The June 2007 issue of Prospect is now out. Our cover story is Shiv Malik’s detailed account of the radicalisation of Mohammad Sidique Khan, ringleader of the 7/7 bombers. Malik spent several months in the Leeds suburb of Beeston—home to three of the four bombers—and conducted interviews with Khan’s brother, Gultasab. His account refutes the claim that Khan was a well-integrated British-Pakistani Muslim driven to violent despair by the war in Iraq. In fact, he had been a Wahhabi fundamentalist since the mid-1990s, and began contemplating jihadist violence as early as 1999.
Khan’s radicalisation, Malik suggests, emerged from frictions within Britain’s Pakistani community, and followed the “lost second generation” pattern – children of immigrants who reject their parents’ ways but fail to find a place in secular Britain and fall victim to the temptations of extreme identity politics. Malik shows how extreme Islam can act as a kind of “liberation theology” for young Muslims, allowing them to claim western freedoms, such as marrying for love, without rejecting their Islamic heritage.