I have already indicated that I consider attemps to deny all Iraq war connection to recent events in London pretty much stupid. I wonder how many people in the UK beyond Tony Blair and Jack Straw actually believe the contrary to be the case (assuming for the moment that even they themselves believe it, rather than believing it to be a political necessity to say it). (See this post, and this one). I’m happy to accept the Joint Terrorist Analysis Center June document view that:
?Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the U.K.?
But clearly the main issue is that there is no ‘one cause’ to be found here. If we want to get to grips with this, we need an explanatory model that has a number of levels, and which bases itself on multiple causality. Within that model, the situation in Kashmir would undoubtedly figure.
This is in part for the reasons given by Madeleine Bunting in a Guardian article on 18 July.
First, the families of the three Leeds-based bombers were originally, in all likelihood, from Mirpur, part of Pakistani Kashmir. Mirpuris form 70% of the British Muslim population (corrected by Madeleine herself: 70% of British Pakistani muslims), and the figure is even higher in northern towns. Just as the dominant role of Saudis in 9/11 led to a spotlight on the religion and politics of Saudi Arabia, so attention will focus on Mirpur.
This rural, impoverished district provided cheap, unskilled labour for Britain in the 60s and 70s. Most immigrants were from subsistence-farming communities and had had little or no schooling. They made a huge cultural and geographical leap to settle in the UK – the dislocation is hard to imagine.
One of the things they brought with them was the perception of a long history of dispossession and marginalisation. Partition brought terrible bloodshed and the division of Kashmir between Pakistan and India. (This was the issue cited until very recently as the most pressing political priority in the UK by the majority of British Muslims.) Within Pakistan, Mirpur is to the more dominant Punjabis what the Irish have historically been to the British, explained one Mirpuri.
However, this is not quite correct, since as Juan Cole indicates the family of Shehzad Tanweer is originally from a Punjabi village near Faisalabad, Kottan.
However, Cole also points out:
Shehzad Tanweer was very angry about what he saw as the repression of the Muslims of Kashmir by Hindu India. He appears to have been recruited by a British cell of Jaish-e Muhammad. His anger about Kashmir became a foundation for anger about other issues, including the United States.
So we might conclude that Kasmir was an issue in Beeston, but it was not presumeably such an issue for Germaine Lindsay, and it may have no connection with the new ‘London cell’, at least one of whose members seems to have come from Ethiopia:
The man arrested in South Lambeth, near Stockwell, was thought to be the son-in-law of an older woman living at an address raided by police. The arrested man’s wife and young son were also led away by police, according to residents living in the same block of flats.
David Benn-Hirsch, deputy chairman of the local tenants’ association, said the older woman had lived in the flat with her family for many years. He said they were Muslims originally from Ethiopia. He added: “I know them as peaceful neighbours and I’m shocked to hear about what has happened.”
Incidentally, while I’m posting, I really can’t agree at all with this Times opinion article from Mathew Parris. His self-proclaimed purpose is “to alert you to the enormous, insidious and mostly unconscious pressure that exists to talk up, rather than talk down, the efficacy of al-Qaeda”. Actually I would say the pressures to talk up, and to talk down are probably, using language stolen unshamedly from Alan Greenspan, about neutral. Some play up, and others certainly play down. My feeling is that the bias is more towards emphasising the ‘stupidity’ of Al-qaeda, and this would be to underestimate the problem. Whatsmore, the three pieces of evidence that Parris assembles – the explosives, the ‘chemist’, the Pakistan coordinator – may well all have disappeared without trace from the headlines for good reason: the security services may well have asked for this. On the explosives, too much reporting simply lets the terrorists themselves know the stage which the investigation is at, and excessive coverage of the Egypt and Pakistan arrests (and I think both *are* still arrested) can have negative and even explosive consequences (maybe literally, look what just happened in Egypt, and certainly the remaining part of this Al-qaeda net seems to consist of what could be described as ‘desparate men’). So all I would say is, don’t worry Mathew, all these details will one day be chewed over, and over, and over, but after the investigation has reached some interim conclusions, not before. At present we are still in the ‘throes’ of July 7 (I wish I could say with any feeling of certainty the ‘last throes’).