Bismillah. I’ve been thinking about these matters, inspired by the summit last week. I remembered a couple of relevant thoughts from other people:
1) Four years ago at a discussion held in SOAS (University of London), one undergrad said emphatically, “Every kid in East London wants to be a gangster, and the ultimate gangster is the terrorist!”
2) I once spoke to someone who was convicted of minor terrorism-related charges and spent some months in the maximum-security Belmarsh prison in the UK around 2004. He told me that in prison, there was a hierarchy of respect amongst the prisoners according to the severity of the crime: armed robbery, murder, etc. Top of the chain was terrorism. “When I told them I was in for terrorism, they’d think that I’d blown up a plane or something and give me maximum respect.”
This is something that is understood on the streets, but often not by law-enforcement or government. In London, every borough police commander I’ve ever asked has told me that gangs and drugs are the biggest issues for them. Let’s hope that the UK police forces and government departments, local and national, can do some joined-up thinking around these matters and address the problems more holistically.