Francis Harris, Telegraph (UK), August 29, 2006
Article from New Republic: “Kashmir On The Thames.”
Britain now presents a greater security threat to the United States than Iran or Iraq, an American magazine said yesterday.
In an article on Islamists headlined “Kashmir on the Thames”, the New Republic painted Britain’s Muslim communities as a breeding ground for violent extremism.
Citing recent opinion poll evidence suggesting that one in four British Muslims believed that last year’s London Tube bombings were justified, the magazine said: “In the wake of this month’s high-profile arrests, it can now be argued that the biggest threat to US security emanates not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather from Great Britain, our closest ally.”
The magazine, with a circulation of 60,000-a-week, has its roots on the Democratic Left although in recent years it has backed much of President George W Bush’s foreign policy. The claim is the latest in a series of hostile reassessment of Britain by Americans in the wake of the alleged plot to bring down transatlantic airliners.
Many have been appalled both by the existence of enthusiastic jihadis in British cities and by the call from some of their leaders for a change in the country’s foreign policy.
Other publications and the think-tanks that shape public debate in America have also issued stern criticism both of Britain’s Muslims and of the Government. Nile Gardiner, of the Right-wing Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that Americans were coming to view Britain as “a hornet’s nest of Islamic extremists” and thought it posed “a direct security threat to the US”.
He said that if British-based terrorism continues, America is likely to respond harshly.
“A major concern would be the tightening of travel restrictions unless the authorities start to crack down on Islamist militancy,” he said. More than four million Britons enter America annually using the visa waiver programme. Any change would force Britons wishing to visit the US into lengthy queues at American diplomatic missions.
Mr Gardiner said the issue had not yet acquired a head of steam in Congress, but that another plot, or a “successful” attack by British Muslims on an American target, would be likely to spur an immediate response.
Investor’s Business Daily has already demanded an end to the programme because it “allows Pakistani Britons to dodge security background checks”.
Much of the outraged American response this month was sparked by the call from Muslim leaders for a change in British foreign policy. The letter from six Muslim MPs and 38 community leaders said “current British Government policy risks putting civilians at increased risk both in the UK and abroad”.
The theme was taken up by the Wall Street Journal, which said: “It is typical of some of Britain’s so-called moderate Muslims, who seem less concerned with fighting extremists in their midst than in excusing them.”
The newspaper went on to attack Tony Blair’s government for “cultivating and promoting such pseudo-moderate Muslim organisations”. The BBC and the Foreign Office, described as “a preserve of Arabists”, were also lambasted both for quoting extremists and allowing them into Britain.