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Terror in UK: The Pakistan connection
B Raman
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July 02, 2007

In my July 22, 2005, paper headlined 'Making Iraq out of UK,' I wrote: 'The most worrisome indicator of the July 21 (2005) blasts is that there is an unknown number of well-motivated and well-trained terrorists in different parts of the UK. They either form part of a single large group or are operating autonomously in many small cells. They could reduce the UK to a mini Iraq.'

In connection with the two planned terrorist attempts in London [Images] on June 28 and June 29 and the partly-successful terrorist attempt at the Glasgow airport in Scotland on June 30 this year, the Glasgow and London police have detained five people so far for questioning.

Two of them are believed to be the perpetrators of the Glasgow attempt, who were picked up from the burning car -- one of them with serious burns. Of the remaining three, two were picked up from a car on a highway and one was picked up at Liverpool.

The police have not divulged any details about these people, but sources in Pakistan claim the remaining three have been detained for questioning in connection with the ownership of the two cars filled with fuel, gas cylinders and nails found in London -- not in connection with the actual offences.

They also claim that one of the three being questioned in connection with the ownership of the cars is a Shia doctor of Iranian origin; but there is no corroboration of this so far.

Pakistani correspondents based in the UK have reported that the needle of suspicion at least in the Glasgow incident points to members of the local Pakistani community and that the police have searched the houses of many persons of Pakistani origin in Glasgow.

After the incident, anti-Pakistani slogans have appeared on the walls of some buildings in the city, causing nervousness in the Pakistani community.

The communities of Pakistani origin in the UK are concentrated in London (which has 165 mosques), Birmingham (108 mosques), Bradford (54 mosques 54), Leeds (21 mosques), Northern Ireland (20 mosques), Leicester (19 mosques), Oldham (16 mosques 16), Glasgow (1 mosque) and Edinburgh.

The Mirpuris, Punjabi-speaking Muslims from the Mirpur area of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, constitute the single-largest group of Pakistani origin in Birmingham and Bradford.

They have been in the forefront of the local support for the al Qaeda and the various Pakistani jihadi organisations that are members of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front.

Birmingham has the largest concentration of Mirpuris in the world outside POK. All these mosques are funded largely by money from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, in addition to local contributions. Most of these mosques are headed by clerics of Deobandi/Wahabi origin.

Rauf Klasra, the London correspondent for Pakistan's The News, has reported that there are 50,000 Muslims in Glasgow, of whom about 35,000 are of Pakistani origin.

According to the 2001 census figures of the local Office For National Statistics of Glasgow, there were only 21,760 people of Asian origin in Glasgow in 2001, of who 15,330 were from Pakistan, 4,173 were from India, 237 were from Bangladesh and the remaining 2,020 were from other South Asian countries.

Many criminal gangs operate in the community of Pakistani origin in Glasgow, which have brought a bad name to the community.

Anti-Pakistani feelings have increased since 2004, when three young Pakistanis kidnapped and brutally murdered a white teenager, 15-year-old Kriss Donald, and then fled to Pakistan. The Pakistani police avoided extraditing them to the UK for trial on the ground that there was no extradition treaty between Pakistan and the UK.

Mohammad Sarwar, a Labour member of Parliament from Glasgow, went to Islamabad, met President Pervez Musharraf [Images] and told him that the reluctance of the Pakistani police to arrest and hand the culprits over to the Glasgow police was affecting the reputation of the Pakistani community and increasing the anti-Pakistani feelings.

On Musharraf's orders, the police arrested them and handed them over to the Glasgow police. The court convicted them and sentenced them to long terms of imprisonment.

At the time of the sentencing, the white people in the court shouted anti-Pakistani slogans. Sarwar subsequently complained to the police that he had received threatening phone calls from the members of the local Pakistani community for allegedly betraying fellow Muslims.

Following the October 2005 earthquake in POK, the Pakistani community in Glasgow collected funds and sent volunteers to POK, who worked in the relief and rehabilitation camps set up by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

Many Muslims of Pakistani origin from different cities of the UK went to POK to work in the relief and rehabilitation camps set up by the JUD, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and the Tablighi Jamaat. Recruitment for jihadi cells in the UK were made from among these volunteers and those recruited were taken to Waziristan for training in the use of explosive devices before they returned to the UK.

In May 2006, Ashraf Anjum, president of the Glasgow Central Mosque, met the chief constable of the Strathclyde police and complained that local Pakistanis visiting Pakistan and other Islamic countries were being unnecessarily harassed by the police at the Glasgow airport after the arrest of a Pakistani suspected of involvement in terrorism.

The community of Indian origin in Glasgow enjoys a good reputation as being law-abiding. The Sikhs constitute the single-largest group, followed by Hindus, Muslims and people of other religions.

The writer is retired additional secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi, and presently director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He can be contacted at:

B Raman
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