THE BOMBS DIDN'T DO IT, but Britain is waking up to a different world today. The realisation that boys growing up in West Yorkshire could kill over 50 of their countrymen with almost military precision and fanatical determination has rocked this most stoical of nations.
Police investigating the London bombs are now focusing on finding those who masterminded the suspected suicide attacks. Detectives believe three British men of Pakistani descent died carrying out the first attacks of their kind in the United Kingdom. The fate of a fourth man on the bombed Piccadilly Line train remains unclear. One man was arrested in West Yorkshire, where three of the suspects were from. But local terrorism experts say the men may have been guided by a "controlling hand," who may not have been from Britain.
Leeds, one of the towns in West Yorkshire where the suspects hailed from (220 miles North of London), is most famous for sporting success. Its soccer team has periodically ruled the roost, similarly home-grown talent in rugby and cricket have dominated the world scene. The countryside is lovely because it rains often and the local pubs welcoming with great pies and fine ale.
Like much of the North of England there is considerable unemployment and latent racism against immigrants, notably from Pakistan. Leeds and its surrounding suburbs have faired better than most, but the area still has a considerable number of jobless, and the attendant problems for disaffected youth that this creates. But while some apologists for radical Islam are apparently preparing the groundwork for a defence of their actions based on this excuse, local anger and disbelief is considerable. Television and radio stations are playing continuous interviews with those from local neighborhoods and there are concerns about violence against the Pakistani community--although so far no incidences have been reported.
Immigrant communities have flourished in Leeds and Bradford because property and living is cheaper than in the South of England. But a strong religious upbringing, which had historically been seen as helpful in keeping crime at a low level, and making the immigrant communities strong, is now being seen in a different light.
Charles Clark, the Home secretary, was asked today whether he would condone arresting or deporting radical clerics whose teachings may breed hatred and resentment of fellow Britons: "we're going to look into that," he said.
It has emerged that relatives of one of the suspected men, Hasib Hussain, had reported him missing last Thursday morning. And sources say this is probably how the police were able to track down the suspects so quickly. The BBC was apparently told by police sources that Hussain, a 19-year-old, was on the Number 30 bus that blew up in Tavistock Place. Another suspected terrorist, Shehzad Tanweer, has not been seen for days and his home in the outskirts of Leeds was raided yesterday. One local resident described him as "a nice lad." "He liked to play football, he liked to play cricket. I'm shocked." Another resident said he was just a "normal kid" who played basketball and kicked a ball around.
To this point, many commentators have been impressed by the ability of Londoners to get back to their normal lives. But perhaps they should take some time to think about their actions--and those of their politicians. If the terrorists were home grown, and taught locally, and have never been to an al Qaeda training camp, then the vaunted British stoicism may not be enough.
Roger Bate is a Resident Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.