What do terrorists say to pollsters?

The UK has a problem with Muslim extremists domiciled in the country — the only issue is how large the problem is. An interesting confidential government report leaked to the Times of London attempts to get a bead on this issue. By any measurement, it appears to us to be potentially large problem. Exhibit A: 13% of British Muslims — according to a public opinion poll! — said the US deserved more 9/11 attacks:

Our question is this: there are 1.6 million Muslims in the UK, half of whom are under 25. Did the poll properly sample the younger group, and do potential terrorists tell pollsters what they are thinking — in other words, is this 13% figure substantially understated among the group most relevant to the carrying out of such violence? We have a post below that suggests that it was pretty simple to find people in London who spoke openly about wanting an attack to occur on the country.

Exhibit B:

Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan police chief, revealed separately last night that up to 3,000 British-born or British-based people had passed through Osama Bin Laden’s training camps.

3,000 people who have been through Basic Training in terrorism seems like an awful lot to us, certainly a group large enough to provide money, safe houses, non-telephonic communication, weapons, explosives, and aid and comfort for terrorist exercises far beyond the scope of last week’s.

Exhibit C: according to yet another public opinion poll, 47% of British Muslims surveyed would consider becoming suicide bombers under some circumstances.

None of this is good news. A minimum of 13% of British Muslims think further terrorism against America is justified, and that number was 8% for terrorism in the UK — not a large group, but quite possibly an underreported group. Further, there are thousands of British subjects who have gotten training from bin Laden — as Christopher Hitchens has noted, the first three Brits killed in the Afganistan theater of the war were fighting for the Taliban. Finally, half of British Muslims say they would strap on a suicide belt if they had to lead the lives of Palestinians — even accounting for braggadocio, that’s quite a lot.

Here’s the rub: what would you do if you were the Prime Minister? In our age the choices are not clear. Still, the process has now been put in play with the deaths and wounds of 7/7.

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