London’s terrorists next door

Walking around Dalgarno Gardens, the residents appear to be ethnically mixed. There are as many head scarves as there are ball caps, and children of all backgrounds play together in the local, government-subsidized preschool. Sarah, a local resident who was pushing her infant son in a stroller and did not want her last name used, said she knows several neighbours of Hassane’s who were baffled by the charges against him. “People here just couldn’t believe he’d done anything like that. This is a nice area; it’s not like people are desperate or angry at the system or anything like that.”

But, evidently, some are—and the reasons why seem to cut across both class and culture. It is a mistake to think that the British Muslim youth who’ve left to fight in Syria (about 500 so far) have done so because of poverty or desperation. On the contrary, most are middle-class, educated young men of moderate religious backgrounds. Their privilege, many experts believe, is the very thing that drives them into the arms of extremism. They cleave, for better or worse, to the jihadist dream that Islam will once again rise up and rule the world.