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The sidewalks where terror breeds

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After his return to Britain in 2002, Kelly quickly became a disciple of Bakri, a radical Syrian-born cleric based in Britain, who is most widely known for celebrating 9/11, and more recently, blaming 7/7 on British foreign policy. Through Bakri's circle, which is now largely underground, Kelly met Abu Osama. Now, they gravitate toward obscure mosques that nurture homegrown extremists.

"The imam here" - Kelly nods at the mosque - "said, 'Pray for the victory of the mujahideen in all the world.' He's talking about Osama bin Laden, but he can't say that."

Hard-line mosques are an intoxicating arena for disillusioned young Muslims, Britain's fastest-growing, poorest, and worst-educated minority.

"The pull to Islam in general is not bad," says Malik. "It gives [young people] a sense of identity and spirituality that is important to their lives."

However, the perceived persecution of Muslims worldwide can imbue their faith with a politics of resentment; they see the world divided into two opposing groups: Muslims and others. "The world begins to appear black and white," Malik says.

"When it comes to politics, sometimes I just feel angry," spits Farouq (not his real name), 21, as he scans East London shop-windows for Help Wanted signs. Women in chadors sweep past, steering their baby carriages through discarded fish'n'chips wrappers and cigarette ends.

Farouq has never heard of Abu Osama. "I don't have time to pray any more. But I'd like to get back into it," he muses. "I know definitely [Islam] will help me."

Concerned that radical groups might capitalize on this kind of discontent, mainstream Muslim leaders have deliberately shunned those who advocated violence.

Some say the effort to weed out extremists is a sign of progress. Others say it has backfired, throwing together vulnerable young Muslims and hard-liners.

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