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    Did intelligence services push Home Sec to ban Islam4UK?

    by Sunny on 14th January, 2010 at 5:44 pm    

    I think the key to Islam4UK’s banning wasn’t the Wootton Bassett march but the Detroit attack by the Nigerian bomber. At that point, given that I4UK are the UK’s most high profile Islamist group, linked to terrorism though many of their former members, I’m betting that the Intelligence services leaned on Johnson.

    Their thinking would be that they need to start being more pro-active and go through various members of al-Muhajiroun / Islam4UK and check if they’ve had contact with Yemenis or any other potential bombers.

    After all, it’s very likely that many Islam4UK members are in contact with groups in the Middle East.

    So proscribing the group makes it possible for the intelligence services to swoop down on, and legally find it easier to monitor members of the group. It would make it easier for them to confiscate computers or other communication devices of members to see if they’re had contact with potential terrorists.

    And so even if they don’t prosecute specific people or ban them outright, banning the group at least gives the intelligence services some legal cover to do better counter-terrorism.

    If you watch Newsnight from yesterday, just before the debate between Maajid Nazaaw and Anjem Choudhary, there’s an intelligence officer saying its ludicrous to think these people are normal or innocent given how closely many of their ‘former’ members have been charged with terrorism related oiffences or actually blown themselves up.

    I’m almost certain this is a widely held opinion in the intelligence community. It is also likely their views forced Alan Johnson’s hand.

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    Filed in: Islamists, Terrorism

    18 Comments below   |   Add your own

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. MiriamBinder — on 14th January, 2010 at 5:52 pm  

      Hmmm … sounds more reasonable then merely banning them on the grounds of not shouting Fire! in a cinema.

    2. ceedee — on 14th January, 2010 at 7:02 pm  

      I believe you have an unrealistic impression of how the ‘intelligence’ community actually operates.

    3. lfc4life — on 14th January, 2010 at 7:11 pm  

      This ban has nothing to do with threats of violence this is all about public opinion in light of the wootton basset incident. If for one moment this mickey mouse group was a base of terror or plotting explosions they would not be roaming the streets they would be in jail.

    4. marvin — on 14th January, 2010 at 11:05 pm  

      Did you think this all up by yourself Sunny? It’s a somewhat plausible thesis… Though I suspect in probability it’s a simply a popularist move designed to shore up support for this ailing government.

    5. douglas clark — on 14th January, 2010 at 11:11 pm  


      There seems to be a substantial difference between ‘the facts’ in your post on CiF and Yo Zushi’s post here.

      You say:

      At least 20 former members and followers have been convicted of crimes such as planning terrorist attacks or inciting violence.

      Yo Zushi says this:

      As I see it, he’s right. Did Islam4UK help Omar Khyam plan acts of terror? No. Was Abu Izzadeen following its orders when he tried to raise funds for militants in Iraq? No. The BBC’s sparse role-call of the organisation’s alumni mentions two men who attended “a rally over the global Danish Muhammad cartoons row” and “were also convicted of soliciting to murder”. Did this have anything directly to do with Islam4UK? No.

      That is a pretty fundamental difference on what should be basic facts, is it not?

    6. Leon — on 14th January, 2010 at 11:26 pm  

      Sunny, I’m not sure how much you understand the relationship between military intelligence five and the home office. It’s more likely they briefed the Home Sec and he agreed with their view than they ‘leant’ on him. Your post has a whiff of conspiracy theory about it….

    7. douglas clark — on 14th January, 2010 at 11:45 pm  

      I don’t think I buy that narrative either.

      I’d assume that if any security service has a suspicion, perhaps amounting to a belief, then they would have absolutely no problem with obtaining any information they wanted on persons of interest. The Courts would bow to that, and so would I. Blowing an organisation like I4UK potentially makes their job more difficult.

      Doesn’t work for me….

      Anyway, all this undercover work appears incapable of keeping Anjem Choudhary off the airwaves. My genuine fear is that his strategy is to bore us all to death….

    8. Sunny — on 15th January, 2010 at 2:05 am  

      Damn, everyone’s an expert on the intelligence services here.

      Can someone actually explain WHY a thought that the intelligence services leant on AJ to ban Islam4UK is so implausible?

    9. Boyo — on 15th January, 2010 at 8:16 am  

      Because it’s better to have them out in the open than underground. Intelligence is about collating intelligence - the more public it is, the easier it is (to infiltrate for example). The anti-terror police might desire the banning of the group, but the spooks would be unlikely to. Hence the tension between the two services, for what it’s worth.

      I’m no expert, but i have some experience in this area ;-)

    10. Anton Vowl — on 15th January, 2010 at 8:44 am  

      You may be right. But if that’s the case, they should say so. But they’re not saying so. Johnson is just using the word ‘terrorism’ with no evidence to back it up whatsoever. If there’s evidence, let’s see it. If there’s evidence, let’s have prosecutions. It’s all very well when people we don’t like are ‘linked’ with no evidence to terrorism and told they can’t do what they like; what happens when that creeps further? What happens when the oh-so-infallible ‘intelligence’ briefs someone off the record about someone we don’t hate - what then? Do we just shrug our shoulders and say “Oh well, they probably know best”? If people are guilty of criminal offences, then let them be charged. If not, they are free to do what they want.

    11. inzain — on 15th January, 2010 at 4:18 pm  

      I am a Muslim and I for one am very happy that I4UK have been proscribed. At least there will be less material out there for the right wing blogs and journo’s and other crack pots that enjoy any material that gives credence to their arguement that islam and muslims are evil.

    12. MiriamBinder — on 15th January, 2010 at 5:17 pm  

      If only it were that simple inzain …

    13. davebones — on 15th January, 2010 at 7:32 pm  

      This is what I have heard Sunny. MI-5 have been talking to about twenty or so of them for a few months and have come up with this ban as a result of that,not a knee jerk reaction. I have posted this on the other blog you wrote no? Has Mr Choudhary said this anywhere?

      I am not sure of the right reaction or methods of dealing with all this is. I understand angriness, I just find people too damn interesting to be honest and if we aren’t fighting we talk. Every day no one is blown up is a good day as far as I am concerned in basic terms. :-)

      Its better than fantasy wrestling matches eh Doug?

    14. Shamit — on 15th January, 2010 at 8:05 pm  

      Books and memoirs reveal that, security services here prefer to have organisations in the open rather than banned.

      It allows for better intelligence and network idenitification they suggested - so security services leaning on the Home Secretary does not fit with the modus operandi (again what the books and tv documentaries say - i’m no expert).

      Holding untoward views are not criminal. Making thought and opinion, no matter how far outrageous, acts of crime is dangerous and too high a price to pay.

      On the other hand the Home Secretary’s Government is running behind in polls.

      Banning the organisation would ensure the labour party looks at least okay in the tabloid fury about Anjem. The Party at least does not lose votes on that count if not gain any. And those votes would have been coming from their core supporters who have and are still deserting the party.

      Then within two days, John Denham does a speech about inequality where he explicitly focused on the point that inequalities are not race based - and the government is committed to white working class. And its been pushed out very well too.

      One could be cynical and argue that all these are part of labour’s efforts to reach out to a certain group of voters (who feel betrayed by labour)- in the process playing on the worst instincts of that group.

      Banning the organisation does not really serve any security benefits for the intelligence services - so them leaning on the Home Secretary is probably less plausible than this being a political ploy.

    15. douglas clark — on 15th January, 2010 at 8:27 pm  


      I am not sure of the right reaction or methods of dealing with all this is. I understand angriness, I just find people too damn interesting to be honest and if we aren’t fighting we talk. Every day no one is blown up is a good day as far as I am concerned in basic terms. :-)

      Sure. You may, or may not have noticed two things.

      Firstly, I don’t agree with this ban. My reasons for saying that have been pretty well rehearsed by quite a few folk that comment here, and someone called Yo Zushi. That thread is worth reading in full - you can skip over what I have to say if you like ;-)

      Secondly I think, contrary to quite a lot of the regulars here, that an offer to debate anyone is always worthwhile. (Whether it is expressed in wrestling terms or not!) Mainly because it tends to tease out exactly what they stand for. It is not at all clear what I4UK stands (sorry stood) for, nor is it plain how committed to the democratic process they would have been.

      Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge.

      My final point about all of this. I’d have thought that it is really not the function of a government to do this, except in exceptional circumstances. I’d have thought that each banning, if proposed by a Home Secretary, ought to be subject to parliamentary veto.

    16. Naadir Jeewa — on 17th January, 2010 at 7:01 pm  

      This post seems far too speculative.

      It’s quite clear that Anjem’s Loony Sensation was proscribed for “glorifying” terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2006 alone. There was enough documented evidence to do so.

      As far as actual links with violent extremism, we do have the documented case of Bakri’s Crawley Group (in the same article), who broke away from Al-Muhajiroun for not being extreme enough, and have been demonstrably linked with 7/7.

      The Americans are surprisingly more open about their intelligence work if you’re doing research in those areas.

      The only systematic study of Al-Muhajiroun I can find is Quintan Wiktorowicz, Radical Islam Rising: Muslim Extremism in the West (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), which is based on interviews with the organisations members, including Bakri. Can’t find anything on Islam4UK though.

    17. davebones — on 17th January, 2010 at 11:25 pm  

      They stand for Islam in the UK, the black flag of Islam flying over downing street and are anti-democracy. I didn’t realise we were in agreement over the issue oif banning them but I have only been able to get here sporadically. I would guess that MI-5 looked at the newsnight vid of the guy (can’t remember the name) talking about the “magnificent 19″ and considered that to be glorification of terrorism. A law which wasn’t around at the time, but although he can’t be charged the group can still be proscribed? Something like that maybe.

    18. davebones — on 17th January, 2010 at 11:27 pm  

      @16. a small point- “Bakris Crawley group” in tapes presented at the trial critisized Bakris group for being “All talk”. However much you dislike them I am sure you would be relieved that they are “All talk” no?

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