citizens was highlighted last year on August 10, when passengers at airports across Britain were told not to bring liquids onto planes and were only allowed a bare minimum of hand luggage, carried in transparent plastic bags. During the night, 21 people had been arrested at locations in High Wycombe, Birmingham and east London.  The suspects who were arrested, in a UK police operation code-named "Overt", were mostly middle class.  Cooperation between Pakistani, British and US intelligence services had led to the arrests.
 
 The conspirators had apparently tried to mount an attack upon nine US-bound planes, using liquid explosives.  Ramzi Yousef had first developed this plan in 1995 while in the Philippines.  In his plan, named Operation Bojinka, liquid explosives were to be smuggled onto eleven US-bound planes flying from destinations across the Pacific.  In December 1994 Yousef had made a trial run of this method on a two-stage Philippine Airways flight.  A Japanese business man was killed in the ensuing "test" explosion.
 
Three days after the British arrests, Home Secretary John Reid announced that there were 70 terrorist plots underway in Britain.  He said that of these, 24 were "major conspiracies".

 

The security situation in Britain is dire, where extremism has been allowed to proliferate for two decades via radical preachers who exploited the asylum system.  The US has demanded that countries within the Visa Waiver Program use biometric passports, but even these are potentially open to abuse.  The British government even handed out a total of nine passports to one terrorist. Dhiren Barot was issued with seven in his real name, and two under bogus identities.  Barot had specifically planned terror attacks against US targets.
 
 Even with the inclusion of a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip, biometric passports can have legitimate data "read" illegally and copied onto another passport.
 
 Secretary Chertoff recently placed 7,000 US chemical facilities on a list of sites which are at high risk of accident or terrorist attack.  Chemical attacks have already been plotted by terrorists in Europe and should be a major cause of concern.
 
 Michael Chertoff's forthright approach to US security is to be applauded.  There will be many in Britain and Europe who will object to having their email addresses and credit card numbers made available to the United States intelligence agencies.  Knowing the traffic from an email address is not the same as having one's personal letters intercepted.
 
 Last month, the UK government admitted that 10,000 passports had been issued to fraudulent claimants.  In the light of this blatant governmental failure to manage a procedure which had been designed to minimize abuse by terrorists and criminals, the US Visa Waiver Program can not be expected to continue without additional surveillance of travelers.
 
 Civil libertarians may complain that no one has the right to know "personal" details such as email addresses and credit card numbers.  We are living in a climate of international terrorism.  No one from the 27 member nations in the US Visa Waiver Program should have an automatic "right" to travel to the US without some form of scrutiny being applied. To travel to the United States of America is not a right, but a privilege.


Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who regularly contributes in Family Security Matters. His essays also appear in Western Resistance, Spero News and Faithfreedom.org. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.

 
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