Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 5 November 2014

Portsmouth jihadis: austerity and alienation to blame

Ben Norman, Portsmouth Socialist Party

Nineteen year old Mehdi Hassan has become the latest young Muslim from Portsmouth to be killed in Syria. Part of the self-proclaimed 'Al-Britaini Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys', Hassan is one of six Portsmouth men known to have joined the Salafist extremists of the Islamic State (IS).

Hassan is reported to have been killed in the Syrian border city of Kobane and the rest of his 'brigade' have fared little better. Four are dead, one is imprisoned and the final member is believed to remain trapped on Kobani's besieged front lines.


The social media campaigns of IS promise its recruits a 'five star jihad', a beguiling blend of Call of Duty and evangelical belonging. Yet the reality is infinitely more cruel. Compared to the battle hardened veterans of Syria, Iraq or Yemen, IS considers its European recruits theologically illiterate and a military liability.

While a handful, including hostage murderer 'Jihadi John', are used as propaganda tools, the majority of Europeans find themselves thrown into suicidal battles as expendable fodder against the Kurdish Peshmerga when IS wishes to protect its more seasoned fighters.

Portsmouth's jihadis may be partially explained by naivety, evangelicalism and even a idealised view of a 'homeland' they've never known. However, it is clear the root cause is a poisonous mix of austerity and alienation.


The city's Charles Dickens ward, home to the majority of the group, is ravaged by unemployment and cuts. 57% of children are estimated to live in income-deprived families, while the average household income is 430 per week, far below the British average of 670.

The British security service's own report highlights the impact of austerity, noting the path to radicalisation begins with high youth unemployment, a reliance on axed public services and the 'managed decline' of the dockyard, responsible for over 900 job losses.

In this regard, the 'Pompey Six' are no different to the rest of their community, where disillusionment and political despondency run high. In May's local elections the sitting MP, Mike Hancock, lost his council seat to Ukip on a turnout of only 24%.

The difference is that, alienated by British austerity, the six men turned to social media, ensnaring themselves in an international trap of despondence and demagoguery which has targeted young Muslims from Portsmouth to Tunis.

While it is no doubt the bloodiest, IS is just one manifestation of the hard line Salafist ideology which is being exported by the wealthy Gulf States.

Threatened by the Arab Spring revolutions, the absolute monarchies of Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have spread Salafism as a weaponised theology of counter-revolution.


That this extremism can find purchase in a small minority of Portsmouth's Muslims is because the ground has been prepared by austerity, not as some would claim, a failure of multiculturalism.

Nor is there an issue with community segregation. In the most densely populated British city outside of London there is no room for ghettos. This community suffers its decline as one.

If the problems of alienation, despair and radicalisation are to be tackled, our movement must cut across the extremist's message, uniting the community in a common struggle against austerity and the social problems which blight our city.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 5 November 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Cold, cruel cuts: Fight the Con-Dem attacks

The Con-Dems' Machiavellian cuts

All main parties in crisis: where will the opposition go?

Pressure mounts on zero-hour contracts

Them & Us

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Every penny counts: donate to Socialism 2014

TUSC fights for health centre

Carlisle: Stop the car parking tax

Socialist Students campaign reports

International socialist news and analysis

Ireland water tax: 'We won't pay'

Burkina Faso: Mass uprising ousts dictator

Socialist Party workplace news

Back fresh strikes to save the NHS

Defend firefighters' right to strike!

Victory to St Mungo's strikers

Sheffield Green workers start indefinite strike

Greenwich libraries victory

Police staff ballot for decent pay

Ritzy cinema bosses back down

Kent: Range wardens strike

Workplace news in brief

Readers' comments

Agree with Russell Brand? Join the Socialist Party!

Ebola virus crisis - no profit, no vaccine

Repel the Tories' attacks on our democratic rights

Portsmouth jihadis: austerity and alienation to blame

Take over software giants


Benny Adams


Home   |   The Socialist 5 November 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleSouth Western Railway staff strike for safety

triangleD-Day for fighting Trump attack on NHS

triangleThe unheard voices of Gosport

triangleTrump out - Tories out!

triangleFerry workers protest against 2.45 an hour pay


triangleCrisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party

triangleCouncils must demand control of supplies and reversal of austerity

triangleCapitalist press attacks Tory incompetence


triangleFurlough cut-off could force millions back to unsafe workplaces

triangleCapitalism and human progress


triangleSyria: Assad regime consolidates power after brutal counterrevolution

triangleMass united action against the war on Syrian Kurds


triangleRevolution and counter-revolution in Sudan


triangleThe role of the Socialist during the corona crisis

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments



Going viral - Socialist comments and letters



Obituary: Rob Crabb



Going viral: letters to the editors


Upton Sinclair

The Jungle: capitalism's remorseless attack on workers' safety and conditions



Going Viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis



Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis



TV Review BBC Panorama: PPE shortage - how many lives will be lost?



Going viral: Socialist comments and letters



Going viral: Socialist comments and letters



Going viral: Socialist comments on the corona crisis


Socialist Party

Labour leadership election: Starmer wins but the fight for socialism goes on



Going viral



Going viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis



Going viral: Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis



TV: Noughts and Crosses

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020