Birmingham bomb plot: fears over UK-born 'Nike terrorists'

Feb 22, 2013

British security services concerned about rise of home-grown bombers with a 'Just do it' attitude

THERE are fears that Britain faces a new security threat posed by a generation of home-grown 'Nike terrorists' - named for the sports brand’s 'Just do it' motto - after the ring leaders of a massive terror plot were convicted yesterday.

Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27 and Ashik Ali, 27, all from Birmingham, face life behind bars after being found guilty at their terror trial at Woolwich Crown Court. They had hoped to slaughter hundreds of people in a series of co-ordinated explosions and gun attacks that would have eclipsed the 7/7 bombings in London.

They were arrested in the summer of 2011 when the security services realised they were only months away from carrying out their attack.

Six other men had earlier pleaded guilty to similar charges, and although some reports have highlighted similarities between the gang's bungling attempts at bomb-making and the Chris Morris satire Four Lions, police insist that they were “the real deal".

Adam Gough of the West Midlands counter terrorism unit said: "They were committed, passionate extremists hell-bent on pursuing their intention of killing as many people as they could in coordinated suicide bomb attacks."

According to the Daily Telegraph, the case highlights the growing threat of home-grown, self-motivated fanatics. They are nicknamed 'Nike terrorists' in the intelligence world.

The big concern is how easily and quickly the British-born jihadists were able to make contact with the "heart of the beast" – the international arm of al-Qaeda in northern Pakistan. Two of the men travelled there to learn about bomb-making.

The men were radicalised by the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki, the former leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who was killed by a US drone attack in September 2011 after the men were arrested.

The Guardian notes that al-Awlaki’s "extremist message continues to be spread from beyond the grave" through Inspire magazine, the English language "terror manual" he created. The paper also points out that his sermons remain available on YouTube.

However, the BBC suggests that religion was not the only factor in the men's radicalisation. "They exhibited all the same characteristics as many who have gone before them - including a vague hatred of 'Western' society and a general social inadequacy with their place in Britain," notes BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani.

"One of them even conceded to police that if his two fellow plotters managed to find women who would have them, their anger with the world may have eventually gone away."

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