According to Jocelyne Cesari, a Harvard University specialist in Islam in the West, 40 per cent of Europeans think legal migrants (mostly Muslims) should not have the same civil rights as native-born citizens. As well, a growing minority believes migrants should be sent back to their countries of origin. Such attitudes have led to the growth of right-wing, anti-immigrant political parties and make it increasingly difficult for moderate Muslims to combat radicals.
Believing that not all radicals are bad and not all fundamentalists are violent, London police began working with more conservative Muslim leaders a decade ago to root out those who preach violent jihad.
By helping to offer credible alternatives to the jihadists, the influential mosques in Finsbury Park and Brixton were able to rid themselves of al-Qaeda elements.
“Effective counterterrorism policing, and effective al-Qaeda radicalization and recruitment activity are both in the business of building and nurturing trust,” wrote Robert Lambert, head of the Muslim Contact Unit at New Scotland Yard from 2002 to 2007. “A gain for one will invariably involve a loss for the other.”
However, soon after the Conservative government of David Cameron was elected, it was announced that community programs would no longer be supported. The belief that all radical or puritanical Muslims are outside the ken of British society now prevails.
America was late to recognize it had a homegrown problem. In the period from May, 2009, to November, 2010, Homeland Security found 22 terrorist plots linked to global jihad, including the fatal attacks at Fort Hood in Texas and the army recruiting centre in Arkansas.
The response has been aggressive, including planting agents in suspicious groups.
As well, however, Homeland Security has studied radicalization, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation now offers internships to Arabic-speaking students in a bid to build trust.
Officials insist that they no longer consider the communities part of the problem. Still, the emphasis clearly remains on seeing Muslim Americans as a source of tips.