"We Love Death as You Love Life": Britain's Suburban Mujahedeen (Columbia/Hurst)

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When Mohammed Siddique Khan led a group of fellow believers into the London Underground on the morning of July 7, 2005, they did not think far beyond the immediate impact of their attack. Driven by anger at the West's global treatment of Muslims, a frustration stoked by the rhetoric of foreign extremists, and wounded by a sense of extreme isolation from the society in which they were born and raised, these suicide bombers sought to avenge the deaths of their fellow Muslims and shape the world in an image that would be pleasing to their God.

Yet while Khan and his followers were convinced they were carrying out a holy mission described in a chilling videotaped statement in which Khan quoted Osama Bin Laden's famous utterance "We Love Death As You Love Life" -- a far more rational and historical narrative motivated their attack. Raffaello Pantucci investigates the volatile forces driving these men, alongside hundreds of other young British Muslims who have equally responded to the jihadist call to fight enemy forces both at home and abroad. Beginning with the migration of Arabs to the United Kingdom and the establishment of diaspora communities with strong ties to the Middle East and South Asia, the book provides a brief history of Islam's arrival in the United Kingdom. Pantucci later discusses the arrival of jihadist warriors from the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan and historical events in Britain during the 1990's that shaped the environment in which the London bombers were raised, revisiting the events that occurred before Mohammed Siddique Khan organized his attack and placing he and his followers' actions in context. Based on research conducted while Pantucci worked as a scholar in London, this book offers the first comprehensive portrait of jihadist ideas and violence as they have evolved in the United Kingdom.

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About the Author:

Raffaello Pantucci is an associate fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King's College, London, and has been an associate fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He has worked on questions surrounding terrorism and radicalization in London and Washington, has written for, amongst others, The Wall Street Journal, Prospect, The Guardian, and The Daily Telegraph, and has many articles appearing in peer-review and policy journals.


Interesting and accessible enough to keep the attention of the general reader, this book will help an international audience understand the story of UK Islamist terrorism and will provide experts with sound analysis and the chance to read for the first time the full story in one volume. Pantucci avoids the tendency of more politically biased commentators to blame the terrorists' radicalisation on either British foreign policy, poverty and islamophobia or radical foreign preachers, "an evil ideology" and multiculturalism. Instead, through in-depth research into the personalities involved in the UK terrorist plots, the author shows that no single one of these explanations is sufficient but that all have played a role in motivating some of Britain's suburban mujahedeen.

(Innes Bowen, BBC)

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