Radicalization and Salafi influence in Britain


(Dr. Shujaat Ali Quadri)

In January 2024, the British government announced a ban on the Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an international Islamist organization. Founded in Egypt in the 1950s, the organization’s core beliefs challenge the concept of modern state and democracy and call for the urgency of a Global Jihad to establish a puritan order. The organization is banned in numerous countries, including the Middle East. Over the decades, Salafi organizations like the HuT have mastered the strategy of institutionalizing control over youth, students and trade networks within the migrant muslim communities.

The organisation’s position was not different from that of Al-Qaeda that the western world at large was complicit in victimizing Muslims and there was dire need to replace the global order and democratic governments across the world. The organization has not shied away from expressing its sympathies with terror organizations and its anti-semitic stance became the premise for its proscription by the British authorities.

The liberal laws of Britain provided a conducive atmosphere for organizations like Muslim Brotherhood and the HuT to establish its presence in the UK and spread its tentacles in the British Muslim diaspora. It is ironic that the islamist ideologues who aspired to transform London into a capital of Global Salafism were themselves refugees who were expelled for their radical thoughts. They became a threat to the stable regimes and monarchies in the MENA region. Gradually, these groups made an ingress into the South Asian diaspora, particularly those of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The activities of Al-Muhajiroun group are worth noting here. Founded by a British-Pakistani activist Anjem Chaudhry, the organization advocated a Salafoi takeover of Britain. In 2014, Chaudhary swore allegiance to ISIS and inspired the Muslim youth of Britain to join ISIS.

It would be a fallacy to accuse them of receiving support from the Arab world; rather it was the Arab governments that repeatedly requested the British authorities to act on the threats from Islamist movements.

In the post 9/11 era, when the International Community was unanimous in the call to fight against terror, the west chose the wrong stakeholders in its efforts on deradicalization and social cohesion. While there was action on Islamist groups that supported violence, those Salafi groups that professed non-violence were made part of deradicalization programs. The lax approach of the British authorities unravelled with the bombing of multiple metro stations in London on the 7th of July of 2005. Not only the attackers were of British origin, they were brainwashed by pro Al-Qaeda ideologues residing in the UK. Mohammad Siddique Khan, one of the three suicide bombers of the London attacks recieved training in Pakistan under Harakat ul Mujahideen, an organization with a history of terrorist attacks on the Indian soil.Two weeks later, that is, on 21st July, there was another failed attempt to target London with bomb attacks. The mastermind of this plot, Muktar Ibrahim also travelled to Pakistan for training. Despite the vulnerability of the Pakistani diaspora and the pro-active role of Pakistan-supported organizations in furthering the cause of Global Jihad in the UK, the British authorities refrained from pressurizing Pakistan on the pretext that Pakistan was a frontline ally in the West’s war in Afghanistan.

In the last few years, the growth of ISIS prompted the British authorities to deal with the treat seriously as the group was able to generate an appeal among British citizens. Around 900 British subjects travelled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. In the last few years, Britain has made its deradicalization program more inclusive as it seeks to identify those who are at the risk of becoming extremists. The next step would be to re-examine the Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood linked organizations and understand their functioning in light of the all the potentialities they include for radicalization.

(The Author is the Chairman of MSO)

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