Roots of violent radicalisation - Home Affairs Committee Contents


Written evidence submitted by The Henry Jackson Society

SUMMARY

—  30% of individuals involved in Islamist-related terrorism in the UK (1999-2010) were educated to degree level or higher.

—  There is evidence of students being radicalised on UK campuses or meeting individuals who facilitate their involvement in terrorism.

—  Proscription of Tehrik-e-Taliban and al-Shabaab will strengthen the state's ability stop individuals raising money or sending weapons to the groups or travelling abroad with the intention of training and fighting for them.

—  Proscription of al-Muhajiroun is ineffective: the group's activities and online presence continues as has members' involvement in Islamism-inspired terrorism.

—  Proscription of Hizb ut-Tahrir is not viable under current anti-terrorism legislation and would likely prove impractical and ineffective.

—  The Henry Jackson Society welcomes the Prevent Review's effort to seriously engage with the threat posed by Islamist organisations which run counter to British values.

—  There are internal inconsistencies in the review regarding the future role of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, the Charity Commission and Ofsted, who are not fit for Prevent-related purposes.

1.  The Henry Jackson Society (HJS) is a London-based think-tank founded on the global promotion of the rule of law, liberal democracy and civil rights. Through its 2011 merger with the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), HJS research includes the study of Islamism-related terrorism and campus radicalisation in the UK.

UNIVERSITIES

2.  A significant number of students and graduates from UK universities have committed acts of terrorism or have been convicted for terrorism related offences, in the UK and abroad. HJS's Islamist Terrorism; The British Connections[25] shows that 30% of individuals involved in Islamist-related terrorism in the UK were educated to degree level or higher. Of these, 21 studied at a UK university; 16 were graduates; three were postgraduate students and one had achieved a postgraduate qualification.

3.  A 2008 CSC survey, Islam on Campus, discovered that students who are active in their university Islamic society (ISOC) were twice as likely as non-members to hold extreme views, including that killing in the name of their religion is justified. At least four individuals involved in acts of terrorism in the UK were senior ISOC members. Kafeel Ahmed of the Glasgow airport suicide attack was on the executive of Queen's University Belfast ISOC. Waseem Mughal, convicted of inciting murder for terrorist purposes, ran the University of Leicester ISOC website. Yassin Nassari, convicted of possession for terrorist purposes, was president of the University of Westminster Harrow campus ISOC. Waheed Zaman, convicted for his role in the transatlantic liquid bomb plot was formerly the president of London Metropolitan University's ISOC.

4.  In a number of terrorism cases the individuals were either radicalised on campus or met individuals there who facilitated their involvement in terrorism. Omar Sharif, a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv in 2003, was radicalised during his first year at King's College London after he attended Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) meetings on campus. Anthony Garcia, convicted for his role in the 2004 "fertiliser" bomb plot, attended religious talks in the late 1990s at the University of East London ISOC, and became radicalised after seeing a video at the ISOC showing alleged atrocities in Kashmir. He went on to join al-Muhajiroun.

5.  Other individuals met facilitators of terrorism at university. Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, convicted for his role in Dhiren Barot's 2004 "dirty bomb" plot, was studying at Brunel University and met Barot in the university's prayer room, despite the fact that Barot had fraudulently enrolled. Brunel University was further implicated by Omar Khyam, the head of the fertiliser bomb plot cell, in surveillance tapes after an associate was recorded asking him, "How many brothers are there active in this country? How many are actually planning things, and doing them here?" Khyam responded with: "There's a lot of people who agree with it now, especially at, you know, Brunel University at Friday prayer. There, yeah, just blatant bro, in the sermon in front of hundreds of students bro. And you could see that people were like, they were agreeing with everything you know."

6.  While cases such as these are relatively isolated, the conditions which allow for them to occur are not. Muslim students are increasingly being exposed to an intolerant, politicised, and in some cases violent, interpretation of their faith with extremist speakers regularly invited to address students on UK campuses. Since 7/7 a wide range of Islamist speakers have either regularly addressed students, or have been otherwise promoted by ISOCs. In the vast majority of cases, these guests are given open and unchallenged platforms, and are presented as mainstream representatives of Islam. Speakers include supporters of the proscribed terrorist group Hamas and members of HT (despite a National Union of Students (NUS) ban) as well as those who: publicly support armed jihad and the Taliban; warn Muslims not to integrate into western societies; promote domestic violence and; advocate the destruction of Israel.[26]

PROSCRIPTION

7.  Somalia's al-Shabaab was proscribed in March 2010 and Pakistan's Tehrik-e-Taliban in January 2011. The proscription of these organisations, both linked to al-Qaeda and based in volatile states of concern to UK counter-terrorism efforts—will likely be effective. Proscription strengthens the state's ability to safeguard against individuals raising money and sending weapons to the groups or travelling to Pakistan or Somalia with the intention of training and fighting for the groups. Aside from membership, offences that can now be specifically applied are: fundraising for terrorist purposes; engaging in conduct with the intention of assisting in the commission of acts of terrorism; and attendance at or conspiracy to attend a place used for terrorist training.

8.  Al-Muhajiroun (AM) disbanded in October 2004. After the 7/7 London bombings, founder Omar Bakri Mohammed fled the UK and leading members reformed under successor groups, al-Ghurabaa (AG), Saved Sect (SS) and later Ahl us-Sunnah wal Jamma'ah (ASWJ). AG and SS were proscribed in July 2006 for glorifying terrorism. Leading members of ASWJ were convicted of terrorism-related offences in April 2008. Following their release in May 2009, AM re-launched under the leadership of Anjem Choudary. AM (aka Islam4UK) was proscribed in January 2010. Proscription appears to have had little effect on the group's activities, its online presence or its connections to Islamism-inspired terrorism in the UK. AM operates as Muslims Against Crusades under the leadership of Anjem Choudary.[27] Islamist Terrorism shows AM's connections to all Islamism-inspired terrorism in the UK between 1999 and 2010. AM is the most prevalent proscribed organisation, linked to 18% of all offences. Members of AM or individuals with known links were involved in offences relating to: the 2004 "fertiliser bomb" plot; membership of al-Qaeda; terrorist fundraising; soliciting or inciting murder; arson; racial hatred; and harassment. There was no decline in AM involvement following the 2010 proscription: five members were convicted of public order offences that year.

9.  HT is a revolutionary Islamist party that ideologically legitimises acts of terrorism. However, since the Terrorism Act 2006, HT does not appear to have explicitly and publicly supported suicide bombings or terrorist organisations. Any government wishing to proscribe HT would have to amend current terrorism legislation, as prohibiting the glorification of terrorism is not retroactive. While proscription would send a strong message, it would likely prove impractical and ineffective. Furthermore, it could engender strong opposition and possibly give unnecessary legitimacy to HT's West vs. Islam worldview.[28]

APPROPRIATENESS OF CURRENT APPROACHES AND ORGANISATIONS

10.  HJS welcomes the government's Prevent Review, in particular the efforts to seriously engage with the threat posed by Islamist organisations which run counter to British values. Importantly, the Review unequivocally defines what those values are: "universal human rights, equality before the law, democracy and full participation in our society". The Review affirms that it will no longer engage with or fund groups that fail to support these values. It also clearly identifies the problem of Islamist ideology as one that "sets Muslim against non-Muslim, highlights the alleged oppression of the global Muslim community and which both obliges and legitimises violence in its defence". However, there are internal inconsistencies, specifically regarding the future role of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), the Charity Commission and Ofsted.

11.  The Prevent Review recommends that MINAB be involved in training faith leaders to tackle extremism. MINAB is an alliance of four Muslim groups, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), British Muslim Forum and al-Khoei Foundation, who have directly appointed 16 of the 50 members of MINAB's Executive Board.[29] The MCB and MAB fail to meet the government's new standards for engagement. In December 2010, MAB was identified in the House of Commons as "the Brotherhood's representative in the UK".[30] In February 2010, Kamal el-Helbawy, the founder of MAB,[31] appeared on British television as a representative from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).[32] The MCB is closely aligned to the South Asian Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), founded by the Islamist theorist Syed Maulana Maududi. According to a Communities and Local Government document (CLG) from March 2009: "The JI helped to create and subsequently dominate the leadership of the MCB".[33] Both MCB and MAB espouse a narrow form of political Islam inspired by the Islamist parties JI and MB and senior members have refused to unequivocally condemn suicide bombings in Israel.[34]

12.  The Prevent Review fails to recognise the bureaucratic failures of the Charity Commission and Ofsted. The Review stated that the regulatory body Ofsted is "fit for purpose".[35] However, repeated Ofsted inspections of an educational charity, the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation (ISF), failed to recognise its links to the extreme Islamist group HT or that the schools' curriculum taught key tenets of the group's ideology.

13.  Two of the ISF's four founding trustees—Yusra Hamilton and Farah Ahmed—were HT members at the time the charity was established in 2005 as well as during the financial year 2007/2008 when the ISF received £113,411 in government grants. Yusra Hamilton, a member of HT and the wife of HT media spokesperson Taji Mustafa, was listed as the Slough school's proprietor in that school's 2009 Ofsted inspection, but resigned from ISF after the Sunday Telegraph reported her connection to HT in October 2009. Farah Ahmed, author of the ISF religious curriculum and Head teacher of the Slough school, was also a member of HT, but resigned from HT following revelations of the links during Prime Minister's Questions in November 2009.[36] The Charity Commission then conducted a regulatory case review into the ISF. The review stated: "the Commission was aware that one of the current trustees [Farah Ahmed] was formerly a member […] the trustees confirmed that Yusra Hamilton remains a volunteer at the Charity, they reported that she was no longer a trustees, having formally resigned on 18 November 2009". Astonishingly, the case review concludes: "Whilst Mrs Hamilton had been a trustee on the date the concerns were raised publicly, as she had already resigned it was not necessary for the Commission to examine further, the impact of her being a trustee and issues it may have raised."[37]

14.  An emergency Ofsted inspection in 2007 stated: "the curriculum, based on the Halaqah curriculum for Muslims in Britain, meets pupils' need and prepares them well for life in 21st century Britain".[38] A copy of the curriculum written by Farah Ahmed (obtained from the ISF in 2006) shows that it mirrors key HT texts and includes lessons on: the need to establish an Islamist state, or Caliphate and its pre-requisites; jihad, fighting in the path of Allah, as a form of worship; how democracy differs from 'our laws' ie HT's ideology; and the rulings systems of Islam, as defined by HT, including strict gender segregation.[39] In this case, therefore, neither Ofsted nor the Charity Commission was equipped to identify and tackle extremism within ISF.

RECOMMENDATIONS

15.  Criteria for engagement: Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU) should circulate centralised criteria to all Prevent partners for identifying group's whose ideology, trustees, senior members or previous speaker record would disqualify it from engagement.

16.  Civic institutions: A "No Platform" policy for the groups identified by RICU should be established across publically-funded institutions. Local authorities should also establish mechanisms to limit civic institutions inadvertently funding or hosting such groups.

17.  Universities: Authorities should share information regarding speakers who: may break the law; may contravene anti-harassment and bullying guidelines; or those whose opinions, while not illegal, are intolerant and should not be given an unopposed platform.

18.  MINAB: the government must reconsider if it is appropriate for MINAB to take the lead in training Imams to combat extremism.

19.  Registered mosques and Islamic charities: The Charity Commission should support mosques combating the influence of an Islamist ideology which the Prevent Review identifies as one that "sets Muslim against non-Muslim, highlights the alleged oppression of the global Muslim community and which both obliges and legitimises violence in its defence". Charitable status and public funding should be withdrawn for registered mosques and other Islamic charities which either repeatedly host visiting speakers who fail to meet the Prevent Review standards or allow such individuals to become trustees.

July 2011



25   The first edition published by the CSC in 2010 was cited in the Prevent Review. Back

26   For information on all of the above see Radical Islam on UK Campuses: A Comprehensive List of Extremist Speakers at UK Universities, The Centre for Social Cohesion, 2010 available at
http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/files/1292336866_1.pdf;
John Thorne and Hannah Stuart, Islam on Campus: A survey of UK student opinions, Centre for Social Cohesion 2008, available at http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/files/1231525079_1.pdf 
Back

27   http://www.muslimsagainstcrusades.com/ Back

28   For more information see Hizb ut-Tahrir: Ideology and Strategy (Centre for Social Cohesion; October 2009). Back

29   "The MINAB General Council which met on 10 May elected the Executive Board", MINAB website, available at http://www minab.org.uk/news/news/85-the-minab-general-council-which-met-in-birmingham-on-10-may-elected-the-executive-board Back

30   http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm101122/text/101122w0003.htm#10112234000037 Back

31   https://www.csidonline.org/annual-conference/10th-annual-conference/speakers/125-speakers/500-kamal-helbawy-centre-for-the-study-of-terrorism-london-uk Back

32   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJcIo5hv2Yk Back

33   The Pakistani Muslim Community in England: Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities in England, CLG, 17 April 2009, available at http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/pakistanimuslimcommunity Back

34   For details on the MCB's connections to Jamaat-e-Islami, see "Radical links of UK's 'moderate' Muslim group", Observer, 14 August 2005; see also comments made by leading MAB member Azzam Tamimi during a BBC Hardtalk interview, 5 November 2004, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/hardtalk/3985403.stm Back

35   The Prevent Strategy, Home Office, June 2011, available at
www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/counter-terrorism/prevent/prevent-strategy/prevent-strategy-review?view=Binary 
Back

36   See Hizb ut-Tahrir: Ideology and Strategy (Centre for Social Cohesion; October 2009) pp. 87-88; see also "Schools are run by Islamic group Blair pledged to ban", Sunday Times, 5 August 2007. HTB wrote to the Sunday Times denying any involvement with the schools, but did not refute allegations that Hamilton and Ahmed were HTB members. See "Corrections: Hizb ut-Tahrir", 22 August 2007, available at
www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/global/article2306117.ece; see also "Islamists who want to destroy the state get £100,000 funding", Sunday Telegraph, 25 October 2009. 
Back

37   Charity Commission publishes report on Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, 7 June, 2010, available at
http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/RSS/News/pr_isf.aspx 
Back

38   Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, 4 October 2007 (URN 134085). Back

39   Haringey Council Whitewashes Hizb ut-Tahrir Schools Centre for Social Cohesion Press Release 11 December 2009, available at http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/files/1260791158_1.pdf; scanned copy of the curriculum available at http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/uploads/1260554937isf_curriculum.pdf Back


 
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Prepared 6 February 2012