Govt strategy against 'violent extremism'

U.K. politics and terror threat analysis.

Govt strategy against 'violent extremism'

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

13 Jul 2008, 19:01 #1

From The Sunday Times
July 13, 2008
New board of imams to tackle extremists
Marie Woolf, Whitehall Editor

The government is to sponsor a theological board of leading imams and Muslim women in an attempt to refute the ideology of violent extremists.

The committee, to be announced this week, will issue pronouncements on areas such as wearing the hijab and the treatment of wives and is part of a government strategy to counter radicalism.

It will rule on interpretation of the Koran and promote the moderate strain of Islam practised by most British Muslims. It will also comment on controversial issues affecting Muslims living in Britain, including whether or not they should serve in the armed forces.

Its members have been recommended by leading moderates in the Muslim community and will be technically independent, although the government is expected to provide civil service support, a secretariat and members’ expenses.

Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, will announce the committee as part of an anti-extremism strategy called Prevent, devised following the 2005 London bombings. It tries to foster close contacts between Muslims and the rest of society to combat the glorification of terrorism.

The Muslim public affairs committee questioned whether the board would address issues relevant to Muslims’ lives. “To be successful, this initiative must have credibility with the Muslim community as a whole. What matters is what happens at the grass roots in someone’s local mosque,” said a spokeswoman.

The government is concerned that extremist leaders who preach jihad have been able to radicalise young Muslims, partly because of the failure of leading Islamic figures to challenge them.

A committee of Muslim young people will try to ensure the policies are relevant to them and do not inadvertently lead to further radicalisation. The government also plans to support Muslim women by providing discussion groups and work placements.

As part of the Prevent strategy, Blears will go on an international tour to learn the roots of British Muslims. A spokesman said: “Hazel is going to the subcontinent to deepen her understanding of communities
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti
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Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

08 Nov 2008, 13:30 #2

Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Saturday, 8 November 2008

Terror intelligence 'not shared'

The report was commissioned by communities secretary Hazel Blears

Important anti-terrorism information has been kept from two thirds of police and council chiefs, according to an official leaked report.

It contains the results of an inquiry into the £86m government Pathfinder scheme tackling extremism.

The scheme provides funds to councils for specific projects designed to steer people away from militant groups.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears said it was essential communication between the various authorities improved.

The report, entitled Preventing Violent Extremism: Learning and Development Exercises, was commissioned by Mrs Blears earlier this year.

The research was carried out by the Audit Commission and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

It was leaked to the Guardian and published on Saturday.

Distrust

The document, which was due to be released on Monday, suggests the failure to share counter-terrorism intelligence is hampering the Pathfinder programme.

Councils were given finds to pay for projects designed to increase contacts between different ethnic and faith communities and prevent young people from joining extremist organisations.

But the report warns there is a lack of trust between the authorities.

Seventy councils have received £6m in pathfinder funding since the scheme was launched in April 2007.

A further £45m is expected to be spent on expanding the programme in the next three years.

The report examines the progress of the scheme in 14 areas, including many that have experienced the impact of violent extremism first-hand.

According to the report, just one-third of the chief executives and local police commanders who were interviewed did not have access to, or were not briefed on, terrorism data in their area.

Two thirds were not entrusted with security information which affected their ability to identify vulnerable people and communities.

Inspectors assessed local schemes against four key criteria. These were:

    * Information sharing
    * Understanding the risk
    * Effective partnership working
    * Assessing success

The report states: "Whilst it is vital assurances are sought about who has access to restricted information, councils already routinely handle sensitive information on a range of areas and the same trusting, business-like relationships need to be developed on this agenda as others."

But it also indicates there are a small number of councils and police forces which have built up strong relationships and links with Muslim communities and had a great deal of experience in dealing with extremism.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said the report highlighted "excellent work" and suggested local communities were becoming more confident about tackling the issue.

There are lessons for all of us, central and local government, police and security services and community groups and this report will help us learn them
Hazel Blears
Communities secretary

But she admitted the report said progress was too "patchy" and more needed to be done.

She claimed it found that when people were directly affected by the issue, they were more likely to become involved with trying to prevent it from happening again.

It recommends that faith leaders and trusted community figures to be involved in the scheme.

Mrs Blears said that a "wait and see approach" was not an option when it came to preventing violent extremism.

She said: "When it is up close it soon becomes clear that tackling extremism is about much more than community cohesion, that trust and partnership is key and that shying away from an agenda that we all know presents challenges and difficulties is simply not an option.

"But preventing extremism is about just that. Not waiting for the worst to happen, but stopping it happening in the first place. Everyone needs to up their game, learn the lessons of what works, and quickly.

"I am confident that local responses alongside tough security measures remain the best way to tackle this issue and work will continue. There are lessons for all of us, central and local government, police and security services and community groups and this report will help us learn them.

The spokeswoman said steps had already been taken to address some of the issues raised in the report.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti
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Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

08 Nov 2008, 13:33 #3

Anti-terror plan hampered by distrust, report warns

• Police and councils failing to share information
• Blears to tell partners in £50m project to improve

    * Alan Travis, home affairs editor
    * guardian.co.uk, Saturday November 8 2008 00.01 GMT
   
Security information about terrorism is not being shared with two-thirds of the local authority chief executives and neighbourhood police commanders involved in the government's preventative drive against violent extremism, an official report is to warn on Monday.

This lack of trust is hampering the government's pathfinder programme to prevent violent extremism under which 70 councils have received £6m in the last two years. A further £45m is to be spent expanding the programme in the next three years.

The joint report by the Audit Commission and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary was commissioned by the communities secretary, Hazel Blears, to assess the progress that has been made. It is based on visits to 14 councils that have received pathfinder funding and includes several areas that have experienced the impact of violent extremism first hand.

The report says information is not consistently being shared and only one-third of chief executives and local police commanders interviewed have access to or have been briefed about specific data on terrorism in their area.

This lack of effective briefing inhibits their understanding of their local security situation and their ability to identify vulnerable individuals and communities. It also fails to encourage the flow of intelligence from local and neighbourhood levels to the police regional counter-terrorist network and security services. The report states: "Whilst it is vital assurances are sought about who has access to restricted information, councils already routinely handle sensitive information on a range of areas and the same trusting, business-like relationships need to be developed on this agenda as others."

However the report presents a mixed picture on progress so far. It says there are a small number of councils and police forces, mainly those which have experienced terrorist incidents or arrests, which already have a wealth of experience in building links into Muslim communities, and developing responses to extremism.

But outside these areas the level of confidence in tackling extremism varies around the country, with many areas using pathfinder money to improve community relations rather than explicitly targeting those most at risk of getting involved in terrorism, the report says. "Most councils ... focus on building resilience within communities rather than explicitly addressing the vulnerabilities of those who may become engaged in violent extremism."

The joint report says it is vital that faith leaders and trusted community figures are involved. The amount of briefing and training of neighbourhood policing teams and front-line council staff is also inconsistent.

Blears is expected to tell those involved in the programme that better information-sharing and greater trust between the security services, police, councils and government is needed if they are to deliver on this crucial part of the counter-terrorism strategy.

She said: "Local areas that have an experience of extremism, whether that be arrests or violent incidents, appear to be grasping this agenda better than others.

"When it is up close it soon becomes clear that tackling extremism is about much more than community cohesion, that trust and partnership is key and that shying away from an agenda that we know presents challenges and difficulties is simply not an option."

Blears said everyone involved needed to "up their game", and quickly learn the lessons of what works.

"We have seen real progress, some excellent work and a wealth of experience being developed," she added. "This was always intended to be a year we would learn from and we commissioned this report to give us the opportunity to take stock, understand what has worked and how we can better support that."

The Association of Chief Police Officers has issued guidance to police forces to encourage them to share critical sensitive information to allow local councils and police commanders to develop more sharply targeted interventions.

Information and analytical reports about the current driving factors behind radicalisation are also being provided to local authorities. Guidance on the appropriate use of language has already been issued and the Home Office's counter-terrorist research, information and communications unit has set up a new local unit to provide more active support to local authorities.

What is pathfinder?

The preventing violent extremism pathfinder fund was launched in October 2006. It aims to provide local campaigns to confront extremist ideologies, promote role models and promote understanding of the benefits Muslims have brought to local areas. Examples have included:

Barking and Dagenham Islamic awareness
The borough council supports local groups to provide education about Islam, contrasting its reality against the rhetoric of extremism.

Black Country imams
A project which aims to develop "homegrown" imams with a solid understanding of British law and politics to counter the appeal of extremist figures.

Kirklees webspace and radio activity
A West Yorkshire website for young people to share their views on identity and community relations.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti
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Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

20 Feb 2009, 11:20 #4

Teaching pack about 7/7 bombers withdrawn

Pupils were invited to imagine themselves from the perspective of the bombers

    * Anthea Lipsett
    * guardian.co.uk, Friday 20 February 2009 10.21 GMT

The government apologised today for causing offence as it withdrew a teaching pack about the 7 July terror attacks that asked pupils to imagine they were the bombers.

The 2005 attacks killed 52 commuters in London and injured 700 others.

The pack was put together by the borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire and displayed on the Department for Children, Schools and Families' Teachernet website as a way of teaching pupils about extremism.

But ministers have decided to withdraw it after admitting it was "inappropriate".

A DCSF spokesman said: "While the resource in no way looks to justify or excuse the terrible events of 7/7, and is designed to educate against violent extremism, we appreciate that it may not be appropriate for use in schools.


"It's important young people discuss these difficult and controversial issues in a controlled environment but, in this case, ministers apologise for any offence caused."

The pack, called Things Do Change, is aimed at 11- to 19-year-olds and looks at life in multicultural Britain.

But it has been used by madrasas and mosques in West Yorkshire, schools in Birmingham, Sandwell and Lancashire and police forces in London, the Thames Valley and Greater Manchester.

Its author, Sail Suleman, told the Times Educational Supplement that schools should not shy away from asking pupils to think about what turns people into extremists.

She said: "Radicals, extremists and fundamentalists come in all different forms. Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it justified? Was it pressure from individuals they were hanging out with? Hopefully, we'll encourage pupils to stay away from those individuals."
The Mirror: Think like a 7/7 bomber, pupils told
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti
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Joined: 19 Jan 2006, 21:24

20 Feb 2009, 13:04 #5

Pupils told to think like a suicide bomber

Children are being encouraged to imagine they are suicide bombers plotting the July 7 attacks as part of the Government's strategy to combat violent extremism.

By Duncan Gardham, Secuirty Correspondent
Last Updated: 6:14AM GMT 20 Feb 2009

The exercise is part of a teaching pack aimed at secondary school pupils that has been adopted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. It requires children to prepare a presentation on the July 7 atrocity – in which 52 innocent people died – "from the perspective of the bombers".

They are asked to summarise the reasons why they thought the bombers wanted to carry out their attacks and even suggest some more.

It has been produced by Calderdale council in Halifax, West Yorks, which borders the area where two of the July 7 bombers lived, and has been adopted by schools and even police forces across the country.

The pack, which is called "Things do Change", is intended as a way of addressing issues such as terrorism and suicide bombing through the national curriculum.

But it was criticised yesterday by victims, educational experts and politicians, who feared it could be "dangerous" to ask children to adopt the mindset of a terrorist.

Jacqui Putnam, who survived the Edgware Road bomb on July 7, said: "I can't see why anyone would think it is a valuable exercise to encourage children to put themselves in the position of men who treated people in such an inhuman way.

"To encourage children to see the world in that way is a dangerous thing. Surely there must be a better way of achieving their objective?"

Mavis Hyman, whose daughter, Myriam, was killed in the July 7 bombings, said: "I don't think that anyone can put themselves in the minds of these people. I have tried to see it from their point of view. I have read books and watched films and it has not succeeded. "

Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, said the pack risked "encouraging the sort of belief we're trying to work against".

"They should be looking at it from the victims' view," he said. "Whoever thought this up has no understanding of the communities where we are fighting against extremist beliefs."

Patrick Mercer, the chairman of the Commons terrorism sub-committee, said: "How useful is it to pretend to be a suicide bomber if it defeats the object of the lesson? Imagine the uproar if we suggested that children play-acted the role of Hitler."

The pack was made available through a Government- sponsored website called www.teachernet.gov.uk A section entitled "Community Cohesion" requires pupils to "prepare a brief presentation on the 7/7 bombings from the perspective of the bombers".

After watching a DVD from the pack, which costs £200, the class is supposed to be split into four, with one group asked to adopt the perspective of the bombers.

Sail Suleman, the author of the pack, told the Times Educational Supplement : "We're looking at why people become extreme. Why do young people go out and do what the bombers did? Was it pressure from individuals they were hanging out with? Hopefully, we'll encourage pupils to stay away from those individuals."

Other groups are asked to imagine the bombings from the perspectives of Muslims in Britain, non-Muslim Asians and British people in general.

The teaching pack is already being used in Islamic schools and mosques in West Yorkshire, as well as in local authority-run schools.

A number of other authorities, including Birmingham, Sandwell in the West Midlands and Lancashire, have begun using it in schools and several police forces, including the Metropolitan, West Yorkshire, Thames Valley and Greater Manchester, have adopted it.

Tahir Alam, the education spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "This isn't any different from any educational tool people use all the time. Pupils imagine they're living in the 12th century. The important lesson is that these things are never morally justifiable."

The education department withdrew the pack from the teachernet website yesterday.
A spokesman said: "While the resource in no way looks to justify or excuse the terrible events of 7/7, and is designed to educate against
Telegraph

Don't tell Patrick Mercer, but one of the ways they teach the history of Nazi Germany in schools these days is to set exercises like imagining you are Hitler and writing his diary entries. I haven't noticed any uproar.
Innocent until proven guilty
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Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

20 Feb 2009, 13:29 #6

[quote=""cmain""]Sail Suleman, the author of the pack, told the Times Educational Supplement : "We're looking at why people become extreme. Why do young people go out and do what the bombers did? Was it pressure from individuals they were hanging out with? Hopefully, we'll encourage pupils to stay away from those individuals."

Other groups are asked to imagine the bombings from the perspectives of Muslims in Britain, non-Muslim Asians and British people in general.[/quote]
Pity any child who might find any reason to be 'extreme' - no doubt they'll end up on some list and be kept an eye on.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti
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Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

20 Feb 2009, 14:52 #7

cmain @ Feb 20 2009, 01:04 PM wrote:Telegraph

Don't tell Patrick Mercer, but one of the ways they teach the history of Nazi Germany in schools these days is to set exercises like imagining you are Hitler and writing his diary entries. I haven't noticed any uproar.
Don't mention another of the ways in which they teach the history of Nazi Germany in schools these days: Every school to get Holocaust specialist under anti-racism initiative.

One might think a race-relations person would be better to tackle racism, or a historian who could explain that it is class not race that is the issue, but perhaps it's only a specific type of racism that needs to be dealt with and class issues can be completely ignored.

And still they call it 'education'.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
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