Radical leftist British MP Puzzled Over Caribbean’s Links to Islamic-Inspired Terrorism
Diane Abbott never considers that her own hate speech and support of anything-goes multiculturalism is part of the problem
By David Paulin
Diane Abbott, a long-time member of the British Labor Party’s radical fringe, is well known for her anti-Semitic rhetoric, racially tinged identity politics, and venomous diatribes against Tony Blair and George Bush. Invariably, the British-born daughter of Jamaican immigrants can be counted on to view the world through a prism of race and post-colonial grievances. She contends terrorism has two “root causes”: America and Israel.
Now the controversial Member of Parliament has gone on record as acknowledging the existence of a strange trend: A number of young British men who are angry, black, and have Caribbean origins have been converting to Islam – and taking up jihad-inspired terrorism.
Abbott, 53, in a little-known newspaper column she writes for a Jamaican newspaper, The Observer, admitted to being flummoxed at what’s causing the trend. She never considered it might have something to do with her own hate speech.
Abbott’s column described a number of terror plots and attacks with Caribbean ties that occurred after the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago. She echoed much of what was published here several weeks earlier.
In addition, Abbott noted the Caribbean emerged in mid-August in yet another jihad-inspired plot. This was the aborted suicide-bomb plot targeting as many as 10 trans-Atlantic airliners, possibly over U.S. cities, by detonating explosive chemicals hidden in carry-on bags. British authorities arrested 25 suspects, including some with Caribbean origins. In the plot’s aftermath, airline flights were disrupted worldwide.
Abbott’s column is noteworthy because it’s apparently the first time a prominent official has publicly endorsed the notion that several terror plots with Caribbean links represent more than an odd string of coincidences.
They are, Abbott contends, an ongoing trend.
Caribbean Terror Links
In the aborted plot targeting airliners, most of the alleged plotters were young British-born Muslims of Pakistani origin. However, Abbott noted, a “few Muslim converts of Caribbean origin have popped up in key roles.”
She mentioned Brian Young, 28, a former Rastafarian who adopted the name Umar Islam three years ago on becoming a Muslim. A bus inspector, he was married to a young Muslim woman with whom he recently had a child. The British press appears to have reported no additional information about him, perhaps because of Britain’s rules limiting pre-trial coverage.
“Six of the people arrested live in my community in Hackney,” noted Abbott, a graduate of Cambridge University. In 1987 she became the first black woman elected to Parliament.
Young men of Middle Eastern origin, to be sure, are bound to figure overwhelmingly into future Islamic-inspired terror plots, as they have in those plots with Caribbean links. But Abbott nevertheless observed that, “even though they may only be a handful, I will not be surprised to see other young men of Caribbean origin involved” in Islamic-inspired plots.
Why are such men drawn to jihad?
Abbott drew a blank on that, saying only, “These young men obviously need something to believe in. And radical Islam gives them this.”
She overlooked an obvious factor: They may be influenced by the hate-filled rhetoric she and like-minded politicians, intellectuals, and academics regularly spout in Britain and the Caribbean.
To be sure, that possibility was discussed in the article published here, “The Caribbean: A Playground for Jihad?” The leftist elite and Islamists, it suggested, use some of the same talking points, revolving around dark conspiracy theories and loathsome broadsides against America, Israel, and even Western culture.
Moreover, Abbott and like-minded public figures in Britain have spread these ideas to Britain’s middle-class since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to political observers who cite a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate-filled Israel bashing.
Besides describing most of the plots with Caribbean links mentioned here, Abbott in some cases provided extra details of her own. The Caribbean in varying degrees has emerged in at least six terror plots and attacks since Sept. 11, 2001.
Among the participants: at least 14 young Muslim converts with ties to the region. Curiously, Jamaica had ties to every plot but one – the home-grown Miami-area terror plot that authorities broke up in June 2006. It involved six men of Haitian origin and one with ties to the Dominican Republic.
What makes these links especially strange is that the Caribbean is overwhelmingly Christian. Most if not all of the plotters were young black men. They had converted to Islam.
Besides the plot targeting trans-Atlantic jets, others with Caribbean links included:
*The foiled plot in Canada involving 17 alleged terror plotters, including one from Trinidad and another with Jamaican origins. The other suspects had Middle Eastern origins.
*The attempted “shoe bomber” attack by Richard Reid aboard an American Airlines jet bound from Paris to Miami in December 2001. Richard Reid was the British-born son of a Jamaican father and British mother.
*The Washington-area sniper killings in October 2002 involving Jamaican-born Lee Boyd Mavo, then 17, along with his 41-year-old partner, John Allen Muhammad who had lived in the Caribbean. Abbott neglected to mention this plot.
*The London suicide bomb attacks on July 7, 2005 by three British-born men of Pakistani descent along with Jamaica-born Germaine Lindsay, a 19-year-old Muslim covert. Lindsay killed 25 subway riders, making him the deadliest bomber. The attacks killed 52 commuters and injured more than 700.
Lindsay may have fallen under the spell of one of London’s notorious hate preachers with Jamaican origins: Sheik Abdullah el-Faisal. His sermons, Abbott related, also may have influenced Reid along with two other would-be jihadis: Zacarias Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan origin; and Earnest James Ujaama, an American imprisoned for providing support to Afghanistan’s Taliban.
Abbott and Jihad
In the plot targeting trans-Atlantic airliners, British authorities moved in after detecting some members making “martyrdom videos.” They had been monitoring the group with phone taps and listening devices. On the videos, the suspects complained of a “war against Muslims” in Iraq and Afghanistan. They sought revenge against the United States and its “accomplices” – Britain and the Jews, related a lengthy article in The New York Times.
Such bizarre accusations, of course, reveal much about the pathologies animating the Muslim world – not to mention those who migrate from it to Western Europe. Yet such views also are consistent with those promoted by Abbott and her intellectual soul mates.
Consider some of Abbott’s past statements:
*On the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq: “The war aims are above all to secure Iraq’s oil for the US oil companies that put George W. Bush in the White House.”
*On Israel’s recent invasion of Lebanon: “I have no doubt that what Israel is doing in Lebanon is a war crime” that killed “innocent women and children,” she told a massive anti-war rally in London as protesters chanted, “We are Hezbollah!”
*On the “root causes” of terrorism: “There are no excuses for terrorism but there is a political context. Politicians have to acknowledge that British and American foreign policy in relation to Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, have (sic) embittered Muslims around the world.”
Anti-Western loathing, to be sure, often animates such ideas among the leftist elite in Britain and America. Among Britain’s middle-class, moreover, such attitudes have grown far more socially acceptable since 9/11, according to British author Melanie Phillips. She blamed Britain’s leftist elite – leftist politicians, liberal newspapers, the BBC – for serving as “an all-too willing conduit for anti-Jewish and anti-Israel poison and propaganda.”
Phillips, in an essay about this trend, recalled participating in a BBC panel discussion in which Abbott made anti-Semitic remarks and the audience’s visceral anti-Israel hostility was palpable and unnerving.
She was especially shocked at the reaction she evoked among the audience when she described Israel as a democracy.
Like Phillips, I’ve seen Abbott up close. When I lived in Jamaica nearly two years, I watched her deliver an impassioned speech at the University of the West Indies, where she whipped up hundreds of Kingston’s well-dressed elite. She evoked thunderous applause when she declared George Bush’s impending war in Iraq was about only one thing: oil.
The admiring crowd welcomed her as a returning local girl who had done spectacularly well in the wider world, but who had not forgotten her roots.
That Abbott got such star treatment was to be expected. Many of Jamaica’s elites embrace the same anti-American and anti-Western sentiments as she does. Most ordinary Jamaicans, on the other hand, reject such sentiments. Their main concerns: good jobs and crime-free streets.
Both are in short supply after years of misrule by the leftist government. Jamaica’s political leaders, for example, have never gotten serious about dismantling violent “garrison communities” where “dons” control the drug trade and other illegal activities – all while delivering votes to politicians.
Could young men saturated with the sort of hate talk spouted by Abbott and others be predisposed to embrace similar idea – albeit in an Islamic context?
Abbott fails to consider this. But she nonetheless makes some interesting points.
Islam and Racial Politics
Attempting to explain radical Islam’s attraction for angry young black men with Caribbean origins, Abbott's column noted that a generation ago they might have become non-violent Black Muslims or joined black-led churches or Pan-African movements. Now, inexplicably, they’re drawn to a strain of Islam preaching holy war and suicide bombings, one that is “quite different from the US Black Muslims or the Muslim faith as practiced in parts of Africa.”
Obviously, such a conversion is preceded by an identity crisis. What triggers it? Again, Abbott overlooks the obvious: It’s the multiculturalism she champions – all while simultaneously vilifying Western culture and British history.
In Britain and Jamaica, such notions have gained increasing credibility, thanks to leftist influence in academia and the news media. In Jamaica, slavery and colonialism are among the most popular subjects at the University of the West Indies, which influences the region's intellectual thought.
Plunged into multicultural Britain, it’s no wonder some young black man suffer identity problems. They can’t very well feel “British” – not when they’ve been taught only the negative aspects of Britain’s history, without a mention of its pivotal role in creating and spreading liberal democracy and in abolishing the worldwide slave trade.
In addition, such men may feel uncomfortable in defining themselves by a particular ethnic or racial group. Abbott along these lines has urged that “people of color” come together, claiming this is an antidote to Britain’s racism and urban unrest, including rioting in Birmingham between Jamaican and Pakistani immigrants; not to mention the tendency of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs to assert “their separate political identities.”
For young men bewildered by all this, Islam fills the void. It offers identify, belonging.
Radical mosques may appeal to them in another way. The grievances preached there – revolving around hatred of America, Israel, and Western culture – are things they’ve heard before. This makes the new religion familiar, and relevant.
No wonder some are attracted not to the church – but the mosque.
Abbott overlooks something else. Lindsay, Reid, and Malvo all had unstable upbringings – a factor that could have contributed to low self-esteem and identity problems. They’re like many young men in Jamaica, where single women head nearly 50 percent of households, and where most births are out-of-wedlock.
Some Jamaicans have observed that the country’s heavy reliance on remittances forces mothers and fathers to work abroad, leaving youngsters with little adult supervision.
How surprising that Abbott fails to recognize this given that she is herself a single-mother. In fact, British conversvatives have criticized her for this, believing that single-parent households are a factor in Britain’s social problems.
Backlash Against Multiculturalism
In the aftermath of London’s suicide bombings, Abbott has fought a growing backlash against years of Britain’s anything-goes policies on immigration, asylum seekers, and multiculturalism. She derides those who disagree with her as being racist.
“The British media love to play up the Caribbean origins of any terrorist suspects, even though they may be British citizens. Associating black men with terrorist violence is obviously irresistible,” Abbott noted in The Observer.
The Observer, incidentally, often serves as a vehicle for anti-American and anti-Semitic rants, along with the occasional piece suggesting America got what it deserved on 9/11. Ironically, it’s published by Gordon “Butch” Stewart, who heads the Caribbean’s iconic Sandals and Beaches resorts that depend on American tourism.
In London, Abbott also has condemned British newspapers for frightening readers with front-page stories featuring “big pictures of menacing, non-white men in beards.”
This carries “the subliminal message that all Muslims are a threat,” she argued.
However, opinion polls – not racism – probably play a bigger factor in the public’s jitters. In the London Times recently, one poll revealed some discomfiting statistics: One in ten British Muslims regard London’s suicide bombers as “martyrs,” while 16 percent (150,000 adults) condemned the attacks but felt “the cause was right.”
Obviously, many British are worried about their country and its future; not to mention their personal safety. But at an international workshop held in Ghana last March, Abbott was preoccupied with two of her favorite concerns: Slavery and colonialism.
Abbott also spoke on a third favorite subject: herself – or, specifically, her emergence from “colonial influences and slavery to become the first and only black female British parliamentarian." It’s a fact she likes to trumpet every chance she gets.
Africa First, a Minnesota company promoting "global dialogue," sponsored the workshop along with Ghana’s government and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO). “All the citizens of the world were invited,” Africa First proclaimed of the “International Workshop of History, Slavery, Religion, Culture, Art and Music.”
Conference goers rolled up their sleeves and addressed a number of complex issues, including:
“To investigate whether political instability particularly in Africa and Latin America, and illiteracy, poverty, health disparities, diseases, drug abuse and violence in the Caribbean, America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, especially within minority communities, are the direct results of colonization and slavery, and if so what can and should be done to correct them.”
Conference leaders even managed to work Jews into their discussions by addressing this issue:
“To investigate whether the deliberate looting, killings, raping, kidnappings and trading of Africans, America Indians, Asians, Aboriginal people of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island as slaves and human commodities by Europeans, can be compared to the atrocities committed against Jews in Nazi German camps in Europe, and if so, whether their descendants are entitled to reparations?”
Apparently, conference leaders have not yet published their conclusions. How might Abbott have voted?
In London, meanwhile, some of Britain’s Muslims demanded that Pope Benedict XVI be beheaded in yet another raucous demonstration to avenge the latest “insult” to Islam. Meeting with top British officials, some Muslim leaders demanded sharia law for Britain’s Muslims.
Abbott has faced issues of a more personal nature. They included awkward questions about revelations that she had sent her son to a fancy private school costing more than $18,500 annually. Members of the left and right called her a hypocrite – and for good reason. In the past, she’d criticized other politicians for the same thing.
Abbott also faced criticism regarding her earnings outside Parliament over the past year – a whopping $159,000 for articles, speeches, and television appearances.
All in all, Abbott has done well for herself in Britain, despite all the country’s faults, unsavory history, and problems she has encountered as a minority.
As a single-mother, it’s doubtful she could have done as well in Jamaica, certainly not as the daughter of working-class parents: Her father was a welder, her mother a nurse. In Jamaica, people in such fields struggle to make ends meet.
One thing about Abbott is certain: She’ll be a rich woman when her reparations arrive. What’s less certain is whether she’ll want to live in the “Londonistan” she helped create.