Are they in Britain to escape the madness, or is it with them?
From Jamestown.org (subscrip req)
During the 1990s, several factors conspired to create a radical pan-Islamist identity among British Muslims, notably the entrenchment of Jamaat-e-Islami and Muslim Brotherhood activists in mosques and Islamic organizations and the arrival of radical preachers from the Arab world. Conflicts in Kashmir, Bosnia and elsewhere were widely interpreted by many Muslims as a conflict between Islam and Christianity, furthering the process of radicalization. However, the enthusiasm that this factor aroused for jihad was tempered by the idea of a "covenant of security" that radical Islamist preachers said existed between them and the British government and which initially prevented attacks against the UK. Inevitably, this restriction compelled British jihadis to export their violence abroad--often in the direction of Pakistan. In the mid-1990s, Mohammed Sohail, a Pakistani professional, created the Global Jihad Fund to channel donations from British Muslims to jihadis in South Asia.
In the late 1990s, Babar Ahmad, presently fighting deportation to the United States, allegedly used the Azzam.com website to spread pro-jihadist propaganda and to channel money, equipment and volunteers to the Taliban through Pakistan . Separately, Dhiren Barot--also known as Isa al-Hindi--a Hindu brought up in the UK, converted to Islam and fought in Kashmir in 1995, writing of his experiences in The Army of Medinah in Kashmir, an influential book for would-be jihadis (BBC, November 7, 2006). In 1994, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, born to a middle-class Pakistani family living in the UK, travelled to Pakistan where he attended a training camp run by Harkat ul-Mujaheddin (BBC, July 26, 2005). In 1999, he attended an al-Qaeda training camp at Khalden in Afghanistan. In 2002, he kidnapped and killed Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Richard Reid, "the shoe bomber," a London-born convert to Islam, and his co-conspirator, Sajid Badat, are also said to have travelled to Pakistan or Afghanistan to collect detonators prior to Reid's attempt to down a trans-Atlantic airliner in 2001 (Telegraph, December 27, 2001). In some cases, Islamist groups had well-developed networks. During the late 1990s, al-Muhajiroun, a British radical Islamist group whose members were predominantly South Asian, sent several hundred British citizens to train in Pakistan. Following 9/11, the group openly arranged for several dozen British Muslims to travel via Pakistan to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In many cases, these individuals did not work directly with al-Qaeda but with a range of other local groups; it is likely that this remains the case with present-day jihadis making the same journey.
1. Affidavit In Support of Request for Extradition of Babar Ahmad: