December 27, 2001



As more information comes in about the Man with the Exploding Shoes, he is starting to seem a bit like our own John Walker. According to this report in the Times, Richard Reid (apparently his true name) was a "small-time British criminal who converted to Islam behind bars." He is a native, none-too-brilliant Briton who fell in with the Islamo-fascist crowd through frequenting the Brixton Mosque and Islamic Community Center in South London (where he may have met Zacarias Moussaoui, the "twentieth hijacker," who also worshipped there.) The facility is described as "moderate," but it was used by Islamist extremists as a recruiting ground. How does this mosque compare to John Walker's Mill Valley Islamic Center?

Here's how Mr Abdulhaq Baker, the "chairman" of Brixton Mosque describes Reid:

“He was an amiable, happy-go-lucky individual, always wanting to get involved in things and helping. He was very keen to learn the basics of Islam... He was a regular south-east London youngster. He was very streetwise. He used street slang,”

At first Mr Reid used to come for prayer wearing fashionable Western street clothes. He had just started a beard when he first arrived at the mosque, then let it grow to full-length.

He also began to wear a traditional Muslim thobe. He originally wore this beneath fashionable jackets, but eventually replaced these with military tops.

I'm very interested to see how the British public will react to these revelations. Will there be soul-searching about what it means to be British in the light his background and activities? It is terrorism against Britain's ally, in support of Britain's enemies, even if it's not exactly "treason." (Or is it?) There was very little general outcry about the British citizens who had gone to Afghanistan to fight with the Taleban, as I recall (though there were charges of treason in the tabloids.) Those, however, were people raised as Muslims rather than converts, which seemed to make a difference to people here at the time, if memory serves.
Mr Baker said that Mr Reid would have been incapable of devising the plot to blow up the aircraft over the Atlantic without help from fellow conspirators.

“No way could he do this on his own,” Mr Baker said. “He doesn’t have the capacity to think: ‘I’m going to get these explosives, I know where to get these explosives from, I’ll put them in my shoe’.

“He was a testing ground. If he had succeeded they would know this is a mechanism that works. If the plane had exploded there would have been very little trace of how that happened.”

I saw this guy on the Channel 4 news tonight, and he seemed fairly credible and sincere when he stated that they were cooperating with the authorities (though part of me wonders why he is so confident in his knowledge of their techniques.) I hope so, and I hope these authorities here and at home are staking out and investigating such "community centers." They seem to be turning out these guys at a pretty good pace.

Posted by Dr. Frank at December 27, 2001 12:20 AM | TrackBack