Indeed, these Muslim jihadis could be Protestant, Catholic, Jewish — you never can tell. The “broad strata” is, after all, a-gettin’ broader every day How curious that Scottish Muslims seem to think the problem comes from extremists within their own religion.
Not a lot of big news about the plot to relay today. It seems fairly clear that Bilal Abdulla, the Iraqi doctor who drove the Jeep, is the most hardcore jihadi among the suspects and the probable linchpin of the operation. The Courier Mail alleges that he was recruited by Zarqawi but I haven’t seen anything else to substantiate that. I’ve seen plenty of stuff about what a fundamentalist freak he was/is, starting with the claim in the Telegraph that he was so militant even as a “schoolboy” that his mother wouldn’t remove her headscarf in front of him. Other choice tidbits, first from the Times:
“We knew that Bilal was a religious person. He had a beard, and we used to say that he looked like a Wahhabi,” a medical school colleague of Dr. Abdulla’s brother said. At the university, Bilal Abdulla was a loner, according to a medical school colleague who graduated alongside him in 2003. “Dr. Bilal was not a normal person: he never had a girlfriend or close friendships with other students,” the fellow medical student said…
Shiraz Maher, a former member of the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir who knew Dr. Abdulla in Cambridge … said that Dr. Abdulla at one point shared an apartment in Britain with a less devout Muslim. “This other Muslim didn’t pray five times a day and played the guitar. Bilal said, ‘Look, you’d better start praying and stop playing.’ He was adamant about it and put on this DVD of al-Zarqawi beheading a hostage,” he said, referring to the slain insurgent leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. “He said, ‘If you don’t change, this is what we do. We slaughter.’ ”
The Times’s headline is, “Doctor Accused in Glasgow Attack Described as Loner Angry About the Iraq War,” but despite the fact that the piece quotes Maher’s BBC interview at length, it conveniently omits something else he said in the same segment: “[T]o say it was just all about Iraq or foreign policy is mistaken. It feeds off a much wider ideological infrastructure.” As for the possibility that Abdullah was a Wahhabist who wasn’t much good with women, go figure. According to the Telegraph, his whole family are Wahhabis; the LA Times makes it sound like something more recent, though:
A doctor who works in the Baghdad hospital compound known as Medical City and knows both Abdullah and his father said that by the time Abdullah was a medical student at Baghdad University, he was known as an adherent of Wahhabism, a radical form of Islam also known as Salafism.
The same LAT piece quotes Maher as suggesting it was the Battle of Fallujah in 2004 that drove him full-on bonkers per the fanatic devotion he displayed in prayer at the mosque during the operation. That fits loosely with the timeline, which the cops have a better sense of now. The Daily Mirror says it was summer 2005 when the plan probably started to come together, since that’s when four of the plotters — Abdulla, Mohammed Asha, and the Ahmed brothers, Kafeel (or Khalid) and Sabeel — met in Cambridge. Here’s a nifty graphic from the Telegraph that tries to make sense of all the relationships. The connection to the doctor arrested in Australia comes through the Ahmed brothers, one of whom studied with the Aussie/Indian and the other one of whom worked with him.
Kafeel Ahmed is the one who was burned in the Glasgow attack and is now allegedly close to death in the hospital. He was the bombmaker for all three car bombs, says the Mirror. British news outlets claim that the cops have found the bomb factory in a house outside Glasgow at which two of the suspects stayed, but they’re not saying which suspects they were. ABC got some attention yesterday for this story about why the bombs failed, but it doesn’t give any details (purposely, I presume) beyond saying that the syringes used in the firing mechanisms failed. WaPo has a good piece picking up on the bomb angle by noting the trend within AQ away from fertilizer bombs, the ingredients of which are too hard to obtain now, and towards peroxide-based bombs, which are highly unstable but strong enough to bring down a plane even in relatively small doses. Sample quote: “Reached by telephone in Paris, where he was scheduled to give a lecture about TATP on Wednesday at an international conference, [chemistry professor Ehud] Keinan said he often carries a small sample of the volatile compound in his carry-on luggage when he flies — just to test airport security. ‘Nobody ever stops me,’ he said.”
Finally, I don’t know what to make of this much-hyped Telegraph piece about the threatening web message from “45 Muslim doctors” who are allegedly prepared for jihad. The message is three years old, not connected to the case, and not substantiated in any way as far as there actually being 45 Muslim doctors as opposed to one lone poster claiming that there are. It’s an odd coincidence, but ask Rusty Shackleford about some of the threats he sees when monitoring jihadi message boards. I’d bet this pales in comparison.
Update: An awful idea dies quietly. Gee, I wonder what could have happened to change their minds.
Police have scrapped a plan to allow Muslim community leaders to examine intelligence ahead of terror raids, it emerged today.
The proposal, which would have given a small number of community leaders advance information about planned raids, but no right of veto, was put forward after the badly botched operation in Forest Gate, east London, last summer. But the idea – raised last September by the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair – will now not be introduced, a spokesman for the force said…
[A]n ACPO spokeswoman said today it was no longer pursuing a single policy for all of England and Wales and individual forces could decide whether to consult local figures on an “ad hoc” basis.
Update: Coming soon to a Mark Steyn column near you — how socialized medicine made the car-bomb plot possible.
Update: Via Weasel Zippers, a follow-up by the Daily Express on its story earlier in the week about Gordon Brown and his ministers not using the word “Muslim” in connection with the attacks. Did the EU order them to do it?
Secret EU guidelines have been drawn up warning governments not to link Islam and terrorism…
Last night critics pointed to a classified EU document sent out to all European governments offering “non-offensive’’ phrases to use when discussing terrorism.
Banned terms were said to include “jihad’’, “Islamic’’ or “fundamentalist”.
EU officials said the “common lexicon’’ aimed to stop the distortion of the Muslim faith and alienation of its followers in Europe. European governments had previously agreed on the need to develop a “non-emotive lexicon’’ for use in discussion to avoid “exacerbating division’’.
Update: At last, a possible connection to Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Abdullah was born in Aylesbury, in southeast England, but grew up in Iraq after returning to the country with his parents when he was a young child. He moved back to Britain around 2004 to practice medicine. It is possible that a Baghdad-based extremist sheik, Ahmad al-Qubeisi, an outspoken supporter of suicide bombers, was instrumental in helping to radicalize Abdullah. According to an interview with one of Abdullah’s U.K.-based uncles, published in the Guardian newspaper today, Abdullah spoke highly of Qubeisi, even calling the sheik his “best friend” and leading his uncle to believe the sheik had “brainwashed” Abdullah. Investigators are likely examining whether Abdullah had any ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was headed by the infamous Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi until he was killed in a U.S. airstrike one year ago.