The Bosnian war was another major radicalizing factor for British Muslims
. They watched the appalling scenes of Bosnian Muslims being massacred by their Christian neighbors. What made this carnage so much worse was that it was taking place in the middle of secular, multicultural Europe. The Muslims being wiped out were pale-skinned and clothed in jeans and track shoes. They looked and behaved like any other Europeans. And yet Britain and Europe were dragging their heels about doing anything to stop the slaughter. So British Muslims believed that it was Islam that was under attack, and that therefore they too were unsafe and threatened in a country that had so conspicuously failed to view the massacre of Muslims with any concern. With their pathological sense of victimization thus accelerating by the day, they started volunteering to fight for the jihad in Bosnia and organizing the "defense" of their own communities in Britain.
At around the same time, Arab Islamist exiles from Libya, Algeria, Egypt and elsewhere started turning up in London in large numbers. Many had fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. They had returned to their home countries from where, after instigating violent agitation, they were promptly thrown out. So these trained "Afghan Arab" warriors made their way instead to Britain—attracted, they said, by its "traditions of democracy and justice."28 But they had now been trained to be killers. They had discovered jihad. And the radical ideology they brought with them found many echoes in the Islamism and seething resentments that by now were entrenched in British Muslim institutions.
Reda Hussaine, an Algerian journalist who supplied information on Algerian radicals in London to both French and British intelligence, says the Algerian connection was particularly crucial. "They came to the UK, the only country that gave asylum and didn't ask a lot of questions," he said. "Thousands and thousands came, wave upon wave, saying they were being repressed in Algeria." Then they started to organize inside Britain against the West. And to provide the religious imprimatur for jihad through the instrument of the fatwa, they recruited Abu Qatada from Afghanistan and sent him to London, where he preached in the Finsbury Park mosque. "From here started the first fatwas calling for the killing of everyone who was against the ideology," said Hussaine. "Then dozens of jihadis started to arrive every week, to raise money, make propaganda."
Abu Qatada was extraordinarily important. He was not only crucial in the development of Algerian terrorism, publishing the newspaper of the Algerian terrorist group the GIA (the French acronym for Armed Islamic Group) in London in the early to mid 1990s. He was also the "spiritual head of the mujahideen in Britain," according to the leading Spanish prosecutor Baltasar Garzon, and "Osama bin Laden's European ambassador" according to French intelligence.30 Terrorist cells broken up in Germany, Spain, France and Italy were all found to have connections to Abu Qatada. His preaching attracted figures like Zacarias Moussaoui, who helped plan the 9/11 attacks, and videos of his speeches were found in the Hamburg flat of Mohammed Atta, the hijackers' ringleader.31 Yet for years Britain afforded him the liberty to mastermind al-Qaeda terror.