Tag Archives: terrorism

The need to tackle far right extremism

Shortly before 00:20 n Monday 19th June a van mounted a pavement and drove into people near Muslim Welfare House and Finsbury Park Mosque. The police have confirmed that all the victims were Muslims and the suspect has been arrested.

Nine people were taken to hospital after the attack. Makram Ali, 51, died around the time of the attack, but whether it is directly related is unclear at the time of writing.

Thankfully, all of those who were taken to hospital with injuries are now out of critical care, but that doesn’t mean the effects won’t last with the victims for a lifetime.

The Muslim Council of Great Britain has called for increased security outside Mosques as a matter of urgency, considering we are approaching the end of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid. They also call for transformative action to be taken to tackle attacks on Muslims and Islamophobia.

Tim Farron, made a statement on the same day of the attack:

The Finsbury Park attack is senseless barbarism. Yet again we are rocked by a horrific incident for which there is no rhyme or reason.

People who commit these heinous acts want to divide us, force us to turn in on ourselves and fight each other. We cannot and must not let them win. Our values matter, we must stand together.

My deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families.

I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of the emergency services, who, yet again, have gone above and beyond to help those in need. In these moments while others run in the opposite direction, our emergency services run towards danger.

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How the Dutch embed anti-radicalisation efforts in stronger local “joined-up” government and co-operation

Radicalisation amongst young muslims often starts with exclusion from job opportunities, dropping out of school and/or sliding into petty crime and youth vandalism. Many famous jihadis started out as drinking, partying and stealing adolescents and youths; to be turned around abruptly like many converted “sinners” in many religions. It is also connected to growing up in problematic families (from which orthodox or jihadi Islam seems to offer a refuge; certainties their own family fails to offer).

And intelligence about who is at risk of such radicalization trajectories always starts with good, steady community policing; in Tim Farron’s words: with “information being passed on”, and building up “knowledge about who’s who, and who needs to be kept under surveillance”. Cutting police numbers outside the “terrorism specialists” as May claims to have done, means cutting more into ordinary community policing.

The Netherlands also has had native jihadis killing people on the street (for example the 2004 killing of muslim-mocking polemicist and filmmaker Theo van Gogh.  The jihadist propaganda from the Belgian/Flemish “Sharia4Belgium/Sharia4Holland”-sect spilled over into Dutch public debates, inviting Anjem Choudari to a 2011 press conference.

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LibLink: Brian Paddick: The Liberal Democrat plan in the fight against terrorism

Brian Paddick has written a piece for the Huffington Post about the Liberal Democrat ideas to tackle terrorism in the wake of the appalling atrocity in Manchester.

At times like this received wisdom is that Liberals should stay quiet and allow others to offer tough solutions and new laws to eradicate violent extremism and terrorism. Us bleeding-heart liberals have nothing to say and should stick to hand-wringing. That is wrong.

If we want to continue to live in an open, democratic society that values freedom and civil liberties we must accept that we can never be 100% safe, but that doesn’t mean we do nothing either.

The first is about stopping people becoming radicalised in the first place – and that means getting rid of Prevent:

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Brexiters have nowhere to hide on crime, policing, terror and intelligence

With the Brexit debate currently focusing on the question of trade, Brexiters are able to wrongly claim that the UK would enjoy better trade agreements outside the EU, sooner or later. This exercise in hand waving complacency is not available when it comes to our security.

This is not just about the European Arrest Warrant, responsible for the

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Our best weapons against terrorism are unity, tolerance and compassion

Last Friday’s sickening Paris attacks shocked us all. They weren’t just attacks on France, but attacks on our shared values and way of life. Seeing such horrific tragedy being inflicted on a city that so many of us associate with joy, love and freedom has been deeply upsetting. At the same time, it has been profoundly moving to see the courage and resilience of the French people and the solidarity shown with them from around the world, including in the UK.

When emotions run high, it is important that our responses are made with great care and with a cool head. Most of all, we must remember that the central aim of these attacks was to sow division and conflict in our societies.

Provoking resentment against refugees and Muslims, as is being done by the likes of the Daily Mail with its despicable cartoon likening refugees to rats, is exactly what these terrorists want. This fosters a cycle of prejudice and hatred, playing into the hands of the far right and extremists across Europe. We as Liberals must not fall into this trap, but fight it at every turn.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: This is no time for division. It’s what the extremists want

The appropriate response to events in Paris is the subject of Nick Clegg’s Standard column this week.

With ominous predictability, populists from Nigel Farage to Marine Le Pen are already using the attacks to pursue their long-held ambitions — to turn countries inwards and away from each other.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert: Defeating radicalisation and extremism, a battle we must win

On the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert looked at what should and should not be done in order to tackle the radicalisation and extremism that leads to such awful attacks. They wrote for Politics Home and outlined first the measures we should not take, because they don’t work and are just wrong in principle:

But the 7/7 bombings also presented an existential threat to the sort of liberal society we want to live in – raising questions that many will have asked again in light of last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia.

Do we address these threats by giving government the power to snoop indiscriminately on every citizen, and the vast resources needed to sift through all that information?

Do we target “at risk” communities and faith groups with increasing scrutiny, limit their freedom of speech, and intervene aggressively in an attempt to clamp down on potential extremism?

Internationally, is it right to believe can we combat terrorism by bombing some of the most volatile regions in the Middle East, particularly if it may be contrary to international law?

To each of these, as Liberal Democrats our answer must be – emphatically, no.  Firstly, it doesn’t work.  In 2005 the Security Services were already faced with too much information, on too many threats, to see the wood from the trees. Remember that if we tread roughshod over disenfranchised faith communities we will earn ourselves more enemies than friends.  And if we spend the next year bombing Syria all we will have to show for it are craters, innocent casualties, and a rising defence bill.

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Opinion: Secularism: the cure to religious extremism?

The first Turkish president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, once stated “He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government”. Although falling short of advocating a fully secular state, Ataturk highlights the weakness of a state reliant upon a particular religious doctrine to lend legitimacy to a government.

Secularism, according to Dictionary.com, is the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element. In simple terms, the separation of church and state. The separation of religious influence from public policy is greatest within OECD nations such as the United Kingdom and Belgium. Article 20 of the latter nation’s constitution states: “No one can be obliged to contribute in any way whatsoever to the acts and ceremonies of a religion, nor to observe the days of rest.”

Take a moment to absorb how revolutionary that excerpt is and how controversial it would have been in 1830 when the Belgian revolution created a new sovereign, secular state within a Europe dominated by religion. However, I am not interested in assessing whether secularism has been a success in these relatively stable nations, but in examining whether it can provide a long term cure to the epidemic of religious extremism sweeping in from the Middle East.

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Opinion: A personal view of the Paris tragedy

With the recent tragic developments in France I urge the government and political leaders to re-think our approach in facing fundamentalism and terrorism. The concept of security and defence alone is the traditional tested & failed approach. So is our approach in seeking alliance with suppressive regimes in the Middle East that prevent decent or religious movements that would allow their ideology to evolve in a non-violent manner. The end result is Middle East instability spilled onto our streets and politicians starting to take sides. This is the wrong approach and does nothing to help keep such conflicts away from our shores. We need to urgently and seriously consider the following key policy changes;

We need to help develop a more tolerant version of Islam within Europe which respects our values and principles. We should do this with the help of moderate religious leaders and scholars. We should help drive this approach throughout Europe.

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Opinion: How to interrogate a terrorist using diabetic biscuits

Is it more effective to force people to do things, or to charm them?

The surprising answer that’s tucked into the US Senate’s recent investigation into terrorist interrogation, is that, even with hardened Al-Qaeda terrorists, charm is usually more effective.

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Ming Campbell’s response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings worries me

I was more than a little perturbed when I saw Ming Campbell on the BBC News Channel this morning. He was talking about yesterday’s atrocity at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

He started well enough, saying that this was not just an attack on France but on our values, Then he worried me by asking that we now need to ask ourselves how much we need to curb freedom in order to protect it, adding that the bigger the threat, the greater the precautions you need to take.

He brought it back a little by saying that you can’t protect everyone from everything, but there are things you can do to minimise the risk. Then came the killer punch: he said that we may have to consider things that would be unacceptable at other times in order to deal with the extremists.

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Nick Clegg on the Charlie Hebdo horror: “barbaric attack on freedom of speech”

Nick Clegg has responded to the news of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris:

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Charlie Hebdo – in sympathy and solidarity

The news from Paris today is deeply shocking. There are twelve people who are reported dead and four reported injured by the attack at the offices of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Four cartoonists and the editor-in-chief of the magazine are reported to be among the dead. We express our sincere sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and those affected by the tragedy. We also express our solidarity with the French people and Charlie Hebdo magazine in standing for free speech and against such mindless acts.

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Opinion: The power of the media for good or ill

The existence of a free press is one of the hard-won aspects of our society, that makes it what it is. Added to this is the existence of a free broadcasting system and the internet, some of which features other countries are lucky enough to share.

Of course, there are problems associated with a free media, including the issue that it is largely profit-driven and can therefore occasionally overstep the mark of what many ‘ordinary’ people consider to be acceptable behaviour. Delving too deeply into the private lives of those who are not in a position to defend themselves is one example of what can go wrong. On the other hand, revealing the depths of corruption in various public bodies is something for which we should thank them.

It is therefore with a degree of diffidence that I wonder whether some of the 24 hour a day coverage we see is actually a bad thing. Take for example, recent events in Sydney, Australia.

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Opinion: The power of the state to confiscate your passport and citizenship

The British Prime Minister has explained that there is a significant risk to our security, due to Muslim residents of the UK travelling to fight with IS/ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and returning radicalised to the UK.

The remedy, supported by Lib Dem parliamentarians, is for the government to follow the USA and give itself the power to stop people travelling out of the UK, and to generate ‘no fly lists’.  In addition, it has also been explained that the UK government is seeking the power to strip people of their acquired UK citizenship, if you travel to Syria or Iraq with the potential intention to fight.

The rationale for these sweeping authoritarian powers for the state, seems pretty flaky. Why does it apparently apply to Muslims travelling to Syria and Iraq and not the more numerous other religious zealots travelling to other countries to fight ? How is ‘intention to fight’ defined, even if it can be ? And are we to believe that persons travelling to countries they have no connection with to die for their religion are not already radicalised ?

The problem we are told is global jihad. But why commit people to legal limbo in countries abroad where they are prey to all sorts of folk ? If we know who they are, isn’t it better to have them identified and under watch in the UK after they return, than getting up to who-knows-what in the Mid East ? If such returnees commit terrorist acts in the UK won’t that be an intel failure ? But if they cannot be identified in the first place then all these new measures are useless anyway.

As eminent senior counsel at BIICL’s Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law have shown, such powers are routinely used more widely than intended, and in this case it is likely that they will eventually be used against those merely disagreeing with the UK’s foreign policy, rather than militarised religious extremists.

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An email on counter-terrorism measures from a Liberal Democrat should not make me despair…

Nick Clegg has sent the following email to party members this evening about the new counter terrorism measures taken by the Government. There is no doubt that had he not been constrained by Liberal Democrats, David Cameron would have gone much, much further and what has emerged is as liberal as it is likely to get. But I don’t have to like it. Here is what Nick said:

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Britain’s best defence to the terror threat is international action

In today’s Observer, Paddy Ashdown cautions against knee-jerk reactions to the prospect of radicalised Jihadists returning to Britain and wreaking havoc on our streets:

He says, basically, that we’ve dealt with this before, in more difficult circumstances and we know how to do it:

On Friday, the government announced that the imminent danger of jihadi attack meant Britain’s threat level should be raised to “severe”. Then, from the prime minister downwards, Tory ministers took to every available airwave to tell us how frightened we should be and why this required a range of new powers for them to exercise. For the record, the threat level in Northern Ireland has been “severe” for the past four years – as it was in all Britain for many years in the 1980s and 1990s, when the IRA threat was at its greatest.

I say this not to deny the threat from returning jihadis – though as the former head of counter-terrorism for MI6, Richard Barrett said on Saturday, this should not be overestimated. But rather to make the point that this is not a new threat. It is one we have faced before and one we know how to deal with – effectively, without panic and without a whole new range of executive powers that could endanger our liberties. Indeed, when it comes to facing threats, it was surely far more difficult to cope with IRA terrorists slipping across the Irish Sea than it is to stop jihadis returning from Iraq?

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76% of Lib Dem members oppose Government plans to render foreign-born terror suspects ‘stateless’

Lib Dem stickersLib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Three-quarters oppose Theresa May’s plans to render foreign-born terror suspects ‘stateless’

The Government has proposed in its Immigration Bill that the Home Secretary should have the power to revoke the British nationality of those whose presence in the UK are deemed ‘not conducive to the public

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Paddick: Police have some explaining and reassuring to do on Miranda detention

Brian Paddick has just gone on the BBC News Channel to talk, very briefly, about the detention of David Miranda. The former Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate, recently ennobled by Nick Clegg, has a unique perspective on the issue.

He was quite careful in his use of language, but the overall impression I took from what he was saying is that he’s not entirely convinced that the detention was justified. He said that it was extremely unusual for a transiting passenger to be stopped in this way and that the authorities must have had some sort of intelligence that he would …

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Why I’m not so worried about David Miranda’s detention

When David Miranda was arrested under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act at Heathrow Airport on Sunday morning, he had the best lawyers the Guardian could afford at least  arguing with the authorities if not with him for all of that time, the newspaper itself and the Brazilian Government, concerned at the treatment of one of its own citizens, to stick up for him. Even then, the authorities held on to him to within minutes of the maximum nine hours. Holding the partner of the journalist who has been working on a story alleging that Governments have been acting beyond …

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Nick Clegg: Terrorism has no religion

The BBC reports that Nick Clegg has been speaking at an interfaith event in London set up after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday. He told representatives of a number of faiths:

Terrorism has no religion because there is no religious conviction that can justify the kind of arbitrary, savage random violence that we saw on the streets of  Woolwich.

He concluded his remarks by quoting a verse from the Koran:

If anyone slays a human being, it shall be as though he killed all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he

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Opinion: The media have failed the public over the Woolwich atrocity

At least two brutal and disturbing hate crimes have been carried out this month. Each of the two I will draw your attention to left an apparently innocent man dead from knife wounds. And each victim was apparently selected on the basis of what they were wearing (a Help for Heroes t-shirt) or what they looked like.

These attacks differed in only one important feature, in that one of the attackers had something to say and sought help from passers by in order to communicate his message to as many people as possible.

Without the assistance of others, the ambitions at …

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A longer read for the weekend: how Obama orders the death of terrorists

This week the New York Times ran a fascinating, detailed study of the drone war being fought by Barack Obama as he decides which alleged terrorists will be targeted by the American military:

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LibLink | Nick Harvey: Forget a cyber Maginot line

Nick Harvey, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, writes over at Comment is Free about potential threats to digital networks, and calls for a global consensus on cyberspace security:

Threats do not just come from malicious viruses or organised criminals stealing people’s identity or money. Digital networks are now at the heart of our transport, power and communications systems, and our economy as a whole. This reliance brings the capacity for warfare to cyberspace. The consequences of a well-planned, well-executed attack against our digital infrastructure could be catastrophic. In this way, a single networked laptop might be as effective

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Jo Shaw writes: Counter Terrorism and Security Review latest

The long awaited outcome of the review of counter-terrorism and security powers is to be announced this week. Already last week, the expected and widely trailed outcome was confirmed that the length of time for pre-charge detention has been halved from 28 to 14 days – this 28 day power will lapse on Tuesday. It now appears that Theresa May will announce the outcome of the review on Wednesday, after Cabinet presumably discusses the issue on Tuesday.

The most thorny issue for the Liberal Democrats is what will go and what will remain of the highly controversial Control Order regime. David …

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Nick Clegg: “A liberal approach to freedom, a British approach to freedom”

Nick Clegg today set out the principles which will drive the Coalition’s plans to uphold civil liberties while protecting national security, and outlined reforms to Freedom of Information laws and English libel laws. You can read the full speech below — here’s the conclusion:

So, to sum up: the restoration of every day liberties; counterterrorism measures that uphold liberty while protecting security; free citizens able to see into, and speak out about, the organisations that affect their lives. It is a liberal approach to freedom; a British approach to freedom. It forms an important part of our programme to rebalance the relationship between the state and its citizens. Our Labour predecessors will be remembered as the government who took your freedoms away. We want to be remembered as the ones who gave them back.

And here’s the BBC News report in which Nick talks about the ‘dilemma’ the Government faces in working through how to replace Control Orders:

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Jeremy Browne MP writes… I’m no Tory: I’m a radical, authentic liberal

Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne’s appearance on BBC1’s Question Time last week prompted critical comments for refusing to condfemn control orders, instead saying that the Coalition’s decision on control orders will await the outcome of the government-commission anti-terrorism review of Lib Dem peer Lord (Ken) Macdonald. Here Jeremy responds to his critics…

When I appeared on Question Time last week, I acknowledged that, confronted with a real terrorist threat from ideological zealots hostile to all of our liberal ideals, the government may sometimes, in its response, have to wrestle with the difficult tension between liberty and security. My goal is …

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European Parliament rejects plans to hand bank details to the US

Sharing of bank records with the US started in 2001 in an effort to tackle terrorism. However, the European Parliament has rejected new proposed agreement after heated criticisms that too much private information could be handed over without good reason.

The Register reported:

The European Parliament has rejected a proposed interim agreement on SWIFT – under which the US gets access to European bank transactions…

Rapporteur Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert from the Netherlands said the Council had not been tough enough on data protection and rules in the interim agreement on data protection were not proportionate to the security supposedly provided.

London Lib Dem …

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LibLink … Chris Huhne: Terrorists don’t stand still, and neither can we

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free website today, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne argues that, if they are effective and available, body scanners at airports should have been rolled out by the government years ago. Here’s an excerpt:

No one wants to have full body scanners in airports. No one wants to be electronically strip-searched at the start of their holidays. It is an invasion of privacy we would all rather avoid. But the foiled bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound plane over Christmas demonstrates that terrorists still have an unhealthy addiction to air travel, and we have to

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Parties on a war footing – but what are they fighting for?

New Year, old sabre-rattling. Gordon Brown and David Cameron are parading their leadership credentials, with a view to capturing an entire nation – the UK, that is.

David Cameron made a speech (transcript here) in Oxfordshire today saying that the country needs a change of direction and a new leadership:

“We can’t go on in these difficult times with a weak prime minister and a divided government.”

You can almost hear the Tory munitions factory roar as they forge this, strengthen that and defeat the other.

And here’s Gordon Brown on New Year’s Eve:

“The Detroit plot thankfully failed. But it has been a wake-up call for the ongoing battles we must wage not just for security against terror but for the hearts and minds of a generation.”

It’s a common political (and journalistic, and marketing) technique to play to people’s fears, but what next in the Prime Ministerial arms race – Brown and Cameron appearing on the decks of rival aircraft carriers, squeezed into military uniform à la George Bush?

Neither leader, for all their fighting talk, seems to have heard of liberty.

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