Mohammed Hadi is the Coventry Kid who went from West Midlands to Middle East, where he joined the Sunni insurgents fighting to establish the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Eighteen-year-old Hadi has been nicknamed ‘Osama Bin Bieber’ because, in the only photo made available to the press, he is a picture of absolute innocence. But unlike Justin Bieber, this Berber is thin lipped and bespectacled (for the record: more like Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley wearing big bins; and even an eighties-style jacket).
Almost overnight, Hadi and a handful of fellow travellers such as Cardiff’s Reyaad Khan (20) and Nasser Muthana (20), have been built up as the biggest threat to Britain’s national security: they are Public Enemies No 1, 2, and 3, allegedly.
But these wee boys are pantomime villains. When Khan and Muthana appeared in their now infamous ISIS recruitment video, they seemed to be hamming it up in accents as affected as doing the pimp roll or wearing pulled-down pants.
Me and my Kalashnikov, Yo! From Bling to the burqa, Yo! Iraq is the new black, Yo!
Although there was fighting talk of selflessness and self-sacrifice (dying for the cause), they were really doing a selfie – more narcissist than terrorist. Yet what was uploaded by a handful of adolescent wannabes is now being floated at face value by the British government.
Well done, boys. The great and the good are queuing up to thumbs-down your YouTube appearance. What’s not to (not) ‘like’!
The threat of teenager bombers – inflated as a tech start-up in the days of the dot.com boom, is called to conjure up ‘the public’, though this big idea has long been blown away.
Compared to earlier prospects held out to bright young things of previous generations, anti-adolescent-terrorism is surely less than compelling (even if set to be compulsory under the terms of Prevent, the politico-police strategy for countering extremism amongthe young).
Hadi hails from Stoke Heath, a council housing estate built by Coventry Corporation inthe 1930s. Had he grown up there and then, his parents might have been excited at theprospect of designing their son’s primary school. Construction was carried out underthe direction of local residents and their representative, James Latham, one of the first ever Labour members to be elected to the city council.
If Hadi had grown up in the 1960s, when social democracy thrived on the proceeds ofpost-war car manufacturing, he might have attended theatre-in-education classes pioneered at The Belgrade: Coventry’s civic theatre; or concerts in the newly consecrated Cathedral, as ecumenical as it was Christian (with clergy in coffee coloured cassocks, its ambience matched that of Terence Conran’s Habitat).
Even in the 1980s, there was a brief reprise of social democracy to be had from Two-Tone Records. But since then…..not a lot for Cov Kids to commit to; nothing forthcoming from the centre, at any rate.
Hence Hadi had to look sideways for his Hawk in the Rain, his matt black, his Mark Rothko, his something grand and terrible to lift life beyond the banal.
Can’t condone his choice; but it’s clear enough why he made it.