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.
The Sunday Times and Telegraph have already run news stories on Malik’s article, and we’re expecting more coverage over the coming days. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of replies to the piece on our website, and we’re very interested in readers’ responses to the piece, either in the form of letters, or in the comments box here.