Press Centre

Exposure - Jihad: A British Story

  • Episode: 

    1 of 1

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Mon 15 Jun 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    10.40pm - 11.45pm
  • Week: 

    Week 25 2015 : Sat 13 Jun - Fri 19 Jun
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 9 June 2015.
Exposure - Jihad: A British Story
“It’s hard being young, it’s even harder being young and Muslim. It’s harder being young and Muslim and being alone, and it’s harder being young, Muslim and alone in the War on Terror generation. No matter what you try to do to fit in, to be a part of society, you are always being seen as an outsider. And that is really deeply unsettling.” - Alyas Karmani, former extremist
This new documentary in the Exposure current affairs strand sets out to provide a close insight into why some young Muslims embrace extremism and go abroad to fight holy wars. It reaches beyond political and cultural motivations to shed fresh light on the intimate, personal reasons individuals are drawn into that world.
Jihad: A British Story focuses on a two-year investigation by Emmy Award-winning director Deeyah Khan into the roots of Islamic radicalism in Britain, and features individuals talking in raw, strikingly candid and often emotional terms about the reasons for their involvement in extremism, and in some cases why they came to reject it.
Deeyah, a Muslim who grew up in the West and produced the award-winning Banaz: An Honour Killing for ITV, first hears the story of a former fighter described as the ‘Godfather of Jihad in the UK’.
Abu Muntasir confesses to having inspired jihad abroad - recruiting, fundraising and organising, as well as leading other British Muslims to fight in places like Afghanistan, Kashmir and Burma. He also talks about the moment he realised he no longer wanted to be an extremist.
Deeyah meets followers who joined his circle, talks to a convicted terrorist who fought in Bosnia and a young British man facing terrorism charges, as well as young Muslims who haven’t embraced extremism. She also speaks to a young woman who after being sexually abused turned to extremism because she thought a radical interpretation of Islamic law would be a means of gaining justice for what had been done to her.
Abu Muntasir now leads a small community of devout Muslims, preaching around the country and doing charitable works. But in the 1980s and 1990s, he was a charismatic and fiery Islamic extremist preacher, with a large following across the UK. He describes how his worldview at the time led him to be one of the first British Muslims to go and fight abroad - before coming back and helping to influence and radicalise others. He says of his mindset at that time: “The world is populated by Muslims and non-Muslims. That everything that constitutes disbelief, unbelief in their systems, in their education, in their way of life, all of it is dishonourable or defective or corrupt.”
The trigger for Abu Muntasir to turn away from extremism was while fighting in Burma, and he breaks down in tears as he tells Deeyah the story. He met two brothers aged just 13 in the jungle, and suddenly visualised his son and daughter in the same position. He says: “It’s not the suffering of being in the jungle and living in the dirt and eating poor food. It’s the idea and the picture of them, my son and daughter carrying guns to be maimed or blown up at the behest of leaders and commanders who fight for a false ideal and an unwinnable war.”
Alyas Karmani was one of his loyal followers, and tells Exposure he joined his group to achieve a sense of belonging after growing up facing racism where he lived. Now Alyas has turned away from extremism, and says he thinks one reason behind young men becoming jihadis is actually sexual tension, repressed by traditional Muslim families. He says: “You know what, 'I’m a mujahid now. I’m there with my gun, I’m powerful now. I’m sexy now. Girls are going to look at me and there are girls who want to become my bride now.'”
Another of the young men who Abu Muntasir inspired, Munir Zamir, says he was drawn to extremism by a sense of alienation from British society. But he also admits physical disabilities to his hand arm and leg may have played a part in it. He says: “For me coming to terms with my physical state has been the greatest realisation I’ve known as a human being on this earth. For me to be able to accept that I don’t need to be ashamed of how I look and don’t need society to tell me that I don’t need to be ashamed. My greatest jihad was back then coming to terms with me.”
Deeyah also meets Yasmin Mulbocus, to better understand why women are attracted to extremist organisations. Yasmin joined an extremist group in the UK when she was younger, after suffering sexual abuse. When she reported it to police, the case was dropped for a lack of evidence. She wanted sharia law to be implemented so the perpetrator would be executed. But she realised she needed to leave extremism behind her when a teacher called her into her daughter’s school. Yasmin says: “She said, ‘Well, your child came up and said that it’s okay for us to kill non-Muslims.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my God, what is happening here?’”
Abu Muntasir now says that he hopes he will be forgiven for his actions. His former follower Alyas tells Deeyah that he does. He says: “Of course I forgive him… You’ve got to realise we were all, even Abu Muntasir, we were all young. And we were foolish. And we didn’t have the whole picture. That was it.”