Last Night’s TV – Generation Jihad

by Lynn Connolly

We’re all painfully aware of the problem of radical extremists who are willing to sacrifice not only their own lives but thousands of others in an attempt to have the last word. That word is, generically speaking, Jihad.

It’s a word that has become a metaphor for abhorrent acts of terrorism all over the world, and for this film, long-serving journalist Peter Taylor chose Yorkshire – his childhood home – to explore just why it is that young men in particular are being drawn into the concept of a die-and-kill-for-your-cause mentality.

And for some reason that wasn’t made entirely obvious in the film, Northern England seems to spawn more of these impressionable and radicalised young men than pretty much anywhere else in the country.

However, this film didn’t provide any answers; rather, it explored the whys and wherefores of the whole issue. The whys seem to come down to the perpetuation of ancient Arabic laws and ideals, while the wherefores can be found on the internet.

It’s via the World Wide Web that the majority of the troubled youths who are prepared to carry out terrorist atrocities are groomed for their suicidal roles. In order to understand the concept better, Taylor interviewed unrepentant terrorists Bilal Mohammed and Rizwan Ditta, and rather than challenge them, Taylor tried only to be the human equivalent of a tape recorder.

And of course, their strength of belief and disregard for human life is frightening stuff.

We also heard also from many Muslims who, like the majority of us, view the concept of Jihad as a “bizarre cult.” And a cult it may well be but it’s one that is highly organised, well funded and, arguably, a global threat that’s greater than nuclear war.

But at the heart of this film was the question of why it is that young men especially are being drawn like moths to a flame to these radicals. Young men who were born in Britain to families who are peace loving and have moderate Islamic views are increasingly being targeted as cannon fodder. Or, more aptly, walking bombs.

To answer the question, fingers were pointed at Salman Rushdie and unrest in the Middle East, but still remains the issue of why young men are being drawn into a war that exists only for the fanatical.

Perhaps we’ll get nearer to an answer in second part of Taylor’s investigation which will look more specifically at how young Muslims who’ve been radicalised over the ‘net formed a terrorist network that spanned three continents. It will also reveal how this network were planning an attack which, it’s claimed, would make the 2005 London bombings a day in the park by comparison.

If you missed this first episode, you can catch up with it on BBC’s iPlayer here.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.