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Gary Younge
Newspapers warn of threat to America from 'Londonistan'

London has become a "feeding ground for hate" and a "crossroads for would-be terrorists" where Muslims exploit civil liberties to "openly preach jihad", according to newspapers in the United States.

Over the past three days, articles on front pages of newspapers across the country, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal, describe the UK as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism that threatens global security.

In articles with headlines such as "For a decade London thrived as a busy crossroads for terror" (New York Times) and "Continent's Issues include Geography and Open borders: Bombers travel freely, police cannot" (Wall Street Journal), the American press argue that London is a global hub for Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist cells.

"If London became a magnet for fiery preachers, it also became a destination for men willing to carry out their threats," said a front page report in the Times on Sunday. "For a decade, the city has been a crossroads for would-be terrorists who used it as a home base, where they could raise money, recruit members and draw inspiration from the militant messages."

Although the identities and nationalities of those who committed the terrorist attacks are not yet known, the pieces hinge on the assumption that they are British citizens who have been in the country for a considerable amount of time.

Relying primarily on the analysis of US terrorism experts, they argue that the government's reluctance to enforce stricter surveillance and anti-terror legislation for fear of upsetting Muslims has left the UK and the rest of Europe more vulnerable to terrorism.

"London is easily the most jihadist hub in western Europe," Roger Cressy, a former White House counterterrorism official, told the Los Angeles Times. "London has been an indoctrination and recruiting centre for many years," Michael Radu, a terrorism expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, told the Philadelphia Tribune.

In the Wall Street Journal, the former head of the State Department's counter-terrorism centre, Larry Johnson, said Britain had been too squeamish about respecting Muslims' rights.

As a result, argues Peter Bergen, a fellow of the New America Foundation, British Muslims pose "one of the greatest terrorist threats to the United States".

In a comment piece, Mr Bergen questions whether America's safety is compromised by allowing Britons to come to the US without a visa, given "the reality that Islamic militant groups in Britain ... represent a growing threat to the United States that will continue for many years to come". So entrenched is the British capital as an outpost of the Muslim diaspora, that London is now commonly referred to as "Londonistan" - a word used several times in different papers.

· President George Bush yesterday used the bomb attacks on London as renewed justification for the war on terror, writes Jamie Wilson. "These kind of people who blow up subways and buses are not people you can negotiate with, or reason with, or appease," he said in a speech at FBI training headquarters in Virginia.

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