Bureaucrats go off the rail in the UK....
They can't see the reality behind terrorist groups like Hizb ut Tahrir...
The Government has opened the way for official links with Muslim extremists after civil servants said radical groups could be a "safety valve" for those tempted by terrorism.
The groups specifically named - in documents leaked to The Sunday Telegraph - include al-Muhajiroun, which has praised 9/11 as “magnificent” and Hizb ut Tahrir, which wants to turn Britain into an Islamic dictatorship under sharia law.
In the classified papers, presented last week to Coalition ministers on the Cabinet’s home affairs committee, officials say a “clear assessment” has been made that individuals “do not progress” to violence through such groups.
One paper, classified “Restricted” and entitled “Government strategy towards extremism”, says: “It is sometimes argued that violent extremists have progressed to terrorism by way of a passing commitment to non-violent Islamist extremism, for example of a kind associated with al-Muhajiroun or Hizb ut Tahrir ... We do not believe that it is accurate to regard radicalisation in this country as a linear 'conveyor belt’ moving from grievance, through radicalisation, to violence … This thesis seems to both misread the radicalisation process and to give undue weight to ideological factors.”
In fact, at least 19 terrorists convicted in Britain have had links with al-Muhajiroun, including Omar Khayam, sentenced to life imprisonment as leader of the “fertiliser bomb” plot, and Abdullah Ahmed Ali, the ringleader of the airliner “liquid bomb” plot, who is also serving life.
Al-Muhajiroun provided backing to Abu Hamza, the extremist cleric, whose Finsbury Park mosque was a forming-ground for other terrorists. Advertising a conference held in the mosque in 2002, al-Muhajiroun leaflets described the 9/11 hijackers as the “magnificent 19”.
The organisation was banned under Labour, but ex-members have regrouped under different banners. Former al-Muhajiroun activists demonstrated against a parade by British troops through Luton and threatened to do the same against the coffins of dead soldiers passing through the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett.
Hizb ut Tahrir says it opposes terrorism and condemned the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks. However, it regards integration as “dangerous,” orders all Muslims to keep apart from non-believers and says that “those [Muslims] who believe in democracy are Kafir”, or apostates. A British would-be suicide bomber, Omar Sharif, was radicalised partly by Hizb activists at his London university.
Before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron repeatedly called for Hizb to be outlawed, and criticised Labour for failing to introduce a ban. In March he said in an interview that he wanted to keep foreign preachers of hate out of Britain and “ban those extremist groups like Hizb ut Tahrir who are already here”.
The Whitehall documents admit that a “minority” of terrorists have been involved with non-violent extremist groups such as al-Muhajiroun, and state that such groups “can foster a sense of Muslim isolationism from wider UK society, which may increase vulnerability to radicalisation”.
But in a “restricted” memorandum to Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, written on July 15, Robert Mason, one of his senior officials, says the papers present “a clear assessment that individuals do not progress through non-violent extremist groups to violent groups … Extreme groups may also provide a legal 'safety valve’ for extreme views.”
The papers say that Mr Cameron, and the Government, agreed “to do more to tackle non-violent extremism”, including extremist views such as Hizb ut Tahrir’s, at a meeting of the administration’s new National Security Council last month.
However, they say that tackling extremism should not be done in a security-related context. Labour’s attempt in its controversial Prevent strategy to “challenge some extremist views which fell short of espousing violence”, the papers say, produced “more hostile reaction [among Muslims] than the rest of the strategy put together … There is clearly a risk that the grounding of a counter-extremist strategy even more explicitly in terrorism would produce an adverse reaction.”
Whitehall sources said there was a split between the two main departments responsible, with Home Office ministers wanting a tough line with Islamists while Communities Department civil servants advocate a more “inclusive” approach. The papers say: “How non-violent extremism is to be addressed is likely to be one of the key points of difference between Ministers.”
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has already acted to ban two extremists, Bilal Philips and Zakir Naik, from Britain, despite some resistance from officials.
The papers are understood to have been prepared with the involvement of Mohammed Abdul Aziz, a controversial paid ministerial adviser to the Communities Department. Mr Aziz is an honorary trustee of the hardline East London Mosque, which has hosted dozens of hate and extremist preachers, including Anwar al-Awlaki, a cleric cited as an inspiration by the perpetrators of 9/11 and many other terrorist attacks.
The mosque is the headquarters of, and closely linked to, a secretive, fundamentalist network, the Islamic Forum of Europe – which believes in transforming “the very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam”. Mr Aziz is a former officer of the IFE’s youth wing.
Earlier this year the IFE was accused by Jim Fitzpatrick, then a Labour minister, of infiltrating and “corrupting” his party in the same way as the Militant Tendency in the 1980s.
The papers appear to pave the way for a policy recommended by Mr Aziz in another document leaked to this newspaper. Written in April, it condemns what Mr Aziz calls the previous Government’s “veto approach” towards fundamentalist-influenced organisations.
Mr Aziz says that ministers and officials in the new administration should consider appearing in public, “on a case by case basis”, even with organisations which promote “a message of divisiveness, expressing intolerance towards other communities in the UK”.
He says that Whitehall officials should even deal privately with organisations which may support “violent extremism in Britain”, and urges that organisations should only be boycotted as a “port of last call” in “very defined circumstances” including “wholly unacceptable positions on the use of force”.
Mr Aziz also strongly recommends far closer engagement with hardline, but non-violent, organisations such as the IFE and the East London Mosque.