14th December, 2011
30th November, 2011
The Sunday Times have formally investigated the English Defence League’s backers and have confirmed that two key individuals in particular are involved. You can read the full article here. A few extracts:
A property tycoon and a City-based financier quizzed by police over his links to the gunman who slaughtered 69 people in Norway are exposed today as key figures behind the rise of the far-right English Defence League (EDL).
A Sunday Times investigation has revealed that Ann Marchini, a mother from Highgate, north London, and Alan Ayling, a former director of an investment fund, have sought to mould the thuggish anti-Muslim group into a credible political force. They are both linked to the murky world of the online “counter-jihad” movement from which Anders Behring Breivik drew ideological inspiration before committing his massacre in Norway in July. They have remained in the shadows until now by using aliases on the internet to mask their true identities.
…..Marchini, who is thought to be in her fifties, runs a buy-to-let property empire from her £1.6m mock-Tudor home in Highgate, a leafy suburb usually associated with liberals…..She is said to have helped organise a “pivotal” meeting between EDL figures and anti-jihad thinkers in July 2009 and recently attended a discussion where the EDL agreed to consider an electoral pact with the right-wing British Freedom party (BFP).
…..Ayling, 57, has been operating under the alias “Alan Lake”. He is an IT expert and was a director of Pacific Capital Investment Management until January this year. The fund was dissolved in August. Last month Ayling was interviewed by officers from Scotland Yard at the behest of Norwegian police who were investigating whether he was a possible “mentor” of Breivik. Paal-Fredrik Kraby, an Oslo police prosecutor, confirmed that “the man known as Alan Lake” had been questioned.
…..In an interview with a Norwegian newspaper nine days ago, Lake denied having any contact with Breivik. However, he admitted to having met a prolific anti-Islam blogger called “Fjordman”. “People ought to read him, he is good,” Lake said. Breivik named Fjordman 111 times in his manifesto.
17th November, 2011
The mass-murdering Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik has been declared insane. In a 243-page psychiatric report following 13 meetings between Breivik and a team of psychiatrists, Breivik has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, a severe psychotic mental disorder.
It has been recommended that Breivik should be indefinitely confined to a secure unit at a psychiatric hospital, potentially for the rest of his life, with reviews every three years to determine if he is still a danger to society. The public prosecutor in the ongoing terrorism investigation told a press conference that the psychiatrists evaluating Breivik’s mental state had “described a person who lives in his own delusional universe”. The report will be formally presented at Breivik’s next court appearance, on 16 April 2012.
As discussed on Pickled Politics here, the English Defence League recently issued a public statement on their official Facebook page finally admitting that their agenda is racially-motivated (it turns out that part of the EDL’s statement was practically identical to the statement made by Anders Breivik during his court appearance just two days previously), and the EDL have also announced a formal alliance with the Far-Right “British Freedom Party”.
It is worth noting that EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) is on record as explicitly stating that he does not think Breivik is insane and that he actually shares some of Breivik’s opinions:
“We share some of his opinions, and his fear, but not what he did in Norway 22 July. I do not think he is insane. I think that his approach was insane. Breivik dared to come forward with his opinions, and was tough, in some regards. People need to understand that Breivik is not alone in these feelings.”
Readers can therefore draw their own conclusions about the implications of the EDL leadership claiming that they share the “opinions”, “fear” and “feelings” of an individual whom psychiatrists have now certified as psychotically insane.
· Two EDL members have now been sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to blow up a British mosque. Full details via EDL News and BBC News.
· It turns out that British Freedom Party leader (and EDL ally) Paul Weston has regularly written articles for the virulently anti-Muslim website “Gates of Vienna”. The website was repeatedly cited in Anders Breivik’s manifesto. In fact, the rhetoric and terminology used by Weston in his articles is very similar indeed to Breivik’s statements in his manifesto (by tests forge severly). Weston himself appears to take no responsibility for the poisonous influence of such propaganda on people like Breivik; instead, in an article cross-published on the EDL’s main website, Weston has bizarrely blamed Jeremy Paxman, the BBC and “the entire political/liberal left” for Breivik’s mass-murdering actions and any similar future atrocities. More details here.
14th November, 2011
The English Defence League issued the following public statement yesterday on the EDL’s official Facebook page where they finally confirmed that they are indeed motivated by racial reasons. If the terminology in the statement sounds familiar, that’s because it’s identical to the explicitly racist propaganda of the BNP, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacist websites such as Stormfront, complete with references to “race”, “dilution”, “genocide”, “indigenous” and “wiping us out as a race”. A screenshot of the EDL’s statement is displayed below:
For the convenience of readers who may wish to quote the statement elsewhere, here is the transcript:
10th November, 2011
More than 170 English Defence League members were arrested in London on Remembrance Day in order to prevent a “breach of the peace”.
The reasons for the arrests were the threats of violence which senior EDL figures had posted on the internet beforehand. Three EDL members who had been arrested were released specifically on police bail, with further inquiries pending.
The most incriminating message of all was posted by Michael Rafferty, a senior EDL leader from the group’s ‘Combined ex-Forces’ (CxF) division. As reported in The Independent, police have confirmed that Rafferty had claimed that the EDL had access to guns and would bring them to London on Remembrance Day.
Rafferty had also claimed that the EDL have snipers and other armed members, and were prepared to open fire against the police. A screenshot of Rafferty’s sinister Facebook message is displayed below, which includes Rafferty’s repeated threats of an armed war being started on the streets of Britain.
Michael Rafferty was subsequently stopped by police in London’s Whitehall area on Remembrance Day and searched for guns, although none were found on him. The EDL had also made direct threats against the Occupy LSX camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, claiming that the protestors had ridiculed what the EDL referred to as “our religion”.
The Guardian have reported that the EDL posted Facebook messages threatening to burn down tents in the Occupy LSX camp if they were still outside St Paul’s on Remembrance Sunday; The Guardian have also confirmed that EDL members tried to enter the camp, with the most recent incident occurring on Thursday night.
Shortly after the arrests of EDL members on Remembrance Day, the EDL released a statement making the following threat against the Police and the British Government:
Of course, making threats is a repeated pattern of behaviour for senior EDL figures.
For example, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”), an ex-BNP member who recently claimed that Islam is a “race”, is on record as recently accusing “every single Muslim” of collective guilt and publicly making a direct threat of EDL-led retribution against what he terms “the Islamic community” en masse. Similarly, The Guardian have confirmed that EDL financier & strategist Alan Lake was the author of a horrifying “Final Solution” blueprint targeting the entire British Muslim population and anyone perceived to be sympathetic towards them, including death threats against British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and the Archbishop of Canterbury (by tests forge richards). Lake is currently being formally investigated by the Norwegian police to ascertain his ideological influence on the terrorist Anders Breivik.
27th September, 2011
· Reuters news agency are reporting that English Defence League financier & strategist Alan Lake is now being formally investigated by the Norwegian police in order to verify if he was an ideological influence on the mass-murdering Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik.
· The Guardian have formally investigated and independently confirmed Alan Lake’s authorship of a “Final Solution” blueprint targeting the entire British Muslim population along with anyone perceived to be sympathetic towards them, including death threats against British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and the Archbishop of Canterbury. You can see a screenshot of Lake’s horrifying “Final Solution” here and here.
· Alan Lake was interviewed by the Daily Mail in 2010 and openly discussed his involvement with the EDL as a financier and strategist.
· Channel 4 News, describing Alan Lake as “the EDL’s chief financier” during their investigation of the EDL’s connections with Anders Breivik, have confirmed that Lake was interviewed on Norwegian television in April 2011. In that interview, Lake confirmed that he has funded the EDL.
· Video footage is available of Alan Lake attending a meeting in London with senior EDL leaders Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”), Kevin Carroll and Roberta Moore, in a video released on 20 March 2011.
15th September, 2011
As recently highlighted by The Guardian, the ugly reality of the English Defence League has been exposed in a newly-published report by Dr Matthew Feldman and Dr Paul Jackson at Northampton University’s Radicalism and New Media Research Group. The report was formally released during a major international conference recently hosted by the RNM; it is based on extensive independent research and is a truly brilliant analysis of all aspects of the EDL. The results are damning to say the least.
The full report can be downloaded for free as a PDF document via the RNM’s website here.
Some of the key findings are as follows (from p.56 of the report):
From the outset, among leaders and followers it is clear that the EDL has had sustained connections with the BNP and other extreme-right groups. Moreover, the EDL might profess itself a single issue, counter-jihadist movement, but its failure to adhere to this line leaves it looking like all previous racist extreme-right groups. This failure makes it even more difficult to ignore the neo-Nazi methods, antecedents and current connections of the EDL’s leaders and its followers.
Consequently, these profiles allow four conclusions. Firstly, the EDL is unarguably connected to the BNP and other far-right groups, whether by previous association or by shared interest. Secondly, some of these far-right individuals have possessed significant weaponry that identifies them as potential ‘lone wolf’ terrorists. Thirdly, EDL leaders and followers have engaged in criminality, especially racially aggravated incidents. Fourthly, the EDL engages in doublespeak that powerfully questions their claim to be a single-issue, non-racist movement.
12th September, 2011
The Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police has paid £20,000 in compensation to Rizwaan Sabir for his wrongful arrest and seven days’ detention under the Terrorism Act 2000 in May 2008.
Mr Sabir – currently a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde researching domestic UK counter-terrorism policy – was arrested after downloading an edited version of the ‘The Al-Qaeda Training Manual’ from a US government website for his postgraduate research as a Masters student at the University of Nottingham.
Sabir subsequently brought proceedings against Nottinghamshire Police for false imprisonment and breaches of the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998.
He also claimed under the Data Protection Act 1998 regarding false information on Nottinghamshire Police records, including a clear but unfounded assertion that Mr Sabir had been convicted of a terrorist offence, which had led to Mr Sabir being subject to numerous stops and searches.
“For more than 3 years, I have been fighting to clear my name and establish that the police were wrong to arrest me and put me through the tortuous experience I suffered at their hands. I have finally succeeded in doing so, and they have been forced to account for the wrong they did to me.”
“But I am one of the lucky ones. I cannot forget all those other innocent people like me who have suffered at the hands of the police but do not have the chance or means to vindicate their names.”
– he said in a press release sent out last night.
8th August, 2011
The English Defence League’s leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) recently gave an interview to the Norwegian media and made the following dubious statements about the mass murdering Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik:
“We share some of his opinions, and his fear, but not what he did in Norway 22 July. I do not think he is insane. I think that his approach was insane…Breivik dared to come forward with his opinions, and was tough, in some regards. People need to understand that Breivik is not alone in these feelings.”
Yaxley-Lennon previously appeared to make a threat at the end of his interviews with the BBC’s Newsnight and CNN shortly after the massacre in Norway, which was immediately noticed by Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman and CNN anchor Becky Anderson. Curiously, Yaxley-Lennon is also on record as making exactly the same claim about Far-Right anti-Muslim terrorism occurring in the United Kingdom “within the next 5 years” several months before Breivik’s attacks in Norway.
A detailed Pickled Politics article about the EDL’s links to Breivik can be read here. More recently, British counter-terrorism officers have confirmed that they are now investigating and monitoring the EDL in the same way that they investigate potential Islamist terrorists, and that this is a direct consequence of Breivik’s murderous actions.
Furthermore, Paul Ray aka “Lionheart”, one of the EDL’s original founders who is being investigated by the Norwegian police for his links to Breivik, has now stated that Breivik is indeed part of a wider Far-Right movement, including possible cells in the UK. The Norwegian police are expanding their investigations in conjunction with Scotland Yard to possibly include the questioning of a number of British citizens. Multiple photographs of various EDL supporters brandishing guns have also recently surfaced, and some examples can be seen via Hope Not Hate here.
6th August, 2011
Pickled Politics senior editor Sunny Hundal briefly mentioned the following subject in his recent article discussing the fact that the atrocity in Norway highlights “a new form of prejudice”, but it’s worth providing further details. Pamela Geller is the American author of the virulently anti-Muslim blog Atlas Shrugs and the executive director of the organisation “Stop Islamization of America”; like SIOA’s co-founder Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, Geller was repeatedly cited in the 1500-page manifesto of the Far-Right Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik (described by the Norwegian police as a “Christian fundamentalist”).
Geller herself, who is originally from a Jewish background but describes mainstream liberal Jews as “lost souls” and “self-hating wretches”, was given a huge public platform by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News last year during the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy. She has consistently been at the forefront of promoting extremely bigoted anti-Muslim propaganda; you can read a comprehensive list of examples via Media Matters for America here and here, and via The American Muslim here.
It turns out that Pamela Geller received an email in 2007 from a Norwegian contact who sounds disturbingly similar to Breivik. Geller approvingly published the email on her Atlas Shrugs blog on 24 June 2007 without naming the author; in response to a query from one of the commenters there, Geller confirmed that she was deliberately hiding the author’s identity so that he would not be investigated and prosecuted. After the recent massacre in Norway, Geller quietly edited her article in order to remove the email’s explicit references to weapons, ammunition and equipment; unfortunately for Geller, her actions have been noticed by multiple readers and the original unedited version of the article had already been cached elsewhere. (More details, including relevant URL links, can be found here).
Therefore, this has the following possible implications:
1. Pamela Geller had personally been in contact with Anders Breivik and even promoted his email on her own website, but she deliberately hid his identity in order to protect him (and did not report him to the authorities) despite being aware of Breivik’s extremely violent rhetoric and the fact that he was stockpiling weapons & ammunition;
2. Alternatively, Geller was not emailed by Breivik himself but there is currently another violent Norwegian out there with aims and attitudes which are disturbingly similar to those of Breivik, and whose identity Geller is deliberately hiding.
4th August, 2011
Looks like Sweden has woken up from its one-dimensional approach to extremism:
Stockholm – Sweden has drawn up a plan to fight extremism in response to attacks in neighbouring Norway that killed 77 people last month, government ministers wrote in an opinion piece published Friday.
They identified the fringes of three extremist groups as the most dangerous: the white-power far-right, the far-left and Islamists.
“We need to have a broad concept of violent extremism and not limit our line of vision,” Reinfeldt, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask and Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson wrote in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. “There are many similarities in the processes that lead individuals to use violence to reach political goals, regardless of the political or religious content of their extreme ideas,” they wrote.
This is a much better approach than one that just focuses on Islamist extremists. Wonder if UK will now also take note.
3rd August, 2011
The Sun has done some good digging today:
TWISTED BNP chief Chris Hurst gives a Nazi salute at a fascist gig by the singer who inspired massacre monster Anders Breivik.
Hurst, the BNP’s London Regional Secretary, cried “Sieg heil” as pop girl Saga sang the Norwegian fiend’s favourite songs at a rally in Hungary.
The warped 22-year-old reckoned the victims were needed to “breed” to increase the white population.
And blaming immigration for Breivik’s shocking slaughter, he added: “Isolated incidents like that are going to happen more and more as the problem gets worse.”
Read the full piece here
Two points to note: he blames immigration for Breivik’s actions, echoing other people on the right who predict more such far-right terrorism on the basis of immigration.
Second, note how he also focuses on the demographics of white identity versus minorities.
1st August, 2011
I rarely agree with Abraham Foxman of the Anti Defamation League, but he has written an excellent piece for the Washington Post:
Europe and the United States have been no strangers to violence motivated by anti-Islamic sentiments over the past decade. Muslims have been assaulted and killed, their mosques and institutions damaged and destroyed. Yet the majority of the attacks have fallen into only a few categories:
Hate crimes typically motivated by culturally or religiously based anti-Islamic prejudice.
Acts of retaliatory or reactionary violence.
Violence by white supremacists, who usually hate the race and religion of the majority of Muslims.
For example, this month Texas executed a white supremacist, Mark Anthony Stroman, who in 2001 targeted and fatally shot convenience store clerks of perceived Middle Eastern appearance in “retaliation” for the Sept. 11 attacks.
The attacks in Norway seem to stem from a different source. They are the first to emerge from a relatively new, specifically anti-Islamic ideology that moves beyond religious or racial prejudices to incorporate anti-Islamic sentiment as the focal point of a larger worldview.
Growing numbers of people in Europe and the United States subscribe to this belief system; in some instances it borders on hysteria. Adherents of this ideological Islamophobia view Islam as an existential threat to the world, especially to the “West.”
This belief system goes far beyond anti-Islamic prejudice based on simple religious or racial grounds. In a sense, it parallels the creation of an ideological — and far more deadly — form of anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on the backs of the previously dominant cultural and religious forms of anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, Melanie Phillips here believes this was some lone madman and we don’t really know what drive him to kill all those people. Yeah, right.
Two of the people Foxman mentions are Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. I’ll come back to Spencer later, but here is the latest from latter – Pam Geller Justifies Breivik’s Terror: Youth Camp Had More ‘Middle Eastern or Mixed’ Races Than ‘Pure Norwegian’.
It turns out Geller also posted a letter a few years back from a Norwegian fan who said he was “stockpiling ammunition” and preparing for the upcoming battle. She said she had deliberately taken his name off the email she posted to make sure he wasn’t traced back.
29th July, 2011
The Guardian have now confirmed that English Defence League financier Alan Lake was indeed the author of a horrific “Final Solution” blueprint targeting Britain’s entire Muslim population, anyone perceived to be sympathetic towards them, and senior members of the current British government such as Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg. The Archbishop of Canterbury was also included in the list of targets for execution. Lake wanted to open a debate on the subject and therefore requested in his message that supporters should provide further suggestions for people who should be killed.
The millionaire businessman Alan Lake, who wrote “it would be great to see them executed or tortured to death”, posted the message on his “4Freedoms” website on 23 May 2010. According to The Guardian, although Lake removed the references to execution and torture the next day, he still claims that “the fundamental point of that piece is correct” and that he is “holding people responsible for the consequences of their actions”.
As discussed in the Pickled Politics article summarising recent developments involving the EDL’s public response to the atrocity in Norway along with the organisation’s connections to the terrorist Anders Breivik (described by the Norwegian police as a “Christian fundamentalist”), during his BBC interview with Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman on 25 July 2011, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) claimed that he does not know Alan Lake despite the fact that Lake himself has publicly admitted to his considerable involvement with the organisation. A detailed overview of Lake’s background, his affiliations with multiple extreme Far-Right groups and Christian fundamentalist organisations, and his extensive activities in both Europe and the United States to further the EDL’s agenda can be read via Hope Not Hate/Searchlight here.
A screenshot of the original message by Alan Lake is displayed below (via EDL News and 1 Million United). Along with the threats of extreme violence, particularly noticeable are the similarities to the virulent hostility towards Muslims en masse and the death threats against politicians which are also present in Anders Breivik’s 1500-page “manifesto”. Incidentally, according to Channel 4 News, it turns out that Lake was interviewed on Norwegian television in April 2011.
26th July, 2011
A compilation of continuing developments focusing on the English Defence League’s public response to the atrocity along with Breivik’s own connections to the EDL :
1. Fresh from his court appearance during which he was convicted of leading a violent brawl involving 100 football supporters, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) was interviewed by Becky Anderson on CNN’s “Connect the World” programme on Monday evening. The anchor noticed what appeared to be a threat at the end of the interview and challenged Yaxley-Lennon about it. The full transcript of the CNN interview (link provided above) also includes the observations of a former Neo-Nazi who was interviewed immediately after Yaxley-Lennon, both in relation to the massacre in Norway and his damning response to Yaxley-Lennon’s own anti-Islam assertions on behalf of the EDL, especially the close parallels with historical Far-Right bigotry towards Jews.
2. Yaxley-Lennon was interviewed in further detail by Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight later on Monday evening. Along with refusing to answer most of Paxman’s questions, Yaxley-Lennon recited almost exactly the same memorised statements that he’d made on CNN, from his “words of condolence” at the beginning to what appeared to be a threat at the end. He became increasingly belligerent and aggressive as the interview progressed, and by the end he was loudly ranting. Paxman also noticed the “threat” and challenged Yaxley-Lennon about it.
· Furthermore, Yaxley-Lennon told Paxman that he does not know Daryl Hobson, despite the fact that Hobson is one of the EDL’s main organisers. A photo of Yaxley-Lennon with Hobson is displayed at the top of this PP article (via Hope Not Hate/Searchlight). Hobson himself has also confirmed that the terrorist Anders Breivik was in contact with the EDL.
· Yaxley-Lennon also told Paxman that the millionaire businessman Alan Lake does not finance the EDL, despite the fact that Lake himself has now publicly admitted to funding the organisation. A detailed profile of Lake can be read via Hope Not Hate/Searchlight here, including details of Lake’s extensive involvement with the EDL and the scale of his international activities to further their agenda.
25th July, 2011
The BNP and EDL were under greater pressure last night after their connections with the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik were laid bare:
The Norwegian fanatic has been in close contact with hundreds of British right-wing extremists for two years, it emerged last night. He chatted about ‘tactics’ on social networking sites with hundreds of members of the English Defence League (EDL) and the British National Party (BNP) and attended demonstrations and meetings here… Breivik has claimed he was recruited by two English Right-wing extremists at a UK meeting in 2002 attended by seven others.
It is good to see that far-right groups are being put under increasing scrutiny. For years we have seen neo-Nazis and their allies convicted of various terrorism-related charges, from plotting terror campaigns to detonating nail bombs. Yet much of the mainstream media has rarely focused on this threat, apart from when trials were going on. Even then, the coverage has seemed muted at times. This should be a wake up call for many that there are armed and dangerous far-right extremists out there, who are willing to slaughter their fellow citizens in the name of their twisted ideology.
Nor should the EDL and BNP be ignored in this debate. Whilst they will publically disown convicted terrorists like Anders Breivik, there is a significant overlap in many areas of their respective ideologies, which is why Anders Breivik was able to get on with so many BNP and EDL activists.
7th June, 2011
The Labour MP Tom Harris writes:
I got it wrong and I apologise. I should not have jumped to conclusions, especially not so early on in such a terrible sequence of events.
But (and of course there’s a “but” or I wouldn’t be writing this), the palpable relief that swept through the left when the identity of the terrorist was made known – a 32-year-old Norwegian christian fundamentalist – was revealing. Here, thank God, was a terrorist we can all hate without equivocation: white, christian and far right-wing.
When he first heard about the attacks, he pointed the finger at Muslims. There was little evidence for it but you know, they’re fair game right? When it turned out it wasn’t some Islamist terrorist, he issued a reluctant apology, and was criticised quite heavily for it on Twitter. So in an effort to make himself look further like a prat, he goes ahead and writes the above.
When the recent terrorist bombs went off in Mumbai – I was reading the news on Twitter. As some may recall, I instantly started live-tweeting news from Mumbai even though everyone else was talking about the phone-hacking scandal. I didn’t speculate about who it was, though the Indian govt blamed Islamic militants (I reported this). It is likely to be Islamic militants, though in the past Hindu militants have threatened bombs attacks to counter Muslims (Yes, really). I didn’t speculate however about who would be “relieved” by such an attack because such discussion would be highly insensitive and… well, just idiotic.
The disgusting blog-post by Tom Harris above is exactly that. Apparently people aren’t horrified by the deaths and the bombs. Apparently, people aren’t talking about it because they were horrified by his hate-filled rants and his Neo-Nazi ‘manifesto’.
No, making those kind of assumptions would be to require that sometimes people have benign motives. Tom Harris can’t assume that, he has his pride to think about.
So let me get this straight. If the next terrorist attack was by a Muslim, would it be legitimate to accuse Tom Harris of being “relieved” that it wasn’t a white-Christian terrorist so he could hate with impunity? Is that the level of discussion that a member of Parliament should be at? It boggles the mind.
Update: Melanie Phillips echoes Tom Harris:
The supposed beliefs of the Norway massacre’s perpetrator has got the left in general wetting itself in delirium at this apparently heaven-sent opportunity to take down those who fight for life, liberty and western civilisation against those who would destroy it.
He’s in good company.
6th June, 2011
Prevention is better than a cure. A proverb that was probably the inspiration for government strategy intended to combat the spread of extremist Islamic views, Prevent.
As Theresa May calls for Universities to drop their complacency and be more aware of the ideologies being bred on their campuses, I ask, how do you even prevent terrorism?
Clearly, I’m not equipped to know what exactly motivates somebody towards extremist religious views. But as a theologian (well, a philosophy and theology graduate), and as a 23 year old British Indian, I have my own insight – be it correct or not.
The key for me is identity. A sense of belonging. When economic motivations found Indians and Pakistanis entering the UK en masse, I guess identity wasn’t exactly something the travellers considered. But, as a member of the transitional generation I’ve witnessed the difficulties young people have had in this respect. My parents both predominantly grew up in England so it is a problem that I, personally, have never faced.
Though many peers in my generation have found it difficult to marry a traditional Indian / Pakistani upbringing, usually founded in religion, with life growing up in a Western culture that has endured the 60s 70s and 80s.
5th June, 2011
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has criticised universities for not doing enough to tackle extremism on campus. The comments come ahead of the release of the updated Prevent (terrorism) strategy:
“I think for too long there’s been complacency around universities,” she said. “I don’t think they have been sufficiently willing to recognise what can be happening on their campuses and the radicalisation that can take place. I think there is more that universities can do.” Mrs May said universities had to “send very clear messages” and “ask themselves some questions about what happens on their campuses”.
She also criticised the Federation of Student Islamic Societies for not challenging extremism sufficiently. “They need to be prepared to stand up and say that organisations that are extreme or support extremism or have extremist speakers should not be part of their grouping,” Mrs May said.
Universities should (and often do) make clear what is acceptable, and societies breaching these rules should have their funding withdrawn and barred from using campus facilities. But beyond this, there are limits to what they can do. There are dozens of societies on campus, and universities cannot be expected to vet all their speakers and events. Nor can they ban societies unless they get proof about what they are up to, which can be difficult. Universities should stop societies using campus facilities from hosting extremists if they are warned in advance (with proof provided), but they lack the resources to do much more.
Some of the Prevent proposals do seem more well thought out however; the government is going to withdraw funding from a number of groups, on the basis that although they do not support terrorism, they are not moderate. This is right, as it moves away from the narrow ideal that the world can be divided between those who support terrorism and those who don’t.
The greater focus on white far-right terrorism is welcome too, as there have been a number of far-right terrorists convicted. It also helps dispel the myth that Muslims are the only ones capable of supporting and carrying out terrorist attacks, which encourages people to ‘other’ Muslims by viewing them as uniquely dangerous.
3rd May, 2011
Today’s Observer has this nugget:
The Conservative manifesto named Hizb ut-Tahrir as a group it wanted to proscribe; in 2009 the then shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, promised to “immediately ban” the group if the Tories were elected.
But they won’t. The new Prevent review – on how the government deals with counter-terrorism – will avoid anything on Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Its hardly surprising though. I’ve been pointing out for ages that banning HuT is like banning the BNP – idiotic and an attack on free speech. But while banning the latter would have raised hackles amongst Conservatives, attempts to ban HuT have been met with embarrassed silence by Conservatives who claimed to be for defending free speech.
The main observation in the article is that:
Home Office sources say that Cameron has quashed Nick Clegg’s argument for a more tolerant attitude to Muslim groups by insisting on a strategy centred upon the notion that violent extremism is incubated within the ideology of non-violent extremism.
The shift in approach will be outlined when the government’s counter-terrorism strategy is unveiled by the home secretary, Theresa May, on Tuesday. Central to the Prevent strategy is a broader definition of extremism that will be extended beyond groups condoning violence to those considered non-violent but whose views, such as the advocacy of sharia law, fail to “reflect British mainstream values”.
I suppose I’ll have to dust off my arguments on why this is a bad idea and makes us all the more unsafe.
25th April, 2011
There are lots of different ways to assess the cost of the ‘War on Terror’ over the last ten years.
One of the cost to people’s security and way of life; i.e., numerous terrorism acts in the UK, Patriot Act in the US, increased security measures at airports, suspicion at fellow citizens, terrorist scares etc.
Another is the loss of life; not just the Britons and the Americans who died on 9/11 and 7/7 but the thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghanis who died as a result of bombs and raids. The innocent dead in Spain, in Bali and terrorist attacks in other Middle Eastern countries such as Syria.
Then there is the financial cost of the WoT. Ezra Klein at the WashPo says this is what Bin Laden really wanted to see escalated:
“We, alongside the mujaheddin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt,” he later explained. The campaign taught bin Laden a lot. For one thing, superpowers fall because their economies crumble, not because they’re beaten on the battlefield. For another, superpowers are so allergic to losing that they’ll bankrupt themselves trying to conquer a mass of rocks and sand. This was bin Laden’s plan for the United States, too.
And how much did this cost the US alone?
Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the price tag on the Iraq War alone will surpass $3 trillion. Afghanistan likely amounts to another trillion or two. Add in the build-up in homeland security spending since 9/11 and you’re looking at another trillion. And don’t forget the indirect costs of all this turmoil: The Federal Reserve, worried about a fear-induced recession, slashed interest rates after the attack on the World Trade Center, and then kept them low to combat skyrocketing oil prices, a byproduct of the war in Iraq. That decade of loose monetary policy may well have contributed to the credit bubble that crashed the economy in 2007 and 2008.
Then there’s the post-9/11 slowdown in the economy, the time wasted in airports, the foregone returns on investments we didn’t make, the rise in oil prices as a result of the Iraq War, the cost of rebuilding Ground Zero, health care for the first responders and much, much more.
Different people will of course focus on different aspects to this war. All are important costs. And in each case its arguable that the cost incurred in order to “defeat Bin Laden” was exactly what Bin Laden would have wanted and was way in excess of what anyone anticipated.
21st March, 2011
This is just a summary:
» 172 prisoners are still held there.
Previous inmates included an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim.
One man was transferred to the facility simply because he was a mullah and could have had “special knowledge of the Taliban”. He was released after a year. Another was shipped there because he knew the areas of Khowst and Kabul since he was a taxi driver”.
An al-Jazeera journalist was held six years so he could be interrogated about the Arabic news network.
» US authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence [there is going to be a massive fallout from this]
» A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. [goodbye Habeas Corpus!]
» Why Obama has found it difficult to close down Gitmo:
The range of those still held captive includes detainees who have been admittedly tortured so badly they can never be successfully tried, informers who must be protected from reprisals, and a group of Chinese Muslims from the Uighur minority who have nowhere to go.
A trial of these prisoners and an expose of their conditions, the US army and Pentagon no doubt pointed out, would severely damage the credibility of the US govt itself.
» How the leaks came about.
The NYT approached NPR and the Guardian with files leaked to them. But WikiLeaks was already working with the Telegraph, Washington Post, McClatchy newspapers, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel, according to HuffPo. The latter group have now been forced to bring forward publication date.
» While the Guardian has led with how badly the prisoners were treated, the Telegraph focuses on what al-Qaeda were planning.
* A senior Al-Qaeda commander claimed that the terrorist group has hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe which will be detonated if Bin-Laden is ever caught or assassinated. The US authorities uncovered numerous attempts by Al-Qaeda to obtain nuclear materials and fear that terrorists have already bought uranium. Sheikh Mohammed told interrogators that Al-Qaeda would unleash a “nuclear hellstorm”.
* The 20th 9/11 hijacker, who did not ultimately travel to America and take part in the atrocity, has revealed that Al-Qaeda was seeking to recruit ground-staff at Heathrow amid several plots targeting the world’s busiest airport. Terrorists also plotted major chemical and biological attacks against this country.
The Washington Post takes a similar angle.
» Glenn Greenwald says:
WikiLeaks is responsible for more newsworthy scoops over the last year than all media outlets combined: it’s not even a close call. And if Bradley Manning is the leaker, he has done more than any other human being in our lifetime to bring about transparency and shine a light on what military and government power is doing.
That is also spot on.
4th March, 2011
Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of the Security Service (also known as MI5), has suggested that the British government should be talking to al-Qaeda:
The baroness said she hoped people were trying to talk to “people on the edges of al-Qaeda”. “There won’t be a Waterloo or an El-Alamein,” she added.
Critics of the “war on terror” have argued that the torture of terror suspects and the continuing use of Guantanamo Bay for detainees has led to a propaganda victory for al-Qaeda. Baroness Manningham-Buller says hearts and minds are critical in combating terrorism.
“I think making sure we hold to our values, our ethical standards, our laws, and are not tempted to go down a route which others, in my view have made the profound mistake of going down, means in the longer run we’ll have a chance from that moral authority of addressing some of the underlying causes of these problems,” she said.
There are some reasonable arguments against this. Some see talking to an enemy as akin to surrendering (thanks to events like Neville Chamberlain’s disastrous attempt to negotiate with Nazi Germany). Other might feel that treating with al-Qaeda legitimises a gang of criminals and murders. There is also the question of whether a group of people willing to blow themselves up can be reasoned with, or that what they want can or should be granted. Even if negotiations were successful, would the cells around the world listen to a leadership who many believe have limited control over them?
Yet it is still worth a try. Al-Qaeda is not a monolithic block; clearly the commanders (including Bin Laden) aren’t too keen to join their suicidal followers in the afterlife. Nor has Al-Qaeda been crushed by military force, and, as the Baroness says, it is very unlikely that there will a decisive battle. Negotiation should just be one more weapon in the arsenal in the fight against al-Qaeda and affiliates. Detaching some of them with acceptable promises (whatever they may be) weakens the organisation.
3rd March, 2011
Some further disturbing facts about the English Defence League (EDL) have recently come to light:
1. It turns out that one of the EDL’s founders, Richard Price, has a criminal record for downloading child pornography. Police discovered multiple images on Price’s computer when they raided his home after he had broken police lines and engaged in threatening behaviour at an EDL rally (for which he was jailed for 3 months). Price later admitted to downloading child pornography and was placed on the Sex Offenders Register. To make matters even worse, the EDL’s current leader Stephen Yaxley Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) actually attempted to defend him, and only backtracked after an outcry from other EDL members who had become aware of Price’s actions.
Stephen Yaxley Lennon himself, an ex-BNP member and a convicted criminal who is actually the son of Irish immigrants to England, is of course now on record as admitting to being vehemently hostile towards Islam in general, not just extremist interpretations of the faith (ie. “militant Islam”). He publicly confirmed his stance when he was interviewed by the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight in February 2011.
2. The EDL has links to the Jewish Task Force (JTF), a Far-Right American organisation whose leader Victor Vancier is a convicted terrorist on multiple counts of attacking targets in the United States. Until 1978, Vancier was the national chairman of the “Jewish Defense League”, which the FBI has formally designated as a terrorist organisation. Vancier is banned from entering Israel due to his affiliations with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League. The leader of the EDL’s “Jewish Division”, Roberta Moore, has stated on her Facebook page that the EDL intends to work with the JTF; her comment also included a URL link to an audio file on the JTF’s website, in which Vancier confirmed that the EDL had contacted the JTF and that they have agreed that they want to work together on “joint projects”.
3. Numerous photographs of the EDL’s “Birmingham Division” have become publicly available, several of which can be seen below. The EDL members involved are posing (apparently with firearms) in front of a number of flags, one of which is associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The UVF is a loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland which is banned in the Republic of Ireland and is formally designated as a terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom. From 1966 until it officially ended its armed campaign in 2007, the UVF engaged in numerous acts of violence including multiple bombings, ultimately killing more than 480 people, the vast majority of whom were Catholic civilians.
At the time of writing, the EDL plans to hold a demonstration in Birmingham on 19 March 2011.
19th February, 2011
Earlier in the week Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian member of the Pakistani government, was murdered because of his support for a Christian woman facing execution and for his desire to reform the blasphemy law. He became the second high profile politician to be killed following the murder of Salman Taseer earlier in the year. As Pakistani blogger Raza Rumi put it at Pak Tea House:
It is time for Pakistan’s political parties to take stock of this situation and get their own ideological house in order before they are wiped out as well. Pakistani state organs have been appeasing the Right and Islamofasicsts for too long. It is time to stand up. If they think they can be safe then they ARE WRONG.
PTH condemns this murder and recalls that Pakistan was not created for this violence and bigotry that is now our halmark and has made us a joke in the international community. Taseer’s murderers have to be booked, Benazir Bhutto’s murderers have to be brought to book and Bhatti’s murder should not go to waste. Wake up Pakistan and our appeal to Pakistanis: stand up for your rights for living in a secure, tolerant society.
Liberals and secularists are becoming an endangered species in Pakistan.
« previous posts
Universities UK, an umbrella body for British universities, has released a report (full PDF here) examining what can and should be done about extremist/radical speakers who are invited to speak by university societies. The report recommends a number of actions:
* Review current protocols/policies on speaker meetings. The report highlights examples of checklist-forms being used when dealing with speaker invitations.
* Identify an appropriate senior person to lead on issues of campus security.
* Ensure that all involved in making decisions in relation to campus security, academic freedom, free speech and equality rights are familiar with the legal requirements operating in this area.
* Work with the students’ union to provide clear information to students and student societies about the rights and responsibilities of the institution, the students’ union, student societies and students in relation to academic freedom, free speech and equality rights.
* Develop and maintain a mechanism for regular dialogue with relevant external organisations such as the police, local authorities and community groups.
The report has already drawn criticism from some quarters, who feel that it does not do enough to prevent societies from inviting hate speakers. In many ways, this is understandable. The checklist system seems simplistic (“have you ever compared Jews to cockroaches?” and so on), and given the sort of unpleasant individuals who have been invited to speak at universities in the past, it is clear why it is a good idea not to invite people like that in the future. Since universities fund societies and provide facilities fro them, it is right they should have a say in the matter. A Muslim campaigner who challenges extremist speakers argues that the report fails to address the difficulty in challenging such speakers:
“I totally agree that freedom of speech includes freedom of speech for awful people, but in Birmingham no institution exists to address these people. If the Islamic society hosts an extremist preacher, all the effort to make people understand what’s going on comes from outside the university. When there’s a radical speaker, usually the Jewish society flags it up if it happens to be anti-semitic.”