- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 31, 2005

Last Tuesday, The Times of London ran this intriguing tidbit about one of the thwarted suicide bombers of the July 21 Tube attacks — Yasin Hassan Omar, a Somali “asylum seeker”:

“Omar, who was last seen vaulting a barrier at Warren Street station, has been the registered occupant of the flat since 1999. Ibrahim, who was last seen in Hackney Road, East London, after his failed attempt to blow up a No. 26 bus, shared it with him for the past two years. Omar, received 88 pounds a week in housing benefit to pay for the council property and also received income support, immigration officials say.” “Council property” is Britspeak for public housing.

So here’s how things stand four years after September 11, 2001: British taxpayers are subsidizing the jihad. There’s a cheery thought for any Englishman on a bus when some Islamakazi self-detonates: It’s on his tax bill. Pay as you blow.

This isn’t some stunning shocking development, either. In a Dec. 29, 2001 column, I noted the likes of Zac Moussaoui, the French citizen who became an Islamist radical while living on welfare in London, and wrote: “If you’re looking for ‘root causes’ for terrorism, European-sized welfare programs are a good place to start. … Tony Blair pays Islamic fundamentalists in London to stay at home, fester and plot.”

I wasn’t the first to notice the links between Euro-Canadian welfare and terrorism. Mickey Kaus, the iconoclastic California liberal, was way ahead. But, after 3 years, one would be entitled to assume Tony Blair might have spotted it, too — especially given the ever greater numbers of British jihadi uncovered from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Israel and America.

That’s why a law-enforcement approach to the war on terror, the John Kerry approach, can’t work, not just because it’s mostly reactive — blow up someplace, we’ll seal it off and detectives investigate it as a crime scene — but also because it involves entrusting the whole business to the state bureaucracy, and trusting it to improve scrutiny of immigration, welfare entitlement and other matters within the government purview. That snippet from The Times makes clear the likelihood of that. A “criminal” approach gives terrorists all the rights of criminals. And between British and European — and, indeed, American — “human rights” that’s quite a bundle.

If it’s a war, you can take wartime measures. But, if you fight this thing as a law enforcement matter, Islamist welfare queens will use all the above to their full extent. So today imams living off welfare checks openly promote the murder of Tony Blair, British troops, etc with impunity.

Bombings in Madrid and London — along with such events as the murder of the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh — are, in essence, the opening shots of a European civil war. You can laugh if you wish, but the Islamists’ most oft-stated goal is not infidel withdrawal from Iraq but re-establishing a Muslim caliphate under sharia, or Islamic religious law, that extends to Europe. There’s much to be said for taking these chaps at their word and seeing if their behavior is consistent with it.

Furthermore, a lot more of the world is under sharia than, say, 30 years ago: Pakistan adopted it in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984. … Fifty years ago, Nigeria lived under English Common Law; now, half of it is in the grip of Islamic law. So, as a political project, radical Islam has made some headway, and continues doing so almost every day of the week: Since the first of the year, some 10 percent of southern Thailand’s Buddhist population have abandoned their homes — a far bigger disruption than the tsunami, yet all but unreported in the Western press. And whatever one’s opinion of the various local conflicts around the world — Muslims versus Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims versus Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims versus Jews in the Holy Land, Muslims versus Russians in Chechnya, Muslims versus Christians in Africa — the jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you’re not shy about taking on the Israelis and Russians, why wouldn’t you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Spaniards?

If the jihad has its war aims, maybe we should start thinking about ours. What would victory look like? Like fascism and communism in their day, Islamism is the ideology of choice for the world’s grievance-mongers. That means we must destroy the ideology, or at least its potency — not Islam per se, but at the very minimum the malign strain of Wahhabism. This extremism, thanks to Saudi oil money, has been transformed from a fetish of isolated desert derelicts into the most influential radicalizing force in contemporary Islam, from Indonesia to Yorkshire to Virginia. Europeans unprepared to roll back Wahhabism had better prepare to live with it, or under it.

Mustering the popular will for that sort of struggle isn’t easy. But the longer it is delayed, the harder it becomes.

These days if an American business traveler lands at Heathrow, the immigration officer plonks down in his passport a big stamp saying “RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS PROHIBITED.” What a pathetic example of pointless gesture politics: If you’re a fancypants executive in town for 48 hours to splash a ton of hard currency around the West End, British immigration goes through a big hoop-de-doo about saying you’ve no entitlement to welfare. But if you’re a Somali and you want to live in public housing at public expense for six years while you fine-tune your plot to blow up Warren Street Tube station, pas de probleme.

That’s a classic example of what you get when you opt for a narrowly drawn law-enforcement approach entrusted to a complacent bureaucracy: Rather than do anything about immigrant welfare fraud, they order a new rubber stamp that gives the vague impression something is being done about it.

And back in the real world, daily, weekly, remorselessly, the situation will deteriorate. The British have been heroic in Iraq. They need to show they can be heroic closer to home.

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

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