Matthew Dancona

The theocratic elephant in the room

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Go to the Newsnight site and watch last night's discussion on the terror attacks of the past few days. Hassan Butt, a former jihadi and activist for the radical group Al-Muhajiroun, explains to Gavin Esler why the core assumption of most debate on the war on terror is fatally misconceived. The aim of the terrorists, he says, is "the creation of Islamic government that would eventually rule all over the world." Were Gordon Brown to pull out of Iraq tomorrow, he says, for a few "on the fringes of radicalism it would appease them a little bit." But the theocratic elephant in the room is the fact that most jihadis are acting not in response to Western foreign policy: they find "a basis within Islam." And, as Butt wisely says, until they are directed otherwise, towards a modern interpretation of their holy texts, there is little hope of their fury receding.