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    New counter-terrorism strategy

    by Sunny on 23rd March, 2009 at 10:11 am    

    On Tuesday, the government is publishing an updated version of its counter-terrorism strategy: Contest 2. Contest 1 had a four-pronged approach to counter-terrorism: protect, pursue, prepare and prevent. The Prevent [Violent Extremism] strategy involved spending between £70m and £90m in supporting local Muslim groups that could help de-radicalise extremists and pull them back from the brink of becoming terrorists.

    So far so good in theory, except that a series of blunders, highlighted and amplified by various journalists, bloggers and think-tanks have forced the government to redefine its rules of engagement. The new rules, leaked to the Guardian last month, stated people would be branded as ‘extremists’ if they believed in certain things such as Shariah law or that Islam banned homosexuality.

    So for the rest of the week you’re likely to see much discussion of counter-terrorism on here and across the media. For example, today, the Guardian has two pieces:
    60,000 train to deal with terror attacks
    Course to teach imams about cohesion

    I’ve been planning to write about the PVE agenda for a while, and the issues surrounding it, so this is a good week. But for a start you can discuss the two articles above. I’ll post something more on this tomorrow.

      |     |   Add to   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Islamists, Terrorism

    28 Comments below   |  

    1. platinum786 — on 23rd March, 2009 at 10:49 am  

      As an idea, both schemes seem good, but you don’t really know until you get into the details of them.

      PVE as a concept sounded good. for those who have managed to negociate it’s tricky waters, and got hold of funding, they’ve mostly put it to good use. The problem is, PVE got a lot of hate thrown at it, by the DailyMail kind and by Hizb ut tahrir (they’re best buddies really i reckon).

      People who wanted to work with the fund have also gotten a lot of hate thrown at them, by both sides. It was seen to have an agenda to de-Muslimize people, by the extremists, or to appease people, by the right wing.

      To me it seemed like the politicans expected it to fix things straight away. there is almost an expectation that you know straight away who is an extremist and you change them, whereas in reality what you do is try to prevent people wandering into circles where they are with extremists. One problem I find is that people who turn to extremists and I classify HT as extremists, are kids who want an identity, religion is part of that identity, and they find these guys more approachable than Mosques. To get them away, you need to make mosques approachable as places of religious knowledge, not talkshops for community politics. For that you need Islamic classes etc, something PVE doesn’t fund. In Derby we’ve managed to turn our mosques around, a lot of money has been put in by the community to have real Islamic lessons, the non traditional types.

      The problem with PVE is, if the PolicyExchange guidelines become rules and government policy, expect to lose a lot of people from your circle. People won’t compromise their political and religious beleifs, nor should they. Firstly you lose all credbility and secondly, as i’ve mentioned time and time again, the radical element only are successful in approaching Muslim youth, because they provide them with their own poisonous version of a political and islamic indentity, which the people approached lack.

      The Muslim community needs to be more active in providing it’s youth an identity, part of which is about being British, part of which is about politics, and part of which is about religion which they bang on about so much, yet neglect to teach entirely.
      Regarding Imam training, I think it’s an excellent idea. It depends on who the Imam is and what level of education he has as to how effective it will be, but if it is untainted by an agenda, the course is very much a part of what is required. I work with a guy who is interested in setting up an Imam school or Islamic university as he calls it. I’m not going to name him as being associated with my E-persona is probably not a good thing for high profile people, i am afterall, somewhat naughty on the web. It’ll be interesting to see what people of that kind of circle think of this course. I mean he’s a man who could be teaching and creating the course.

      As for training people to spot terrorists. I’m skeptical. How do you spot a terrorist?

      - Looks like a Muslim
      - Is carrying a bomb or AK-47 or Rocket Launcher
      - Is hysterically reciting arabic (not on the phone to wife)

      I don’t know, how does it work?

    2. Jai — on 23rd March, 2009 at 11:36 am  

      As for training people to spot terrorists. I’m skeptical. How do you spot a terrorist?

      - Looks like a Muslim
      - Is carrying a bomb or AK-47 or Rocket Launcher
      - Is hysterically reciting arabic (not on the phone to wife)

      There is an absolutely brilliant episode of 30 Rock where Tina Fey thinks one of her Muslim neighbours is “showing all the signs of being a terrorist” and ends up getting him arrested by reporting him to Homeland Security.

      Turns out the guy had actually just been training for the American version of The Krypton Factor and had absolutely loved the United States. Well, until Tina shafted him, of course…..

    3. blah — on 23rd March, 2009 at 11:48 am  


      “As for training people to spot terrorists. I’m skeptical. How do you spot a terrorist?

      - Looks like a Muslim”

      Ah but what does a Muslim look like?

    4. platinum786 — on 23rd March, 2009 at 12:06 pm  

      Prayer hat?

      My point exactly.

    5. Jai — on 23rd March, 2009 at 12:32 pm  

      Beard and prayer hat are optional. Simply “brown” is enough in the eyes of some people these days for them to assume the guy is a Muslim. And not simply “Muslim” either, but also frequently automatically assumed to secretly be the disgruntled radicalised kind.

      The “public image PR problem” isn’t helped by loudmouths from Al-Muj either, who end up drowning out the more chilled-out majority because of all the extra media coverage they get.

      I don’t know. In the absence of his late great uncle, maybe someone should fly over Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and get him to do a series of massive high-profile qawwali concerts at the 02 arena in London (or somwhere similar), accompanied with lots of coverage and interviews in the mainstream British media. Might help to rectify some of the stereotypes, and it would also have the added bonus of pulling the rug out from under the feet of Al-Muj/HuT and the Wahhabis etc. *shrug*

    6. platinum786 — on 23rd March, 2009 at 12:57 pm  

      It’ll only happen slowly, there is no quick fix, no pope we can whip out and hide behind etc. I think we need to copy the models of old. Islamic societies in the past spent a lot of effort translating works of science, literature etc of other cultures into their own languages.

      The Saudi’s spend a lot of money and effort printing books about their understanding of things and pushing them, helping provide a library for religious books for the HT nutters to hide behind, books which are used to guide blind sheep with.

      It’s high time Muslims from other schools of thought, took the time to translate their books into languages others including people like me who are most fluent in English can understand.

      How many of you asians have come across poets such as Bulleh shah, or Rumi. both men where poets, philosophers and scholars of Islam. They used poetry as a means to spread their message. Great if you read Urdu, you’ll find volumes of the stuff, not s great if your parents read urdu and your British born and English is the language your acedemically best it.

      I’s time those books were translated to English, so that people could try to understand the poetry and the message behind it.

    7. Jai — on 23rd March, 2009 at 2:00 pm  

      How many of you asians have come across poets such as Bulleh shah, or Rumi. both men where poets, philosophers and scholars of Islam.

      Bulleh Shah (and the music based on his poetry) is actually very famous amongst North Indians, especially Punjabis. I’ve mentioned him numerous times on PP too, most recently here:

      I’m aware that he’s also still well-known amongst people in Pakistan, although I’m not in a position to say if this is also the case amongst the British Pakistani contingent.

      Rumi is also fairly well-known amongst Indians, albeit these days probably more commonly amongst people back in India who are into medieval history or the considerable cultural legacy of that era. Over here in the UK, you can easily get English translations of his work in places like Waterstones, both in the actual stores themselves and via the company’s website ( ) . I’ve read translations of his poetry myself, albeit a few years ago.

      I agree completely that both of these individuals (and other similar historical figures) and their work needs to have a much higher profile amongst younger British Asian Muslims in general and amongst the mainstream British population as a whole.

    8. platinum786 — on 23rd March, 2009 at 2:06 pm  

      The thing is, people like my Mum will know about Bulleh shah and will have the stories and works, but the British born generations have little knowledge of this, and for people of central and southern Asian descent (from Bangladesh to Iran and Afghanistan even), this is a part of our culture and identity, something they can be proud of.

    9. damon — on 23rd March, 2009 at 2:20 pm  

      When I read such clear sighted analysis from the likes of Sunny, I do dispare a bit about how the rest of the UK population is just running in that wake.

    10. dave bones — on 23rd March, 2009 at 7:58 pm  

      Bakri says its Sheik Google you’ve got to worry about. I would imagine he is right.

    11. David Jones — on 23rd March, 2009 at 7:58 pm  

      branded as ‘extremists’ if they believed in certain things such as Shariah law

      Shariah is extreme.

    12. Roger — on 23rd March, 2009 at 8:28 pm  

      “if they believed …that Islam banned homosexuality.”
      And the common belief is not that islam bans homosexuality as in saying it is a sin and people shouldn’t take part in homosexual activity. The common belief is that islam bans homosexuality as in saying that people who engage in homosexual activity should be tortured to death under shariah.
      Wanting a caliphate, equally, is desiring to pay loyalty to a foreign power with aspirations to eventually take over the U.K. I think we’ve got pretty good reason to distrust people who think like that.

    13. MaidMarian — on 23rd March, 2009 at 10:27 pm  

      Sunny - I look forward to reading the forthcoming article, but perhaps a different angle might be interesting. What should be done.

      It is the easiest thing in the world to find fault. Granted - there is a lot to fault, but as you say - good in theory. You talk about, ‘blunders,’ but so what? Is the bad really outweighing the good? I don’t know, but I am not going to jump up and down because, ‘journalists, bloggers and think-tanks,’ say so.

      What should be done, and by that I mean out in the real world where there are acutal Sun/Express readers, Muslims with chips on their shoulder, pressure on government that, ’something must be done,’ and so on.

      I think that the imam/cohesion course idea sounded quite positive. I do not claim to have a good idea and there probably is no right and wrong answer.

      What positive things could be done in the real world?

    14. Sunny — on 24th March, 2009 at 1:22 am  

      A good question MM - I’m going to try and flesh that out this week…

    15. Gargoyle — on 24th March, 2009 at 12:01 pm  

      Actually, I heard my first ‘anti-terrorist” ad on capital radio this morning.

      Something like: “This is the sound of a bomb NOT going off”….bla bla bla “All because Mr so and so, noticed his neighbour buying copious amounts of liquid fertilizer”

      I hope there aren’t that many muslim allotments owners is suburban London today, out with there back-packs of fertilizer and barrows of grow-bags?


    16. Jai — on 24th March, 2009 at 12:48 pm  


      That episode of 30 Rock I mentioned in #2 doesn’t sound so unrealistic anymore, does it ? ;)

      In a nutshell, Tina Fey’s character had spotted her neighbour ‘conspiratorially’ whispering away to a fellow Muslim in Arabic, seen him practising on some kind of assault course, and noticed a large map on a wall on his apartment with various ‘targets’ highlighted. In her paranoid state, she completely grabbed the wrong end of the stick and ended up accidentally shopping him to the US Government.

      Looks like that ad on Capital Radio risks triggering numerous cases of life imitating art…..

      John Smith: “Hello, MI5 ? My name’s John Smith. I’d like to report a neighbour as a suspected terrorist”.

      MI5: “What evidence do you have ?”

      JS: “Well, he’s a Muslim…..actually he’s Asian, but I’m pretty sure he’s a Muslim anyway, most of them are, aren’t they…..And I’ve seen him coming back from the local Homebase with lots of fertiliser.”

      MI5: “Anything else ?”

      JS: “Lots of digging in the back garden. Lots and lots and lots of digging. I don’t know what the hell he’s buried down there, maybe it’s some weapons or he’s honour-killed his daughter or he’s hiding Osama bin Laden in an underground bunker or something”.

      MI5: “We’ll look into it. Thanks for letting us know, sir. We’ll be in touch”.

      JS: “No probs. God save the Queen”.

      *A few days later*

      MI5: “Hello, Mr Smith ? This is MI5. We’ve got an update for you in relation to your neighbour”.

      JS: “Thank God. Did you nail the bastard ?”

      MI5: “Er…..Just to let you know, we’ve spoken to Dr Patel and have also investigated his premises. He’s a retired psychiatrist and just likes to spend some time gardening to save on grocery expenses and to give himself something relaxing to do during his retirement”.

      JS: “Oh. Well, better to be safe than sorry, eh. I mean, you never know with these Muslims, do you ? How often does Mr — sorry mate, Doctor Patel go back home to Pakistan ?”

      MI5: “He’s been a British citizen for the past 40 years and he’s actually of Indian origin. And he’s a Gujarati Hindu anyway, not a Muslim.”

      JS: “Oh”.

      MI5: “Your employers would like to have a word with you about your BNP membership and those comments you’ve been making on various blogs, though. Thanks for bringing yourself to our attention. One of our agents will meet you at your offices first thing tomorrow morning”.

      JS: *click*

    17. Shamit — on 24th March, 2009 at 12:52 pm  


      That`s Wicked mate.

    18. Gargoyle — on 24th March, 2009 at 1:01 pm  



    19. [...] by Sid on 24th March, 2009 at 1:04 pm     On the eve of the unveiling of Contest 2, the updated counter-terrorism strategy, the government has suspended ties with the [...]

    20. Jai — on 24th March, 2009 at 1:04 pm  


      Thanks man (you too, Gargoyle), just some light amusement ;) Although there’s obviously a serious point in there too.

      By the way, Shamit, when you have some spare time, you might want to check out the first link I supplied in #7 (the one relating to another recent PP discussion). I think you’ll find that thread interesting reading, especially towards the end. Hopefully you can guess what I’m referring to.

    21. Daud Abdullah and the Istanbul Declaration | Free Political Forum — on 24th March, 2009 at 2:01 pm  

      [...] the eve of the unveiling of Contest 2, the updated counter-terrorism strategy, the government has suspended ties with the [...]

    22. damon — on 24th March, 2009 at 2:31 pm  

      platinum786: your post #1 on this thread was so interesting. And so frustrating too. As hearing all what you say, where does that leave the (lumpen) white working class on ”white” estates (or areas) in places like Bradford or Leeds or Blackburn?
      Are they just ignorant dinosaures? Better off dead?

      I have heard these really crap advertisements on the radio that talk about reporting suspicious behavoir - and that grows the ”Daily Mail” resentment at the cultural complexicty that is shown here on this forum .. I think at least.
      I struggle to keep up with Sunny and every new post.
      It’s somewhat overwhelmiing. And GONE a few days later, so you don’t have time to gather your thoughts.

      Without going on and on - I wrote about the situation in Dublin on another website (and got nowhere).
      About how Yusuf al Qaradawi’s Council for Fatwa and Research might confuse Irish people of a non intelectual (traditional) outlook.

      I’m sure it could be proved that non Muslim Irish people that were observing the growth of Islamism in Ireland with somewhat of a concern could be considered as bigots and Islamophobes (like I was by munir on this forum), but at the same time … can you (one) not see why it might be somewhat of a rocky landing where West Asian people and South Asian people turn up in numbers - quite quickly- in a place like Ireland?
      And then within ten years there is this Center of European Islamism being part of the fabric of the capital city?

    23. fug — on 24th March, 2009 at 2:46 pm  

      Erm, proud of you Sunny.

      “Others regard any money from the government as tainted and refuse to touch it.”

      “It has also created a mini-industry of people who specifically want to get into the action and get a slice of the cash by offering strategies.”

      “…most popular grassroots Muslims organisations are Islamically conservative in nature because they are tied to mosques or take populist positions against government policy. They also spend a lot of time and energy building a grassroots base. More liberal and moderate groups have not bothered or been able to do the same.”

      I wonder how the 60 000 extremist spotters initiative will pan out. Will the chap trying to sell me chocolate/books/travel bore me to death with endless talk of qutb and moududi…. Maybe i will have more luck engaging them with my own proslyteresisieseision.

      i think the ‘Fork you Govt’ rationale has been strengthened. and the embarrassing dallyance with government on its own terms pretty much finished by the antics of the past few weeks. Muslims mustn’t be distracted by this terrorism fetish.


      Theres always some kind of qawwali going on, in London at least, from people’s homes to more corporate ventures from people like the AMC, do you remember Sacred Voices?

      You wouldn’t want those environments tainted by govt policy would you?

    24. Jai — on 24th March, 2009 at 4:23 pm  

      Fuggy Bear,

      I meant something really large-scale and high-profile on a national level, as mentioned in my original post (#5). And no, it should be something organised by ordinary Muslims, rather than a result of ‘govt policy’.

    25. fug — on 24th March, 2009 at 5:31 pm  

      Jai, you are like the Ottoman empire.. nationalising and institutionalising something which should be dynamic!

      Culture doesn’t live in museums. And i reckon the best content comes from resistance anyway. recessions here apparently. that plus anglosaxoid cultural hegemony lead me to expect beautiful things.

    26. Jai — on 24th March, 2009 at 5:41 pm  

      Fuggy Bear, in the convertible Cadillac with the two honeys in the back:

      Read my second sentence again. I’m not suggesting any kind of nationalisation or institutionalisation at all; on the contrary. This should very much be something that should be organised by ordinary Muslims on the ground, aka ‘the masses’.

    27. fug — on 24th March, 2009 at 5:47 pm  

      flashmob qawali?

    28. Jai — on 24th March, 2009 at 5:56 pm  

      Very funny. That would actually be pretty good — can you imagine 200 people suddenly turning up at Liverpool Street Station, simultaneously sitting cross-legged on the ground and singing one of Bulleh Shah’s finest for 10 minutes ?! Especially if it ended with everyone saying “Not in our name Osama and Anjem”.

      On a more serious note, I actually meant Rahat saab or someone similarly respected doing a series of massive concerts at the O2 Arena. With all the associated publicity etc.

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