Disproportionate Focus on ‘Far-Right’ Stopping Anti-Terror Programmes From Preventing Islamist Extremism: Report

LONDON - FEBRUARY 03: Muslims burn a Danish Flag outside the Danish Embassy on FEBRUARY 3, 2006 in London, England. British muslims have condemned newspaper cartoons which first appeared in a Danish newspaper, some of which depict the Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb. The cartoons have …
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A disproportionate focus on the far-right has taken away the necessary resources from confronting Islamist extremists in the UK’s battle against terrorism, a report has claimed.

A report from the Henry Jackson Society claimed that political correctness has resulted in a “fundamental mismatch” between the terror threat posed by Islamic extremism and the focus paid to it by Prevent and Channel — the government’s main anti-extremism programmes.

Out of all referrals to Prevent, only 24 per cent involved potential Islamist extremists and only 30 per cent of those cases were actually passed onto the Channel deradicalisation programme. At the same time, 22 per cent of Prevent cases involved far-right extremists, with 43 per cent of those cases then being referred to Channel.

This comes despite jihadists making up more than 90 per cent of the 43,000 people on the security service MI5’s terror watchlist as well as being responsible for the vast number of people imprisoned for terror offences, with Islamists making up 73 per cent of terrorist inmates in Britain, as of March of this year.

The nation’s security service itself admitted in 2019 that the number of cases involving far-right extremists was “absolutely dwarfed” by those involving Islamists.

The government’s own Independent Review of Terrorism Legislation has admitted that radical Islam is the leading terror threat to the nation, with Jonathan Hall Q.C. writing in his 2019 annual report that “Islamist terrorism remains the principal threat in Great Britain,” noting that Islamic extremists made up the majority of terror convictions in 2019.

The think tank suggested that the reason for the “mismatch in resource allocation” was down to a culture of identity politics and political correctness, which the report claimed is “paralysing national efforts in tackling Islamist extremism”.

Dr Alan Mendoza, the director of the Henry Jackson Society, said: “The reality is the programme has struggled to cope with the increase in referrals to it over the years given increased extremism and the unremitting hostility to it by some leaders in the Muslim community and the political Left.

“We need more Prevent going forwards, not less, and we should be redoubling our efforts to strengthen the programme.”

The report called on the government to provide a “clear explanation” as to why deradicalisation programmes have disproportionately focussed on right-wing radicalisation compared to the larger threat of Islamist extremism.

Other recommendations from the report include conducting a “forensic analysis” of cases in which individuals were referred to Prevent and later went on to commit terror attacks, as was allegedly the case with Ali Harbi Ali, the suspected killer of Sir David Amess MP.

The HSJ also backed the call from Brexit leader Nigel Farage for MPs to be provided with a security detail — possibly staffed by military veterans — for meetings with the public in the wake of the killings of Jo Cox and Sir David Amess.

The think tank went on to say that the government should reject being hampered by “problematic definitions” of Islamophobia, including from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, which the Henry Jackson Society said: “conflates genuine cases of anti-Muslim discrimination with perfectly legitimate criticisms of religiously-inspired ideology.”

Finally, the think tank called for the creation of a new fund — named after Sir David Amess — to promote better community relations, respect for the rule of law and the democratic system as a whole, as well as the rejection of “divisive ideologies” in some Islamic communities.

“The effectiveness of the UK’s counter-terrorism structures has once again been called into question following the killing of Sir David. The Prevent scheme’s central aim is to reduce the UK’s overall terror threat and maximise public safety. At the moment, it is failing to deliver on this front,” the report said.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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