Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer on the London bombings at FrontPage:
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has condemned the London bombings unequivocally: “Any individual or group that claims that these heinous actions serve as a redress for legitimate grievances is dreadfully mistaken. MPAC condemns the exploitation of people and issues, regardless of the perpetrators and their justifications. This assault is unmistakably an act of terrorism, an attack against humanity”¦.MPAC is also calling upon the leaders of eight Islamic schools of thought currently meeting in Doha, Qatar to publicly state their opposition and condemnation of today”s terrorist attack.”
The eight Islamic schools of thought meeting in Qatar represent virtually every current strain of Islamic theological and legal thinking. For them sincerely to condemn the bombing in London would be an immense step — just as MPAC”s words condemning the bombing, coming as they do after their vicious attack on Steve Emerson and other opponents of terror, are most welcome.
MPAC”s apparent new direction must be applauded by us all, but whether these words will be backed up with deeds remains to be seen. July 7 brought yet more evidence of the deep crisis within Islam, as bombs exploded in London, killing at least forty people. The group claiming credit for the bombings issued a Qur’an-quoting message that called the bombers heroes; the head of the Muslim Council of Britain called them “evil people.” Which group would ultimately win out was by no means clear.
The “Secret Organization of Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe” says that it exploded the bombs “to take revenge against the British Zionist Crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan.” It termed those who set off the bombs “heroic mujahideen” “” jihad warriors “” who “carried out a blessed raid” and thereby caused all of Britain to be “burning with fear, terror and panic.” For this it called on the “Nation of Islam” and the “Arab world” to “rejoice.” It concluded by quoting the Qur’an: “You who believe: If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly” (47:7).
But the religious content of their message was irrelevant as far as Tony Blair was concerned. “We know that these people act in the name of Islam,” he observed, “but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims both here and abroad are decent and law abiding people who abhor this kind of terrorism every bit as much as we do.”
And indeed, the recently-knighted Sir Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain issued a strongly-worded statement: “We are simply appalled and want to express our deepest condolences to the families. “These terrorists, these evil people want to demoralise us as a nation and divide us. All of must unite in helping the police to hunt these murderers down.”
Sir Iqbal may find a bit of resistance to his call for unity against the jihad terrorists. A center of that resistance will likely form around Sheikh Omar Bakri, leader of the now-disbanded openly pro-Osama group Al-Muhajiroun, who in April 2004 revealed that a group calling itself Al Qaeda Europe “has a great appeal for young Muslims. I know that they are ready to launch a big operation.” Could “Al Qaeda Europe” be the “Secret Organization of Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe”?
Bakri himself was nowhere to be seen on July 7, but wherever he was, he must have been rejoicing. He has remarked that an Islamic terrorist attack in London was not only “inevitable,” but perfectly justified: “We don’t make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity.” Just last month he declared: “We”re going to incite people to do jihad, incite people to hate the new pharaoh (President Bush). Why not do more? Maybe take over the Embassy.” In February he spoke of possible suicide attacks at No. 10 Downing Street: “Somebody he fly aeroplane and he decide to fly the aeroplane over 10 Downing Street…. It’s another self-sacrifice operation…What people call suicide operations they mean somebody he wear explosives or he carries explosives and he go and he blow it in the building with the people…Martyrdom is what you want. Make sure you have nothing left behind you to think about or cry for and fight in the name of Allah.”
Bakri has also stated, drawing on the distinction in classic Islamic theology between the dar al-Islam (house of Islam) and the dar al-harb (house of war): “I believe the whole of Britain has become Dar ul-Harb”¦.The kuffar (unbeliever) has no sanctity for their own life or property.”
Judging from Bakri’s veiled prediction and the self-consciously religious language of the purported al-Qaeda group’s communiquÃ©, it seems likely that such assumptions and aspirations form part of the world view of the London bombers. The bombers “” at least twenty-four people, according to British analysts “” may even have been members of Bakri’s Al-Muhajiroun group, which once held a seminar entitled “The Obligation of Inciting Religious Hatred.” After all, as recently as January 2005, the New York Times identified Al-Muhajiroun, as “Britain’s largest Muslim group.”
In the wake of the London bombings, one Muslim posted at an online forum that “progressive Muslims” were “scared brothers and sisters who felt the need to sacrifice their Aqeedah [beliefs] to pacify the west and its influence.” The poster called upon these progressives to affirm that “jihad is for all and one who is our enemy are infidels” and make “righteous their weakling acts from before” — in other words, to turn away from attempts to reform Islam and reject violence, and to join the jihad.
This kind of appeal — the characterization of alliance with the West against the jihad terrorists as an act of disloyalty to Islam and the umma, the worldwide Islamic community — is potent. Jihadists are winning adherents among young Muslims in Britain by presenting themselves as the advocates of “pure Islam.” The BBC noted in March 2004 that “many young Muslims, confused about their identity, have turned to their faith to provide answers and stumbled upon what they call “˜pure Islam.” Pure Islam is austere, intolerant, harsh, and very heavily influenced by the teachings of the dominant Saudi sect known as the Wahhabis”¦.Pure Islam has claimed the mantle of being the only real Islam as practised at the time of the Prophet Mohammed and his companions”¦.However, moderate Muslims leaders have remained largely silent and have yet to provide a credible alternative.”
It now more imperative than ever for Sir Iqbal Sacranie and other professed moderate Muslim leaders in Britain to provide that alternative for young Muslims. If they do not do so, Sacranie’s call for a united front against Islamic terror could fall largely on deaf ears among Muslims in Britain whose heads have already been turned by Omar Bakri. Blair and others should be paying close attention to this: it is all very well for Sir Iqbal and others like him to issue condemnations, but only when they begin to convince young Muslims in Britain that violence against nonbelievers is not called for by their faith will their be any end to this. Solutions short of this will not get to the core of the problem: those analysts who have been calling for Western concessions to pacify the situation fail to understand that Bakri’s absolutist language is not just rhetoric. In Bakri’s view, concessions are always welcome from the enemy but never arouse any reciprocal impulse: the ultimate goal is the imposition of Sharia (Bakri has expressed the hope that someday the “black flag of Islam” will “fly over 10 Downing Street”), and truces and pacts that stop short of that goal are simply stepping stones along the way. If his was indeed the largest Muslim group in Britain, those who nourish such hopes are not an insignificant minority.
That’s why the biggest question emerging from the carnage of 7/7 in London will be whether or not Sacranie’s call for cooperation with investigators will be heeded by Muslims. The future of free Britain itself could hang in the balance.