Mr Justice Gross on Waheed Ali and Mohammed Shakil of Leeds, who were convicted of terrorism offences this week:
“It’s not up to you to take the benefits of living in Beeston in a decent and tolerant society when you choose, and then to consort with those that kill our armed forces where you see fit.
“The plain reality is that by seeking to attend such a camp, you betray the country that has given your families a home. You were not born here, you chose to live here. Your loyalty is sadly lacking.”
He said that on current estimates some 1,000 young British Muslim men had attended mujihadeen camps between 1998 and 2003. Some of these men were determined militants and others were naive.
“This was not a one-off naive frolic by a pair of dupes – you knew what you were doing. You knew what you intended to do. Your intention was to attend a real camp and use real guns. This was not play-acting. You were determined players.”
Perhaps this was an attempt at jihadi humour:
In court, they accepted they might have been thinking about joining up with a mujihadeen group – something they had both done before – but said the primary aim of their trip was a holiday.
But jailing the men, Mr Justice Gross said that he had no doubt that they had they not been arrested, they would have trained at a militant camp in Baluchistan which was providing fighters for the Taleban’s war against the British and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Both Ali and Shakil had argued in court that it was their religious duty to defend Muslim lands against invading foreign armies – and that their beliefs and deeds were completely different to al-Qaeda’s terrorist ideology.
Oh, choices. Holiday, or jihad. If it is to be jihad, not with al Qaeda or the Taleban, oh no, you know, with the good terrorists in Pakistan.
This “Muslim lands” talk does of course echo the Istanbul declaration, signed, inter alia, by Daud Abdullah of the Muslim Council of Britain, Shah Jahan Abdul Qayyum, the imam of the East London Mosque, and London-based Tunisian exile Rashid al Ghannoushi.
8. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways.
There’s an interesting post below about “Muslim lands” in Islamic jurisprudence. The question I have here is more immediate and practical. Who are these British extremists to talk, so hatefully, for their co-religionists?
For the signatories of the Istanbul declaration, one answer is to deem the Palestinian Authority and Arab governments involved in the peace process very bad Muslims:
3. We affirm in full conviction that the Palestinian Authority, whose mandate is coming to an end, is not eligible to represent the Palestinian people. It stands outside the will of its people, and has given up the choice of jihad in the way of Allah Almighty as an effective means in defeating the occupation and the liberation of the Islamic holy places. It adopts the wishes of the Nation’s enemies in exchange for the illusions of false peace.
4. We affirm in full conviction that the so-called Arab peace initiative is a proven betrayal of the Islamic Nation and the Palestinian cause, and a blatant betrayal of the Palestinian people. It aims to criminalise the Resistance [muqawama] against the Zionist occupying entity in perpetuity through its de facto recognition of it, as well as the confiscation of the right of refugees to return to their homes and their property.
The offensive arrogance here is breathtaking. No one elected or appointed the Istanbul signatories to pronounce on anything, let alone betrayal of Islam. It is a self-selected group of haters, and nothing more.
Now let’s turn back to Afghanistan, focusing on what Afghans themselves think about the invasion of their country, according to a poll conducted in December 2008 and January 2009 for broadcasters ABC, ARD, and BBC.
This is a crucial point:
From today’s perspective, do you think it was very good, mostly good, mostly bad or very bad that U.S. military forces came into our country to bring down the Taliban government in 2001?
The combined very or mostly good answers totalled 69%.
It might seem extraordinary that people should suffer a massive invasion and ongoing strife and still come out in favour of the original fateful decision. If you don’t know or don’t care for the horrific suffering under the old Taleban / al Qaeda regime, that is.
But the turmoil and uncertainty of the last two years have made their marks. In autumn 2006, approval of the invasion stood at 88%.
That doesn’t mean the Taleban past is taken as any kind of guide. Afghans are absolutely certain about their preferences now: 82% say they would rather have the current government rule Afghanistan and just 4% pick the Taleban.
A majority also approve of the security forces. Asked about the performance of several groups and the president (Hamid Karzai), 57% rated the Afghan army and police either excellent or good. This topped the performance ranking, ahead of Karzai (52%), the national government (49%), and provincial governments (46%).
It’s a good thing there is such confidence. Asked to name the biggest danger to the country, the Taleban tops the list with 58% of all responses.
US forces too are mostly welcome. Their presence in the country is strongly supported by 12% and somewhat supported by 51%, for a net approval rating of 63%. The same figures for NATO / ISAF forces are 13% and 46%, or net approval of 59%.
That’s well ahead of “jihadi fighters from other countries”, whose net approval stands at just 11%, while 60% strongly oppose them.
What these numbers show is that British jihadis heading to the Afghan conflict are living in full denial of reality. Their Afghan “brothers” reject them and will try to kill them if they manage to cross the border and find a fight.
The same goes for Islamists and their fellow travellers retailing rage about Afghanistan in Britain, whether in a pro-jihadi speech in a mosque, a “let’s talk about foreign policy” meeting with government officials, or a celebration of “the resistance” at a demonstration or a conference. Their rage is theirs alone, not Afghanistan’s.
They should be called on this ruse every time they employ it.