Britain panders to extremism.
The East London Mosque, the largest in Britain, hosted a “live telephone Q&A” with the world’s most dangerous al-Qaeda preacher, advertised with a poster showing Manhattan in flames. At the North London Mosque, equally important and well-known, one of the trustees is a supporter, and former leader, of a terrorist organisation. According to the BBC, he “is said to have masterminded much of [its] political and military strategy” from his perch in London.
Over the last few days, the Guantanamo Bay files leaked to this newspaper have shown in compelling detail how Britain became a global hub of terror, with at least 35 inmates of the detention camp radicalised here in the years before 9/11. Yet the two examples I give do not come from the leaked files. They are much more recent. The people who run those two mosques have been in no way troubled by the authorities. In fact, they have been helped by them. At the North London Mosque, the radical activist was actually installed by the police – and remains a trustee. And in the financial year to 2010, the year after it hosted that session with the fundamentalist preacher, the East London Mosque received £660,000 of taxpayers’ money – some of it from a Home Office fund for “preventing violent extremism”.
There is a reason why Britain, in the words of one French official, is and remains the “Pakistan of the West”, an incubator, entrepot and exporter of Islamic radicalism. There is a reason why, according to MI6, we face a “unique” threat from home-grown extremists. There is a reason why Britain is the only country in the Western world to have been subjected to a successful suicide terror attack by its own citizens. These things have happened, in part, because the last government, and Britain’s security establishment, got its policy just about as wrong as it was possible to get. We were harsh where we should have been liberal – and liberal where we should have been harsh.
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