Ed Husain, who joined a radical British Islamist group in the early 1990s, claims the process of recruiting home-grown terrorists by emphasising Muslim deaths abroad is well established.From an article by the author of The Islamist, published in The Telegraph (UK) on May 2, 2007:
"Their war was Iraq, ours was Bosnia, but it was the same ideology, the same us and them' mentality that drew them in," says Husain.
"The big difference is that when we were active in the mid-1990s, open jihadist mentality and suicide bombing took time to emerge. Now it's easier and quicker. Depending on the individual, they get radicalised in week one and they can get to the stage of physically taking action against those they oppose within 12 to 13 weeks."
There is a suspicion, shared by Gordon Brown's new international terrorism adviser, Lord Stevens, that British-born al-Qaeda operatives, have returned as veterans from Iraq to guide self-recruited terrorist groups here. That would explain how the gas cylinder car bombs common in Baghdad have turned up three times in two days on British streets.
I recall my Islamist days when my mind was closed to an alternative argument: there was only one way - my group's way. All others, including fellow Muslims, were wrong and heading for hell. To argue that dialogue will win over extremist Islamists is a myth; theirs is a mindset that is not receptive to alternative views, and does not recognise the sacred nature of all human life.For more on the imminent threat posed by Hizb ut-Tahrir, there is an interesting interview of Ed Husain by Zahed Amanullah on AltMuslim.com:
Wahhabism and segments of Islamism are defined by their rejection of mainstream Muslim teachings and age-old spiritual practices, literalist readings of scripture devoid of scholarly guidance, and a hell-bent commitment to confronting the West. Moderate Muslims have common cause with the West to extinguish extremism in our midst.
As long as it remains legal for extremists in Britain to plan and finance Islamist attempts to mobilise the Muslim masses in the Middle East, and prepare an army for "jihad as foreign policy", there will always be a segment of this movement that will take jihad to its logical conclusion and act immediately, without leadership.
The rhetoric of jihad introduced by Hizb ut-Tahrir in my days was the preamble to 7/7 and several other attempted attacks. By proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir, we would send a strong message to extremists that Britain will not tolerate intolerance. Yes, we are a free country with a proud tradition of liberty, but it has always had limits.
In 1991, Omar Bakri, then leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, called for the assassination of John Major - we ignored it. In 1997, Osama bin Laden declared a jihad against the West - we ignored it.
Today, in our midst, Hizb ut-Tahrir calls for an expansionist, violent, totalitarian Islamist state - and we continue to ignore it. There is no quick fix to the problem of home-grown terrorism, but banning Hizb ut-Tahrir would be an excellent first step, sending a strong signal to aspiring terrorists that Britain has not changed the rules of game. We no longer play that game.
altmsulim.com: Taji Mustafa of Hizb ut-Tahrir (UK) has written an article saying that your book plays up on Muslim stereotypes. What is your response to that?
Ed Husain: Taji has failed to understand the difference between Muslims and Islamists. Again and again on their website, they've used this reference that Islam is being blamed. No, no, no, no. Islam isn't being blamed. Islamism, the perverse ideology set up in the name of our noble faith is being blamed. Taji's fallen prey to the very ideology that he's advocating, trying to hide behind the mask of being Muslim.
Being Muslim is a very simple identity. We're at a stage now where we're beyond Hizb-ut-Tahrir and beyond things in just black and white. That's what the problem is. Islamist stereotypes are being exposed, yes. And so they should be. Islamists are being exposed, and so they should be. We've had enough of them.
But I don't think most Muslims out on the streets feel that they've been stereotyped in any way. If anything, a thorough reading of the book shows that you can be a Muslim, a westerner, and at peace with the rest of the world, and that's what the ultimate message of the book is. We're here. We're here to stay, and we're sons of the soil. Islamists have been exposed as have their stereotypes, but not Muslims.
altmsulim.com: Hizb-ut-Tahrir cites polls throughout the Muslim world that claim a majority of Muslims want a Caliphate of some sort. If that's the case, what's wrong with it?
Ed Husain: Very cunning of HT to employ those polls! I cite countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh, the most populous Muslim countries in the world, who have repeatedly - at free and fair elections - rejected Islamist groups offering them a mythical Islamic state. That said, you know, in the Arab world most people would say yes to any alternative, any opening of political plurality so those polls do not surprise me. But tell people that a Caliphate, as proposed by HT, entails every Muslim giving ba'iah to the HT caliph in waiting, Abu Rishta, and the rejection of doing so is a sin for which a Muslim is killable and then I think the poll findings will be interestingly different.
altmsulim.com: One of the things that surprised me a little bit, not knowing earlier how Hizb-ut-Tahrir has been organised in this country, is that there may be a perception that a lack of education or knowledge would allow an ideology like theirs to continue. But a lot of the people involved with them that you met were educated in university or skilled in professions. Wouldn't educated people would be more open minded about what they're buying into?
Ed Husain: Good point. There are two other issues to bear in mind. Most of these people that are “educated” have a technical education. Most of these guys are – with respect – doctors, accountants, or have a science background. Very few of them were lawyers or humanities-educated. Those who were, or are now, tend to be in the more moderate wing - if there is such a thing - within HT. And those who eventually left, most of them were politics graduates, law graduates, and so on.
The second point is that many of these individuals were recruited when they were 16, 17, 18. Their critical faculties hadn't been developed properly. Then you have the same individuals married within Hizb-ut-Tahrir. So it's like a cult. By the time they actually become critical, it's too late to leave. Leaving means divorce. Leaving means cutting family ties. I'm not making this stuff up. People who have left recently have gone through that very experience. And it's not easy to reject Hizb-ut-Tahrir once you're married into the party. Your whole world revolves around it.
A third point is that many of them are of the belief that their form of Islamism is the only way of being a Muslim. I know of someone who left HT six years ago and he now wants to get his wife to leave, because she's a fully fledged member. But she isn't prepared to discuss their love life or to discuss their children with him. Because for her, her allegiance to the party and the leadership of the party is her way of having fidelity to God. Her husband takes second priority. So he can't talk about her because she thinks she's betraying God by betraying the party. That sort of fanatical, zealot's understanding of the world has led him now to divorce his wife without having any discussions because she just can't talk to him without reporting their discussions back to the party leadership.