The British state has a dishonourable tradition of complicity with extremists

For years, Islamist groups were allowed to use this country as a base to carry out attacks abroad

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The Independent Online

Theresa May threatens jihadists with Asbos; Boris Johnson demands presumption of guilt on those who travel to Syria and Iraq; David Davis and George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, want Islamists who have gone to fight abroad to be stripped of their British passports. Politicians and public figures are falling over themselves to offer punitive solutions to the problem of extremism in Britain’s Muslim community.

It comes in the wake of the murder of Jim Foley by a British member of Isis: but the fact that a vicious and reactionary form of Islam has been breeding in this country is hardly anything new, the destructive presence of its adherents had been known before the ‘wake-up call’ of the 7/7 bombings in 2005.  A year earlier the security service was warning that around 4,000 Muslims from these shores had been to training camps in Pakistan.

Dr Carey, in addressing the issue of jihad, took a swipe at multiculturalism for allowing immigrant communities to establish “separate identities in our cities. This has led” he maintained “ to honour killings, female genital circumcision and the establishment of sharia law in inner-city pockets throughout the UK”.

But, invidious as these practices are, they did not directly lead to Muslims from this country going off to fight in Syria and Iraq and before that to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. Indeed, one can argue that if the fundamentalists had already achieved their mini Islamic States in inner-cities, why should they bother to seek it elsewhere?


The British state is culpable for what has unfolded. For years, violent Islamist groups were allowed to use this country as a base to carry out attacks abroad. This was founded in the belief that they would not bomb their home, and that the security service would be able to infiltrate them. At the same time mosque after mosque was taken over through intimidation by the fundamentalists. Police and others in authority refused pleas from moderate Muslims with the excuse that they did not want to interfere in community matters.

There was even a name for this amoral accommodation: the "covenant of security" It is the case that some of the extremist leaders, while espousing Islamic domination were also informants for MI5 and the police: but we do not know whether the lives such information may have saved were more than those taken by their followers abroad. At the end, of course, we discovered that jihadists will indeed blow up their home country while organising wars abroad.

Abroad, complicity between British and American officials and reactionary Islam go back a long way in using it as a weapon against nationalist anti-colonial movements.This included plotting with the  Muslim Brotherhood to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser: the coup against the democratically elected Iranian leader Mohammed Mussadiq with the help of the ayatollahs, with a young cleric called Ruhollah Khomeini a junior member of the conspiracy:  the removal of Ahmed Sukarno in Indonesia in another coup  carried out with the help of Darul Islam whose  followers went on to massacre socialists and trade unionists.

Then, of course, there is the use of Islamists during the Cold War and its aftermath: the creation of the international jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan, during which the murderous Gulbuddin Heklmatyar was a guest of Margaret Thatcher at No 10 --- the US would put a bounty of $ 5 million on his head later:  the sending of Muslim fighters to the Balkans, central Asian Soviet republics, into China: support for the Pakistani secret police, ISI, with its terrorist links.

Britain has thus chosen to associate itself with Muslim extremists, home and abroad, for a very long time. There is no reason to think that there can be a quick fix which can detach this country from its consequences while the forces of international jihad continue on their bloody path.