By Musa Khan Jalalzai
December 02, 2014
The UK’s Mujahideen are arriving here one by one, with new ideas, a fresh zeal and a brand new mentality from the training camps of IS
Notwithstanding Whitehall’s very robust commitment towards protecting UK citizens from any abrupt terrorist attack, public confidence, trust and satisfaction between the police and communities have steadily declined. The prime minister allocated about 130 million pounds for MI5 to help identify lone wolves, and vowed to give more power to MI5 and MI6 for tackling domestic and international terrorism. In the new counterterrorism and security bill, some measures have also been added including the countering of radicalisation and powers to stop people heading abroad to join the Islamic State (IS) networks.
The coverage regarding the failure of our way of policing printed in newspapers and electronic media is typically perceived as more credible than the braying of our politicians and ministers. The list of threats and security gaps are endless, ranging from lone wolves returning from the Middle East and South Asia to the trends of Jihadism across the country. Recently, parliament’s intelligence and security committee inquiry into how terrorists killed a UK soldier in East London, termed it as an intelligence failure. The inquiry also warned that the existing government strategies that aim to undermine extremism were not working as 1,000 radicalised Muslims had reached Iraq and Syria for jihad.
As extremist and jihadist forces have encircled us from all sides, we remain in the middle; neither can we go back nor can we proceed to our destination. On November 26, 2014, the UK’s counterterrorism police warned that the country would be at a heightened risk of terrorism for many years to come. Mr Mark Rowley revealed that his department experienced many terror-related incidents during 2014: “We are facing a threat that is very different to what we have faced before in terms of its scale and nature, and at the moment the internet is a big part of that.”
Deputy leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Mr Khaled Mahmood, also expressed deep concern over the involvement of 2,000 UK jihadists in the sectarian conflict of the Middle East. He, however, criticised the government for its controversial border control mechanism. The borders of the country are not obstacles for jihadists returning home. A former police officer warned that people who sneaked under the police radar for jihad abroad were coming back through inadequate immigration controls at UK airports. The recent rise of IS in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and its recruitment networks in Europe, caused a chain of counterterrorism measures in the UK. The UK and the European Union states have been increasingly anxious about their countries turning into domestic extremism and IS-recruiting hubs. “The increasing threat we face including from these so-called self-starting terrorists means that we should now go further in strengthening our capabilities,” David Cameron told parliament last week.
The government and law enforcement agencies are on the run; the prime minister himself is discontented over the intensified process of radicalisation, while the home secretary is confused about how to tackle this hydra. The UK’s Mujahideen are arriving here one by one, with new ideas, a fresh zeal and a brand new mentality from the training camps of IS. They represent IS here and act on the behalf of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is what Mark Rowley described as a different kind of threat in scale and nature. In view of these developments, last week the government announced new counterterrorism measures, including a range of powers to block suspected UK jihadists from returning home. The home office used to seek the cooperation of intelligence agencies to intercept possible terror attacks. The home secretary warned, “We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly terrorist ideology.”
She repeatedly described these points in her speech at the Royal United Services Institute for Strategic Studies two weeks ago, stating, “Since the start of this government, the counterterrorism internet referral unit has secured the removal of 65,000 items from the internet that encouraged or glorified acts of terrorism. More than 46,000 of these have been removed since December last year. At present, content relating to IS, Syria and Iraq represents around 70 percent of the unit’s caseload. Since I became home secretary, I have excluded hundreds of people, in total, from the UK. I have excluded 61 people on national security grounds and 72 people because their presence here would not have been conducive to the public good. In total, I have excluded 84 hate preachers. Seventy four organisations are at present proscribed because they are engaged in, or support, terrorism.”
The above-cited figures show how the growing networks of international terrorism and home-grown extremism are intensifying with each passing day. The situation is very complicated. One day, the government proposes one way of countering these threats and, another day, it changes its position. The home secretary recently told us, “When the security and intelligence agencies tell us that the threat we face is now more dangerous than at any time before or since 9/11, we should take notice. So the message to UK nationals participating in terrorism overseas is clear: ‘You will only be allowed to come home on our terms.’” The issue though remains the same: neither the jihadists were intercepted nor were they prosecuted.
The above-mentioned security analysis gives us an ugly picture of law and order in the country. There are discontents within the home office that raise serious questions about the professional mechanisms of Mrs. Teresa May’s office. Recently, one of her ministers resigned, criticising her treatment of Liberal Democratic coalition colleagues. Due to the changing mechanism of terror and foreign-sponsored groups across the country, all 43 of the police forces, the home office and the law enforcement agencies continue to adopt a different code of conduct that causes a breakdown of trust amongst these agencies and the public at large. Moreover, the foreign and commonwealth office issued a travel advisory for 225 countries in order to inform UK citizens that extremists might target them for their country’s involvement in airstrikes against IS. All these statements and warnings from the home secretary, prime minister and counterterrorism officials show that they have failed to respond to this threatening situation professionally.
Musa Khan Jalalzai is the author of Punjabi Taliban