There is a very direct connection between the July bombings in London and the threat to Shannon but it is not what many think.
Both the July bombers and Anjem Choudary, who made the threatening comments about Shannon, were associated with Hizb ut-Tahrir, (The Party of Liberation), frequently referred to as HT. The July bombers were members of a splinter group of HT, which until recently was seen in Europe as a harmless political group which sought the re-establishment of the Sunni Islamic Caliphate abolished by Attaturk in Turkey in 1924. Anjem Choudary who made the comment in a Trinity College Debate that the usage of Shannon for refuelling US planes makes us a legitimate target, was the leader of the now supposedly defunct HT splinter group, Al-Muhajiroun, and participated in the HT 1992 rebellion against the Syrian Baathist regime.
Many see HT as the Sinn Fein to the Al-Qaedaist’s IRA. Such is, however, a serious misconception. HT has been described by one expert as “a conveyor belt for terrorists”. It combines fascist rhetoric, bolshevist strategy, and Western sloganeering, all packaged in spurious religious justification. As one EU expert put it, what HT does is to change some within Islam from being rebels without a cause to rebels with a very definite cause. It is a secret society, a trans-national movement that serves as radical Sunni Islam’s ideological vanguard. They are not a peaceful, political party as they sometimes try to maintain. They are not registered as a political party and in fact denounce all existing political systems and political parties.
Their ultimate objective is to re-establish the Sunni Islamic Caliphate of old. They reject democracy as godless and capitalism as exploitative. Their objective is, they say, to liberate Muslims from the thoughts, systems, laws and lifestyle of the current Judeo-Christian dominated nation-state system and to replace such with a borderless umma ruled by a new Caliph, presumably Bin Laden. They view Western civilisation and Islam as mutual exclusive and seek their goal, which is not even utopian in that it has not even been thought out to that extent, through ideological struggle and the usage of secret cells worldwide. A key objective of HT therefore is to prevent the assimilation of Muslims into Western culture at all costs.
Their efforts are focussed currently on Turkey, Central Asia and Western Europe. They are known to have major secret cells currently in Denmark and Uzbekistan. Over the years they have attempted to take over the regimes in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Iraq. For this reason, they are banned in most countries in the Muslim world, in Turkey, in Russia and in Germany but they are not banned in the rest of Europe other than the UK which has recently moved against them.
They can claim many successes to date. The perception within Islam that the international community of Muslims (the umma) is under active threat from the West has been created by their deliberate propaganda and agitation. A growing number of Muslims also see the re-establishment of the Sunni Islamic Caliphate of old as a serious objective now rather than the pipedream that it really is. HT has also succeeded in focussing attention on the Western democratic capitalist system as the primary remaining impediment to a truly Islamic society. As always, HT (and the Al-Qaedaists) totally ignore China and India in their thinking – treating almost 2.5 billion of the population of the World with utter contempt.
The struggle in Turkey is key. Turkey is in no doubt of the threat. It was Turkey who in 1924 eliminated the Caliphate and which currently seeks a convergence of civilisations between the West and Islam not a clash of civilisations. If Turkey is accepted into the EU such would critically disprove a key propaganda theme expounded by HT and subsequently weaken both their and the Al-Qaedaist attraction to many within Islam.
In the meantime, Western Europe needs to focus on how to fight this secret society which claims to be a peaceful party but which directly evokes hatred of its European hosts, virulent anti-Semitism and incitement to terrorist actions. The struggle will be lengthy and difficult, just as the struggle against Bolshevist ideology was and will only be won through supporting peaceful religious organisations within Islam, non-militant school and religious curricula, the development of real democracy and the appropriate assimilation of Muslim citizens in the EU. There is no clash of civilisations. HT are involved in an ideological attempt to hijack Islam from those, particularly in Turkey, Indonesia and elsewhere who believe that Islam is compatible with secular democracy and normal civil liberties. HT (and Al-Qaeda) can only win the ideological struggle within Islam if they provoke a clash of civilizations which would then force Muslims to agree with their warped radicalised ideological interpretation of Islam.