Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

From Londonistan to Yemen and Back | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Once again the term “Londonistan” resonated among world security chiefs as soon as it was revealed that Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who attempted to bring down a passenger plane over Detroit, had been radicalized by Takfiris [those who render others as non-believers] while he was studying at a London university. The Americans and the French have used the term “Londonistan” in reference to Britain since the mid nineties.

Like Middle Eastern officials before them, the French, then the Americans, were frustrated by successive British governments granting asylum to any Tom, Dick or Harry who claimed to be persecuted in his country because of his political views. While French and American attempts to extradite wanted Islamists were blocked by British courts, requests from Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia didn’t even reach the courts as British officials not only rejected requests from the Middle East, they also didn’t bother to investigate charges leveled against them, especially when crimes for which they were either convicted by their home courts in absentia or to appear in court, were also crimes under British law. Egyptian radical preacher Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman is a case in point. Omar Abdul Rahman, whom the United States refused to extradite to Egypt in the 1980s, was given a jail sentence by an American court for his involvement in the conspiracy to bomb the World Trade Center the first time in 1993.

The British Home Office philosophy, (whether under the Conservative or Labor governments), was laughable in its simplicity. It believed that providing the Takfiris with a safe haven would spare Britain their evils, reasoning that they would not demolish their safe haven.

British governments were not content with just lecturing diplomats from these countries about democracy and freedom of expression; they also granted these Takfiris income from social security “from the taxes of the people toiling night and day to pay living costs and for their children’s education,” and for houses, and even cars with the most modern equipment.

For example, one political “refugee” lived in London for almost two decades and since the culture of dealings here is one of honesty and trust, the Home Office under the government of Margaret Thatcher believed his story that his life would be in danger in his own country. That man lived on social security without working or paying a single penny in tax.

Social security even provided him with a “people’s carrier” to transport his large family and was even fitted with an electronic steering system because he explained that he needed one with special specifications costing £70,000 Sterling ($112,000). The state paid the gas and maintenance costs and granted him a house large enough for his family, paid its monthly rent and gas and electricity bills, and also paid him a weekly cash allowance that was enough for food, expenditures, and clothes. He was also given free schooling and medical treatment.

That’s just one example and perhaps there are hundreds of Takfiri “mujahidin” such as Abu Hamza al Masri (who is behind bars as he was convicted of conspiring to kill and kidnap and has been wanted in the United Stated for nine years but is still not standing before American courts due to legal loopholes). Abu Hamza also milked the benefit system more than others because of his large extended family with many children and stepchildren from two wives (another exemption since polygamy is illegal under British law).

It was the same case with Abu Qatada and other “Abus”. Not one of them had a specific job and some of them gave themselves titles such as ‘director’ of some phantom research or study center to do with Sharia (Islamic law), Islamic history or Quran studies, and all were preaching fundamentalist radical Islam.

Since some of them did not have a job to go to every day, they devoted themselves to issuing fatwas calling those they disliked “nonbelievers” and they set up centers to radicalize the young, corrupt them with their Takfiri falsehoods, and disseminate the poisons of hatred in their minds.

They found in people like Abdulmutallab and others who are ignorant of the Arabic language of the Quran an easy prey and explained to them the verses according to their evil minds so as to recruit these simple-minded people to kill those who do not share their ideology, promising them paradise that they describe as a nightclub full of attractive women and pleasures. But the entry ticket was explosive belts and suicidal missions.

The political refugee, who in the 1980s claimed that his life would be in danger if he was to set a foot back in his own country, fled Britain just before facing justice for his involvement in a number of terrorist conspiracies. For the past two years, he has been active in his country, preaching hatred against Britain (where his large family still lives on benefits) organising demonstrations and holding open press conferences without being harmed, not even by a rotten egg thrown at his face!

Yemen was also mentioned when Abdulmutallab claimed that he was trained there and obtained explosives from Al Qaeda cells there. It was realized after analyzing the explosives used by Abdulmutallab that they were the same kind used in the attempt to assassinate Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, the Saudi Assistant Minister of Security Affairs in charge of counter terrorism, last summer when the attacker hid a small quantity of the explosives inside his body which the security guards could not detect when they searched him before he entered the prince’s court.

The danger is the real possibility of Yemen becoming the new Afghanistan and a base for the evil forces if the global forces of good do not take collective, quick measures to prevent it from falling into the terrorists’ hands. Expulsion of the imams of evil and closing their centers in Britain will not be easy due to their expertise in using British laws to their advantage (thanks to the stupidity of the British left with its anti-American views providing them with legal support to prevent their extraditions).

The Yemenis must realise that time is not on their side. There is an urgent need to pool all available international resources in the region into a coalition task force, including British and American forces, and to be ready for swift intervention if and when the Yemeni government requires assistance. It will indeed need assistance. Sanaa is facing three internal dangers: the secessionists whether the Houthis or the southerners, the Iranian interference that wants a foothold in the south of the Arabian Peninsula in implementation of old Iranian agendas, and groups smuggling weapons and drugs involved in crimes for generations.

Arab diplomacy must coordinate to persuade Sanaa not to delay in demanding international help to contain terrorism and uproot it. This is also an opportunity that should not be missed for helping it militarily block Iranian influence and strengthen the regime’s stability through economic and material assistance, for which the world is ready. It will also be an opportunity for Yemeni forces to modernise their aging soviet weaponry and equipment needed for monitoring their porous borders.

Procrastination, even for a few weeks, in offering regional and global support to Yemen in its war against terrorism will no doubt have dire consequences, and the Arab countries will be the first to pay the price for allowing the devastating terrorism to pass through it to the world at large.