Taylor is an experienced and talented journalist, who is chiefly known for a series of well-regarded documentaries on Northern Ireland. But the first instalment of Generation Jihad also raised a number of important additional questions – particularly about the relationship between radicalisation and Western foreign policy.
Two prominent themes that emerged early in the programme were the central importance of the internet as a tool of radicalisation and the crucial role played by radicalisers, as active and predatory agents of extremism within Muslim communities.
For example, Taylor discussed the case of Hammad Munshi, Britain’s youngest terrorist convict who was targeted and groomed by older extremists at the age of 15, without the knowledge of his family. Indeed, there is evidence that even younger children have been targeted in this way. At the end of January, police from the Counter-Terrorism Unit in Manchester released a video seized in a raid, apparently showing two infants handling a Kalashnikov rifle and being encouraged to express their desire to ‘kill the infidels’.
In tracing the genesis of Islamist extremism within the UK, Taylor identified the furore over the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in 1988 as a moment of awakening and heightened political consciousness among UK Muslims, which was subsequently manipulated by extremists to their own ends. He also emphasised the continued importance attached by UK Muslims to the ‘Ummah’, the wider Islamic diaspora.