Lost souls: Post-migrant Muslims seek a radical identity in multicultural Britain (Credit: Getty Images)
More than 100,000 British Muslims considered the merciless savagery of the 7/7 London tube and bus bombings to be justified, according to opinion polls at the time. Two years later MI5's director general said 2,000 Muslims were "known to be involved in terrorist-related activity" and that there were "as many again that we don't yet know of". The number of British jihadis far exceeds the total for the rest of Europe. Yet still we puzzle over why Britain became the jihadi capital of Europe. MPs on the Home Affairs Committee seeking an answer have recently drawn only a "few clear conclusions". We know the "ingredients" for radicalisation; we don't yet know "how to cook the recipe".
One man who thinks he does is the American political scientist and historian, Robert Leiken, a director of the immigration and national security program at the Nixon Centre in Washington. His latest book, Europe's Angry Muslims, finds the main ingredient is Britain's approach to immigration — not a word that even occurs in the Home Affairs Committee's 55-page report. There has been a "chronic accommodation of jihadism", says Leiken, and not only because in the 1990s we waved through jihadists — some, like the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, so bloodthirsty that even Osama bin Laden denounced them.
Above all, the underlying explanation for so many British Muslims falling under the spell of jihadists like Omar Bakri (twice granted asylum) was Britain's desire to grant Muslims autonomy in the name of "diversity".
The Left became infatuated with Muslim identity because it filled the equality void left by the lost cause of the workers' movement that collapsed with Soviet Communism.
The Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone led this equality movement, transforming the meaning of "equality" as a universal right, to group rights where ethnic minorities were left to "express their own identities, explore their own histories, formulate their own values and pursue their own lifestyles".
The establishment itself also became animated by diversity. After the 1981 Brixton riots, the Tory grandee Sir George Young became Britain's first minister of race relations.
But the constant celebration and aggrandisement of diversity has created ethnic and religious enclaves. In the ghost towns of the North, this led to the promotion of local councils dominated in Muslim communities by clan chiefs, mosque committees and the Labour Party.