, Volume 91, Number 1

Lewis Herrington

This article considers the importance of Al-Qaeda and Pakistan in driving British Islamic extremist terrorism during the past decade. Between 2003 and 2013, almost 50 British-born Muslims engaged in multiple high-profile terrorism conspiracies. All were designed to kill or seriously injure British citizens. Drawing on recently obtained court transcripts which offer remarkable detail, these plots are analysed from the point of view of radicalization, finance, training and operational direction. The emergence of extremist terrorism in the UK has its genesis within the Islamic fundamentalist movement, a socio-political ideology that arrived in London in the early 1990s. Contrary to the prevailing discourse, members of the movement constitute a far from homogenous set of individuals. Based on age, overseas connections, experience of conflict and religiosity, they each fulfill diverse tasks that range from preaching and fundraising to facilitating combative jihad. A minority adopted an extremist position that led them to carry out acts of terrorism. Since 2006, the role of Al-Qaeda and Pakistan in relation to this process has steadily declined. For the past seven years British Islamic extremistshave pursued terrorism in whatever way they can on their own, with little or any direct support or influence from overseas. The security agencies are now asking how far current events in Syria will overturn this state of affairs.