A district of derelict warehouses, red-brick terraces, and vibrant street life on the canals near the centre of Brussels, Molenbeek was once known as Belgium’s “Little Manchester”. These days it is better known as “Little Morocco” since the population is overwhelmingly Muslim and of North African origin. By day, the scene is one of children kicking balls on busy streets, of very fast, very small cars with very large sound systems. By night, the cafes and tea houses are no strangers to drug-dealers and mafia from the Maghreb. For the politically active extreme right, and the anti-Islamic bloggers, Molenbeek is the nightmare shape of things to come: an incubator of tension and terrorism in Europe’s capital, part of a wave of “Islamisation” supposedly sweeping Europe, from the great North Sea cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam to Marseille and the Mediterranean. The dire predictions of religious and identity-based mayhem reached their peak between 2004 and 2006, when bombs exploded in Madrid and London, a controversial film director was shot and stabbed to death in Amsterdam, and angry demonstrators marched against publication of satirical cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad. For Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, the continent’s future was to “tamely resign itself to a gradual transition to absolute sharia law”. By the end of the century, warned Bernard Lewis, the famous American historian of Islam, “Europe will be Islamic”. The Daily Telegraph asked: “Is France on the way to becoming an Islamic state?” The Daily Mail described the riots that shook the nation in the autumn of 2005 as a “Muslim intifada”. Jason Burke and Ian Traynor report.
The alleged terror plot against John F. Kennedy International Airport has cast a spotlight on radical Muslim elements in the Caribbean, including a group that launched the hemisphere’s only Islamic revolt and a former Florida man wanted by the FBI. In 1990, Yasin Abu Bakr, a Muslim leader on the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, led a six-day coup attempt against the government with his 113-member Jamaat Al Muslimeen organization. The prime minister was shot and wounded and 24 others killed. In an indictment unveiled in New York on Saturday, the U.S. government accused the four men of conspiring to plant explosives at the airport and of trying to contact Abu Bakr personally to seek his support. Two of them failed, but one of them claimed to have talked to Abu Bakr, the indictment said. Three of the men are natives of Guyana and one is from Trinidad. Two of the men were arrested last week in Trinidad and police are searching for a third suspect there. The fourth man was arrested in Brooklyn on Friday night. (…) Muslims, mostly Sunnis, make up about 9 percent of Guyana’s population of about 770,000. Though Guyana has not had the same level of activity as Trinidad, the FBI has been looking for Adnan Gulshair Muhammad el Shukrijumah, a former Broward County resident and one of the few alleged al-Qaida members known to have been in Latin America – in his case, Trinidad, Guyana and Panama. The Saudi Arabia-born el Shukrijumah lived with his parents in Miramar, Fla., until four months before the Sept. 11 attacks. An FBI statement at the time said he was “possibly involved with al-Qaida terrorist activities and, if true, poses a serious threat.”