Counter Terrorism Blog
LONDON'S JIHAD RAID -"Ghazwat London"
By: Dr Walid Phares 10 July 2005
Two words that said it all: The London's Jihad raid. A title that was used by all al Qaida's declaration to define what has happened in the British capital on July 7. In the 48 hours that followed the bombing of the English tube and the double-decked red bus, leaving (by today's count) about 50 dead and hundreds wounded, two tracks of investigation were developing in the international community. The first one, bound by the legal system, and the precarious political considerations, started from scratch. From DNA, explosives, surveillance camera's footages, borders control, domestic and overseas intelligence and the alike tangible evidence, destined to end up in the court system. This track will be tenuous, complicated, foggy, political, and would certainly end up in a 9/11 like British commission. But it is a procedure that has to happen, before Western systems can react.
But there is another track: One that starts with expertise on al Qaida's will, that uses historical knowledge of the Salafi mind, and that focuses on the perception and expression of the Jihadi machine. Not bound by the state of the currently politically correct, this analytical track uses evidence from what is relevant to Jihadism, not to Western technicalities: So why London and why now?
Here's the answer...
It suffices for the connoisseur to compare some language to be able to situate the development. Linguistically, when an attack is defined as a Ghazwa, you're talking Jihadism, Salafism, and most likely al Qaida. Ghazwa, literally "raid," has a historical context. It is a thrust into the dar al Harb, the "war zone controlled by the infidels." It has a historical reference to ancient times of Jihad. Modern times Islamists reactivated its use to legitimize its religious value. In short, if and when used by Jihadists, it becomes in theory blessed, halal and kosher. Those who perpetrate Terror acts but call them Ghazwa, becomes Allah's fighters, as it is widely explained on web sites and analyzed by radical Jihadists on! al Jazeera. Significantly, September 11 was baptized Ghazwa. So were defined Madrid's, Beslan's (in Russia), and other Terror attacks in India and beyond. In a sum, by Jihadi doctrines, and crucial to understand, the land of the infidels is an open field for thrusts, invasions and raids, regardless of the method. Britain was and remains one of the infidels? zip codes: And a very important one. The UK has been designated second, after America, in the long list of enemies, even sometimes above Israel: A list that was published by Usama Bin Laden and Ayman al Thawahiri at least twice since 2002. So London was a target by doctrinal parameters, even though Londoners were not educated about their status in al Qaida?s eyes. For when Egyptian-Swiss historian Bat Yeor published Eurabia last year, warning from the surge of Euro-Jihadism, or when other experts attempted to open British and Western eyes to the crawling dangers, they were dismissed by the established academics and their media extensions as "alarmist."
Euro-elite were wrong and Spanish and British masses paid the price.
The Jihadi decision to strike in Britain was made but put on hold: That was the equation broken on 7/7. What triggered the release of the button? It was a unilateral decision by al Qaida and its fluid nebulous. Before the September 11 attacks against the US, most Jihadi terror networks had developed support systems in the West, including inside the American mainland. A number of Arab commentators after the London bombings blamed Britain and indirectly others for hosting the terrorists for decades. For Arab ears and eyes have been accustomed to the omni presence of the Jihadi machine in Europe and the West for years. Organizing, training, recruiting, and publicizing for their causes, the radical Islamists have enjoyed Euro-freedoms for too long. While their counterparts have structured their presence modestly in the US, British and European Jihadists developed a strange arrogance in their public rhetoric. Out of today?s bleeding London, and for many decades, the Muhajirun led by Abu Hamza al Masri and many others, were openly fundraising for Terror worldwide, training cells in the United States and unbelievably, calling for attacks against British and other ally soldiers internationally.
But how did the Jihadists explain their cease fire on the British Isles? No secrets: Abu Hamza personally said on al Jazeera over Andover again that ?there is a non-aggression agreement between us and the British state: A Mu'ahada as known in Jihadi discourse. Ironically, the Salafists can develop these peculiar unilateral treaties with the enemy without the knowledge of the latter! Al Masri and many clerics often declared this sort of one way "cease fire" with the infidel. "We are in their lands" said al Masri in Arabic, and we have a "freedom of action." In English, his spokespersons called it "protected by English laws." It was easy to understand: Britain, although an ally of the US, was a pre 9/11 space. Its people were non-mobilized by most of its press and educators; its security services, among the best in the world, were bound by an aggressive so-called anti-War movement. The Jihadi presence in the UK resembled to pre-9/11 America's: under the wings of the Wahabi oil lobby. Furthermore the Terrorist groups were shielded politically by apologists such as pro-Saddam activist, MP George Galloway. Then something happened: The British "broke" the shield.
Slowly moving against the Jihadi networks, making arrests, dismantling financial interests and finally bringing chief recruiter al Masri to court, the Blair Government was encircling the Jihad headquarters of London. In response, on air and online, as of the early weeks of 2005, a Ghazwa was in the making. In al Ansar chat rooms, and even on al Jazeera's panels, the Salafi "sith lords" started to demonize Britain. "England is the mother of evil" postulated Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi, the network?s mentor, despite invitations to lecture in a city that was to be bled few months later.
The self established shield over London was removed by the Jihadists. The city was an open field again. Its fate was to resemble Madrid's in 2004. With al Masri in jail and the Islamists under a growing pressure, there was nothing else to ripe from the infidel nation. The dice were rolling since. As for its predecessor-cities of New York and Madrid, London was in the cross hair. And as for the American and Spanish cities, it is quasi impossible to escape the first strike. Dozens of British and other innocent civilians paid the price with their lives leaving another democracy in shock. This is the bottom line of the 7/7 Jihadi onslaught on her majesty's capital. The rest is technical.
Was it al Qaida? Strategically it was. Were the two press releases credible? The "Secret organization of al Qaida in Europe" that issued the first claim, is a manifestation of a "regional presence" of radical factions. These are the locals taking credit. The "Abu Hafs Brigades" issued the second claim. They are the equivalent of the SS within the nebulous. They are usually dispatched by the central command to perform a thrust on specific battlefields. But another reading from within al Qaida's mind is possible. Most likely the operation was carried out by British Jihadists. Practically, hundreds of UK citizens have been trained in Afghanistan by al Qaida. Potentially, they have trained at least two times their numbers. That would easily provide a couple dozens of urban assassins, able to plant and synchronize a basic bombing operation. From this reality on, the reconstruction of the operation and evidence building is of the resort of the investigation. But among the experts the consensus is clear: shocked yes, surprised no.
Politically, the motivation is also predictable. The Ghazwa planners want enough blood to incite against Blair's war on Terror, and unsettle him, but not as much blood to unleash a massive anti-Jihad mobilization in the country. Carefully designed to bring the Government down, and trigger a withdrawal from Iraq, the July 7 "holy raid" has been administered to the Londoners. Now it is up to the latter to respond.
**Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington and a Professor of Middle East Studies