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Islamic Radicalization in the UK

The September 11th 2001 terrorist attack on American soil triggered an international discussion regarding terrorism as a new global security threat. As a result of the attack many countries adopted new domestic and international counter-terrorism laws and raised concerns regarding the Muslim presence in the United States and Europe. Before 9/11, the United Kingdom was not on major alert regarding possible terrorist attacks nor was it focused on the issue of Islamic radicalization until the 7 July 2005 bombings in London. The attack had not only an enormous impact on the country’s perception of domestic security, but further influenced the continuation of the rise of radicalization amongst the British Muslim community. There is no one reason or explanation for why certain individuals are prone to radicalization. However, the fundamental factor in the recruitment and radicalization process is the organizations ideology and the individual’s belief that violence is the legitimate tool towards solving problems. Islamic ideologies create security risks and cause tensions between communities. Radical Islam is widely considered to be in conflict with democratic principles and has largely overtaken British traditional values by imposing its own. Organizations and individuals responsible for radicalization only became apparent and emerged into the public domain after the 7/7 attacks. The attack caused psychological distress to UK citizens. For the officials, the problem of domestic radicalization as primary trigger of terrorism became evident. It is equally important to mention that despite the homegrown Islamic terror threat and growing radicalization in the United Kingdom, the majority of British Muslims are upstanding citizens, who feel a part of the British community and oppose terrorist attacks.

The following paper examines the radicalization and rise of Islamic extremism amongst a significant number of British Muslims, whose extreme vision of Islam has led to their disintegration and isolation from British society. Although the United Kingdom is comprised of four different nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – the primary focus of this paper is on England, where the main radicalization takes place. The first part of the paper presents an overview of the history and structure of the Muslim population and approach of British society towards the Muslim community. The second part focuses on radical social organizations that engage or support terrorist activities and furthermore, on the internal aspects of the Muslim community, which play an important role in Muslim radicalization. The third section details the radicalization process and examines radical groups, movements and leaders in the United Kingdom, as well as the international sources influencing the radicalization of Muslim society. The forth part presents case studies of Islamic terrorist activity and plots in Britain over the last twelve years. The fifth section describes the United Kingdom’s counter-terrorism steps over the past several years. The final section concludes the paper by evaluating the implications of the main findings. 

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