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.