To be published as HC 1446-i

House of commons



Home Affairs Committee

Roots of Violent Radicalisation

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Congressman Peter King

Rashad Ali and Maajid Nawaz

Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 93



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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 13 September 2011

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Nicola Blackwood

Michael Ellis

Lorraine Fullbrook

Dr Julian Huppert

Steve McCabe

Alun Michael

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Mr David Winnick


Examination of Witness

Witness: Congressman Peter King, Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security, US House of Representatives, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Could I call the Committee to order and welcome our first witness for our inquiry into the roots of radicalism. Congressman King, you are most welcome to this session of the Home Affairs Select Committee. I understand this is the first time that the Chairman of Homeland Security has given evidence to a parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom, and I welcome you most warmly and I thank you for coming all this way.

Congressman King: Chairman, thank you.

Chair: This session launches the Committee’s series of hearings into the roots of violent extremism and radicalism. We noted, in preparing for these hearings, that your Committee under your chairmanship had already commenced hearings in the United States Congress. Could I start by asking you, looking back at the sessions that you have had so far, what are the main themes that have appeared as a result of your inquiries about the way in which radicalism has developed in the United States?

Congressman King: Chairman, first of all, thank you very much for inviting me to appear before the Committee. It is a great honour to be here and I want to thank all of you, and especially you, Mr Chairman.

Yes, we had the first hearing back in March of this year. We had a second hearing in June and another one in July. If I could just say, when I announced the first hearing, there was virtually national furore. It was around the clock television. I was being attacked as a bigot and a racist because I was saying that there was a very real attempt to recruit by Al-Qa’ida in the Muslim American community, and while I always say the overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding Americans, nevertheless, there was a reluctance on the part of many to come forward and that there was progress being made by Al-Qa’ida in recruiting and it was an issue that was not being discussed. At the hearings what I think the evidence clearly showed was there is an attempt to recruit in the Muslim American community, that there have been successes, that even though, again, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are good Americans, when there is a problem-for instance, we found young men being recruited to Al-Shabaab or to Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula-family members would go to the local mosque and go to local leaders and ask for assistance. They were basically told not to go to the police, "Don’t tell anyone," and in some cases almost threatened, the course of action taken against them within the community. So that is real; that is there.

Also at the first hearing we had Dr Zuhdi Jasser, who is a prominent Muslim American, testify. He called on the Government to directly confront the Islamist theology, if you will, or the Islamist beliefs, and not be afraid to confront it. He was saying that it is more and more difficult for moderate Muslim leaders to come forward unless the Government takes a more positive role in defining what the terms should be.

The second hearing was on prisoner radicalisation and clearly-I mean, literally-it is a captive audience, and you will find many of the imams in the prisons are extremely radical. In New York, we have had imams with criminal records who have been involved in very questionable activities themselves, and we found a number of men being recruited in the prisons and then coming out of prison and being involved terrorist activities.

The third hearing was more specific. It was about Al-Shabaab, because the Somali American community is not unique but it is separate from other parts of the Muslim community, in that in many ways it is shunned by other Muslims. They have less money; they have less access to the greater Muslim community, and also there is a war going on in Somalia, so there are extra elements for them to be recruited. We have had at least four dozen Americans, young men, Somali Americans, who have been recruited, gone back to Somalia and have been trained. For a while, American law enforcement and intelligence sources were not that concerned, from our perspective, because it was felt they were going back to Somalia to fight in Somalia. But now there is increasing evidence of them attempting to come back to the US and also linking up with Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen, and forming an alliance between Al-Shabaab and AQAP.

Q2 Chair: That is extremely helpful. On Sunday, America marked 10 years of 9/11 and you lost 150 of your own constituents, because you represent New York, in the tragedy that occurred. Do you think that radicalisation is on the increase or on the decrease over the last 10 years? Is it becoming worse or better?

Congressman King: Radicalisation is much worse. This isn’t just me-and I am a member of the Republican Party-this is developing into a consensus view. Denis McDonough, who is the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor, gave a major speech back in March saying that Al-Qa’ida is definitely recruiting within the Muslim American community, and the reason for that is, all of us working together-and let me give tremendous credit to the British for being such strong allies in this-we have together made it very difficult for Al-Qa’ida to attack us from the outside. A 9/11-type attack would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. The 9/11 attack itself could not happen again because there were so many tripwires that we missed along the way.

Al-Qa’ida realises that, and they have now adapted their strategy and their tactics and they are-knowing that it would be very difficult to attack on a large scale from the outside-attempting to recruit from within. We have had a number of serious attempts with people who were recruited in the United States. These are Muslims, beneath the radar screen, living in the US legally, who have been taken back to Afghanistan and Pakistan to be trained in a very sophisticated way to come back to carry out attacks.

Q3 Chair: The Pew Research Center seems to indicate that their research shows that there is a decrease and there is no appetite for radicalism within the Muslim community. What do you say about that, Congressman?

Congressman King: Yes, I don’t accept that. I accept the numbers of Pew, but when you actually look within those numbers, you find out that 21% of Muslim Americans say that they are aware of extremist activity in their community; I think it is 16% of Muslims say that they have a favourable or not a particularly unfavourable view of Al-Qa’ida, so considering the large number of Muslims we have in the community, one-sixth is an awful lot. All we needed was 19 on September 11.

So, no, I agree to the extent that the overwhelming majority reject Al-Qa’ida, and they are good Americans, but there is a significant enough minority that is a cause for great concern. You don’t need a lot of people. Despite their numbers, I mean for 16% living in the United States to say they don’t have an unfavourable view of Al-Qa’ida when they have seen the devastation that was caused. If I could just give one example that first hit me right after September 11. I had a very close relationship with the Muslim community and I used to speak at a local mosque very often. I was involved very much with Bosnia and Kosovo, and I knew these leaders and they were professionals; they were doctors, real estate developers. I was at their homes; I went to their weddings. I had children of theirs interning in my office, and they wore full Muslim headgear and everything, and yet I found these same people, two and three, four weeks after September 11, saying, "Well, it could have been the Jews that attacked Ground Zero. It could have been the FBI. It could have been the CIA," and these were very educated. One person had an extremely high medical position in our local Government and yet he was saying this. That is when I first started watching, becoming aware of that, and I think since then it has gotten considerably worse.

Q4 Steve McCabe: Good morning, Congressman. Can I ask you, how important do you think theology is to the radicalisation process?

Congressman Kin g: The "what" is-I am sorry?

Steve McCabe: Theological thought; the whole process of theology. How important is that to radicalisation?

Congressman King: I am sorry I am missing on the accent, I think the-

Steve McCabe: It must be this Birmingham accent of mine, Congressman.

Congressman King: I am surprised anyone can understand me.

Steve McCabe: I am working on it. I am asking you about the whole process of religious studies, the theological process.

Congressman King: Yes. First of all, I reject that there is anything in Muslim theology or ideology that allows for violence or wars, but the danger is when you take a cause and you try to wrap it in religion, it gives it a fervour that it doesn’t have. Some people have asked me about Timothy McVeigh, who was a brutal mass murderer, but what would separate him and what would keep him more as an individual is he had his own psychopathic views. You can take psychopathic views or murderous views and wrap it in the name of religion, whether it is Christianity or Judaism or Islam, whatever, it just gives it an extra fervour and a greater intensity. I think that allows it to spread, especially among people who, for whatever reason, have been going through a crisis in their own life-you know whatever the reason is. I am not a psychiatrist, but I just think having a religious element, as perverted as that would be, makes the enemy that much more dangerous.

Q5 Michael Ellis: Congressman, I would like to ask you about the background and profile of those Islamists who have become radicalised in the United States. There has been some talk here in the United Kingdom about the background and the evidence has not tended, necessarily, to support the theory that it is those of low achievement status, or low employment or education abilities, that are necessarily the ones radicalised. Do you have any observations about what the position is in the United States?

Congressman King: Yes, I would pretty much share the point that you were making. I know we in the United States were surprised when we saw back in 2005, and especially 2006 with the liquid explosives plot, where many of these were second and third generation Pakistanis who were established in their community, their families were basically middle class, as we would call them. That is similar to what we have seen in the United States. For instance, last year’s Times Square bomber was from Pakistan, but he became an American citizen. He had a background in financial services and yet he attempted to carry out the bombing in Times Square. Zazi, who was the subway bomber in New York-attempted subway bomber in 2009-while he wasn’t wealthy, he was living in New York. He was a graduate of a local high school. He was a pushcart vendor in lower Manhattan. He wasn’t rich, but certainly he was not poor, and yet he was recruited and went to Afghanistan for training.

No, I don’t find that the lack of job opportunity or economics is that major a factor at all. In fact, I find some of the most zealous Islamists are actually either middle class or people with advanced education. So this is not similar to some of the civil rights disturbances we have had where it does come out of a ghetto or come out of poverty. The Somali American community may be a little different because, as I say, they are more ghettoised by their own community. We have more assimilation in our country, but even among Muslims, as I say, the Somali American community is a little more isolated and, even though they make great contributions, they are almost like the last ones in. So there could be some economic factor or more sense of desperation among Somali Americans.

Q6 Mr Winnick: Congressman King, there has been some surprise in the United States, and also in Britain, that you have a job of looking into and investigating terrorism when your own past quotes about terrorism-and you are obviously anticipating what I am going to ask you-seems to be as an apologist for terrorism. You were quoted as saying the following in 1982, and I quote you, "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry." Three years later you said, "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable but I won’t morally blame the IRA for it." Do you stand by that?

Congressman King: I stand by it in the context of when it was said, and if I could just have a moment to expand on that.

Chair: Of course, please.

Congressman King: If I can just jump ahead. I can just cite you Tony Blair, as recently as March of this year, who put out a long statement defending my record, both in the 1980s and throughout the Irish peace process. I was just out in the hallway and Baroness Kennedy came up to me to thank me for the work I did in the Irish peace process. Paul Murphy came by last evening.

What I was saying-and I stand by it-is that the situation in Northern Ireland, there were loyalist paramilitaries and obviously Republican paramilitaries, and I had gotten to know Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, and I was very confident that, if the Republican movement could get to the table, you would see a peace process. I believed the United States had a very significant role to play as an honest mediator, as an honest broker. I worked very closely with Bill Clinton. I was very much involved in the Good Friday Agreement. I was very involved in getting Gerry Adams a visa, but also involved in getting loyalists into the United States. I felt that when it was on the table, that Adams and McGuinness would be able to, if you will, control the Republican movement, and I think it’s worked. Tony Blair said I made invaluable contribution to peace. Bill Clinton has cited me in his memoirs as a person who was very much involved.

It was never my position, as an Irish-American, whether or not Ireland was united. To me there were injustices in the north. There were good people on both sides. I spent a lot of time meeting with the loyalist community, the unionist community, at the same time, and I came away from that convinced that there was a role for the US to play. What I was saying with those quotes-I was also trying to put it in perspective. All of the quotes were anti-IRA in the United States-no mention ever made of the UVF or the UDA or the Red Hand Commandos or whatever. I was trying to put it in a perspective to show that there were people-that this is not just the terrorist mayhem it was made out to be-that there were significant leaders on the Republican side.

Mr Winnick: I wonder if I could interrupt, Congressman King, because this is not about Northern Ireland. I raised the subject, and I thought we should be aware of it, and you have been praised by quite a number of people in helping the peace process, and the situation in Northern Ireland has changed drastically. Let’s hope it remains that way. So we won’t go back. I have made the point and you have answered accordingly, even if I strongly disagree with you.

Congressman King: Sure.

Q7 Mr Winnick: There is criticism, Congressman King, of the United States in facing up to the acute terrorist danger, and I was in the United States, as it so happens, on that infamous day on 9/11. I was in that part of Philadelphia that is pretty near New York. Congressman King, the criticism is along these lines that various measures that have been taken by your country, like Guantanamo-have I got it right?

Chair: Guantanamo; Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Winnick: Guantanamo Bay. The tortures that have been carried out, which have been well publicised, and the rest of it. Does that really help in dealing with terrorism and shouldn’t the United States learn the lessons from Northern Ireland, where the techniques used by the British-the tortures that were used and have been condemned-often they were saying was a recruiting sergeant for the IRA?

Congressman King: Yes, I would reject your premise as regards torture. First of all, there was one element I will certainly look at, Abu Ghraib. That was wholly indefensible and wrong. That was not part of American policy and that was totally wrong, but if you are talking about Guantanamo, you are talking about a situation where you had suddenly hundreds and hundreds of people captured. Where do you take them? Where do you interrogate them? As far as the torture, you are probably talking about three instances of water boarding that were carried out; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was one of them. Every SEAL was water boarded in training. There was no permanent damage to any of those three, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or the other two, and we did get invaluable information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did provide invaluable information. Water boarding has not been done, I don’t think, since 2004 or 2005, and it was focused on those three. There were doctors present; there were legal opinions sought. They were very, very difficult times.

As for Guantanamo, and I know it is a very controversial issue over here, I have been to Guantanamo. It is a model facility. I don’t know what you see or hear. There is one medical personnel for every two prisoners. They are taught language, arts. They are out playing soccer, or football as you call it.

Q8 Chair: You visited?

Congressman King: I visited Guantanamo, absolutely, yes.

Chair: On how many occasions?

Congressman King: I have been down there once, and I have-

Q9 Chair: So as far as you are concerned, the treatment is appropriate?

Congressman King: I would say it is better than almost any American prison. It is certainly better than any Army or Marine Corp training facility in the country.

Q10 Mr Winnick: Water boarding 160 times on one prisoner; 160 times. If that is not torture, Congressman King, what on earth is it?

Congressman King: To me, it is enhanced interrogation. I have seen Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in person since then. He is not all the worse for wear for it, I can tell you, and he did provide information. Again, if you are talking about a moral equivalency here, we are talking about a type of interrogation that was extremely uncomfortable, extremely painful-I wouldn’t want to go through it-no permanent damage. At the same time, if that led to the saving of 500, 600, 700 people, who did not have to jump from buildings or be burnt to death, it is a price I will pay.

Q11 Chair: Yes. Of course. Let us move on and go back to our topic, if I may, and that is the threat of each of these areas in terms of radicalisation. It may be difficult, but if we just go through them. First of all, the Internet. Is that seen by you and your committee, and in the evidence you received, as being a way in which people are radicalised? I notice that Frances Townsend, the former Homeland Security Advisor to President Bush, specifically talked about social networking sites, the way in which people speak to each other, encourage others to be involved in violence. How serious is this threat from the Internet?

Congressman King: The Internet is a very serious threat, both involving terrorists and prospective terrorists, and those who are just curious, communicating among themselves on the Internet, also the direct recruiting by someone such as al-Awlaki. This is having a real impact in the United States. Al-Awlaki is an American citizen. He understands how Americans think. He is able to appeal to the American Muslim mind; it is written in American idiom. His magazine Inspire-and I think there have been seven editions of it coming out-it definitely has an impact.

Q12 Chair: Would you like to see better controls on the Internet, on the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter?

Congressman King: Yes I do. We have a First Amendment issue that does not confront you or does not really pertain in Great Britain, so we are trying to find ways of how it can be done without violating the First Amendment involving freedom of speech and communication.

Q13 Chair: You mention mosques and prisons; finally, on universities, how serious is the radicalisation in American universities?

Congressman King: I don’t believe radicalisation is a major issue to the extent it appears to be here in Great Britain. I have a lot of differences with universities, but as far as actual radicalisation, I don’t see it being carried on. There are some various Muslim extremist groups in the university, but we haven’t seen a direct nexus between what happens in universities and what happens in the communities.

Q14 Alun Michael: Can I look at it the other way around? You refer to the motivation that leads to individuals being recruited or becoming radicalised, but on the question of how individuals are recruited, how does the organisation seek people? I will just preface this by saying I went, as part of the British American Parliamentary Group, recently to Los Angeles. We looked at some of the things and we heard from police and those involved with issues there. One of the things that came through for that was that the mosque is no longer seen as a place of recruitment. The place of recruitment is prison, particularly short-term prison, where there is quite a calculated approach of recruiting foot soldiers as distinct from intellectually engaged individuals, and problems particularly with the short-term prison population. Is that something that is particularly general?

Congressman King: I certainly agree as far as the prisons, and before any question of the religious element comes in, that is especially true in the prisons because you may find a person who is not a Muslim, who suddenly realises his life has come undone and he makes a genuine conversion and he converts to Islam. So there is a religious fervour that is involving him trying to straighten out his life, turning his life around, and then slowly the radical element, the extremist and the terrorist element, is injected. So, yes, the prisons can be a major source of recruitment. We have seen definite evidence of it, especially since a number of the imams in the prisons have very radical and extremist beliefs. Unlike other organised religions in our country-priests, ministers, rabbis-there is no set way or certification for a person to be an imam. Almost any person can declare himself to be an imam. We have imams that aren’t imams but they-

Q15 Alun Michael: When I was asking about this one person said to me, "Yes, the person you have to worry about is ‘Sheikh Google’." What he is implying there is that, rather than through structured religion, it is taking some of the trappings. Would you accept that?

Congressman King: Yes, I do. I am always reluctant to comment on another religion but, just from a governmental perspective, it is hard to vet who the imam is going to be. Generally, with Jewish Shabbat, you go to a board of rabbis; Catholic chaplain, you go to the Catholic Church. There are obviously various Protestant denominations. There is a way of categorising who is a minister and who is not; what their education level has been; what their background has been. With an imam, you don’t find that. I wouldn’t rule out the question of mosques, and I can’t speak for Los Angeles but I do know, for instance in New York, that while the mosques are not as open an area for recruitment as they used to be, I think partly because they know that police are keeping an eye on them, but still mosques are nowhere near as co-operative as they should be. I will give you an example. Right where I live there is a mosque and they are very open to the police. The police come in; they give them brotherhood awards, and they have Ramadan events, and so on. It turned out there was a young man from that mosque who joined Al-Qa’ida, went to Afghanistan and was captured. He had actually been planning attacks. He was in Afghanistan but was also planning attacks against the United States. When the police went to the mosque and said, "What is this about?" they said, "Well, he told us that he wanted to do jihad. We told him we don’t do that here." They said, "Well, couldn’t you have told us? We are always in here. We are in here every few weeks. You sit down with us and we dine with each other," and they didn’t. So I am using that as example where the mosques are, maybe, not as overt as they used to be but in many cases they are not as co-operative as they should be.

Q16 Dr Huppert: I would like to ask about counter-radicalisation, but before that can I just check that I understood an answer that you gave earlier. Mr Winnick quoted you as saying, "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable but I will not morally blame the IRA for it." You spoke very eloquently about your role since then in the peace process, but can I just be very clear with that quote. Did you say it? Do you stand by it? Does it apply to other terrorist groups or only the IRA?

Congressman King: It would apply to-for instance, if we are talking about the African National Congress, if we are talking the Ergon in Israel, we are talking about a movement within a country. If all attempts are made not to kill civilians then I would put that in a separate category from a group like Al-Qa’ida, which is intentionally out to kill as many civilians as they can.

Also, what I was saying in Northern Ireland was it was what it was; it has been going on for 800 years, 60 years, 16 years, depending on where you want it to start. To put it in context, I was saying, "This is going to go on for a very, very long time unless an outside force moves in," and that is what I was recommending in the US. Once that process started to me it was up to the people in Northern Ireland to resolve.

Chair: Mr Reckless has one supplementary on this and then we must move on from Northern Ireland.

Q17 Mark Reckless: Congressman King, with these terrorists, there is the possibility that they get succour from people overseas that they feel support them. You make a reference to the ANC, but there was no democracy in South Africa. There was a democracy in Northern Ireland. I think one of the issues-and I think there may be a parallel to the Muslims here-is that many of your constituents, with perhaps an Irish heritage, did not have an understanding of Northern Ireland, did not understand there was a democracy. As a Catholic with an Irish mother, with a grandfather who was a Fianna Fáil nationalist Republican in the Dáil, many of us feel that it was statements, such as yours, through the 1980s that gave succour to the IRA and led to that terrorism continuing for many more years than it needed to. Aren’t there lessons for us to learn from that for tackling Muslim extremism now?

Congressman King: I would not equate what Al-Qa’ida is doing in any way with what was done in Northern Ireland. Again, the question of democracy: that is a debate going back 30 years, but the fact is that the Good Friday Agreement showed the necessity of restructuring the entire electoral process in Northern Ireland because, in fact, the Catholics were disenfranchised in many ways. I am reluctant to bring this up at all. I think my friend Ian Paisley is in the audience. I don’t want to ruin my new friendship with him. But the fact is I believe there was discrimination, much of it was institutional, the fact that the struggle had been going on for so many years by good people, I mean, for instance, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were the face of the Republican movement-

Chair: Sorry, Congressman, as briefly as you can so we can move on.

Congressman King: Sure. Yet within several years they were being welcomed to 10 Downing Street, even before the Good Friday Agreement. These were the same people that I was talking about in 1982.

Chair: Thank you, that is very helpful. Let us move on to radicalism.

Q18 Dr Huppert: If I can then move to on counter-radicalisation. Somewhat to my surprise, I understand that, despite the fact that it is now 10 years since the tragedy of 9/11, it is only in the last few weeks that the White House has published a strategy on counter-radicalisation. Firstly, why has it taken so long to actually get somewhere on that?

Congressman King: I think it was a question of just putting it in written form. The fact is there have been counter-radicalisation efforts going on over the years, some at the state level. The Department of Homeland Security has been affirmatively going out into Muslim communities trying to encourage de-radicalisation. This was put in writing. It is a document that I pretty much agree with, but it is basically putting into writing what had been in practice for a number of years now.

Q19 Dr Huppert: It particularly warns against creating a backlash against Muslim Americans. How do you try to ensure that everything that you do and your committee does avoids creating that backlash?

Congressman King: By conducting the type of hearings we did, where the witnesses that come in were very positive. Everything they said was backed up factually, and also I don’t want to fall into the narrative of saying that there is this anti-Muslim attitude in our country. For instance, there are still eight or nine times as many anti-Semitic incidents every year as there are anti-Muslim. I know the populations are different, but there are as many anti-Christian attacks every year as there are anti-Muslim. Probably the better comparison, though, is between Muslims and Jews because it is roughly the same number in the population and yet there are eight times as many against Jews as there are against Muslims.

Q20 Chair: You mentioned in your opening statement at your hearings the fact that there were no structural organisations to deal with-the Council on American-Islamic Relations had not, you felt, performed the task they ought to have done. We have come across this poster that was put up, which I am sure you have seen before.

Congressman King: Right.

Chair: When communities were asked to help and exchange information they were told not to do so. Is that one of the problems, the lack of structures on a national basis in America where the authorities can go to them and ask them to help achieve a countering of radicalism; something we have here that perhaps you don’t have in America?

Congressman King: Certainly, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, I have strong differences with them in many ways. For one thing, it should be noted that they were named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a major terrorist funding case in the United States, and when they attempted to have their name removed the Federal Judge would not, saying there was more than sufficient evidence to keep them listed as an unindicted co-conspirator. The Council on American-Islamic Relations at a time when we are trying to encourage co-operation instead puts up posters, such as the one you showed, basically making the FBI to be the enemy that is coming in. If they have particular grievances with the FBI or the police that is one thing, but to be creating this stigma in the community against law enforcement, who are doing all they can to stop radicalisation and stop terrorist activities, to me it is totally unacceptable. I found them on many occasions to be apologists for extremist policies.

Q21 Chair: Do you think the Government has a role in trying to help communities create these organisations without them being seen to be Government organisations, so that you can deal with them more effectively?

Congressman King: We have to find a way to work with organisations that don’t necessarily have views that we agree with particularly but are not extremist and not terrorist supporting. Again, there is always a danger that when the Government gets involved, is giving money to an ideological group, that it can end up being Government control. So it is tricky. There is any number of Muslim organisations I can think of that I would want the Government to support, but once you get into that then are you going to end up supporting other groups that may not be as acceptable. I am looking more for spontaneous reaction from within the community, so with encouragement from the outside. It could lead to authority control if there is Government money going to particular groups.

Q22 Lorraine Fullbrook: I have a two-part question, Congressman. Can I ask, in answer to some of the questions you were asked earlier about torture, a recent ex-head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, said that she did not believe that torture was justified in any manner? Do you agree with that? Do you think torture is a justifiable means for information?

Congressman King: First of all, I don’t consider what was done at Guantanamo to be torture, but if we are talking about torture I think there certainly could be cases. The ticking time bomb, or the ticking nuclear device, should it used in a case such as that? Yes, I would say, morally, yes, but it is something that should be the rarest, very, very rarest, and certainly not any kind of accepted policy. Other than that rare exception, where there is the nuclear bomb that is going to go off in one or two hours and this person knows where it is, then I would say, "Try everything," to be honest with you. Again, too many good people are going to be killed, burnt to death, destroyed, and if one person has to suffer that-I am not here to defend torture. I am talking about a theoretical situation that as far as I know has not happened. These are the academic debates that I hear from people like Alan Dershowitz.

Q23 Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you, Congressman. Can I ask now about some testimonies that were given to your committee, about the solution of counter-terrorism within the Muslim American community, and 48% of Muslim Americans believe that Muslim leaders within the United States are not doing enough within their own community to counter radicalisation. What are you doing in terms of your strategy on the ground? You said that Homeland Security was working in communities but what exactly does that mean?

Congressman King: The Department of Homeland Security, which my committee has jurisdiction over, do have programmes where they meet with local leaders to encourage local leaders to stop radicalisation; to de-radicalise, if you will.

Q24 Lorraine Fullbrook: Is there a set programme in place?

Congressman King: No, I wouldn’t say there is a set programme in place, but it is adapted as it goes along. It is a work-in-progress. Again, as a Government, we are reluctant to be too heavily involved in laying out exactly how something should be done. I think the paper that came out most recently is probably the best example, to be confronting the ideology. To me, from my perspective, it has to be more leaders within the Muslim community. I think we in Government should reach out, which is why I have given some prominence or some coverage to leaders who I think are moderate and are reasonable in the Muslim community-give them the opportunity to make a name for themselves-because, unfortunately, I find the mainstream media relies on CAIR.

For instance, Chairman Vaz mentioned CAIR. I consider that a very radical organisation. Yet, if you read the average news story in America, you will have someone-such as myself, or whoever-making a statement and then the counter to that comes from CAIR, and never mentioning that CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a major terrorist financing case. So I think a lot of it is the role of Government to unofficially find spokesmen in the community, not pay them, not give them paid positions but to encourage them, give them a forum, give them an outlet.

Q25 Lorraine Fullbrook: Is it being successful? Are you finding success through this programme, this non-prescribed programme?

Congressman King: No, I think at best we try to maintain where we are. The situation is getting worse because Al-Qa’ida is actively recruiting in the communities and in the prisons, as we said, and the establishment, if you will the media or academics, pretty much refuse to acknowledge that, and if it is brought out you are branded as anti-Muslim and people back away from it. I think we have done well-if nothing else, the hearings I have been holding I think are changing the dialogue and are getting people to talk about it. They were even refusing to acknowledge earlier this year that there was a problem within the community and then, in March of this year, right before my hearing, the White House actually put out a statement saying, "Yes, this is a real problem," but it has to be addressed primarily by people in the community and I believe by pressure.

In the third hearing we had, the President of the Canadian Somali Congress came to testify. He said that he would not have testified at the first hearing because of all of the criticism that was being made, but he thanked me and the committee for holding the hearings, saying that we had emboldened and empowered moderate leaders in the Muslim community to come forward. He would not have been able to come forward in March of this year, but he was able to come forward in July, and he said it was because of the series of hearings that we had been holding-it was encouraging debate within the Muslim community and had given positions and a certain stature to those who are more moderate.

Q26 Nicola Blackwood: In the UK at the moment, there is a debate about whether there is a role for non-violent extremists to work with the Government, as a sort of link to certain sections of the Muslim community, to counter radicalisation within those sections of the Muslim community. Can I ask whether you received any evidence about this kind of technique in the US and whether you came to any conclusions about that kind of technique?

Congressman King: No, we did not get any evidence at our committee. I am not aware of that being used or considered by the Administration. I wouldn’t rule out any plan or any tactic, but I would be very wary of that, because once you start getting a forum or encouraging an extremist, whether or not he is violent or non-violent, then you are giving creditability to an extremist view and that can be just the next step toward a violent view, whether or not he or she happens to be non-violent themselves. Once you are giving creditability to someone who is an extremist, I think it is a dangerous path to go down. Law enforcement may find ways to use that and there could be certain particular instances, but as a general policy I would be very wary of it.

Q27 Nicola Blackwood: In the UK at the moment, there is a theory of radicalisation that is called the "conveyor belt" theory, on which you assume an individual starts from a grievance, moves through radicalisation and along to violence. Is that the basic theory on which you would be basing your understanding of radicalisation as a committee?

Congressman King: Yes. That would be my concern on that. Even though the person may be non-violent, the fact is that he is an extremist; you are giving credibility to an extremist position. If that is considered acceptable then the next logical step after that could well be a violent reaction. That is why I would be very wary of giving any type of Government seal of approval to someone who is a known extremist.

Q28 Nicola Blackwood: Would your basic response to extremist groups be to ban them entirely?

Congressman King: I am not aware of any organisation that has been banned in the United States. We tried to ban the Communist Party in 1950, but, no, I am not aware of anyone being banned. We can declare a Foreign Terrorist Organization but, as far as an actual group within the country, under our First Amendment it is virtually impossible to ban any organisation.

Q29 Chair: Are there no proscribed organisations as we have in this country?

Congressman King: None, no.

Q30 Chair: They can continue to do whatever they have to do?

Congressman King: Well, they can continue to speak; they can continue to put out information; they continue to have forums.

Q31 Chair: Do you think there ought to be, even though you mentioned the First Amendment? Obviously, the First Amendment came at a time when we didn’t have these kinds of problems.

Congressman King: I think if there was not a First Amendment I think there are certain instances and extreme conditions, yes, where organisation should be banned.

Q32 Mark Reckless: What scope would you see for greater collaboration between the United States and the United Kingdom to combat radicalisation, and through that a terrorist threat?

Congressman King: That is probably the most difficult question you could ask me today because I don’t know where else we can go. The level of co-operation is so high between the United States and Britain at every level-at the federal level, certainly with the FBI and MI5, the CIA and MI6, Homeland Security and all of your counter-terrorism and intelligence agencies. For instance, at the local level, members of the New York Police Department are in Scotland Yard now. We have had someone there full time. I think going back eight or nine years, the position there is full time. Information is shared entirely. So, as far as sharing information, as far as sharing strategies and comparing strategies, I would say the level of co-operation is so high now, with the counter-radicalisation programmes that you are introducing, as you said, and the White House has put out its paper on counter radicalisation. I don’t think any of us believes we have the answers to that. We can have answers, as far as law enforcement, as far as intelligence and trying to seek that, but as far as counter-radicalisation is concerned that I think is an area where there can and should be more dialogue, which is also one of the reasons why I have spoken to the Chairman. We are going to try and have as much interchange as we can between our committees, because we realise none of us is a sole source of knowledge in this area. The whole counter-radicalisation really is a work-in-progress.

Q33 Mark Reckless: One area that the Government and this Committee are looking at is where counter-terrorism is placed in the structure of UK policing. You probably have some experience of the structures in the US and the impact that change has. The Government is planning to set up a National Crime Agency. Currently, anti-terrorism for the country as a whole is run by the Metropolitan police in Greater London. While that will remain the case at least through the Olympics, there is an open question of whether we should transfer that responsibility from the London force to a new National Crime Agency. From your experience in the US would you have any advice for us with reference to that decision?

Congressman King: Considering the furore that was caused when Commissioner Bratton was named, I don’t want to get involved in telling the British how to run their police. Each country has its own traditions, and we have the FBI that has always had a limited role police-wise but takes the lead in counter-terrorism. For instance, in New York, we have 1,000 police officers, in New York City alone, who are dedicated to counter-terrorism and terrorist intelligence. I am really not in a position to say. We have had this debate in our country whether the FBI should be more like MI5; should we separate the FBI’s law enforcement capacity out and set up a separate organisation similar to MI5. We decided not to do that. It is not any reflection on MI5. We don’t even work through their knowledge system. That really is something that I think depends on the local situation.

Q34 Mark Reckless: For tasking anti-terrorism, you say you have 1,000 or so officers in the NYPD and then you have the FBI that has taken the lead on counter-terrorism. How does that work together institutionally? In your role with Homeland Security, how can you ensure they work as closely as they can?

Congressman King: It usually works well. There are the natural turf battles, unfortunately, but let me make it clear: we are light years ahead of where we were on September 11 at every level. The FBI and the CIA had their firewalls; you had federal bureaucracies not sharing information; the FBI and the NYPD had an historic difference between them. So much of that has broken down with the joint terrorism-taskforces, with fusion centres throughout the country. While it is certainly not perfect, it is light years ahead of where it was and for the most part works very well. There is the occasional case you will read about where the FBI says the NYPD didn’t do it right or the NYPD says the FBI didn’t, but 95% of the time they are working extremely closely together. I have been at joint terrorism taskforce meetings, and when you go around the table, you can’t tell who is FBI and who is NYPD.

Chair: Whatever the merits of Mr Bratton, only a British citizen can be Chairman of Home Affairs and only an American citizen can be Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

Congressman King: Here we go.

Q35 Mr Winnick: Following on from what Mr Reckless asked you, would you say there is an ongoing debate in the United States, as in Britain, over the balance between combating terrorism, trying to protect our citizens from those who are determined to slaughter as many as possible-and of course you know what happened on 7/7; 52 totally innocent people were slaughtered by the terrorists-and the need to maintain our civil liberties? We have had quite a lot of debate in the House of Commons. Would you say that is the same as in the United States?

Congressman King: Yes, I would say it is a constant debate. I think it is healthy. I would be more inclined to the law enforcement side, but there are others who are more inclined to the civil liberty side, and that is a very healthy debate. I think that is friction, if you will.

Mr Winnick: Giving the opposition some say.

Congressman King: Yes, and also the court systems ultimately resolve it. Obviously, we don’t want to create a police state in trying to stop terrorism. On the other hand, we did have to make changes; the Patriot Act; certain types of electronic surveillance. For instance, there has been an unwritten rule that houses of worship are out of bounds as far as the police are concerned, but when you find out that the mosque can be used for recruiting, to me you have had more police activity, as far as surveillance on mosques, than you would have had before because we haven’t had situations before where houses of worship were being used to foment crime. This is very central debate and it is one that I can assure you is ongoing, and it is not just Democrat versus Republican; you find people from both parties.

Q36 Mr Winnick: I have a second question. Last night in a lecture a former head of MI5-in fact she was the head of MI5 during what occurred on 9/11 and 7/7-put a good deal of emphasis on the need to engage if possible with terrorists, to open up dialogue. Of course she quoted inevitably the talks with the IRA, although it may be argued that only happened when the IRA realised they could not succeed in their original aim. Do you feel there is any possibility that this is a policy that should be explored?

Congressman King: No, not in the foreseeable future. Again, without equating the IRA with Al-Qa’ida, the IRA did have a political goal-a specific goal. At least there was something to negotiate if you wanted to go that route. I don’t know what Al-Qa’ida’s goal is, other than really the destruction of western civilisation. They want to expand their radical form of Islam throughout the world. It is not as if they have a particular grievance. It is not as if you can put something on the table. I couldn’t imagine the equivalent of a Good Friday Agreement with Al-Qa’ida, and also I don’t see any evidence of any reasonable people coming forward. Almost by its nature, Al-Qa’ida rejects any type of dialogue.

Q37 Chair : But not necessarily Al-Qa’ida. There are reports that the American Government is supporting the creation of a type of embassy for the Taliban in Doha. Have you seen those reports? Do you think that kind of action in terms of foreign policy is helpful?

Congressman King: I do know that overtures are being made to the Taliban, and I would say that there certainly can be elements within the Taliban that could be worked with because in many cases that is a nationalistic movement. All of them may or may not be influenced by a radical form of Islam. In many cases, that is an indigenous movement within Afghanistan. I don’t trust the Taliban, but I can see why within an organisation like the Taliban you could find some moderate elements to deal with. In fact, a number of them have been turned already, so that is much more fertile ground than Al-Qa’ida.

Chair: Dr Huppert has a quick supplementary.

Q38 Dr Huppert: You briefly mentioned the designation "Foreign Terrorist Organization". Do you think that has had any effect in trying to prevent radicalisation? How does it really work?

Congressman King: I would say there was more of an impact from a law enforcement perspective, in that it dries up funds; it sends a message to those who care, who are concerned, that this is an organisation-and we have had any number of groups declared terrorist organisations-that the US Government has officially declared this to be an instrument of a foreign enemy or foreign terrorists. It definitely has an impact as far as funding and it has an impact as far as shining a light on these organisations, so it is part, but it is not the final step at all. It is not so much as far as countering radicalisation so much as it is cutting off support for the organisation. Also for those who are interested in our country who care what the Government says, it is in effect our Government officially saying that these people are dangerous and they are allied with a foreign enemy.

Q39 Chair: Following bin Laden’s death, we have heard what you said, that you regard the threat to the security of the United States as being something that is growing. Do you think as an organisation, because of his death, there is going to be a reduction in the influence of Al-Qa’ida?

Congressman King: I would say central Al-Qa’ida has been dramatically weakened by bin Laden’s death and also by the killing of so many of the top Al-Qa’ida people. I think it is 18 out of the top 25 have been killed. Al-Qa’ida itself, the central organisation, is on defence. I don’t believe it has anywhere near the equivalent power that it had back in 2001. On the other hand, Al-Qa’ida has also morphed and metastasised. Even before bin Laden was killed, we had testimony before our committee from Michael Leiter, who was then the director the National Counterterrorism Center, who felt at that stage-this would have been in January or February of this year-that al-Awlaki with Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula was more of a direct threat to the United States than bin Laden was. So you have Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula; you have al-Shabaab, and then the radicalisation or recruiting attempts going on within the country. I agree with you; I think al-Zawahiri and central Al-Qa’ida is much diminished.

Q40 Chair: Because of the international dimension, it is worth Western Governments possibly propping up Governments in Yemen because they are better than what the alternative might be if they changed. Do you accept that proposition, or do you think that the democratisation of the Arab countries is vital for the progress of trying to make sure that radicalism is brought to an end?

Congressman King: In the short run, I am very concerned about what might happen in Yemen. I would want us to do what we can to maintain a stable Government over the next several years, working with them, so we can take action against al-Awlaki and AQAP.

Q41 Lorraine Fullbrook: Congressman, Ayman al-Zawahiri has become the number one in Al-Qa’ida, and was really the brains behind bin Laden. Would you agree that Al-Qa’ida has really just become a franchise operation now around the world?

Congressman King: To a large extent. I wouldn’t say "just," but yes, that is probably the best way to describe it. That is why I said you have AQAP with al-Awlaki. Even though al-Awlaki is not even the top person in Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, and bin Laden wasn’t very supportive of him, it is these-if you want to call them-splinter groups or localised forms of Al-Qa’ida that pose the real threat to us now. In some ways, it is better because it means they can’t get the level of sophisticated training that Al-Qa’ida had, for instance, on 9/11. So to that extent it is better for us. The bad part about it is, though, that in many cases they are under the radar screen. These are not known actors. We are not sure who they are, so they can have a better ability to infiltrate.

For instance, when we had the last series of attempted attacks in the United States from terrorists who were trained overseas-they were American citizens who were then trained overseas-they did not have the level of sophistication. They got into the country and they came very close to carrying out successful attacks, but fortunately, because they were not as sophisticated as they should have been, the attacks didn’t work.

Q42 Lorraine Fullbrook: But 9/11 was a low-tech attack. It was done initially with box cutters, so you don’t have to be terribly sophisticated to be successful.

Congressman King: The operation itself, to have 19 hijackers; to have that level of co-ordination; to get the flight training; to be able to have it so synchronised timing-wise-

Lorraine Fullbrook: That is organised; it is not high-tech.

Congressman King: I am not saying high-tech. I am saying sophisticated as far as the organisation, the training and the way it was done, precisely; unfortunately, the way it was intended to be done.

Q43 Nicola Blackwood: Given the recent political unrest that we have seen in Northern Africa, and the adjacent humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, what is your assessment of the security situation in Northern Africa at the moment?

Congressman King: We have to be concerned. There I don’t think Al-Qa’ida is in a dominant role, but I think you can find Al-Qa’ida supporters who could be in a position to pick up the pieces and take advantage. For instance, I don’t see Al-Qa’ida being a major force in bringing about the unrest. However, Al-Qa’ida supporters could be the best co-ordinated on the ground to put it together after the unrest has been created. That is what we have to be on the lookout for, including places like Libya. That is the extent that you would have radical, if not terrorist, elements as part of a future ruling structure in Libya. I don’t see it now, but it is certainly something we have to look for, as in Egypt we have to look for the position of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Q44 Nicola Blackwood: What about the situation in Somalia?

Congressman King: I would say Somalia gets worse by the day. There is virtually no viable central Government in Somalia whatsoever. More and more you are seeing a link-up between al-Shabaab, particularly with al-Awlaki and AQAP. Somalia is probably as close to a failed Government as you could envision.

Could I just go back to one thing if I could? You said about the level of sophistication. For instance, I do know that AQAP and others are attempting to recruit scientists; trained scientists. That is something we do have to be on the lookout for as far as levels of sophistication. You did see that we put out an advisory several months ago about bombs inside bodies, which is fairly sophisticated.

Chair: Congressman King, you have flown thousands of miles to come to London in order to help us launch our inquiry into the roots of violent radicalism. We are most grateful to you. We would be very grateful if we could receive any testimony that you and your committee have received which would help our Committee in our work. I think the work that you have done has been extremely valuable in getting this information into the public domain, and we would like to continue our co-operation between our committees in the future, but we know how very busy you are and we are extremely grateful to you for coming here. Thank you.

Congressman King: Thank you, Chairman Vaz. I assure you we will send you everything we have, everything we have done, everything we intend to do. We will stay in close contact with you. I really do appreciate the opportunity to be here today. Again, there are no two countries more closely allied on this issue and to the extent that our committees are the controlling committees on this issue in our Parliament and Congress, we should work together. We will continue to and I really want to thank you. I also thank all the British people for the tremendous support they gave us after 9/1l, and also on this 10th commemoration.

Chair: Congressman King, Mr Chairman, thank you very much.

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Rashad Ali, Centri and Maajid Nawaz, Quilliam Foundation, gave evidence.

Q45 Chair: Mr Ali, Mr Nawaz, thank you very much for coming to give evidence to the Committee. I won’t repeat my introduction. This is the very first session in what will be a series of hearings into the roots of radicalism. We are very grateful that you could be here right at the start. You have obviously had the benefit of hearing from Congressman King, and his testimony covers the kinds of things that the Homeland Security Committee has been doing in the United States.

The Committee will ask you questions. I am sure you have been through this before, especially Mr Nawaz. They will be addressed to both of you so feel free to chip in whenever you think appropriate. Perhaps I can start with you, Mr Ali. What do you think are the main causes, the roots of radicalism?

Rashad Ali: I think there are a number of things that come into mind. First, I think people tend to look at radicalism as one process.

Chair: You may have to speak up a little because of the acoustics.

Rashad Ali: I think a number of people look at radicalisation as a single process, going from A to B or A to Z. From our experience over the last two years, we have defined it as a number of pathways. There tends to be different things that motivate different individuals. We have put it down to four broad strokes. One is the most obvious, which many people speak about, which is theologically radicalised individuals, people who embrace a very specific Salafi-Jihadi theology that justifies acts of terrorism and violence. There are those who we have come across who don’t necessarily embrace it on theological grounds, but they have a certain political lens by which they view certain grievances. That shapes their world view and this makes it easier for them to embrace radical/religious protocols.

Q46 Chair: Did that cause you to join Hizb ut-Tahrir when you first joined? We are very interested in personal testimony.

Rashad Ali: Sure.

Chair: Why did you become a member of that organisation?

Rashad Ali: With regard to Hizb ut-Tahrir, their particular brand is a mixture of theology, ideology and a kind of particular world view as well. So it is a mixture of those three factors that I usually mention that actually they have a specific ideological take; a set of ideas regarding belief, regarding secularism, capitalism and criticism of those things.

Chair: Is that why you joined?

Rashad Ali: A mixture of that and also the religious motivation.

Q47 Chair: How old were you when you joined.

Rashad Ali: I was 15 when I came across Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Chair: Mr Nawaz, would you agree with that? Would you agree with the assessment that Mr Ali has made. You yourself were also a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Maajid Nawaz: Yes, I would agree with that. I would summarise it as four bullet points. I went through this process and I think it is essentially a process that involves an individual feeling a sense of grievance, whether real or perceived, and thereby leading to an identity crisis about whether one is, in my case, British or Pakistani or both or Muslim. Those grievances and that identity crisis are capitalised upon by a recruiter, usually a charismatic recruiter. Finally, that recruiter sells to the vulnerable young individual, who in most cases is educated, as we heard previously, an ideology and a narrative, a world view.

Q48 Chair: Is that what happened to you?

Maajid Nawaz: It is absolutely. I had many grievances, including experiencing violent racism on the streets of Essex as a teenager before the age of 16; being stabbed at in the street by Combat 18; being falsely arrested by Essex police authorities. I saw what was happening in Bosnia. That sense of grievance, which ordinarily one would grow out of when one moves beyond their teenage years, was capitalised upon by a young medical student who was also a British-born Bangladeshi Muslim. He sold to me an ideology and a world view that allowed me to frame those grievances as part of the Islam versus West narrative that Islamists, and Al-Qa’ida in particular, are so adept at propagating.

Rashad Ali: I would just like to add that there is some interesting research that has been done that demonstrates that it is not necessarily grievances that are the start point. There a number of perspectives. One is that grievances themselves exist-the world is full of problems-but it is often a lens or an ideology that makes you feel certain grievances, which exaggerate certain perspectives or even makes you realise things that you probably wouldn’t have in the past.

Q49 Chair: Your prison sentence when you went to prison in Egypt, Mr Nawaz, did that make you more radical or less radical?

Maajid Nawaz: I think, in referring to Congressman King’s testimony, I must say that, as somebody who has been arbitrarily arrested and detained without charge and witnessed torture in Egypt’s jails, I would like to state for the record that I do think water boarding is torture and I register my objections to anyone attempting to justify torture as an efficient or even morally justifiable means. I note that he didn’t define it as torture, but I do define it as torture. For the sake of terminology, I shall say that anybody justifying water boarding is morally on questionable grounds.

In my own case, in Egypt’s prisons, I was forced to watch one of my co-detainees electrocuted. I wasn’t electrocuted myself. I was then interrogated and we were cross-examined together and my answers were used to further electrocute him before my eyes. That particular individual remains-

Q50 Chair: When you say "electrocuted" do you mean he had electrical shocks put to him?

Maajid Nawaz: On his teeth and genitalia, yes.

Q51 Chair: Did he die as a result of that?

Maajid Nawaz: He is alive still. He is a British citizen and he remains a member of the group that we were accused of belonging to. I think that is a very relevant anecdote for this Committee, because I personally wasn’t electrocuted and I spent my time in prison studying from the original sources of Islam and coming to a conclusion that the ideology I had adopted, known as "Islamism", is a modern aberration, a twisted interpretation of Islam. But that particular individual, as in the case with most people who were subjected to torture in prisons, became more extreme.

Q52 Chair: Yes. Mr Ali, do you think there is a typical profile for those who are radicalised?

Rashad Ali: I don’t. I don’t think there is a typical profile.

Chair: It could be anybody?

Rashad Ali: It actually could be anybody. I know that sounds quite-

Q53 Chair: So the profile they say that it has to be a member of the Muslim community is absolutely wrong?

Rashad Ali: I think it is not completely off the wall to suggest that it is easier to radicalise individuals that already belong to a faith using a specifically religious trajectory. However, there are many individuals that we deal with that are converts. They are people who are from mainstream society that have then taken on board the religion and tend-as converts do-to have a more zealous perspective towards religiosity, without over-generalising, and that allows it to be easier almost to take on a more radical, political perspective.

Maajid Nawaz: On the note on profiling-you and I have discussed this before as well-the question is, what does a Muslim look like? Of course, if you are looking for a Muslim. Muslim is not a race. A Muslim can be white, as in Bosnia. A Muslim can be black, as in Nigeria. A Muslim can look like us. So a Muslim doesn’t look like anything and therefore there is no effective means of implementing a policy of profiling at, for instance, airports. Also the other point to note is that if you are looking for a devout Muslim and therefore looking for, for example, on a man, facial hair, or on a woman, a headscarf, then let’s keep in mind that terrorists-and we can see the 9/11 hijackers as a typical example or specimen of them-do everything possible to not look devout, so they can get through the airports. Of course the Chechen Black Widows, who are women wearing jeans and T-shirts, were successful exactly because nobody expected women wearing jeans and T-shirts, with their hair flowing, to blow themselves up. So I think it can be counterproductive to set a profile and thereby give a warning light to terrorists of exactly who we are looking for, so they can go about recruiting the opposite of that profile.

Chair: Very helpful.

Q54 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would just like to pick up on Mr Ali’s point. You started off by saying to the Chairman that there were four pathways that you had identified as the root causes of radicalisation. You gave us two, one being theology and one being through a political lens. What were the other two?

Rashad Ali: The other two typically, of the individuals that we have dealt with in the last few years, have been those who either have had personal grievances. These are individuals who are either from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq who are now living within the UK. They have had family members who have suffered indirectly or directly as a result of actions that are taking place in those countries. They have very particular emotional grievances and they don’t require a particularly political ideology or even religion to be able to then radicalise them. They have certain emotions that are driving them.

The other side of that is actually individuals who have, particularly, mental health problems. It is easier for those individuals to be then targeted, focused and separated from their communities, their families and the environments around them. We have seen that both in certain instances where individuals have tried to undertake violent acts and also in individuals who we have come across in our work, in terms of de-radicalisation activities that we do.

Q55 Bridget Phillipson: On the profile of those who may be radicalised, Mr Nawaz, you touched on what I wanted to ask you. Are we talking more that it tends to be men as opposed to women? Is there a gender split that has been identified there? It sometimes taken as an unwritten assumption that we are talking about men here, but I appreciate that it may be more complex.

Maajid Nawaz: It is more complex. There have been many cases of female suicide bombers, but more numerous are female extremists who don’t necessarily go on to become terrorists. There is absolutely no gender imbalance there whatsoever. In fact, in Indonesia the particular group that both Rashad and I used to belong to has more female members than male members. So I think the case of the Chechen Black Widows does demonstrate it is perfectly possible for women. In one case, there has been a grandmother in Iraq who has been arrested attempting to blow herself up. So I think the danger of profiling is we are telling terrorists exactly what we are looking for, so that they can subvert that criteria and look for somebody else. I mean they use donkeys if they need to.

Rashad Ali: I would probably add two things. One is that, statistically speaking, when looking at the convictions for individuals who have either undertaken terrorist acts or under the terrorism legislation of the UK, it is probably about 95% to 5% in terms of women and men, but having said that we know that Al-Qa’ida is specifically launching and targeting women for violent acts of radicalisation. So we know that Al-Qa’ida specifically decided that one of the things they are going to focus on is getting women involved.

Q56 Bridget Phillipson: In terms of the UK, understanding the profile-I appreciate the difficulties of what that can lead to-and if we are talking about predominantly men who may be involved, not so much in the groups but in violent activity, is that part of the way to address the problem by working with those communities, understanding the kinds of pull that those people we are talking about, perhaps, particularly young men, may feel towards certain groups or radicalisation?

Maajid Nawaz: From the work that we are doing and the experience that we have, I think that any policy must be fluid; it must address the concerns of the day as they are. So as my colleague mentioned, the majority of convicted terrorists are men but it must also recognise that is very easy to change, so any CT policy, or counter-terrorism policy, must be coupled with a counter-extremism strategy that works to subvert the future radicalisation of potential recruits, and in that strategy it should address men and women because of course there is no gender imbalance in the number of women who join extremist organisations.

Rashad Ali: The only thing I would add is probably that if you want to prioritise resources, then statistical data is important in that regard. If you are prioritising resources to where you are going to allocate them then, yes, you are looking at men; you are looking at between the ages of 25 and 38; you are looking at those 75% who have been from an east or subcontinent background, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and so on. From that perspective, prioritisation of resources, I think the stats demonstrate there is this type of profiling as such, in terms of where the majority have come from, but it is certainly not restricted to only addressing those people.

Q57 Mr Winnick: Would it be right to say that the process of radicalisation starts with trying to persuade young people, teenagers, that Muslims are being persecuted, one way or another, particularly in many parts of the world, that it is the Western powers-United States, Britain, France-who are doing their utmost to campaign and to defeat Islam? Is that the way in which the process works in the beginning?

Maajid Nawaz: That is certainly a crucial component of the beginning stages of radicalisation, to convince the young, angry person, male or female, that there is a war against Islam going on in the world and to incorrectly present the West as a homogenous entity. We have heard just in this testimony that there are even differences between America and Britain on many of these crucial issues. The West is not a homogenous entity, just as Muslims are not a homogenous entity, but that simplistic narrative is certainly a crucial element in the primary stages of radicalisation.

Q58 Mr Winnick: When it comes to the main split, as with Christianity divided into basically two, as I understand it, main factions-Catholics and Protestants-so with the Islam world as it is, Shias and Sunnis. How is it explained away that Islam, as a religion, is so divided and has been almost from the very beginning, or isn’t that touched on?

Maajid Nawaz: It is touched upon. I am sure Rashad would also like to add here something on this subject, but I-

Mr Winnick: If you could speak up a bit.

Maajid Nawaz: It is certainly touched upon. One of the important elements to keep in mind here is that Islamism-the ideology briefly defined as the desire to impose one interpretation of Islam as state law-crosses across the Sunni/Shia divide. So when we see Hezbollah, a religiously Shia organisation, co-operating with Hamas, a religiously Sunni organisation, they share Islamism as their political ideology. We also see Iran as an Islamist state, perhaps one of the only examples of one, propagating its ideology and co-operating in many cases with Sunni-based organisations.

I think there are many ways to override those sectarian differences and they generally tend to revolve around the political debate, and that is how they can find common ground.

Q59 Alun Michael: I want to turn it around, in the sense that you talked about the approaches that make people vulnerable to being radicalised and the attraction of a religious profile, and so on. You have both referred to recruiters, and one imagines over a time they would develop methodology in the way that recruiters in any other field would do so. Can you say what you see as the methodology that is being used? For instance, is there a focus on approaching people who are subject to short prison sentences? It may well be that mental health issues arise in that sort of area. Can you give us a feel for the methods and the targets that are approached by-

Rashad Ali: I think there are a number of things that we have seen happen. As an example, in the north-west, we have seen targeting specifically of individuals who have a drugs culture. These are vulnerable individuals. We have seen individuals who have been targeted that, as I mentioned, have mental health problems. We also see within prisons a very specific type of culture, because the prison dynamic is very unique in that it is mainly focused around gangs, and therefore the embracement of particular Muslim gangs has been one of the strong ways in which radicalisation recruitment has taken place. It is not quite the same as violent extremism in the terrorist sense, but it is often criminality that is justified on religious grounds. There are probably different factors looking at it in that way.

In terms of recruitment techniques, I think the recruitment techniques are probably divided, in the sense that they are often around theological backgrounds of a specific organisation that we are talking about. So groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir, the process that Maajid outlined in terms of looking at grievances, identity, radicalisation, in terms of political viewpoint, and then filling in the theology to justify it. That is the set kind of pattern of process that groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir use.

Again, looking at Salafi-Jihadi organisations, it is much more strictly theological. So if you look at the internet-based websites, their process is one very simplistic grievance in political outlook and then a very heavy emphasis on this puritanical theology, and this is the religious justification.

Chair: Mr Nawaz?

Maajid Nawaz: I agree with what Mr Ali said.

Q60 Alun Michael: Could I take it on from that in terms of the reference to gang culture. How important is that? It is an interesting one because we found in a recent visit that in Los Angeles this was an avenue that was being used to recruit foot soldiers. Is that important in your experience in the UK, too?

Rashad Ali: I think what we found with prisons is that it is a very specific social reality. In order to survive within a prison framework, you have to belong to a particular gang to give you that, so this is some of the problems. On top of that, there are structural deficiencies, which are normal and to be expected. We have a situation now where we have hundreds of individuals that have been convicted for terrorism-related offences, and we have a prison guard that is completely not capable of dealing with this, and they shouldn’t be expected to be capable of dealing with this, because they are very unique in reality. They are unaware, in terms of the lack of training and awareness of how to differentiate between religious conversions and convictions that happen within a prison framework, the social dynamics of joining gangs and differentiating that and between radical extremist political preachers who are also placed within prisons.

Q61 Steve McCabe: You said at the beginning that some of the groups provide an ideology and framework for people to make sense of the grievances and the injustices, and so it develops. How much do you think foreign powers like Iran are deliberately building and creating that sense?

Maajid Nawaz: I think there are certainly cases of two particular Governments that are funding the growth of two very different types of Muslim-based extremism in the world. The Salafi-Jihadi brand is being funded by one particular Government and Islamism-the political form of this ideology-is being supported by the other. That has a significant impact on the growth of these organisations around the world, and even where they are not funding organisations, it has a significant impact on the mood music or the environment that is created from which these organisations stem. That is particularly pertinent to the Home Affairs Committee here because by comparison we have a completely, I suppose, incomparable level of non-funding going to the alternative counter-message. That is a serious problem because there is no real investment, whether from the third sector or from Governments, that I am aware of at least-and I run one of the main organisations in this field-going to organisations that are attempting to promote the counter-message.

Q62 Chair: That includes yours?

Maajid Nawaz: It does indeed.

Q63 Chair: Do you get funding from the Government?

Maajid Nawaz: No, we don’t at the moment, and we are struggling.

Q64 Chair: Did you get funding in the past?

Maajid Nawaz: We did until last December. Austerity measures and many other matters that come to the-

Q65 Chair: Why did they stop your funding?

Maajid Nawaz: December 2010.

Chair: Yes, why did they stop your funding?

Maajid Nawaz: Oh, why? What we were told is a combination of austerity measures and priorities in the Government’s CT strategy. Now, what I would be very interested in, again stating for the record, is the revised Prevent Strategy that the Prime Minister has devised, one of the key questions I have is, that is all well on paper, but where is its implementation? That is something I would urge the Select Committee to look at very closely.

Chair: We will.

Rashad Ali: Can I just come back to the question regarding Iran for a moment?

Chair: Yes. Very quickly.

Rashad Ali: There are organisations that are operating within the UK. One specifically is the so-called Islamic Human Rights Commission. This is an organisation that is funded primarily through Iranian sources. It acts both to deflect attention away from activities that are happening in Iran and downplay them, but also politically to agitate so as to try and further this narrative of: West versus Islam; the UK has an anti-Muslim agenda. Even given the ironic name, they have articles as to why human rights aren’t universal. That is just one example of organisations that are furthering the extreme narrative.

Maajid Nawaz: Very briefly, sorry, may I add that Pakistan is a country, in particular, that suffers from this geopolitical struggle with two Governments in particular using Pakistan as a playground?

Q66 Chair: Which Governments?

Maajid Nawaz: If I may name them I would say Saudi Arabia and Iran, using Pakistan as a playground for sectarian warfare on the streets of Pakistan.

Q67 Dr Huppert: Both of you sat back and became de-radicalised. Can you tell us a bit more about what were the critical steps in that happening for you, and hence what we can learn to try to encourage other people to take the same steps?

Rashad Ali: I think for myself it was a number of things that I think are important. First, there was a kind of moral realisation that with regards groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir, and all extreme Islamist groups, they are built on an amoral framework, which is to take away your natural sensibilities of right and wrong, good and bad, and replace them with a very extreme theology, which is, "There is no such thing as good and bad; it is only what God says." So if God says, "This is good," then this is good. If God says, "This is bad," this is bad. That, coupled with a political point of view, you realise is quite ludicrous and unrealistic, so the idea that we should establish a global supreme leadership for a caliph to run the whole world at his disposal, according to his religious proclivities, it is not easy to convince somebody of that idea unless it is religiously grounded, so unless it is absolutely grounded on religion. The third thing is, as you can probably imagine, it is only tenuously linked to religion. When you can break the link to the religious proclivities to say, "Hold on a second, you can be a Muslim, you can maintain your religious convictions, even conservative religious values, in terms of mores and ethics. This has nothing to do with the idea that you need to impose your brand over the whole world through a political system. It is ahistorical." So, once you realise that it is ahistorical-it wasn’t even the case in Muslim empires, which were more kind of communalist in their outlook; they had different religious trajectories, different religions, even had their own courts and so on-that actually this is something that is a modern hybrid of politics and mediaeval theology.

Chair: Mr Nawaz?

Maajid Nawaz: Nothing to add to that.

Q68 Dr Huppert: If I may, Chair, I am just very interested because, in the answer you have just given, there was a very intellectual analysis. I am not sure it gives me a comfort that I would know how to take what you have just said and use it to persuade other people. Could you perhaps say a little bit more about how one could persuade other people emotionally?

Chair: Basically translate that into street language.

Rashad Ali: I think in the submission I gave I tried to break it down. It does depend on the individual. Just to give one example to elaborate. I had one individual who we were working with who had again this kind of political narrative and a religious justification for it. So the first part of our engagement was not talking about theology; it was talking about the politics, making him realise that, "Hold on a second, fine, you are against the Iraq war. Half of Parliament, more or less, was against the Iraq war. There was a final speech that Tony Blair gave and then this swung the Parliament. Actually, millions of people in Britain marched against the Iraq war. So when you are looking at it, it is not simplistically that all the people are against, it is just the West who are against the Muslims. Similarly, Tony Blair and the Government went to war in Serbia against the Serbian Christian Orthodox people on behalf of the Kosovans, who were Muslims."

Over a gradual process you start to break down the political narrative, and if life is a bit more nuanced, it is then easier to say and your religion is a bit more nuanced, too. Your religion also differentiates between those people who are anti-Muslim, anti-Islam, those who are anti-Muslim and violent, those who just have this ideological point of view and how do you engage accordingly. Over a period of time, you can then build in the theology to start addressing all the details.

Although the presentation I gave you is just to encapsulate, these are the key things, I think when you break it down on an individual level it really depends on the individual, but it can be broken down accordingly.

Q69 Lorraine Fullbrook: I have two completely unrelated questions. Has your safety, each of you, been in jeopardy since you left Hizb ut-Tahrir?

Maajid Nawaz: I do a lot of work in Pakistan on the grassroots. In fact, we founded a grassroots social movement in Pakistan called Khudi. Its aim is to challenge extremism and promote the democratic culture through civic engagement. In that country, we are very worried about not just my safety but the safety of everybody who challenges extremism. There have been assassinations and kidnappings of very high-profile individuals who have had the audacity to speak out against discrimination of the minorities in Pakistan, for example. In that country there is a serious concern, but I must emphasise, not just of myself, anybody who speaks out is in danger.

Q70 Lorraine Fullbrook: Have you had that in the UK?

Maajid Nawaz: Yes, we have had threats, but I think that, again, I would underplay the seriousness with which threats coming from Hizb ut-Tahrir supporters should be taken because Hizb ut-Tahrir is not a terrorist organisation; it is an extremist organisation. The real danger would come from those on the peripheries who support their view. We have had bomb threats; we have had physical intimidation. I have been attacked; I have been punched, but again I want to take the focus away from myself, because I think that many others have suffered far worse.

Lorraine Fullbrook: Mr Ali?

Rashad Ali: Yes, the same.

Q71 Lorraine Fullbrook: My question follows on from Dr Huppert’s question. Can you explain exactly what each of your organisations do to facilitate counter-radicalisation and what are the successful components of that?

Maajid Nawaz: I will try and be as brief as possible because we do quite a lot.

Chair: We have your brief of what you do, but if you could summarise for Mrs Fullbrook that would be great.

Maajid Nawaz: Sure. In essence, we believe that the model that was initiated in America after 9/11, known as neo-conservatism, is upside down. What I mean by that is rather than bringing in a supply for democracy, by going in with force, into Muslim majority countries, what needs to be done is a demand for democratic culture needs to be built on the grassroots where the people themselves demand change. The Arab uprisings are an early indicator of that, although it is yet to be seen how that turns out.

On the supply side, i.e. policy, we mirror that with policy advice given from Quilliam as a think tank. So we have two organisations working, one addressing the demand on the grassroots on the ground with youth in Pakistan called Khudi, and Quilliam addressing Government policy across the West. We are trying to tweak both the supply, i.e. policy, and the demand for democratic culture on the ground. That is a one paragraph summary of what we do; there is much more.

Q72 Chair: Mr Ali, a one paragraph summary of yours.

Rashad Ali: Sure.

Lorraine Fullbrook: What have you found that has worked for you as well?

Rashad Ali: In terms of the work we do, we do a number of different things, but basically one of the key areas of our work is de-radicalisation efforts with prisons, probations, police, community-based organisations, and through channel referrals. This involves working with individuals who are either very close to terrorist organisations, people who have been caught up with individuals who have been monitored, and therefore we seek to remove them from them and engage with them and de-radicalise them, and also work with those who are convicted of offences.

The other areas of work include research, which looks at theological writing primarily and theological rebuts towards extremist ideology. We also do a number of other activities that fall under that kind of remit.

Q73 Michael Ellis: What are your views-if you can expand on these-as to the theory that the solution to countering radicalisation lies within the Muslim community itself, as opposed to Governments and organisations? For example, do you think there is a role for non-violent extremists in working with the Government and the Muslim community to counter radicalisation? What do you think would be the most effective methods of countering radicalisation?

Maajid Nawaz: In terms of radicalisation, if we recognise that it is caused by more than just Muslims, meaning policy affects radicalisation, whether it is foreign or domestic. Wars affect radicalisation, although may not be the only cause or perhaps even the main cause, but there are factors more than just policy, more than just ideology, more than just Muslims and more than just theology-then our solution must also be as holistic as the causes are.

In that sense, it is dangerous to just look at Muslims, though we must look at Muslims as part of the overall strategy. I think that historically, with the UK strategy, and the UK is far ahead of many other Governments in this regard, that the reaction of Muslims has been not looked at well enough, so of course there does need to be more focus there.

With regard to the second part of your question on non-violent extremists and their role, I think we need a more nuanced approach to this. I think it is dangerous for Ministers and for Government to legitimise those who say, for example, that homosexuals should be killed, although they don’t take action themselves; in their Utopian state homosexuals should be killed or that Jews are an inferior race or that women can’t be heads of state or that adulterers or those who have sexual intimacy before marriage should be stoned to death. If they aspire to these aims and they are physically recruiting people from the armies of Muslim majority countries to initiate coup d’état, so they can bring these aims into power, that is not strictly terrorism but it is certainly extremism.

Q74 Michael Ellis: You think those people with those views should be treated as pariahs?

Maajid Nawaz: No, absolutely not.

Michael Ellis: You don’t think so?

Maajid Nawaz: Coming back to the beginning of that sentence: nuance. What I would suggest is we need to distinguish between counter-terrorism, disengagement, de-radicalisation, counter-radicalisation and integration and, if I may, what I mean is CT is clear. Counter-terrorism is clear for everyone, what that means. It is the actual law enforcement operations to stop the next bomb going off. Disengagement is to convince serving terrorists that they should put their arms down. Now it is a very narrow and limited objective that occurs in, for example, cases of terrorists who are serving in prison, to convince them simply of a ceasefire. In that context, in a very low-profile way, it may be okay to use extremists. I say "may", we have to be very careful as to who is used and we have to be very careful as to how they are used and what level of public legitimacy they are given.

De-radicalisation, the third element, is to convince them to disavow the theory of violence, not just to put down their arms-

Q75 Michael Ellis: How do we convince them of that?

Maajid Nawaz: Again, those who are well-versed with the extremist narrative could be utilised in this process. They have been in Egypt; they have been in Libya. Where I was serving time in prison in Egypt, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, the largest terrorist organisation in that country, went through a process of de-radicalisation. It is shocking to this day that their literature and the literature that came from Libya in this regard still has not been translated into English and distributed in our prisons.

Chair: Thank you.

Rashad Ali: Can just comment on that?

Chair: Yes.

Rashad Ali: I think the differentiation of violent and non-violent is somewhat arbitrary. As an example, we describe groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood, commonly they are described as "non-violent radicals", which is just completely false.

Q76 Chair: Is that the Muslim Brotherhood here or in Egypt?

Rashad Ali: The idea is differentiating the organisations and separating them as where they are.

Q77 Michael Ellis: Do you see them as one?

Rashad Ali: They are one. As an example, Hamas in its charter describes itself as a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. So effectively what they have done is they separated out which activities which organs of the same body do. We are seeing this alignment taking place now within Egypt, with Hamas and so forth, and some of the problems that are accruing.

Similarly, we see individuals who will be supportive of Hamas violence in the UK. Just to give an example, Azzam Tamimi who will quite openly speak about why he supports suicide bombing, why he supports the actions of Hamas, which are terrorist actions. We are talking about killing children, women, and targeted actions against hospitals, and so forth. Essentially, it is not a non-violent organisation; it is an organisation that does not believe in domestic violence. If you like, "We want to talk about people who don’t particularly want to kill us, but Jews in Israel; perfectly fine. Americans in Iraq is an example; perfectly fine," and I don’t just mean American soldiers, these people talk about-

Q78 Michael Ellis: So it is impossible to do business with those people?

Rashad Ali: I think it conflicts with our laws and statutes that dictate where terrorism is illegal abroad and at home; it conflicts with our objectives in context, which state very clearly we are not just talking about domestic terrorism; we are talking about terrorism across the world. I think on a moral basis it is fundamentally flawed. On a strategic perspective, I can’t see how moving somebody from not undertaking violence here to only undertaking violence abroad; okay, from a tactical point of view, it may lower the risk element for domestic violence and it may contain them but it is not de-radicalisation. They have the same radical point of view, which leads to violence in-

Q79 Michael Ellis: Just to go back to the initial premise of the question. What do you think is the solution?

Rashad Ali: I think what we have seen in our experience is that, first of all, you have to analyse specifically on individual cases what are the motivating factors, what are the cognitive factors, what are the environmental issues. On the individual case-by-case basis, you can then develop, alongside the administering authorities, how to engage with those individuals, groups or organisations. That is on the kind of grand level of de-radicalisation.

On a societal level, we just have to define what it means and then stick to what it means as to how we view individuals. If we turn this around and we look at a right wing organisation with far right, because this is another area we work with, we would never send in somebody like Nick Griffin or somebody from the BNP to go and convince them that, "You know something, these blacks, Pakistanis, Muslims, they are really bad, but maybe undertaking some violence against them is not a great idea. We should take power and then once we take power we can deal with them." I mean that is probably not the best de-radicalisation strategy, but, ironically, this is what is suggested.

To give one final example, when looking at some of the literature of some of the Salafist organisations, you have them quoting scholars, like Ibrahim Amin , who say, "Britain, France and America are too strong for us to launch Jihad against. So once we’re strong enough, and the leadership declares jihad, then we can." That is not a de-radicalisation message. That, at best, is a containment message, but you still have a massive risk that you are containing there.

Maajid Nawaz: May I add very quickly we simply don’t have the capacity? One of the bigger problems to implement this is we don’t have the capacity on the ground, or enough people that are working in this field, for a national grassroots strategy implementing what Mr Ali has just said, and that is one of the key issues that this Committee should look at. Secondly, I think another point is, as well as a lack of strategy, in the new Prevent document there appears to be no criteria for engagement as to who should be engaged in this agenda, and this is an area that requires some serious thinking.

Chair: We are coming on to that.

Q80 Nicola Blackwood: I was interested that you said, Mr Ali, that there are four pathways to radicalisation; theology, politics, personal grievance and mental health issues. I believe the Communities and Local Government Committee were of the opinion that the previous Prevent Strategy placed too much emphasis on theology as a pathway. I wonder if that is your opinion. I was also interested, Mr Nawaz, that you said that it was a particular study of the Qur’an that de-radicalised you personally. I wonder if your opinion is that there should be more emphasis on other pathways for de-radicalisation and whether the emphasis in the new Prevent Strategy is correct in this.

Maajid Nawaz: I think there are some dangers exploring theology as Government policy. One of them is that we are in danger of subsidising sectarian conflict within Muslim communities by supporting one religious sector over another, and we need to be aware of that. I think also, again, there is simply no capacity in Government to understand the theology. It simply does not exist on a capacity level.

I think that there is a way around that to avoid both of those dangers, and that is not to address theology insomuch as to address a pluralism within theology. One does not need to be a qualified theologian to be trained by those who have that knowledge to say, "Look, what you are insisting is the only way to interpret texts. I have it as a matter of record it isn’t correct because here are 10 other ways to interpret texts that are in these books that you also respect and that are grounded in historical study from traditional scholarly sources." So it is simply displaying the level of pluralism that does exist within theological context. But that does require training and it is not a theological discussion. I suppose that is simply a science of interpretation that needs to be explored.

Q81 Nicola Blackwood: Yes, but I suppose my question is more, do you think there is too much emphasis on a theological cause of radicalisation rather than other causes of radicalisation within Prevent in the new strategy?

Maajid Nawaz: I am in danger of disagreeing with my colleague. I am not sure if he would agree, but let’s see. I think there is too much emphasis. I think that it was correct to shift away from theology and focus more on political narratives, which of course use theology to justify themselves, but I think the key thing is the ideology and the narratives as distinct from religious theology.

Q82 Nicola Blackwood: Do you think that the new strategy has a better balance and is getting the emphasis right, or do you think we are still not getting the analysis right?

Maajid Nawaz: There is room for improvement, but it is good to move away from theology and look towards ideology and political narratives, of course. But there is much room for improvement in the current strategy.

Nicola Blackwood: What do you think, Mr Ali?

Rashad Ali: No, I agree. In the submission I have given, there are a number of cases where theology is primal and there are many cases where theology acts as a reinforcement for the political narrative. So the political narrative comes first and then the strands of theological justification have come to rebuild on that. They are the two things that I think.

Similarly, I think in the de-radicalisation process, often it can be just merely demonstrating-as Nawaz has mentioned-that a number of alternatives, just to demonstrate, so you don’t have to embrace this narrow point of view, but you have to motivate someone to abandon that narrow point of view first, which often is the political de-radicalisation after the ideological aspect has been moved away.

Where there is theology, though, you can’t replace it with something else. So where it is the case if someone has embraced a Salafi-Jihadi theology, you have to tackle that theological strand. Should Government be doing that? Obviously not; Government is not in a position to be able to do so, which is why I think in the past what Government has done is started to embrace a certain theology as a countermeasure. For example, the previous Governments-the Home Office at least, if not the Government-had taken on board a very distinct brand of Saudi Salafism as a means of de-radicalising Salafi-Jihadism without realising that is one half of the theological framework of Salafi-Jihadists.

Q83 Mark Reckless: Could you explain to us what role, if any, you believe there is for the policy of proscription of particular organisations?

Maajid Nawaz: Yes. I have been quoted by the previous Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, in Parliament when this question was asked of him by the then Leader of the Opposition, Cameron-who had promised to proscribe Hizb ut-Tahrir and has since not done so-about proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir. But I am glad the current PM has-

Q84 Chair: Would you remind us of the quote, because some of us may not have been there.

Maajid Nawaz: He was asked why the Government has not fulfilled Tony Blair’s promise to proscribe Hizb ut-Tahrir and he responded, Mr Brown, as Prime Minister-who was asked by David Cameron-so Mr Brown, as Prime Minister, responded and said, "We have taken stock of the views of people like Maajid Nawaz, who have advised that it is counterproductive to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain, and therefore we will not do so." I am pleased to say the current PM has come to this view, or seems to have come to this view, himself and has not gone through with proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir in this country. I would agree that Hizb ut-Tahrir should not be proscribed.

Q85 Chair: Sorry, has he come to this view? When did he come to this view because, the last time he was asked in the Commons, he said he was still of the view. He is communicating with you?

Maajid Nawaz: I think, yes, he has.

Chair: He has?

Maajid Nawaz: Yes.

Chair: Oh right, when did he tell you this news?

Maajid Nawaz: I think that I probably quoted something that is not on official records, at least-

Chair: That is all right; it is now. The Prime Minister has now come to the view that Hizb ut-Tahrir should not be banned?

Maajid Nawaz: May I retreat somewhat and say that he is veering towards this view and is-

Chair: Veering?

Maajid Nawaz: And is inclined not to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain, may I say as caveated as possible?

Chair: Don’t worry.

Maajid Nawaz: I am sorry?

Chair: Don’t worry; we will write to him and ask him.

Maajid Nawaz: Yes, please do, but I have to add that I support the ban on Hizb ut-Tahrir in Pakistan, and the reason I make the difference is that in Pakistan they are actively seeking to recruit Army officers to overthrow the democratic regime. It is illegal to overthrow a democratic regime via a military coup by Pakistani law as well as international law. The organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir inside Pakistan makes it clear that it is their objective to instigate a military coup, so I think there they should be proscribed.

Q86 Mark Reckless: Just to clarify briefly, please, what is it that makes you think it is a bad thing to proscribe this organisation?

Maajid Nawaz: Right, so I think legally and practically it is not workable. So legally, if we were to proscribe organisations that operate in this country with no direct provable involvement in illegal activities abroad, then we would have to also look at banning the BNP just for their extremism, because Hizb ut-Tahrir’s form of extremism, though slightly incomparable to that of the BNP, would fit within that category of extremism that does not directly advocate the use of violence within Britain. So it would cause us legal problems, but also I think practically the level of support that this organisation has had in the UK has been on the decline. In the early 1990s, they were able to muster somewhere around 12,000 supporters for a conference. This year, at their annual conference, they struggled to gather 3,000, so they have been in decline in this country.

Chair: Yes, Mr Ali.

Rashad Ali: If I could just add, first of all, in terms of proscription, obviously with groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir, there isn’t a legal basis to do so. It has been looked at exhaustively by various other people.

Q87 Chair: But moving away from Hizb ut-Tahrir to the whole issue of proscription, do you think this makes people more radical when they are proscribed or less radical?

Rashad Ali: Well, this is the point I was going to make. I think the proscription practice we have has been, for want of a better word, ineffective. So for example, we had Al -Ghurabaa banned initially. Al-Ghurabaa w as the group which was part of al- Muhajiroun. Al - Muhajiroun was not banned and then it was banned.

Chair: Sorry, could you repeat the name of the group?

Rashad Ali: It is Al-Ghurabaa. Then we had al-Muhajiroun banned. Al-Muhajiroun then reformed as Islam4UK and then Islam4UK was banned. They have now reformed as Muslims Against Crusades and there is nothing there to ban them again.

Q88 Chair: So we need to look at the proscription issue and see why they are banned and in what form.

Rashad Ali: I think, despite the promises of the Home Office and the Government in the past to make sure that they will ban them, irrelevant of the change of name, that has not been done. The second thing is what is probably more effective is prosecuting individuals for violating laws. As opposed to just merely putting a ban out, which then allows them to reform, reshape, what we should have done is prosecute individuals who have violated laws and have the law be effective.

Chair: Mr Winnick and Miss Blackwood have a quick supplementary.

Q89 Mr Winnick: Yes, on radicalisation, which I asked you previously, but because of time, the Chair was rather understandably keen to press on, but just one question. Is anti-Semitism an essential element of radicalisation-the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, Jews dominate and control America? Is that absolutely essential with trying to indoctrinate people?

Maajid Nawaz: It is a key part in what I call the narrative. The world view that is propagated is a war between the West and Islam, and the West is defined in most cases as being controlled by the Jews. It is a key part of that narrative and then Israel is put at the pinnacle of that conspiracy. Even the Sunni/Shia divide, by the way, is blamed on the Jews.

Q90 Nicola Blackwood: It was interesting to hear the evidence of Congressman King that in the United States they do not proscribe any extremist groups. I wonder if any analysis has been done, by either of your organisations, to look at the impact which that has on counter-terrorism or any of the extremist activity in the US and whether we could look at a comparative study between the UK and the US?

Rashad Ali: I think the only conversations I have had is with American researchers, and from their perspective, it is just something that culturally is so unfathomable for them to even consider banning an organisation.

Q91 Nicola Blackwood: But does it cause more problems for law enforcement that they cannot proscribe organisations, because we proscribe these organisations, but it obviously doesn’t quite work if they reform and reform, so is it an effective means of enforcement in the UK?

Rashad Ali: I think what they do is they will mention organisations which they wish to proscribe, but not on the basis of banning their ideas, but those who are taking part in funding or organising terrorist activities. So in the past, they have prosecuted organisations like the Holy Land Foundation group for funding Hamas, and what they will do is they will take legal measures, stop their funding, disrupt their activities, and so forth.

Q92 Chair: Very quickly, 30-second answers to this question. Who funds you now if the Government no longer funds you, Mr Nawaz?

Maajid Nawaz: Quilliam is struggling. It is funded by one or two non-third-sector foundations. We have had to lay off 80% of our staff and reduce 80% of our costs, and are currently, I must admit, inefficient.

Chair: Mr Ali?

Rashad Ali: We have private donations of individuals who wish to support us in what we do. We also engage in research alongside academic institutions.

Q93 Chair: In terms of radicalisation, very quickly, is it on the increase or decrease, Mr Nawaz?

Maajid Nawaz: I think non-violent extremism is on the increase, ie the ideology of Islamism, and in many cases it is in danger of trying to hijack the Arab spring in some of those countries. I think the appeal of Al Qa’ida is on the decline, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been defeated.

Chair: Mr Ali?

Rashad Ali: I think it is on the increase, and it is not that Al Qa’ida is on the increase, because I think as an organisation we have fairly come to the conclusion it is less influential, but we are having is a growth in lone terrorism and also further radicalisation.

Chair: A brief, very quick final question from Lorraine Fullbrook.

Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you, Chairman, but you asked my question about funding anyway.

Chair: Okay, excellent. Mr Nawaz, Mr Ali, thank you very much for coming in to give evidence to help us begin this very important inquiry. We will be in touch with you again, and if you have any other areas you think we should look at, please do let us know. Thank you.

Prepared 22nd September 2011