The July 2005 terrorist bombing of three trains and a bus in London was the product of years and years of radical Islamists using the capital of England -- not the Middle East -- as a breeding ground for terror, according to British journalist Melanie Phillips.
"The 7/7 bombers were boys from middle-class backgrounds who went to ordinary schools, went to universities, and had jobs," said Phillips, a columnist for the British newspaper the Daily Mail, who spoke on Nov. 14 at Steinhardt Hall, home of the Hillel at the University of Pennsylvania.
The attack exposed London's homegrown terrorists, and it also prompted Phillips to write Londonistan, a best-selling book detailing how the city became a European hub for promoting, financing and recruiting Islamic terrorists -- seemingly under the noses of the British government.
She argues that London started its transformation into "Londonistan" back in 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini created a fascist theocracy in Iran and declared his intention to wage war against the West.
"Muslims saw a secular state that was being overthrown. It ignited politically dormant aspirations to do the same thing," she said. "That simple fact radicalized a very large number of British Muslims."
She also explained that after the nine-year Soviet war in Afghanistan, many war-hardened Muslims sought a new direction, and immigrated to London.
"In the 1990s, Britain was where Al Qaeda was created," said Phillips, whose lecture was sponsored by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, or CAMERA.
Call It a Conspiracy?
Though many might describe London's Muslim community as moderate, Phillips explained that, while they may not commit acts of terror, they are more radicalized than people think.
"Nearly a quarter of British Muslims said the 7/7 bombings can be justified," she said. "Nearly half said that 9/11 was a conspiracy [cooked up by] the United States and Israel."
She also noted that many Muslims ascribe to rabid anti-Semitic beliefs, for example, that "Jews are a cosmic evil" and they "drink the blood of children."
"Britons refuse to grasp the hatred rooted in religious fascism," insisted Phillips.
She argued that even after the terror attacks last year, the British government still refuses to acknowledge the threat from Islamists inside its own borders.
And she believes that Britain appeases its Muslim community, rather than holding it accountable for its actions.
" 'If we are nice to them and make them feel welcome, we will counter the feeling they have that they're not part of Britain,' " she said, explaining the general philosophy of many of the British. "This is completely wrong. [The Muslims] feel they are so much a part of Britain that they feel it should be an Islamic place!"
In her presentation, Phillips never pulled her punches, offering opinions that were far from politically correct, and that even seemed to court controversy. For example, she told the crowd that the British government made a mistake in letting Muslims build a mosque near the site of the 2012 Olympic Games, as its placement will make it a frequent site on TV, for all the world to see. She also said that the wearing of the veil by Muslim women is anything but a religious statement.
"The claim that the veil is an act of piety and analogous to wearing a turban is extremely disingenuous because what the veil represents to me is a political statement," she said. "It's a political statement of hostility."
Phillips summed up that as a citizen, she used to believe that London was one of the safest and most progressive cities in the world. Today, she no longer feels so safe, unless, she said, she "gets off an airplane in either Israel or America."