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Hva gjør at britiske muslimer med pakistansk bakgrunn sklir ut i ekstremisme? Peter Bergen og Paul Cruikshanck skisserer et farlig triangel: Pakistan er nøkkellandet, hvor Al Qaida står sterkt, og har nære forbindelser til Kashmir-grupper som Lashkar e-Taiba. Flere britiske muslimer kommer også fra Kashmir, de pleier nær kontakt med hjemlandet, og noen lar seg rekruttere. Med sine britiske pass kan de reise hvorsomhelst.

For terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda–which, in the years since American troops deposed the Taliban, has reconstituted itself in Pakistan–ethnic Pakistanis living in the United Kingdom make perfect recruits, since they speak English and can travel on British passports. Indeed, in the wake of this month’s high-profile arrests, it can now be argued that the biggest threat to U.S. security emanates not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan–but rather from Great Britain, our closest ally.

Anecdotal evidence for the influence of Muslim extremism on British Pakistani communities is not hard to come by. We visited the Al Badr Health & Fitness Centre in East London on a balmy June night to hear Abu Muwaheed–a leader of the Saviour Sect, an Islamist group–discuss who was to blame for the 2005 London bombings. His answer? Just about everyone but the bombers themselves–the British government, the British public, even moderate Muslims who betrayed their co-religionists by cooperating with the government. The evening included a video montage of fighting in Iraq that ended with footage of Osama bin Laden calling for jihad. One Pakistani man attending the session told us he considered the lead suicide bomber in the London attacks to be «a glorious martyr.» Two months later, five of the Fitness Centre’s regulars would be among those arrested in connection with the plot to bomb transatlantic flights.

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Hvorfor ble jihadisme så populært blant britiske muslimer av pakistansk herkomst? En forklaring er generasjonsmotsetninger.

some of Great Britain’s young Pakistanis are filled with contempt both for the moderation of their parents and for a British society that won’t quite accept them. For many, this leaves a vacuum in their identities that radical Islamist preachers have been all too glad to fill. Now, young disciples of those preachers–Abu Muwaheed, for instance–have come into their own, and they are often even more radical than their mentors. Add to this the fact that one-quarter of young British Pakistanis are unemployed, and you have a population that is especially vulnerable to the temptations of radicalism.

Radikaliseringen skjer ofte under opphold i opprinnelseslandet. 400.000 briter med pakistansk bakgrunn reiser hvert år hjem. Av dem blir en promille fanget opp av ekstreme miljø.

Det er tette bånd mellom Al Qaida og gruppene som arbeider for å «frigjøre» Kashmir. Legg til at en stor del av pakistanerne i UK har sine røtter i Kashmir, og sirkelen er sluttet.

Al Qaeda’s ties with Kashmiri militant groups date to the Afghan war against the Soviets, when bin Laden’s forces fought alongside Pakistani groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, many of those groups turned their attention to Kashmir–the key reason why the Kashmiri conflict re-erupted in the 1990s. These ties endured throughout the decade and grew closer after Al Qaeda left Sudan and settled in Afghanistan in 1996. President Clinton’s August 1998 cruise-missile strike against an Al Qaeda base in eastern Afghanistan killed a number of members of Harakat Ul Mujihadeen, one of the largest Kashmiri militant groups–suggesting that it was sharing training facilities with Al Qaeda.

Since September 11, the relationship between Al Qaeda and Kashmiri groups has only deepened, as demonstrated by the fact that Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was arrested in an LeT safehouse in Pakistan in 2002. Al Qaeda has been able to regroup in Pakistan after losing its base in Afghanistan in part by cooperating with Kashmiri militants. A senior American military intelligence official told us that there is «no difference» between Al Qaeda and Kashmiri terrorist organizations. Al Qaeda has also attempted to fit the Kashmir dispute into its anti-American narrative: Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist who is writing bin Laden’s authorized biography, told us that Al Qaeda propaganda accuses Pakistan’s government of selling out Kashmir under pressure from George Bush and Tony Blair.

Det finnes også pakistanske muslimer i USA, men Bergen og Cruishanck tror miljøer i UK er mer mottagelige for jihad-budskapet. USAs sikkerhet avgjøres på britisk jord. To måneder etter at Bergen og Cruickshank besøkte Saviour-sekten, ble de forbudt. Men når Bergen ringer en beryktet islamist, Anjem Choudahry, så ler han og sier de driver på som før. De har bare skiftet navn.

Kashmir on the Thames.
London Broil
by Peter Bergen & Paul Cruickshank
Post date 08.25.06 | Issue date 09.04.06

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