After spending time recently with senior Pentagon officials and other Americans involved in counter-terror-ism, I was struck by the global scope of their concerns. Above all I was reminded how different their attitudes are from those of their British counterparts, still obsessed with “community cohesion” and the “radicalisation” of young Muslims.
In Britain the views of the nonMuslim majority are largely ignored – or lead to them being branded as potential “Islamophobes”. In the United States the unthinkable and unsayable are debated openly.
Last month, for example, the Senate committee on homeland security heard evidence about the likely effects of a terrorist nuclear attack on Washington. It started with a chilling scenario: a 10-kiloton bomb in a truck beside the White House. First, the committee was told, it would kill about 100,000 people and erase a two-mile radius of mainly federal buildings. Most of the casualties would be burn victims, the majority of them African Americans who worked for the government.
About 95% of them would die in agony, because capacity to treat such cases is limited to about 1,500. Since the winds blow west to east, the ensuing radioactive plume would drift towards the poor black neighbourhoods of the capital’s southeast, where there is only one hospital. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the committee, concluded: “Now is the time to ask the tough questions and then to get answers as best we can.”
I can’t help wondering what preparations for such a nightmare scenario are being made here in Britain. Does anyone know if our parliamentarians are asking similar questions?
As the main target of jihadist violence, the United States has a sober estimation of the threat we face and a polyvalent strategy for dealing with it. In Britain use of the phrase the “war on terror” has been proscribed by the Brown government; local representatives of the global jihadist insurgency process through British courts in startling numbers. A recent Europol report showed that in 2007 the British arrested 203 terrorist suspects, against 201 for the rest of Europe.
By contrast, the United States is fighting a global war – against an Al-Qaeda-inspired nebula of extremists – with arms and ideas and a vast array of analytic intelligence. In essence, America wants to destroy Al-Qaeda as a brand. One strategy is to highlight the moral squalor of those who denounce the West, which means exposing the criminal underpinnings of jihadism – including reliance on conflict diamonds, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, fraud and robbery. Yet the British government has done almost nothing to undermine the noble self-image of the jihadists in the eyes of those who are drawn to Osama Bin Laden.
Elsewhere in the world jihadists are going through “deprogramming” courses in which they are given authoritative instruction in a religion most of them know only as a handful of banal slogans. The combination of aid from the West and rehabilitation schemes explains why southeast Asian jihadism is now in disarray.
The use of military force, aggressive counter-terrorism measures and diligent police work is also indispensable to defeating the insurgency; after three years of horrendous death tolls in Iraq, the United States has at last succeeded in turning the “Sunni Awakening” movement against the foreign Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists, many from Libya or Saudi Arabia. It turns out that local people had balked at such Islamist customs as breaking the fingers of smokers and shooting anyone selling alcohol. The Sunni counter-insurgents may not relish US occupation, but they like the jihadist reign of terror even less.
No European country faces the global challenges confronting the United States, but because of its success in integrating Arab immigrants, America largely faces an external threat. Europeans face one hatching among second or third-generation north Africans, Bangladeshis or Pakistanis, not to speak of indigenous converts.
Europe can be weak in combating terrorism at a political level, largely because of the effects of officially decreed multiculturalism and a failure to do much about the impact of population movements on the host culture and economy. Not surprisingly, the failure of European governments to get a grip on what are still relatively small Muslim minorities provokes exasperation in America.
Many of the 1.6m Muslims living in Britain, for example, still do not seem fully to appreciate the outrage that a finger-jabbing minority causes at home and abroad with each escalating demand for Islamist enclaves. Like a perennial student, new Labour favours debate and dialogue. But in dealing with the Muslim Council of Britain, the government has unwittingly accepted as “community” interlocutors men who have blamed Islamist terrorism primarily on British foreign policy, while failing to condemn suicide bombing outside the UK.
Hardly anything is being done to stem the flow of Wahhabist money and its intolerant ideology not only into mosques but also to university “Islamic studies” programmes. Others are also complicit in this process. Did banks think about the cultural implications of sharia-compliant finance, noticeably absent in Egypt? This was allowed by Gordon Brown without triggering the public outrage that attended the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sly unclarities about sharia.
The police seem to be turning a blind eye to “honour crimes” and to the informal resort to sharia, even when this involves manifestly criminal offences. They have preferred to turn on the makers of a Channel 4 documentary about homegrown extremists, accusing the producers of distorting the views of Muslim clerics, rather than to investigate the extremists themselves – leading Channel 4 to sue the police for libel and win.
A robust response to the jihadist threat is also stymied by ideologue lawyers who have made a decent living out of defending terrorists and by judges who, with honourable exceptions, seem to have greater allegiance to abstract notions of human rights than to our primary right of not being blown to pieces.
Attempts to free Abu Qatada, the alleged Al-Qaeda spiritual leader in Europe, amounted to a national disgrace. Lawyers claimed that if he were deported to Jordan, he might be tortured (despite agreements to the contrary). They also claimed the Jordani-ans might produce witnesses who had themselves been tortured.
Judges have recently undermined the government’s attempts to interdict terrorist financing – even in the case of a dangerous Al-Qaeda operative known for legal reasons as “G”. And it was judges who subverted the regime of control orders that was introduced at their own behest after they had released detainees from long-term custody in Belmarsh. Even the Royal Navy is reluctant to detain Somali pirates on the grounds that their “human rights” might be infringed in Saudi Arabia, Somalia or Yemen.
The government’s recent attempts to sponsor British citizenship and values to counteract the multiculturalism propagated by a previous wave of state patronage seem tired and unconvincing. There is little sense in asking Muslims to “become us” when that evidently implies to them a culture of considerable coarseness: binge drinking, crime, drugs and chronic family breakdown. Why shouldn’t they insulate themselves within the various ghettos that Britain has complacently allowed to form?
One has yet to hear a British politician of any stripe talk about what changes he wishes to see in the Muslim world â€“ for example, in Saudi Arabia, to which we sell arms in return for passively accepting their citizens’ funding of subversive religious activities in Britain.
By contrast, Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to give north Africa (and Israel) EU associate status suggests that he has expanded his horizons since 9/11. Meanwhile, anything that serves to strengthen liberal Muslim voices in Indonesia or Turkey is worth encouraging. It may be that the dictators – the Assads, Bouteflikas, Mubaraks, Gadaffis and others – will cling to power longer than optimists imagine. But if they don’t, how will the West help those moderates – judges, lawyers, journalists, liberals and socialists – who find themselves in temporary oppositional coalitions with fundamentalists? How do we ensure such a coalition does not go the way of the one that toppled the Shah of Iran, after which Khomeinites imprisoned or murdered their secular allies?
The one British politician who grasps the need to be as frank as our American cousins about the threat from terrorists who are actively plotting indiscriminate slaughter is not the prime minister, who appears to be locked into the globalising vapidities that thrill Davos seminars, but David Cameron. The leader of the opposition understands the existential threat from jihadism and has comprehensive ideas about how to combat it that will link foreign, defence and security policies. He is fully conscious of the need to balance ancient liberties with the right to stay alive.
Like the United States, Britain needs a dedicated border police and defences against terrorism that begin when someone buys an air ticket. It needs to dismantle the bureaucratic residue of state multiculturalism, and the deportation of foreign agitators is essential. Any appeal they may mount should take place after they have been deported. As for human rights lawyers – they can pay for their own.
A more imaginative approach to the Muslim world should go hand-in-hand with a clearer statement of what the domestic majority is not prepared to tolerate. That is the difference between a properly thought-out strategy and the government’s clue-less alternation between appeasement and knee-jerk authoritarianism.
This is an edited version of a longer article that will appear in Standpoint, the new cultural and political magazine that will be launched on Thursday
2 thoughts on “UK: 'Lord Ahmed' calls for death penalty for 'extremists' who misunderstand their religion”
â€˜Hang extremistsâ€™ call
Britain’s most prominent Muslim politician last night called for the return of the death penalty for extremists who urge the weak and vulnerable to carry out terrorist acts.
Labourâ€™s Lord Ahmed spoke out as police continued to question an Islamic convert suspected of detonating a nail bomb in Exeter city centre.
HO HO HO
This is just a smokescreen, blow away the smoke, and what do we see.
Lord Ahmed could be charged with death by dangerous driving after a horrific motorway crash.
Police have completed a file on the smash in which the peer hit a broken-down car on Christmas Day.
It is alleged Lord Ahmed, 50, sent a text around the time. Now prosecutors will decide if he should be charged over the death of a Slovakian on the M1 near Rotherham.
Lord Ahmed said yesterday: “I deny any allegation of death by dangerous driving.”
Another step towards the barbarism of Sharia law.
If the death penalty gets put back into action from Muslim instigation its a sad day for this country. Why not send them home on con-air style flights to Saudi Arabia where they can be dealt with according to thier self elected lifestyle insted of dragging our Britain back into the 7th century. Down to brass tacts ~ Britains cant trust the Goverment with the power of life and death let alone I.D records. This Islamist cancer needs to be removed perminantly, the opiates which get administer do little else than prevent discomfort.
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