Why do we call the New York Times the New Duranty Times? Walter Duranty was the Times reporter who went to Stalin’s Ukraine and somehow didn’t notice the famine Stalin engineered. The Times nowadays is having a hard time noticing a little thing called the global jihad — witness the ridiculous head-scratching in this article (thanks to Hugh Fitzgerald):
LEEDS, England, July 13 – In the gritty, working-class suburbs of Leeds, Shahzad Tanweer, 22, was the fun-loving, rich kid of the neighborhood, the son of a savvy, Mercedes-driving shop owner.
First puzzle for the Times: these guys weren’t poor. But doesn’t poverty breed terrorism? After all, look at all those Haitian suicide bombers!
Hasib Hussain, 18, who lived nearby, was the impressionable one, a charming young man who had been drifting into a reckless teenage life until religion set him straight.
Yeah, good thing religion saved him from a reckless life. He could be sitting in some bar right now, nursing his sixth beer and muttering about The Man instead of enjoying his 72 virgins, awarded for the wanton murder of London infidels. “Set him straight.” You just can’t parody this stuff.
And Mohamed Sadique Khan, 30, was the grown-up one, with a wife and a baby daughter at home.
Another puzzle for the Times. How could he leave them behind? They can’t fathom an imperative that values death more than life, despite the plain words of the jihadists.
The three men used to work out together at the Hardy Street mosque in Beeston, the Leeds neighborhood that two of the suspects called home.
They used to work out! They were regular guys!
As the identities of these suicide bombing suspects slowly emerged Wednesday behind a thicket of disbelief, the question that nobody in these neighborhoods could answer was this: What kind of radical force threw the three men together, with another bomber, to commit such a heinous crime against their country, the one they rooted for in soccer matches, and their people?
Um, I think that radical force is called Islamic jihad.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet that these people could have perpetrated something like this and actually came from our community,” said Hanif Malik, spokesman for the Hamara Community Services Center in Beeston. “The tensions in this town are not based on religion, but on economics and culture.”
Might be time to revise that assessment.
Bradford, a community nearby, had riots a few years ago, as did Leeds, though on a smaller scale, and tensions between whites and South Asians often run high in the Holbeck and Beeston neighborhoods, home to many of Leeds’ Muslims, residents said.
Here the Times is trying desperately to turn this into a racial matter, which is something they understand.
Many local businesses are owned by people of South Asian origin, a source of resentment among many whites. Last year a white teenage boy was stabbed to death by a group of South Asian teenagers, and the hard feelings have deepened since then.
Some whites make no attempts to hide their disaffection, and say relations are only likely to worsen. “Make them all go back,” said David Swaine, 23, of Beeston.
In many ways, the two youngest suicide bombing suspects, Mr. Tanweer, 22, and Mr. Hussain, 18, were British to the core, shaped by their diverse, rough neighborhoods, where flashy cars, petty teenage battles and designer clothes jostle with the Muslim values of work, family and religion. But in the last year or two, friends said, they had noted a turn toward Muslim piety in each man; nothing shocking or obnoxious, just something plain to see.
Hmmm. Here’s where they might try looking for that elusive “radical force.” But of course they can’t admit it to themselves.
Mr. Tanweer, a university-educated cricket fanatic who also excelled in soccer and whose father ran a successful fish and chips shop, had taken to praying five times a day, something his relatives did not do, and attending a number of mosques regularly, acquaintances said. He even went to Pakistan last year to visit relatives and study religion, and some media reports said he visited Afghanistan on the same trip.
“He went to Pakistan,” said a friend who works for a local greengrocer in Beeston and asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals. “But a lot of people go to Pakistan. So? The lads used to tease him that he was going there to get married. I think he went for six weeks or something.”
Forensic evidence indicates Mr. Tanweer was on the subway train at Aldgate.
“The family is shattered,” said Bashir Ahmed, 65, Mr. Tanweer’s uncle, who walked toward Mr. Tanweer’s house, which was roped off by police tape. Mr. Tanweer “loved his country,” he said. “He loved this community. I thought his only interest was cricket. He was not especially religious. Our family does not have a future in this community now.”
He was not especially religious? That contradicts many other statements in this and other reports.
Mr. Hussain, an average student who graduated from Matthew Murray Vocational School in 2003 and was attending Thomas Danby College, the equivalent of the last two years of high school. He had also begun to shake off Western habits, even more abruptly than his friend Mr. Tanweer. A tall, shy teenager, Mr. Hussain, who lived in Holbeck, had taken up with a rough Pakistani crowd in his high school years, the kind of young people who brawled with white kids over girls and perceived slights. Classmates said he was relatively docile, until provoked, then he could become violent.
Then, about 18 months ago, he went on the hajj to Saudi Arabia, neighbors said, and returned a changed person, less aggressive and keenly interested in religion. He began going to the mosque. Sometimes, he even wore flowing baggy Pakistani pants and shirt. He, too, went to Pakistan, the BBC reported. The adults around him, who had been concerned that he was veering out of control, seemed pleased at the change, neighbors said….
“Less aggressive” is important to note. This is not something that necessarily springs from a violent impulse. It can come from a deep piety, although in such cases of course the two are closely intertwined.
In some ways, the men, particularly the youngest ones, fit neatly into the stereotype of a suicide bomber: They are the right age. They grew up in neighborhoods where no jobs, or bad jobs, are just as common as steady jobs. They lived on blocks where people from all over the world – from Pakistan to Kosovo, Jamaica to Uganda – do not so much live together as collide with one another or, at best, keep a separate peace.
This “stereotype” has been disproven by study after study, as we have noted here many times.
Small-time drug dealing and drug use have increased in Beeston, residents say.
But the men, particularly Mr. Tanweer, are also sharply at odds with common notions about the profile of a suicide bomber. While not rich, his family is certainly not destitute. Mr. Tanweer’s father, a successful local businessman who moved to Britain in the 1960’s, is an immigrant success story.
Mr. Tanweer lived in a large house and drove his father’s red Mercedes on occasion. He wore brand-name clothes, worked out at a gym and took classes in the martial arts. He studied sports science at Leeds Metropolitan University, and when he could, he worked at his father’s fish and chips shop for extra money.
Everyone who knew him described him as infinitely likable. Terrorism seemed the farthest thing from his mind, his friends said. “He was a good lad, so down-to-earth,” said a friend who played cricket with him the day before the bombing. Although the neighborhood is poor, people of South Asian origin own most of the businesses. There is a sense, at least among these families, that they were moving up the ladder, rather than down it.
They said this sort of thing about Hitler. Being likable doesn’t mean anything about whether or not you will be violent.
Mr. Hussain’s father works in a factory. His son finished vocational school. It was clear that the teenage dangers here – gangs, drugs and other troublemaking – posed more of a threat than extremist ideologies.
Many in the neighborhood theorize that the men must have been “brainwashed,” as Adrian Healy, a neighbor, put it. “That may sound extreme,” he added. “But then so is blowing people up.”
Brainwashed by what? You won’t find out from the New Duranty Times.