Thursday, July 28, 2005 - AT LAST WE'VE WOKEN TO HATE IN OUR MIDST - News - Sue Carroll

27 July 2005

BY THE time four young British Muslim men had turned themselves into human bombs and murdered 52 innocent people, I'd left London behind.

At dawn on July 7, the city was still basking in the glory of winning the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. The spirit of optimism was palpable.

London was definitely looking up. Two weeks later, it feels as though I've been through a time warp.

The capital is now a dramatically different place. But for all the tragedy, carnage and mayhem I'm not altogether sure that it's a worse one. The picture is crystal clear and the enemy exposed.

We're in no doubt now about the kind of terrorist we're dealing with. Not illegal immigrants or refugees raised on a diet of hatred and fear but young men who appeared, on the face of it, to be polite and courteous citizens.

They've enjoyed, as much as anyone else in Britain, opportunities to make a decent life for themselves. The state, it now emerges, was even bankrolling two of them.

Fugitive bombers Yasin Hassan Omar, a 24-year-old Somali, and flat-mate Muktar Said-Ibrahim had been living rent-free in their council flat and receiving income support. You can't say fairer than that, can you?

And yet still the woolly liberals wring their hands and wonder where we all went wrong. The truth is, we didn't.

The suicide bombers of July 7 came from backgrounds that were no more or less dysfunctional than your average child in Britain today.

Some grab their chances with both hands to succeed in life. Others succumb to the super-chav ambition of acquiring designer clothes and breeding a succession of illegitimate babies.

This lot turned, instead, to religious extremism and embraced the insane, impossible dreams a jihad offered them, of martyrdom and heavenly virgins.

Intellectual or political reasoning has nothing to do with their cause. The foreign policy of the West is a useful weapon of propaganda but at the heart of their terrorism is the desire - irrational though it may seem to us - that we should live by their religion.

For years, they've worshipped at the altar of mad mullahs like Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza, both of whom have been allowed to preach their messages of hate and pure venom in this country, with impunity.

What's happened in Britain is a wake-up call. A shocking reminder that we're not exempt from the brain-washed, murderous young man trained to deceive and groomed to kill.

I wonder how many of us, as we grieve for those killed by car bombs in Sharm-el-Sheik, spared a thought for the 40 people who also lost their lives in an Iraq blast - all victims of a lorry containing 500lb of explosives driven into a police station.

Al-Qaeda, make no mistake, holds no mercy for Iraqis, who are, in the main, Shia Muslims.

The dreadful, appalling fact is that we needed an atrocity to truly understand the horror other nations have suffered for years. (Let's not forget that it was in 1993 - long before the war in Iraq - that al-Qaeda set off a truck bomb in the World Trade Center.)

And, more importantly, we needed it to recognise that what's happened in Britain these past two weeks has been simmering for just as long. Finally, the government has woken from its slumber to do something about it. Proposals to outlaw acts preparatory to terrorism and the "indirect" incitement of violence should have been in place long ago.

Had they been, imams able to poison the minds of young recruits - now in place to carry out their suicide missions - would have been silenced.

Yes, like everyone else in London, I feel anxious on the underground and buses. I'm also furious to be robbed of the freedom we've all taken for granted.

We should be entitled to go round the city without looking over our shoulders. Instead we travel in nervous silence, staring at the floor and looking suspiciously at young Asian men carrying rucksacks.

But I feel a lot less nervous knowing our police are visible and will employ a shoot-to-kill policy, that finally our immigration services will do their job more rigorously and that the mullahs who refuse to condemn terrorism will be deported.

We are no longer sleepwalking into a disaster. We've faced the nightmare.

Now we just have to get through it.

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