On September 11, 2001, Britain’s then-prime minister, Tony Blair, stated that the United Kingdom stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the United States in its time of internal and external crisis.
This axiom has served as the operative basis, for over six decades, of an enduring trans-Atlantic relationship. Our security services, our diplomats, our militaries and our economies are predicated on an interoperability that keeps us safe, keeps our interests high on the global agenda and keeps our economies growing (or did, until our friends on the left intervened).
That is why I write to you from London, dear friends, with a call to renew our commitment of standing side by side against the evils facing us today. The culminating trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber widely thought to have been radicalized as a student, is the most pertinent reflection of this, but not an isolated incident.
As someone from a Muslim background who attended a central London university, I can tell you first-hand what goes on behind the scenes of Islamic societies and their like. It’s not religion, I’ll tell you that much. Radicals who are indoctrinating our youth against Western values are succeeding in making sure that even our representatives are no longer safe. Just last week a conservative Member of Parliament was accosted, ostensibly for his support for Israel. Another parliamentarian was stabbed for his support for the war in Iraq.
What we’re increasingly seeing is a tendency for young, impressionable men and women to attend politically charged, often perverse, speaker meetings where members of Islamist front-groups and their fellow travelers encourage students to become jihadists, to rape or beat their wives and to not indulge in the frivolities of Western society, like voting or even seeing non-Muslim doctors.
But why should you care, America? Why should you shoulder our burden? Are we asking too much of you to help us curtail our domestic problems, too?
I think not, for they are your problems also.
This is an attitude that comes not from laziness or expectancy — but out of necessity. Britain expects no handouts, expects no free ride when it comes to tackling our internal deficiencies. But what we do want to see is a renewed joint effort to shatter jihadist networks around the globe. And we’re playing a role not dissimilar to that of America, as a leader in this fight, as the rest of Europe capitulates to Islamism.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is currently sitting in a Detroit jail cell awaiting sentencing for his alleged role in attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight over U.S. soil. He was educated in London. He was introduced to radical speakers and even hosted events with former Guantanamo Bay detainees when he was president of the University College London (UCL) Islamic Society. And he attempted to export terror to the U.S. homeland. This is why we must continue to act together.
A new report calls on Professor Malcolm Grant, the head of UCL, to resign from his role, given his repeated denials that the conditions on British university campuses are conducive for radicalization. I ask that any students, academics or members of the public reading this in the United States examine their consciences and examine their campuses to root out what is an undeniable trend. To reverse a modern adage, if Britain sneezes, the Western world will catch a cold.
And this is not a witch hunt, either. Muslims have a serious role to play, one might argue the greatest role, in tackling extremism and radicalization within their own communities. Non-governmental organizations and state authorities must open their arms to secularists and moderate Muslims, though not fall prey to the double-speak that a lot of self-professed “moderates” engage in.
The real crux of transatlantic co-operation over the next decade will be to cement the shattering of al Qaida and other extreme jihadist networks — and that fight is now taking place on our own shores.
Despite pressure from the far left, cross-spectrum malaise about allied interventions the world over and an economic nightmare from which the West is yet to awaken, we must hold our resolve in tackling terrorism.
During the build-up to the Gulf War, our then-prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, once announced to President George Bush, “This is no time to go wobbly.” Her words remain true to this day.