With all the excitement and euphoria about the 2012 Summer Olympics, it is somewhat understandable why a suspected Islamist terrorist attack story that appeared a month ago did not receive the media attention or garner the outrage in Great Britain it deserved. It becomes more understandable when one considers the frequency of such occurrences across Europe nowadays has dulled Europeans’ sensibilities to the grave, internal danger their countries face from radical Islam, causing the public attention and media life span concerning such stories to be rather short. But the terrorist attack thwarted in England four weeks ago, and only by sheer chance at that, is noteworthy with respect to its target: an English Defence League rally. If successfully carried out, the bloody terrorist assault may have sparked a wider civil conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims, engulfing British society.
On Saturday, June 30, only seven days before the anniversary of the horrific July 7, 2005, coordinated suicide bombing attacks by Muslim terrorists on London’s metro system that left 52 dead and about 700 injured, police stopped a car on the M1 motorway, suspecting it was being driven without insurance. The vehicle was impounded and the car’s two occupants released. But it was only on Monday that police searched their find, discovering the weapons meant to carry out Britain’s latest terrorist plot.
Inside the vehicle, the police found “guns, ammunition and other offensive weapons” which led to “a major anti-terror operation.” Altogether, seven men were arrested that week including the car’s driver and passenger. All the men are of Pakistani origin and are being held in prison custody until a hearing on July 31. Three of their number, Anzal Hussain, 24, Mohammad Saud, 22, and Zohaib Ahmed, 22, appeared in court earlier in July charged, according to an Associated Press (AP) story, with “preparing an act of terrorism, which carries a potential life sentence.”
“Prosecutors allege that the men were involved in manufacturing an improvised explosive device and planned to attack a rally of the English Defense League,” AP reported, while the BBC stated they are also accused of “acquiring firearms and other weapons, and vehicles in connection with their alleged plans.”
Given its stated mission, the English Defense League (EDL) would be the nemesis of any radical Islamist organization in Britain and a desirable target for attack. The EDL wants to wake ordinary British people up to what it perceives is the creeping Islamization of their country, since the British government will not halt this process, the EDL calling its inability to do so “spineless.” On its website, the EDL describes itself as made up of “decent, patriotic people” and invites other like-minded, “fed up” individuals to help fight the Islamist menace and “make a positive change for the better.”
The EDL originated in 2009 in response to the Islamist demonstrations at a parade in Luton held in honour of British soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The disgust generated by the Islamists’ yelling and screaming at the returning soldiers while holding up offensive placards was felt by many Britons, leading to the EDL’s creation. After its formation, the EDL, taking a page from the Islamists’ book, has been involved in demonstrations, usually counter demonstrations, where they have clashed with left-wing groups, although the EDL says its mission is a peaceful one. And while exact membership numbers are unknown (they are estimated between 25,000 and 100,000), it is believed the EDL can call up 300 to 500 people for a demonstration.
The EDL’s enemies have used the usual tactics to smear the anti-Islamist protest organization. It has been called racist, fascist, Islamophobic, Black Shirts and far right-wing. While there are undoubtedly individuals holding such views in the EDL, organization leaders deny the EDL is racist and say they will allow anyone to join who is against Islamism. Interestingly, EDL members are not called “Nazis,” probably because they often demonstrate with Israeli flags and the organization has a Jewish division. One of the EDL’s leaders also took part in the burning of a Nazi flag.