The British are like the Arabs; they do not want others to criticize them even when their mistakes are as glaring as daylight. This is the reason they have adopted this defensive stance towards Saudi King Abdullah’s statement, which is about something they admit secretly amongst themselves.
He said that many states, including Britain, are not doing enough to fight international terrorism.
King Abdullah did not claim heroism or distinction with this criticism. In fact; he acknowledged the scale of the problem and furthermore admitted that the eradication of extremist terrorism, including combating Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, could take up to another 20 years. He did not claim victory despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has succeeded in confronting Al Qaeda more than any other country.
Undoubtedly, Britain and the rest of the Western states do not have many options for fighting against terrorist organizations and ideologies except through cooperating with an Islamic state, such as Saudi Arabia.
Saudi is a religion center that possesses the ideological knowledge and influential religious leaders who can have an impact on Muslims on an international scale not unlike the spiritual authority of the Vatican over Catholics. Saudi’s trials in dealing with extremists have been successful and it currently provides assistance to major Islamic countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan, among others.
Indeed, it is strange that the state accused of exporting terrorism is the same state that provides a remedy for it; however this is the reality. Britain and the rest of the European states suffer from pockets of terrorism within their Muslim communities. These communities have witnessed a dissemination of groups that have succeeded in inciting youth and recruiting dozens to fight in Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
In response to the Saudi accusation which stated that Britain, among other states, had done little to fight against extremism, the newspapers published a report saying that approximately 180 publications had been found in 100 mosques, which had been surveyed by researchers throughout Britain. These publications included pamphlets calling for jihad, the exclusion of women and other controversial issues in Western society.
The truth is that it is good news to find out that there is approximately only one publication per mosque. The newspapers reported that one book preaching such things was found in Regent’s Park Central Mosque, which is backed by the Saudi regime.
Still, it may be said that this same evidence actually proves the opposite; it confirms that the clean-up operations in mosques to rid them of extremist books have succeeded. One book per [mosque] library means that hundreds of publications about disowning, takfir, jihad, and hostile fatwas have been eliminated over the past few years, and I do not doubt that they had once numbered thousands.
The major campaign launched against extremist thinking has accomplished much since the terrorist 7 July 2005 attacks in London. What has remained, however, is many more battles against terrorism and extremism in general. Whoever believes that what has been achieved will end the crisis had better fasten his/her seatbelt because we most certainly are witnessing indicators pointing towards a readiness to commit more crimes.
Britain and the rest of Western countries cannot eliminate extremists through imprisoning them, because they are multiplying. It is not enough to prevent them from preaching or to eliminate their books since they have Internet forums and house gatherings. Much remains to be done to remedy extremists and immunize the rest against this disease. This could be achieved through screening the imams and preachers of mosques, Islamic services centers and religious schools that could act as fertile ground to twist and corrupt the youth in Islamic communities.
Terrorism does not need a large army of followers but rather few members that are able to stir up terror, working secretly and willing to die, whilst disseminating a religious discourse that defends them in their societies.