Young Muslim Rage Takes Root in Britain Unemployment, Foreign Policy Fuel Extremism
By Kevin Sullivan and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, August 13, 2006; Page A01
LONDON, Aug. 12 -- Naweed Hussain sat in his little real estate office Friday, trying to focus on spreadsheets instead of the angry clatter outside.
Furious young Muslim men crowded around the local mosque on his street, surrounded by television cameras. They complained that their friends, other young Muslim men from Walthamstow, in East London, had been unfairly accused of plotting to blow up airliners. Police guarded the home of one suspect in what authorities call a plot to kill people on an "unimaginable" scale, allegedly planned right here in Hussain's working-class neighborhood.
"Why is it not happening in some other country?" wondered Hussain, 53, a soft-spoken man in a tie and black-rimmed glasses who has lived here since he migrated from Pakistan 40 years ago. "Why is it happening here?"
The British security service, known as MI5, disclosed last month that it had about 1,200 Islamic militants under surveillance who were considered capable of carrying out violent attacks. Peter Clarke, the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism branch, said police were engaged in 70 separate terrorism investigations, the most ever. "This is unprecedented and the flow of new cases shows no sign of abating," Clarke said. "If anything, it is accelerating."
Since the July attacks, Blair's government has toughened anti-terrorism laws, making it a crime to "glorify" terrorism and easing procedures for deporting clerics and others who advocate violence. The government has increased the number of Muslim police officers on the beat and conducted extensive outreach in Britain's Muslim community, which officially numbers 1.6 million people but is widely believed to be 2 million or more.