Leaked cable reveals US fears over UK extremists

US concerns that the UK was struggling to cope with homegrown extremism are revealed in a secret cable released through WikiLeaks today, which said that the government made "little progress" in engaging with the UK's Muslim community in the year after the July 7 bomb attacks in London.

The cable noted that Tony Blair's administration invested "considerable time and resources" in a drive to isolate radicals from the mainstream Muslim community after the 2005 attacks.

But it said that tensions continued, with some British Muslims blaming the government's foreign policy for inciting extremism, distrusting the motives behind the arrest of terror suspects and regarding official attempts at engagement as "a publicity stunt".

The latest revelations emerged on the day that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was due to face a court in London as part of the Swedish authorities' efforts to have him extradited for questioning over sex allegations, which he strongly denies.

The cable, leaked to the whistleblowing website and reported in The Guardian, was sent to Washington from the US Embassy in London in August 2006, shortly after the publication of a highly critical open letter about UK government policy signed by prominent Muslims including Sadiq Khan - now shadow justice secretary.

Noting the anger of many British Muslims about issues like the arrest of suspects over the failed liquid bomb plot to blow up transatlantic airliners, and Mr Blair's failure to call for a ceasefire in Israel's assault on Lebanon, the cable said: "Since 7/7, HMG has invested considerable time and resources in engaging the British Muslim community.

"The current tensions demonstrate just how little progress has been made.

"At the same time, the Muslim community's reaction to the arrests of 24 of its own sons - a knee-jerk reaction blaming HMG - shows that its leaders too have far to go.

"That said, the Muslim community is not the only element in Britain blaming HMG's foreign policy for inciting radical elements; the left in particular but even the mainstream press has expressed the belief, reportedly widespread, that homegrown terrorism is an 'inevitable' response to the UK's involvement in Iraq and reluctance to call for an 'immediate ceasefire' in the Middle East."

Ministers including John Reid, Margaret Beckett and Douglas Alexander gave a "rather heated response to the letter" which was "undoubtedly aimed at swaying broader opinion", said the cable, which also passed on media reports that Mr Blair considered cutting short his holiday in Barbados amid the row.

The US diplomat quoted Mr Khan - then a backbench Labour MP - criticising a key plank of the government's policy of engagement with UK Muslims.

"Labour MP Sadiq Khan said the community feels 'let down' by HMG efforts to date, particularly the 'Preventing Extremism Together' task forces, which the Home Office created after the 7/7 attacks," said the cable.

"Very few of the 64 measures recommended by Muslim leaders on the task force have been implemented, Khan said, creating an 'air of despondency' and leading the community to believe that the entire exercise was just a publicity stunt."

Another cable reported by the Guardian provided details of a meeting between US and UK counter-terrorism officials in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in October 2009.

The message from a diplomat at the US Embassy in Kenyan capital Nairobi revealed fears that a change of government in this year's election would bring in ministers with a "simplistic point of view" on counter-terrorism issues.

Concerns were raised over a possible "Mumbai-style attack" in Britain, and security for the 2012 Olympics was a big issue, reported the paper.

And it was stated that a "wave of litigation" by UK citizens and residents held in the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay was having a "severe effect on what counter-terrorism tools are available to the UK authorities".

The diplomat wrote: "There is believed to be a certain amount of so-called 'jihadi tourism' to southern Somalia by UK citizens of Somali ethnicity.

"The threat from Somalia is compounded by the fact that within East Africa there is a lack of local government recognition of the terrorist threat."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss