Capital Briefs: August 21-25

Missed the Boat:

When one of the British Muslims arrested in connection with the recent airplane bombing plot turned out to be Waheed Zaman, who headed up the Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University, the London Telegraph sent reporters to snoop around the society’s campus offices. (See Terence Jeffrey’s column.)

Among the things they found were tapes produced by al-Muhajiroun, the radical Islamic group that had been headed by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who left Britain for Lebanon (leaving behind a wife and seven children) about a month after the July 7, 2005, London subway bombings. Bakri, a dual Syrian and Lebanese citizen, who was granted asylum by Britain in 1985 after he was expelled from Saudi Arabia, had famously called the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers “the Magnificent 19.” More recently, he called the London subway bombers “the Fantastic Four.” One of the leaders of his now-banned-in-Britain group, Anjem Choudry, said last week after the airplane plot was foiled: “I would not be surprised at all if there is a plot that succeeds. I would not be surprised that another 7/7- or 9/11-type operation was being planned…” Meanwhile, in the days before the latest plot was exposed, Bakri himself was unsuccessfully pleading with the British to evacuate him from Lebanon and bring him back to England. On July 20, he was even turned away from a British ship evacuating Brits from Beirut. “I am appealing on behalf of my children who are worried and they want to see their own father,” Bakri told the BBC. “Do you want to see my little sons and my little family to come now to Lebanon?” That, of course, would be a far better deal than the children of the victims of 9/11 and 7/7 got from al Bakri’s Magnificent 19 and Fantastic Four.

Divided on Diana:

British Muslims—believe it or not—are deeply divided over what happened to Princess Diana. Thirty-six percent are convinced she was killed to stop her from marrying a Muslim. Eleven percent said they didn’t know if that is the case, while 22% said “no one will ever know.” Only 31% are satisfied that her death was an accident. The question was asked as part of poll of 1,000 British Muslims conducted this March and April by GFK NOP Social Research for Britain’s Channel 4 television.

9/11 Conspiracy:

The same GFK NOP poll shows that among British Muslims the Princess Diana conspiracy theory is not nearly so popular as the theory that the United States and Israel conspired to commit the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Forty-five percent said they believe 9/11 was a U.S.-Israeli conspiracy, while 35% said they don’t know. Only 20% said they did not believe 9/11 was a U.S.-Israeli conspiracy. This conspiracy theory is more popular among young British Muslims and among British-born Muslims (as opposed to older Muslims and immigrants). Fifty-one percent of British Muslims between 18 and 24 years of age believe 9/11 was a U.S.-Israeli plot, 50% of second-generation Muslims believe it was a U.S.-Israeli plot, and 42% of immigrant Muslims believe it was a U.S.-Israeli plot.

What Holocaust?:

Only 29% of British Muslims admit the Holocaust happened as history teaches it. Two percent deny it happened at all, 17% concede it happened but claim “it’s been exaggerated,” 24% have no opinion, 6% say they don’t know, and 23% say they have never heard of the Holocaust.

Justifying Terror:

Twenty-two percent of all British Muslims said “British support for the war on terror” justified last year’s subway bombings. Thirty-one percent of young British Muslims said the attacks were justified.

Islamic Britain:

Seventeen percent of British Muslims say they “strongly agree” with the dream of making Britain an Islamic state. Another 11% said they “tend to agree,” while 20% said they had no opinion.

Stepped in Caca:

The ever-affable Sen. George Allen (R.-Va.) stepped in caca while campaigning in Southwestern Virginia on August 11 when he pointed at a young man of Indian descent in the audience and repeatedly called him “macaca.”

The man, S.R. Sidarth, a native Virginian, volunteers for Allen’s opponent Jim Webb (D.), trailing Allen around and videotaping his speeches. Allen pointed directly at Sidarth and said, “This fellow over here, in the yellow shirt, macaca or whatever his name is. He’s with my opponent. He’s following us around everywhere. And that’s just great. … Let’s give a welcome to macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.” The Washington Post predictably jumped on the incident, running a front-page story and an editorial in its August 15 edition and two more stories over the next two days. What Allen exactly meant by the obscure word “macaca” is unknown, but the term refers to a lemur or a type of monkey. Some Europeans, the Post said, use it as a racial slur against African immigrants. The video Sidarth made of the incident was quickly uploaded to the internet and widely circulated, causing some grief for the senator. Allen promptly apologized, telling the Post: “I do apologize if he’s offended by that. That was in no way the point.” Allen explained that he may have called Sidarth “macaca” because it sounds like “Mohawk,” the nickname Allen’s staff has given Sidarth because of his distinctive haircut. While Democrats hope they can exploit the gaffe, most Virginians are probably still shaking their heads in confusion.

Quick Delivery:

Rep. Bobby Jindal (R.-La.) once dreamed of becoming a doctor, but never expected to deliver one of his own children as he did last week when his wife suddenly woke in the middle of the night with labor pains.

Assisted only by a 911 dispatcher, the conservative congressman welcomed son Slade Ryan into the world only minutes before an ambulance arrived to help him. “I made sure he wasn’t tangled up in the umbilical cord or that his head didn’t hit the floor,” said Jindal. “I tried to do everything you see in the movies.” Slade is a healthy lad, weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces. His two siblings, Selia Elizabeth and Shaan Robert, slept quietly through the excitement.