Usually when I see headlines about British Muslims going down for terrorism I smell a rat, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.
I ask myself: were they really terrorists or just incompetent fantasists mouthing off about terrorism?
A lot of the terrorism convictions that we’ve seen since 9/11, it seems to me, are dubious at best. Time and time again we are sold the headline that al-Qaeda terrorists have been rumbled plotting a dastardly attack to strike a blow at the heart of western civilization. The boys in blue and M15 are feted as heroes. And our children can all sleep a little safer at night.
But once you dig underneath the surface you often find that there were actually no weapons and no real plot, just excitable would-be jihadis who liked talking tough.
And in some cases – the most obvious example being the 2011 conviction of Munir Farooqi in Manchester – the security services actually appeared to have put words into the mouth of the “terrorist”. Many would call that entrapment.
But occasionally a case comes along which even leaves an arch skeptic like me lost for words. And today was one of those days.
Earlier this afternoon six men from the West Midlands were jailed for up to 19-and-a-half years each for planning to bomb an English Defence League rally.
Omar Khan, Jewel Uddin, Mohammed Hasseen, Mohammed Saud, Zohaib Ahmed and Anzal Hussain all admitted terrorism offences. Five of them had taken a bomb, knives and sawn-off shotguns to last June’s rally in Dewsbury. But the plotters arrived two hours after the EDL event had ended.
Unless I’m missing something or am being incredibly naïve, this case looks like a fair cop. There does seem to have been a plot, there were weapons, and even though the six men definitely fit the description of “incompetent,” it does look as though they were trying to kill people.
The terror industry
Without doubt terrorism has become a business with huge amounts of money and high-profile careers dependent on it. Without doubt many of the terrorism convictions that have happened are largely bogus. And without doubt the way the security services obtain larger budgets is by exaggerating the “terror threat” and by securing convictions.
But there is also no doubt that there is a small minority of idiotic, impressionable young men in the Muslim community who are so deluded that they think they can murder and maim in the name of Islam.
Their justification for this is always British foreign policy which is something British Muslims have no control, or it seems, influence over. And this means that we can’t do much about them.
So I guess British Muslims, and non-Muslims, will just have to put up with these “terror plot foiled” headlines for the foreseeable future.