Wasiq Wasiq, a journalist specialising in defence and terrorism.
Diverting all of our attention to the growing threat of far-Right terrorism, instead of dealing with the present existing threat of Islamist inspired terrorism, shows that the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s priorities are misplaced.
Writing in The Independent, Khan, says of far-Right terrorism: “We must not turn a blind eye to this growing threat”. He is right to raise it as a point of concern, but he is wrong if he believes it will define this century. It will not.
Over the last twenty years Islamist terrorism has been ravaging the West. Take, for example, here in the United Kingdom, where Islamist-inspired terrorism has killed more innocent civilians than any other form of terrorism.
Official government statistics state that since the 1990s, there has been a decrease in the number of people killed due to terrorism. However, from the 2000s onward, there has been a steady increase in deaths due to terrorism and this has been, in large part, due to Islamist extremists. In 2005, four home grown Islamists carried out the so-call “7/7 bombings” which resulted in 52 deaths. In 2017, three separate attacks took place resulting in multiple deaths: Westminster Bridge and Palace (6 deaths), Manchester Arena (23 deaths) and London Bridge (11 deaths). The deaths, as a result from these attacks, were above average for the period between 2001 and 2019.
The threat of Islamist terrorism has also reached the heart of our democracy. In 2021, Sir David Amess MP was tragically killed by Ali Harbi Ali, an Islamist terrorist of Somali decent. Ali stabbed the veteran MP more than twenty times in revenge for voting for government air strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. In his evidence to court, Ali stated: “If I thought I did anything wrong, I wouldn’t have done it”. Ali was clearly of the view that killing a Member of Parliament was the only way he could carry out jihad (holy war) after being prevented from travelling to Syria to join the murderous death cult.
Ali, 26, was a British-born citizen. He attended school in London and then dropped out of studies and abandoned his ambitions for a career in medicine. He was referred to the government’s anti-terror scheme PREVENT when it became clear he was showing signs of radicalisation in 2014. However, his case was closed because PREVENT officers concluded he didn’t pose a danger. This decision proved to be fatal.
But the threat from home-grown Islamists isn’t our only concern. There is a threat, too, from those seeking to exploit the asylum system. Iraq-born Emad al-Swealmeen, 32, died when his homemade bomb exploded in a taxi on Remembrance Day last year. The explosion took place just outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The driver, David Perry, managed to escape before the car was engulfed in flames.
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said Al-Swealmeen was able to exploit the “dysfunctional” asylum system to remain in the country. Patel went on to further state “The case in Liverpool was a complete reflection of how dysfunctional, how broken, the system has been in the past, and why I want to bring changes forward”.
Al Swealmeen was a Christian convert and had lived with a Christian couple since 2017. He was able to exploit the good intentions of law-abiding British citizens whilst also taking advantage of the failure of the church to recruit more members to their congregations. Quite rightly, the Church of England is also coming into question for their role of converting asylum seekers.
What all this demonstrates is that Islamists extremists are exploiting any means necessary to carry out acts of violence against the British state and its citizens. It is perhaps more worrying, therefore, that it seems that even when the law does work in locking them up, Islamists are still managing to achieve their jihadist aims behind bars.
A recent government report by Jonathan Hall QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism, claimed that in the last decade and a half, groups of prisoners have adopted an “anti-state” Islamist stance that condones or encourages violence towards non-Muslim prisoners, prison officers and the public. Groups of Islamist prisoners are exploiting the prison system. They are intimidating staff, undermining prison authority, and boycotting Friday prayers organized by prison imams. They are setting up “sharia courts” and flogging Muslims who are found to have “transgressed” their rules. Furthermore, they are also using accusations of discrimination and “Islamophobia” to get their way.
Islamist extremists are clearly learning and adopting new ways to achieve their jihadist aims. Whether it is in open society or behind bars, Islamist extremists’ determination to be pragmatic and adapt themselves, proves to be more fatal that the threat from the far-Right. So, whilst the threat from the far-Right maybe the fastest growing one, the actual threat Britain is primarily facing in the here and now is still coming from Islamist extremists. If Sadiq Khan ignores this, not only are his priorities misplaced, but he shows a lack of understanding of matters of national security. Islamist extremism is defining the domestic security challenges of this century, not the far-Right.
European Eye on Radicalization aims to publish a diversity of perspectives and as such does not endorse the opinions expressed by contributors. The views expressed in this article represent the author alone.