I have just watched a documentary about Swedish jihadis, Det Svider i Hjärtat, which has not, so far as I know, been discussed in England, though it has been shown at the Barbican, something I only found out while posting. I mean to write more about it, and perhaps more seriously, in the Guardian, and bits of it are truly horrifying. But by the end, my horror was interrupted by gusts of laughter because the main character completely beats out Doug Feith for the title of stupidest man on the planet.
He is a native Swede called, apparently, Ralf Lennart, though he prefers to call himself “Abu Usama el Swede” (pronounced swayday). On the back of his neck is tattooed GBG hooligan, and on the side of it, in wedding-invitation script, ACAB, which stands, of course, for “All coppers are bastards”. As a youth he was a neo-nazi skinhead, part of a gang who beat an Iranian half to death in a park in Gothenburg; and he is still troubled by the memory of another crime he never got caught for. But in one of his jails, he converted to Islam, because — he gestured at his teeming head as he explained this — “It fits with what’s up here in my head: that’s how I see the world. There’s nothing vague about it. Islam has answers for everything from A to Z”
The thug mixture of self-satisfaction with injured self-righteousness seemed quite unaffected by his conversion: when he talked about himself he always seemed to be in an invisible interview room, hoping that the cops didn’t have the evidence to pin anything on him.
He has three children by three different women, and keeps his present wife shut in the bedroom when the film maker comes around. Obviously, he is unemployed; for the rest of his life the Swedish state will subsidise him while he spends his days talking about Islam with his friend and splicing together Jihadi videos to put up on the internet. But some of his friends are slightly less gormless, and one of them had set off, from Kungälv of all dumps, to blow himself up in Bosnia. Naturally, he had arrived some time after the war was over, and been rapidly caught, and jailed for fifteen years in Sarajevo. All this was partly horrible, but also, when Abu Usama el Swede went there, gut-burstingly funny. For once he left the suburbs of Gothenburg this global warrior against Western decadence was could have been any self-satisfied and invicibly ignorant Swedish tourist there has ever been. Forty years ago, he would have wondered around China marvelling at the Cultural Revolution. Now, he was bewildered that the Bosnians, after eight years of bitter war, had not embraced fundamentalist Islam: “None of them are wearing a hijab. I don’t know what’s wrong with them” he said.
I know that in some lights, this represents a blinkered and fanatical determination to overthrow freedom and enlightenment. I know that being really stupid does not make anyone harmless. I know he is, to the best of his abilities, wicked. But still, I laughed and laughed.