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Counting Britain’s Jihad

27/08/2010

The chaps over at the Center for Social Cohesion were kind enough to share with me a copy of their recent comprehensive text Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections. It got quite a bit of media attention at the time of publication, as it was basically the only substantial text to be published in time for the five year anniversary of the 2005 bombings on the London underground (this is not to forget the special edition of International Affairs that also came out at around the same time featuring a number of heavy hitters in the world of terrorism studies).

The report meticulously goes through all of the “Islamist related offences” committed in the UK between 1999-2009, though it looks as far back as 1993 for plots which have British links: some early fighters in Bosnia drawn from Azzam publications tapes, and Ramzi Youssef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center plot, who was no doubt radicalized by his time in Oxford and Swansea.

In an attempt to bring some statistical analysis to bear on the information, they have culled background and biographical data to create pie charts and tables. Problematically, the dataset itself is not actually that big (they have included “120 Islamism-inspired terrorist convictions and attacks in the UK”), meaning that the figures are a little less than conclusive and rapidly impacted by subsequent prosecutions.

Nevertheless, one detail that does seem clear is that South Asian’s, and specifically Pakistani’s, are the largest single group to be drawn towards terrorism in the UK. This may seem unsurprising given the fact that they are the largest single community of Muslims in the UK, but the detailed figures are actually quite interesting. Even if one includes all of the individuals classified as of uncertain South Asian origin into the Pakistani total, the figure that is reached is 36.21%. This compares to 46.69% of Muslims drawing their identity from Pakistan in the general population (according to the 2001 census figures). Meaning that Pakistani’s are, proportionally speaking, substantially under-represented in the terrorist roster in the UK as drawn up by CSC.

But frankly, the most useful thing about the report is the fact that they have collected in one place a great deal of the information about the many individuals who have been convicted for Islamist terrorism related offences in the UK. For those who follow these things (and for those only interested in the topic in passing), this will become a very useful reference tool.