Gjesteskribent

Shiv Malik har levert et vektig bidrag til å forstå hvordan tre gutter fra Leeds kunne bli Storbritannias første selvmordsbombere på hjemmebane. Han arbeidet på oppdrag fra BBC for å lage en dokumentarfilm. Da manus var ferdig, fikk han høre at det var «anti-muslimsk». Filmen ble aldri laget.

Men Malik har levert det mest innsiktsfulle bidrag så langt til å forstå lederen av gruppa, Mohammed Sidique Khan. Det er samtidig en analyse av annen generasjons pakistanere i Storbritannia, og har i høy grad relevans også for norske forhold.

Det er enkelt å trøste seg med at fattigdom er roten til terror og ekstremisme. Forstaden Beeston ligger bare 25 minutters spasertur fra sentrum av Leeds, men er adskilt av en motorvei. Området er blant de fattigste i Storbritannia, men det er den indre dynamikken som skapte 7/7-bomberne.

Although poverty and exclusion are themes that wound their way through the lives of the Beeston bombers, it is the internal frictions within a traditional Pakistani community in Britain that best explain the radicalisation that led to the deaths of 56 people.

Malik hadde store problemer med å få folk til å snakke. Det kom snart frem at det ikke bare var sorg og rådvillhet men også frykt som holdt folk tilbake. De ble truet til taushet.

Det henger sammen med karakteren til grupper som begår selvmordsaksjoner. De er ekstremt høyt motiverte, og utstråler lojalitet selv etter sin død.

For sterk integrasjon

Studier viser at selvmordsbombere er vanskelig å klassifisere som individer. De kommer i alle mulige varianter.

It is the psychology of the group, not the individual, that is key.

This was something that the French sociologist Émile Durkheim identified nearly 100 years ago in Suicide: A Study in Sociology. Durkheim contrasted «egotistical» suicide—caused by a person feeling disconnected from society—with «altruistic» suicide, which occurs when «integration is too strong.»

For my BBC research team, our first month in Leeds was a write-off because no one would talk. This silence was the first sign that Beeston’s Pakistani community might harbour the kind of cohesive group in which an «altruistic» mentality could flourish. We had only the basic facts. We knew that the 7/7 ringleader, Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30 at the time of his death, had been married with one child and had worked as a youth worker and learning mentor. The other two Beeston bombers, Shehzad Tanweer and Hasib Hussain, had known Khan through his youth work. Tanweer, 22, was said to be working in his father’s fish and chip shop after having completed a two-year further education course in sports science at Leeds Metropolitan University. Hussain, just 18, was awaiting results for a series of NVQs that he had taken at a local college.

But eventually, we realised that it wasn’t just irritation keeping people silent; it was intimidation.

Mullah Boys

Det oppsto et alvorlig narko-problem i Beeston på 80-tallet. De gamle visste ikke hvordan de skulle håndtere det. Når de fikk det innpå seg og det ble plagsomt, trakk de seg unna eller flyttet. Men de unge fant seg ikke i det. En gruppe som ble kjent som Mullah boys, tok saken i egne hender. I forståelse med foreldrene kidnappet de de unge og låste dem inne til de var «tørket opp».

The only people who seemed to do anything about the drug-taking were a group of second-generation Pakistanis called the «Mullah boys.» This was a fluid group of 15 to 20 members that formed in the mid-1990s, initially as a response to the drugs issue. Mohammad Sidique Khan was a leading member. Ali told me that on several occasions, the group kidnapped young Pakistani drug addicts and, with the consent of their families, held them in a flat near the Wahhabi-inclined mosque on Stratford Street—and forcibly cleansed them of their drug habits.

Dette var selvfølgelig selvtekt, men ga dem erfaring i aktivisme. Utover på 90-tallet og spesielt etter 9/11, ble guttene religiøse. Foreldrene tok det pent, heller det enn alkohol og narko. Ting ville gå seg til, trodde de. Men så begynte guttene å gifte seg på tvers av foreldrenes ønsker.

Following 9/11, the Mullah boys had become increasingly religious. Initially, this new-found godliness was welcomed by the older generation in Beeston—until the group began marrying people of their choice.

Almost every family is ultimately from a rural part of Pakistani Kashmir called Mirpur, where the rules of tradition are strict and unforgiving. In Mirpur, as in many poor parts of the world, the basic structures of life—justice, security and social support—are organised by the local tribe and not by a central state. One consequence is that people can’t just marry whom they want. If they did, then over time tribal lands would be broken up by the rules of inheritance, and the economic base of the tribe, or baraderi (brotherhood), would be destroyed. This is one reason children in rural Pakistan are often treated as the property of their elders and encouraged, or forced, to marry within the baraderi.

Families that allow children to marry for love are considered to have lost their izzat, or honour. In most circumstances, the only way for the family to regain it is to kill the offending boy or girl. Pakistan has the highest number of honour killings in the world.

When the first generation of Mirpuri immigrants moved to Britain in the 1960s, the baraderi system should in theory have faded away, as social services were supplied by the state. But traditions have their uses for preserving solidarity in a migrant community, and the mechanism still flourishes. Explaining his parents’ attitudes, Ali said they would «rather you marry someone from your own caste, your own community, your own relations.»

So when the Mullah boys started conducting marriages from the premises of Iqra, the local Islamic bookshop on Bude road, it caused a stir. Ali says that when Sidique Khan’s friend Naveed Fiaz and his brother married white girls, and a Bangladeshi girl married an Afro-Caribbean guy, the community elders became very worried.

But the Mullah boys were armed with faith. As long as the marriages were between Muslims, they didn’t care about tribal tradition. And since the outsiders all converted to Islam before the marriages, the older generation’s insistence that their young marry their cousins was simply ignored.

Radikalismen og religionen ble dermed et verktøy til å frigjøre seg fra tradisjonen og foreldrene. En viss parallell til 68-kulturen, med den forskjell at de var på kollisjonskurs med samfunnet rundt seg.

På dette stadiet i undersøkelsen er det flere kilder som blir tørrlagt, etter først å ha snakket med Malik: Man ønsker ikke at samfunnets hemmeligheter skal komme ut.

People had found out that he had been talking to journalists, and they were going to make life difficult for him if he carried on. Before I could ask any more questions, he hung up.

The same day, another one of our sources told me that he had been warned off.

Malik var i ferd med å gi opp da han tilfeldigvis kom på sporet av en hittil ukjent hovedkilde. Det var en pakistansk sjåfør som tilfeldigvis fortalte at han hadde kjørt fire hvite gutter som syntes en annen sjåfør lignet forbausende på lederen av 7/7-aksjonen. Det hadde de jo helt rett i, svarte sjåføren, som hadde avledet deres oppmerksomhet. Så fikk Malik høre at Mohammed Sidique hadde en bror som het Gultasab, som kjørte drosje om natten.

Malik satte seg til å vente, og etter noen netter dukket Gultasab opp. Malik bestilte tur og han greide ikke forstille seg, men fortalte hvilket ærend han var ute i. Gultasab måtte fortelle hva det var som radikaliserte broren så sterkt.

But Sidique was on a collision course with his family and background. One important reason for this was religion. At some point in the mid-1990s, when he first got involved with the Mullah boys, he became interested in Wahhabi fundamentalism; this pitted him against his family’s traditional approach to Islam.

Gultasab told me that the first time he noticed his brother had become a Wahhabi was when he started praying differently—Wahhabis add extra hand gestures between prostrations. Sidique had attended Friday prayers from a young age, and the three brothers, Hanif, Gultasab and Sidique, would fast together during Ramadan. But it was during one particular Ramadan, when Sidique was in his late teens, that he began to take a greater interest in religion. «As young men of a certain age do,» said Gultasab.

Giftermål

Det er uhyre interessant at islamistene trosser sine foreldre og gifter seg av kjærlighet. Det førte faktisk til brudd mellom Sidique Khan og hans far. «Frigjøringsideologien» er renhetsorientert, konfronterende og voldelig i den gode saks navn.

A second source of friction between Sidique and his family was his determination to marry for love. During the years of his conversion to Wahhabism, Sidique fell in love with his future wife, Hasina Patel. The pair met at Leeds Metropolitan University in 1997; Sidique was taking a one-year course to convert a business diploma from a local college into a degree, while Hasina was studying for a three-year sociology degree. Her family was from India, and she was a Deobandi Muslim—a South Asian Wahhabi-linked movement directly opposed to the Khan family’s traditionalist Barelvi convictions.

Faren prøvde å stanse hans sterke religiøsitet og ønske om å bestemme giftermål ved å sende ham til familiens religiøse veileder. Men det gjorde bare vondt verre:

It was the Khan family preacher who eventually revealed the secret behind Beeston’s silence. The Khan family, and, it seems, at least a couple of dozen others, had known that Sidique was a potentially violent radical for at least six years before 7/7. In many ways, his transition from a westernised and Islamically indifferent teenager to fully-fledged jihadi followed a conventional pattern. The family’s typical traditionalist efforts to stop him just made things worse.

And after Sidique got married, on 22nd October 2001, the links between father and son were cut. No longer rooted to his family, Sidique’s immersion into Britain’s network of jihadists was complete.

In 1999, it seems that Sidique began to consider the step from Wahhabi fundamentalism to a form of jihadism actively committed to violence. By this time his life had become intensely narrow: the mosques where he prayed, the buildings where he helped to run Pakistani youth groups, his youth work supervisor’s office, the Iqra bookshop where he gave talks, his brother’s house—every place in his life was within a quarter of a mile of the centre of Beeston Hill’s Pakistani community.

Khans første vervingsforsøk var hos en forretningsmann, Fiaz, i Manchester som hadde flere sønner. Khan og venner kom og holdt foredrag om religion. Men han ville ha sønnene med på reise til Syria, Afghanistan eller Pakistan. Formålet var å besøke hellige steder, men faren ble mistenksom og ba Khan om aldri å komme igjen.

Det har vist seg at Khan var langt dypere involvert i jihad-verving enn antatt. Khan var jihadist ett år før invasjonen av Irak. Det var ikke utenrikspolitikk som radikaliserte ham. Utgangspunktet var spenninger i det pakistanske samfunnet, innslaget av wahhabisme og mulighetene til å lære jihad i praksis i treningsleire i Pakistan.

Det ser ut til å ha dannet seg små grupper av jihadister. Først trodde man 7/7-gjengen sto alene, men det har vist seg å være feil. De inngår i nettverk. Således ble både Khan og Tanweer observert sammen med lederen av Bluewater-gruppen, som nylig ble dømt til livsvarig fengsel. Det var ett år før 7/7. Khan ble skygget, men politiet sier det var for mange i søkelyset til at de greide å sortere alle.

The recent Bluewater shopping centre bomb plot trial revealed that in 2003 Sidique was associating with Mohammed Quayyum Khan, a suspected al Qaeda contact. In July 2003, Quayyum would send Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, one of the other Beeston bombers, to receive training in bomb-making in Pakistan. However, Fiaz’s testimony reveals that Khan was plugged into a wider Islamist network well before the Iraq war, and even before 9/11.

Khan var ungdomsarbeider i Leeds og hadde høy status. Han hadde derfor et glimrende utgangspunkt for å kartlegge mulige rekrutter til jihad. De unge hørte ikke lenger på foreldregenerasjonen, og Khan hadde gjennomgått den samme identitetskrisen som dem. Han visste hva han snakket om.

Beeston’s village-like atmosphere ensured that those whom Khan recruited would remain always in his sight. But even before Khan began talking directly about the evils of western policy in Iraq and recipes for explosives, young recruits—including Khan himself—were being shaped in Beeston and similar places by an acute crisis of identity.

Det påstås at 30 år etter innvandringen oppstår krise og oppgjør hos annengenerasjon. Det skjedde bl.a. med unge jøder i London i 30-årene. Men jihad-versjonen er mer dødelig.

One explanation is that it takes about 30 years for a sizeable second generation to establish itself and then become frustrated with its status, both within its own community and the wider society. This frustration arises in part from a question of identity. Whose culture and values do you affiliate with? Those of your parents or of your friends? Those of your community or of your country?

Hassan Butt, a former recruiter for the British jihadi network (the term violent Islamic extremists in Britain use to describe themselves), who twice met Sidique Khan, says that the reason radical Islamic movements in Britain have been able to recruit thousands of young Muslims is that they have managed to exploit this identity problem.

Butt—who was interviewed in the August 2005 issue of Prospect, just after 7/7—left the jihadi network in February 2006. (His route out, documented in a recent interview on the US current affairs programme 60 Minutes, has been slow and painful, and earlier this year he was attacked near his home in Manchester for his betrayal.) After he left the network, Butt told me that as a recruiter, his most important job was to discover what his potential recruit identified with, and then to pick holes in it. For example, if the potential recruit felt Pakistani, then Butt would focus upon the difficulty of being both British and Pakistani. Butt and many other recruiters find this easy because they know what it is like. Having lived in Britain all his life within a strongly Pakistani household, Butt felt neither British nor Pakistani. «When I went to Pakistan,» he said, «I was rejected. And when I came back to Britain, I never felt like I fitted in to the wider white British community. And you’ve got to remember that a lot of our parents didn’t want us to fit into the British community.»

Hvorfor grensesatte ikke foreldrene bedre? De hadde vanskeligheter fordi de unge tross alt tok utgangspunkt i religionen, som de selv holdt høyt. Dessuten: Hadde de ikke selv forsøkt å holde igjen for at ikke de unge skulle bli for britiske?

De var splittet mellom to verdener, og følte seg ikke hjemme hverken i Pakistan eller Storbritannia. Religionen ble deres nye hjem, i et «ungt forbund».

Religion—in this case a purified and politicised version of Islam, far from the traditional «folk» religion of the first generation—was a natural way of transcending this cultural dislocation. «Here come the Islamists and they give you an identity… you don’t need Pakistan or Britain. You can be anywhere in the world and this identity will stick with you and give you a sense of belonging.»

Butt also explained that traditional communities often inadvertently push their young into the arms of the radicals. Attitudes to jobs, dress, schooling and socialising all play their part in driving youngsters away from their parents’ generation. But one of the biggest factors that has helped the growth of British Islamic radicalism is marriage.

Islamism’s most important tenet is that Muslims should not be divided by race or nationalism—that all Muslims are one. It therefore can offer an Islamic route out of having to marry your cousin. Butt knows this because it happened to him. When, instead of marrying his cousin, Butt tried to marry his sweetheart, he found himself deploying the arguments of his Islamist recruiter against his own father—that compulsion in marriage is un-Islamic and that forced marriages were a cultural import from Hindu India. And when the forces of traditionalism refused to give consent, Butt, like many of his friends, ended up a pariah within his own community.

«When you’re cut off from your family,» Butt explained, «the jihadi network then becomes your family. It becomes your backbone and support.» He added that when you join it becomes impossible to leave because there is nowhere else to go. The network starts operating like a cult.

Litt om forskjellene mellom de ulike retningene: Det er innslag av fundamentalisme i den tradisjonelle tolkningen. Men det spesielle med wahhabismen og islamismen er at de går tilbake til røttene og vil rense tradisjonen for slagg. Det er en meget interessant opplysning Malik kommer med om Saudi-Arabia: Begrunnelsen for å rive alle de historiske bygningene er ikke bare byplanlegging, det er for å fjerne historien og skape en tabula rasa.

While traditionalists will not hesitate to draw upon centuries of scholarly argument, evolution in Sharia law and changes in accepted Islamic practice, fundamentalist movements—of which the Saudi-backed Wahhabis are the most important—reject all theological innovation since the life of Muhammad and his closest companions. Muslims, they say, should pay attention only to the holy book and the collected sayings and doings of Muhammad. This is why, over the last 50 years, Wahhabi authorities in Saudi Arabia have demolished more than 300 historical structures in the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. They want to create a timeless Islam.

Det pågår en borgerkrig blant muslimer, og islamistene er flinkere til å snakke med de unge, godt hjulpet av penger fra Saudi-Arabia. Den store moskeen i Leeds, hvis leder deltok i årsmøtet til Fatwarådet som Aftenposten dekket, får penger fra Saudi-Arabia.

Butt says that the war between these schools, which has been playing out across the Muslim world for decades, has ripped into Britain’s generation gap—and that the Islamists are winning.

Utnytter muligheter

Islamistene er mye flinkere til å utnytte de unge. Rekrutteringen skjer i fengsler blant annet. Hvis en «bror» er henfallen til narkotika, kan også det brukes, slik det skjedde med nettverket som planla bombene i Madrid i 2004.

Butt also says that unlike the traditionalists, the network won’t judge a potential recruit on his actions. «If the network see a drug dealer or someone from a gang, they will not condemn him like the traditionalists and say ‘oh brother haram, haram [forbidden].’ What they’ll try to do is to utilise his energy.»

On the other side, British fundamentalists and Islamists are centrally funded. It is estimated that over the last two decades, Saudi Arabia has set aside $2-3bn a year to promote Wahhabism in other countries. It is not known how much of that money has come to Wahhabi groups in Britain, but one major recipient has been the Leeds Grand Mosque.

Khans video

Det rystet britene da Mohammed Sidique Khans selvmordsvideo ble kjent ett år etter selvmordsaksjonen. Men bare den første delen er kjent, den andre og den lengste hvor han angriper tradisjonelle ledere, er ikke offentlig kjent.

Part two, which makes up three quarters of Khan’s speech, is addressed to Muslims in Britain. Here is an excerpt: «Our so-called scholars today are content with their Toyotas and semi-detached houses. They seem to think that their responsibilities lie in pleasing the kufr instead of Allah. So they tell us ludicrous things, like you must obey the law of the land. Praise be God! How did we ever conquer lands in the past if we were to obey this law? … By Allah these scholars will be brought to account, and if they fear the British government more than they fear Allah then they must desist in giving talks, lectures and passing fatwas, and they need to sit at home and leave the job to the real men, the true inheritors of the prophets.»

Haram eller halal?

Malik hadde flere møter med broren Gultasab. Han fordømte hva broren hadde gjort. Men så kom han en dag til å si at han også var blitt mer religiøs de siste tre årene. Det fikk Malik til å spørre om 7/7 var haram (forbudt) eller halal (lovlig), og da ble Gultasab «rar». Han kunne ikke svare.

The next I heard, the authorities had released Khan’s body parts and so Gultasab had left for Pakistan to attend his brother’s funeral. He didn’t show up again at the taxi rank until late January, two months later. During my next few visits to his house, Gultasab remained cagey, even when I asked him uncontroversial questions—like what his brother was like as a kid. I often confronted him on why he was refusing to talk. He usually repeated his line about not wanting to get embroiled in matters that were being dealt with by the police. But on one occasion, in early June 2006, I got a different answer. I was sitting in his house for what would be the last time and we were going through the BBC script when Gultasab told me that he himself had become more religious over the last three years. For some reason, I translated my usual question of whether he thought what his brother had done was «good» or «bad»—he had said that it was a terrible thing several times—and instead asked him whether he thought 7/7 was halal (permitted) or haram (forbidden) in Islam. Only when a look of stunned surprise come over Gultasab’s face did I realise that I must have been asking him an entirely different question. After a brief pause, he replied. «No comment.»

In the end, the BBC drama was never made. The script was finished in good time, but the commissioners decided it wouldn’t work as a drama. I was also told that the script was «anti-Muslim.» But as we approach the second anniversary of 7/7, Beeston’s story deserves to be told.

Khan may have felt indignant about western foreign policy, as many anti-war campaigners do, but that wasn’t the reason he led a cell of young men to kill themselves and 52 London commuters. At the heart of this tragedy is a conflict between the first and subsequent generations of British Pakistanis—with many young people using Islamism as a kind of liberation theology to assert their right to choose how to live. It is a conflict between tradition and individuality, culture and religion, tribalism and universalism, passivity and action.

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My brother the bomber