Newspapers around the world are reporting that an Islamist Internet site affiliated with supporters of Abdullah al-Faisal—Jamaican-born Trevor William Forest, who was deported from Britain in 2007 after serving a jail sentence for soliciting the murder of Jews, Americans, and Hindus—is promising “spectacular attacks” in Britain, to be launched by “home-grown terrorists.”
By itself, this is hardly the “astounding revelation” that the newspapers suggest: home-grown terror in the UK is sadly nothing new. And, though MI-5 is undoubtedly paying attention, these reports say nothing particularly useful about the threat of terrorism in Britain in the near future: Islamist sites have predicted 50 of the last three attacks.
But I am interested to read that, at least on this particular site, Islamists are now arguing that Britain and Europe pose a more serious threat to their future prospects than the United States. Perhaps that reflects nothing more than pique at al-Faisal’s deportation: it is certainly hard to think of much that continental Europe has done recently to merit the honor of being Islamism’s worst enemy.
On the other hand, the contention does have a logic. The Islamist thesis—most closely associated, for obvious reasons, with Osama bin Laden—that they should attack the U.S. first never made much sense, based as it was on a feeble analogy between the U.S. and the USSR’s defeat in Afghanistan.
Attacks on targets in Europe, though less damaging than 9/11, have been more politically fruitful, as illustrated by the impact of the Madrid bombings. An Islamist focus on Europe, and on Britain in particular, might open up extremely painful gaps between the U.S. and its NATO allies about the conduct and continuance of the war in Afghanistan. Indeed, unless the terrorists acquire WMDs, this is probably the best way for them to achieve a political victory that would be out of all proportion to their actual strength. Let us hope that they are not as strategically minded as these reports suggest.