al-Qaida in Britain return.
The three men arrested, all in their early twenties, were apparently about to travel to that well-known hot-bed of Islamic militancy, Finland. The ages of the men perhaps further gives the game away: if this truly was another franchise of al-Qaida setting itself up, it hardly seems likely that they would have chosen three individuals hardly out of nappies to head it. From the sketches of what we know about the offshoots which have spread across the Muslim world, the leaders of the groups have tended to be veterans of past conflicts, or at least long-time adherents to the takfirist/Salafist ideology which underpins al-Qaida's thought processes. While al-Zarqawi, former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, now the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq, only turned up in Afghanistan after the fighting had finished against the Soviets in the 80s, he was still considered a veteran. His successor (or at least considered real successor, with Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as a figurehead, Masri serving as ISI's "minister for war"), presumed to Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, an organisation formerly helmed by Ayman al-Zahawiri himself. Elsewhere, formerly independent radical groups have pledged allegiance to al-Qaida, such as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in Algeria, now known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb, keeping their leadership intact.
As a security source said at the time, this was always likely to be the work of fantasists dreaming about truly belonging to al-Qaida. The short shrift their proclamations were given on al-Ekhlass further underlined how even amongst their apparent peers they were viewed as being bullshit artists. If it does indeed turn out these three were responsible, then it will only likely further show the amateurish nature of the current "radicals" in this country.