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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This, is perhaps how it commonly happens. A phenomina not restricted to the UK, but a movement seen throughout the world..
Five young British Muslim men have been jailed for downloaded and sharing masses of extremist material. During their trial they argued that they were not terrorists but intellectually curious. But what evidence convinced the jury they had gone too far..?
When Mohammed Irfan Raja quietly walked out of his family home in Ilford, east London, on 24 February 2006, he had dreams of becoming known for something more than the 18-year-old schoolboy he then was...
However, today.. as the 19-year-old and four men from Bradford University begin jail sentences.. his name becomes just another associated with the jihadi extremism of radicalised young British Muslim men.
In one of the first trials of its kind Raja, Awaab Iqbal, 20, Aitzaz Zafar, 20, Usman Malik, 21, and Akbar Butt, 20 have been jailed, for downloading and sharing extremist terrorism-related material.
When Raja left home that day, he left his parents a suicide note, in effect. His intent, he wrote, was not to be a terrorist on British soil, but rather he was going to Afghanistan to train and fight with the Muja'hadeen.
His parents, when they found the note, called in the authorities.. They were not the source of their son's new ideology.. Raja's grandfather had served with the British Indian police force.. the medal he'd had pinned on had been presented by Lord Mountbaten himself and is a family heirloom.. They are a British family, with unquestionably British attitudes..
Raja.. when questioned by police, told them he'd found Islamic extremist sites on the Net, and had met an American Muslim who had directed him to sites that showed, graphically, terrorists blowing themselves up. He mentioned the look of satisfaction in their eyes, as the bombs went off..
He had been depressed of late, said the family.. they said he had been expressing feelings of isolation and loneliness..
Their main contact had been a man in Pakistan, who told the four how to evade security and get to his house.. again, over the Net..
Lets profile.
An impressionable, 'isolated' young college student, looking for a future which had a meaning perhaps beyond that which his parents had achieved, with little idea as to how he could 'make his mark' on the world other than in the 'materialistic society' he'd become disillusioned with.. discovers religion.
And not just religion, but one which offered an extremist view.. offered a 'war' which was justified by his 'faith', as he was taught to understand it..
It gave him a purpose. And to a confused college student struggling with his own identity, this was salvation.
This is what we're actually fighting. Not only in those countries with experience with the carnage extremists can cause, but in all societies with yet another 'lost generation'.
Blame it on the media. Blame it on the Governments. Blame in on parents who've not spent enough time trying to understand and councel their own kids. Blame it on whatever you choose.
But the fact remains, there are kids out there searching for some meaning.. so manner in which they can express their innate anger with either what they have, or what others have and take for granted.
While it is certainly the job of the Muslim teachers and leaders to try and reach out to youth.. to try and instill in them the true meaning of the Q'ran.. It is also a trend we must reverse ourselves..
We, in countries the likes of Britain, must develop a sense of common identity that transcends extremist thought. And that is not the job of the Government.
It is the job of the Imams, of the parents, of society in general, to demonstrate we are not 'The Great Shaitan'.. but are working towards bringing a life of some degree of prosperity, to those who have never enjoyed it before.
It is the job of the media.. who sensationalise each and every 'terrorist' arrest..
Having been a long-time journalist, one cannot espouse gagging any medium, but one can demand that any story that is likely to incite some to distrust of an entire Community, and incite some within that Community to retaliate for what they might percieve as an 'attack' on their culture, and current beliefs..
It is time we stopped attacking those who would fight the threat, and the sources of terrorism and terrorists, and began explaining, in detail, not in documentaries and informational programs or articles which are for the most part, skipped by the majority of viewers and readers, within the daily newscasts we watch, and the tabloids we read.
And this must be seen.. it must be obvious to those who are impressionable..
If the extremists can recruit through giving a sense of 'identity and purpose'.. then we must be more persuasive in promoting our position, and more forcefull in our denunciation and exposure of those who would kill civilians, or fight for a group that fights the soldiers of the countries that 'nurtured' the possible volunteer..
It would be inherent on the media, to dispatch stories the likes of what we are doing to try and rebuild the Afghan and Iraqi infrastructure for the benefit of the people on the street in those countries, and the efforts of the terrorists to destroy that which we're trying to build. To put the emphasis not on those killed in random car-bombings around Baghdad, for that can easily be construed as being the fault of the 'invading' forces, but on the water purification plants, the hydro stations, the houses themselves that we have tried to build, and which terrorists have destroyed. The oil pipelines we have rebuilt, only to have them blown up, again by the terrorists. The efforts we are making, to establish a 'peace' for a land which has never realliy known that state, and the reciprocal efforts of terrorists who's purpose is to keep the common people on the street, without the basic services, and thus maintain their spurious arguments which try to demonstrate that 'we' are the enemy..
This was how it started. A few disillusioned students downloading terrorist information from the net, and becoming a 'part' of something.
It may well be said that it our own fault, that they don't feel a 'part' of the societies we've built..
If so, then it is we that must change. All our diverse components within our countries, must offer more than we have. Show more of the positive aspects of this lifestyle, both in what we have, and what we want to share, and what we're willing to do to introduce it to those who have traditionally lacked..

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