Politics, media and war: 9/11 and its aftermaths
Politics, media and war: 9/11 and its aftermaths

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9.4.1 How do British Muslims become radicalised? (i)

There are certainly plenty of ideas about the place of Muslims in British society and the association with political and security issues since 9/11. What is more lacking is any firm grasp of the roots of terrorism in this context and, in particular, how the London bombers came to take the course of action they did in 2005 (as well as others who seem to have been equally prepared to embark on such activities). Dilwar Hussein refers to the inclinations and tendencies of those who committed the acts and then discusses the five factors that contributed to the context of radicalisation. But it is not possible to know precisely what motivated the four London bombers.

There are certainly some major theological currents that contributed to the recent rise of politicised Islam. Both Hussein and Phillips direct attention to the historic role of Muslim ideologues like Sayyid Qutb and Hassan al-Banna, although they interpret their role and significance in rather different ways. Phillips also draws a direct link between the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood and the emergence of a whole series of UK-based terrorists.

What is difficult to establish, however, is how far such ideologues and extremist centres have impinged in the British Muslim population more generally and actually influenced locally raised bombers and potential terrorists. An article by journalist and experienced reporter Jason Burke presents the results of recent investigations into these matters. Burke provides some interesting material on this situation and overturns, he suggests, several myths. The role of extremist mosques has, it seems, been exaggerated but the influence of propaganda and the role of media seems to be critical.

Activity 43 Omar was a normal British teenager…

Now read both Part 1 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and Part 2 of Burke’s article carefully and consider the following questions.

  1. What emerges as a critical factor in his view?
  2. Which three categories of British Muslim militant have been identified by security analysts?
  3. What are the myths about radicalisation that the investigation Burke reports on have overturned?

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