1:31 PM, Mar 5, 2015 • By JONATHAN BRONITSKY
The biographies of the individuals responsible for the beheadings of James Foley and Daniel Pearl are eerily similar.
Foley’s killer, “Jihadi John” -- recently revealed to be one Mohammed Emwazi -- moved to London when he was young, was raised in a middle-class neighborhood, and attended the University of Westminster. The mastermind behind Pearl’s kidnapping and execution, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, was born and raised in London, grew up in a middle-class family, and attended the London School of Economics (LSE).
As such, it’s high time that policymakers accept that nothing about British Muslim radicalization is new. Revisiting the past is undoubtedly the first step to addressing such a complex and dangerous issue.
Sheikh began his undergraduate degree at LSE in the fall of 1992. Soon after, he joined the student-run Islamic Society, which organized “Bosnia Week,” an event aimed at raising awareness about the Serbian genocide of Bosnian Muslims. A number of documentaries were screened, one of which shook Sheikh’s heart. It was a 45-minute film, Destruction of a Nation, which showed, among other horrors, Serbs castrating Bosnian Muslims in concentration camps. Also during Bosnia Week, Sheikh was introduced to Jaish-e-Muhammad, a Pakistan-based Islamist group, which happened to have been floating around campus.
Several months later, Sheikh accompanied his father on a business trip to Pakistan. While where, he linked up with Jaish-e-Muhammad. Upon his homecoming to Britain, he decided to assist an “aid convoy” to Bosnia. Lo and behold, on his Balkan expedition, Sheikh was persuaded by a veteran Pakistani-militant at the Croatian border to wage jihad. In 1994, after fighting in the “holy war” in Bosnia, he was arrested in India for kidnapping three Brits and an American.
Unfortunately, the long arc of history is particularly long in Britain. The campuses of Westminster and LSE -- separated by a ten-minute walk down Oxford Street -- have both for years been brimming with Islamists due to a climate of multiculturalism. Alarmingly, both Emwazi and Sheikh were permitted to return to Britain after being radicalized. And both men ultimately opted to abandon their friends, families, and homes to participate in “humanitarian work” abroad.
There is, however, a key difference between the Londoners’ paths to extremism. Emwazi was motivated by Western military intervention in Muslim affairs while Sheikh was motivated by the lack of Western military intervention in Muslim affairs. Sheikh -- like many Muslims around the world in the early-1990s -- was convinced by fanatics that NATO’s reluctance to halt the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims was actually a Christian plot to extinguish Islam in the heart of Europe. The West will never please those armed with deadly weapons, slick propaganda, and an apocalyptic ideology.
Jonathan Bronitsky holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Cambridge. His master's thesis examined British Muslim radicalization during the Bosnian War.
8:56 PM, Dec 7, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama will meet with Prince William, the duke of Cambridge, tomorrow in the Oval Office, according to the White House.
A museum of the Arsenal of Democracy takes shape at Willow Run. Nov 24, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 11 • By TED R. BROMUND
Willow Run Airport, Mich.
There aren’t a lot of four-lane highways in rural Michigan. But the vast field a few miles east of Ypsilanti once needed a wide road. It was the site of Ford’s Willow Run plant, the heart of the Arsenal of Democracy. And now it’s becoming America’s first museum dedicated to the World War II production miracle that armed and saved the free world.
9:21 AM, Oct 21, 2014 • By RICHARD M. LANGWORTH
Eighteen months ago Britain’s Nigel Farage was a political curiosity, head of a fringe party, gadfly member of the European Parliament, an ex-commodities broker who never went to college—dismissed as a nutcase by ruling elites in London and Brussels. Today he’s being touted as a future prime minister.
Who stands with Hong Kong’s democrats?Oct 20, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 06 • By ELLEN BORK
On the evening of Saturday, October 4, enormous crowds gathered in downtown Hong Kong at the main site of the democracy protests that have dominated the affairs of this city of 7.2 million for weeks. They filled an eight-lane thoroughfare in the center of the Admiralty business district, spilling out around the adjacent government office complex. Banners hanging from overpasses demanded democracy and denounced the deeply unpopular, Beijing-appointed chief executive, CY Leung.
9:16 AM, Sep 18, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
In the late 17th century, times were tough in Scotland. The Stuarts, the Scots’ royal family, had been tossed off the throne of England for a second time, and the country had been excluded from the burgeoning English system of international trade regulated by the Navigation Acts. Even the climate was more miserable than usual: these were the worst years of northern Europe’s “little ice age.”
6:15 AM, Sep 18, 2014 • By JONATHAN FOREMAN
This week’s referendum on Scottish independence may seem like an obscure, perhaps even Ruritanian quarrel to many Americans, but it has profound implications not just for the U.K. and Europe but also for the United States.
4:17 PM, Sep 17, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Though he didn't say it in so many words, President Obama came out today personally opposed to Scottish independence, which is set to go to a vote tomorrow.
11:36 AM, Aug 21, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The killing of James Foley was done, it seems, by someone who spoke with a British accent. This is disturbing, of course, but not surprising. The first of these ritual executions, that of Daniel Pearl, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, was organized by a man named Omar Sheikh who was born in London and educated at the London School of Economics.
The pen is mightier than the Freud.Jul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
To what will Obamacare lead? If the administration’s health policies continue on their present trajectory, Obamacare will lead to some form of European-style single-payer national health system.
Jun 9, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 37 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook keeps an eye on the British press—largely because it’s interesting, and sometimes fun, to read; but also because, now and then, a little nugget emerges which tells a larger story.
Britain’s UKIP raises the question: Can an anti-political party ever be a political success?May 26, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 35 • By TED R. BROMUND
10:32 AM, Jun 20, 2013 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
On Monday, June 10, former British prime minister Tony Blair released a thoughtful memorandum that was quickly reproduced on websites around the world. Titled “The Trouble Within Islam,” Blair’s reflections were stimulated by the resurgence of Islamist terror in Britain, where a serviceman, Lee Rigby, was brutally murdered on May 22 by two jihadists. Blair’s remarks also seemed to reflect the shock of the Boston bombing of April 15.
9:50 AM, Mar 18, 2013 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
There are legitimate territorial disputes, and then there is Argentina’s dispute with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands.
10:34 AM, Feb 5, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
In his first foreign trip in the second term of President Barack Obama's presidency, Vice President Joe Biden is gaffing his way across Europe. Biden's three country trip has taken him from Germany to France and, finally, to the UK, where he's just finishing meetings.