On August 11, 1965 citizens of the United States woke up to news of an incident which, one way or another, changed fundamentally recent American history: the traffic arrest which lead to the Watts riots. The nature and context of the London Bombing may be different, but its impact on a nation may not be. I retain my view: the effects of what has just happened will be significant.
Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner has just said this:
“This is a sea change. Out of tragedy comes hope. I’m going to be meeting with a series of senior Muslim leaders this weekend and we will work a way through in which they provide information. Let’s say they operate their own third party reporting, they set up their own terrorist hotline, these are the kind of things we can do.
“I’m absolutely positive we will break this, we will break this horror that has descended on us.”
This points us in one direction, the need to open information networks inside the muslim community in the UK, this would also point to increasing cooperation with the security services from countries with large muslim populations (like Pakistan and Egypt) and the deployment of their operatives on UK soil.
Another direction to follow may perhaps be gleaned from looking through this summary of an interview with ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazamm Begg. Among things he says which ring a chord with me is the following:
Begg described racism that he encountered when he was growing up in the 1980s. Some of his Pakistani friends were beaten up by skinheads, he says. “Almost everyone back then was harassed at some point for being dark-skinned, for being Pakistani,” he said
This was surely the case. Hopefully much of the world he describes has now improved, but young people in their twenties will have lived their formative years in this environment.
This point is also worthy of note:
But the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims was more acute in regions such as West Yorkshire, which includes Leeds, the northern city where at least three of the four suicide bombers in last week’s attacks are believed to have grown up. The fourth is believed to have been Jamaican-born.
Unlike Birmingham, Begg said pockets of West Yorkshire are dominated by immigrants from specific regions. Many of the groups have not assimilated into British culture, making it easier for radical recruiters to deepen the divide and fan hatred, he said
There is no one answer here, all we have are pointers, but two areas which obviously need to be addressed following the July 7th bombings will be the leveraging of ‘local information networks’ and a long hard look at the process of integration and acceptance.