The news is always grim, isn’t it? Doom and gloom everywhere. And even the news which appears to be good has a dark cloud hovering behind it. For example, we frequently hear reports of British-born jihadis being killed in Syria, either by blowing themselves up in the familiar, traditional manner or being bombed by the Americans. I usually break out some really good white wine and get the neighbours over for a bit of a knees-up whenever this happens — we exult, and sing songs for a while, our cares forgotten. But I have just read that the death rate for our lads in the Islamic State is one every three weeks. That’s pathetic, hugely dispiriting. It will take ages to finish them off, no matter how many more we encourage to go. The job could be done far quicker if we shot them at the airport, on their way out, but the government has moral qualms about this, apparently. They prefer to let them reach their chosen destination, get settled in, and then let someone else kill them. It makes no sense to me.
Then there’s the half-witted radical preacher and Islamist Anjem Choudary, who has just expressed a fervent wish to go and live in the Islamic State. I think that’s an excellent idea. He’s even offered to host a final press conference at Heathrow airport, where he would urge like-minded British Muslims to follow in his footsteps. This would be an enormous service to the British public, worthy of an MBE at the very least. Hell, we’ve knighted Muslim community leaders who supported the execution of Salman Rushdie and believe that Jews made up all that stuff about the Holocaust: here, at last, is one Muslim community leader attempting to make the country a better place for all of us to live in. But Anjem is unable to realise his dream because the Home Secretary will not give him back his passport.
Listen Theresa: you have got things the wrong way around. When these maniacs actually want to leave the country, do everything you possibly can to assist them in their endeavours. This goes for all the — largely Bangladeshi, from the news reports — young jihadis, male and female, heading out to join IS. I’d even go so far as to provide them with the airfare. I don’t want to belabour this point, Theresa, but the time to confiscate their passports is when they try to get back in, capisci? If you can’t shoot them on the way out at least be good enough to stop them coming back.
Still more bad news, lurking behind the good. It was reported earlier this week that the self-proclaimed Caliph of the Islamic State, good old Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed by an American air strike. But no sooner had I repaired to the wine cellar than we were told that rumours of his death may have been somewhat exaggerated. You build us up, then you knock us down. It was the Iraqi government (the criminally useless one we installed) that announced al-Baghdadi’s demise, killed in a bombing raid on the undoubtedly fragrant city of Mosul. Then it was announced that he was merely injured and that one of his lieutenants, Abu Huzaifa al-Afdnani, had been killed instead. And yet now we can’t even be sure of that. There is supposition that Abu No. 1 is simply pretending to be dead, in the hope that this will deter the Americans from trying to kill him. Lying low, keeping his head down. Even if the savage is indeed dead, there are plenty of other savages lining up to take his place, most of them called Abu. Such as Abu Muslim al-Turkmani — helluva guy, I think he’d do a job for IS. I don’t know where our homegrown savage, ‘Jihadi John’, stands in the IS leadership rankings: there have been pitifully few YouGov polls on the issue.
There’s doublethink on all sides of this appalling and largely western-created fiasco. First we invade Iraq, creating precisely the conditions for IS to prosper. Then, when the protests began against Syria’s despotic President Assad, we give moral and political support to the people who tried to depose him; the people whom we, via the offices of the US air force, are now trying desperately and belatedly to annihilate. The British jihadis now flooding into Syria can be forgiven for being a little confused on this issue, no? One moment the official view is that the rebels are brave and consensual democrats, the next they’re deranged and decapitating religious extremists and terrorists. Never has our vocabulary changed so quickly.
And then there are the pseudo-apologists for the jihadis from the mentally ill liberal left. Take Sara Khan, from the women’s rights organisation Inspire. British Muslims are making their way to Syria, she reckoned, because of an unhelpful narrative in the British press (and beyond). A narrative which paints Muslims as extremists and which castigates the faith for its intolerance towards women and all the other anti-Muslim stuff, which leaves the young British Muslims feeling, er, ‘disenfranchised’. So in order to demonstrate that Islam is instead a tolerant, inclusive and rather lovable creed, these people go off and join the maniacal head-choppers of IS.
Already we are being admonished that jihadis who return from Syria with their limbs intact after a few months of alfresco decapitating and black-flag waving should be gently rehabilitated — perhaps offered diversity awareness courses and the like. Don’t let them back in, Theresa. Let them go, but don’t let them back in.