More trouble in Pakistan

March 30, 2009

Further evidence of the sorry state of affairs in Pakistan as gunmen have seized a police academy in Lahore.

These attacks are becoming increasingly frequent and the Government of Pakistan must step up its security to an extremely high level to avoid giving the impression that it simply has no strategy to deal with the militants. This attack has similarities to the attacks in Mumbai and on the Sri Lankan cricket team and should be a concern for other countries such as the UK where terrorist could try and replicate the methods used by the terrorists in Pakistan.

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Sri Lankan Team Attacked in Pakistan

March 3, 2009

The almost unbelievable attack on the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore is further evidence of the perilous security situation in Pakistan. While it is too early to lay blame on a particular group, it seems that once again extremists determined to ensure that Pakistan descends into lawlessness giving them the opportunity to take control are to blame.


Two Million Extremists

February 18, 2009

The Guardian has details of the code from a new anti terror strategy being proposed in Government referred to as Contest 2. According to the draft anyone holding the following views would be regarded as an extremist:

• They advocate a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries.

• They promote Sharia law.

• They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.

• They argue that Islam bans homosexuality and that it is a sin against Allah.

• They fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.

If this is adopted and becomes policy, the Government will have 2 million Muslim extremists on its hands in this country and perhaps many non Muslims as well.

Most of the above are thought crimes and some are directly contrary to the fundamental beliefs of Islam that Muslims hold. For example, Islam says that homosexuality is a sin – and every Muslim is aware of this. But the vast majority of Muslims living in this country do not discriminate against homosexuals or treat them any differently to anyone else. If they do then legislation is in place to prosecute them.

Most Muslims happily accept that they are living in a liberal democracy and a secular society where there is no state religion which everyone has to adhere to. Most simply do not care what a person does behind closed doors in the privacy of his home and how he chooses to live his life. Muslims view homosexuality being a sin in the the same way they view other sins such as people living together as an unmarried couple or having a child out of wedlock or drinking alcohol or eating pork. Why not add these to the list of extremists beliefs as well?

If promoting Sharia is an act of an extremist then the Government should go in the dock first. It has facilitated the introduction of Sharia based financial products now readily available from mainstream banks, permitted halal meat in schools, hospitals and elsewhere, given permission for Mosques and madressas to be built, funded Muslim only organisations, allowed and funded Muslim schools etc etc etc. All Muslims are promoting Sharia Law when they worship, follow moral guidance, marry in accordance with Islamic rules, fast in Ramadan, give charity and go on pilgrimage. This list is endless and shows how little thought has been given to the definition of Sharia Law.

The failure to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan would also lead to extremism. A million people marched against the war in Iraq and there were many who saw that as a war of aggression and occupation where people had a right to self defence and refused to condemn people who they thought were fighting in self defence who subsequently killed coalition soldiers. I suspect many non Muslims would get in trouble under this category too but is non condemnation sufficient justification to make someone an extremist? And how do you police this – would there be a register which people signed to condemn the killings of our soldiers and if you didn’t you’d be an extremist? What should be an offence is any celebration of the killing of any British soldier killed anywhere in combat regardless of whether a person agrees with the political decision to go to war or engage in combat.

The craziest one of all is this definition: ‘They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.’

Jihad is a fundamental belief in Islam. A Muslim state is given permission by Islam to defend itself against an aggressor or be aggressive where it fears an imminent attack. This is similar to the Just War Theory developed in Christianity. To say that anyone who believes this is an extremist is to hold an extremist view! It would be better to say that anyone who plans and engages in violent acts of terror and kills innocent people is an extremist regardless of whether he believes that he is engaged in Jihad.

Advocating a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries is not a crime. Actively pursuing it and engaging in acts of terror to achieve this would be. Advocating a Caliphate state in the UK is an oxymoron.  When the population of Muslims in a country is 7% advocating a Caliphate is a call that isn’t even worth responding to, let alone giving it such significance that it makes someone an extremist.

As mentioned here and here, the Government seems to have no idea what it is doing in its strategy in dealing with radicalisation and extremism in this country. The Contest 2 seems consistent with its previous actions.


Damian Green’s Arrest Is Embarrassing

November 28, 2008

While terrorists were carrying out atrocities in Mumbai and most counter terrorist teams around the world were observing and no doubt learning about a worryingly new tactic that these terrorists had deployed, our counter terror police in London were busy arresting a Member of Parliament and raiding his parliamentary and constituency offices for revealing statistics and other relevant information of public interest which the Home Office refused to disclose.

The arrest of Damian Green by counter terrorism officers is a huge embarrassment for counter terror Police and the Government. More worryingly, it represents a dangerous step towards reducing the role of a parliamentarian and especially one belonging to the opposition.

We have long suspected that the Labour Government’s natural instincts are authoritarian. It relied on the Police to support its argument of wanting to hold terror suspects without trial for up to 90 days. It’s created hundreds of new criminal and civil offences and continues to introduce legislation whenever it gets a chance and especially when if feels this might be popular with voters. It introduced the Freedom of Information Act yet does all it can to withhold relevant information citing national interests and other such excuses as a defence. The list is endless. Now we see an attempt to silence and prevent a Shadow Minister from effectively doing his job! If a journalist obtained statistics or data which showed the Government not being totally honest he would be congratulated for getting hold of a major scoop and for effective journalism. A Shadow Minister obtaining and using similar information is ‘conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.’

How can we have confidence in our legislation and in counter terror Police when we read about such behaviour? Surely someone at counter terrorism command would have looked at this and concluded that this case wasn’t one needing counter terror police or any other police for that matter?

Ian Dale has written a couple of excellent posts on this which everyone should read.