Short Debate on Islamic Radicalisation
Plenary 01 July 2015
Thank you Deputy Presiding Officer.
I have agreed that Altaf Hussain, Jeff Cuthbert and Eluned Parrott may have time to contribute to this debate.
Last month we discovered that three sisters from Bradford left their husbands and took their nine children on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca.
They left Manchester Airport on 28 May and were due to stay in Saudi Arabia until 11 June.
They left, however, on 9 June and took a flight to Istanbul instead.
It is believed that the Dawood sisters have now crossed the border into Syria where they have a brother fighting with the forces of the Islamic State, Isis.
A nineteen year old Cardiff man, Syed Choudhury, who planned to travel to Syria to fight with Islamic State, pleaded guilty to a terror charge at the Old Bailey.
During his interview with Police he confirmed he supported Isis and that he would be happy to kill non-believers under Islamic State rule.
Talha Asmal, from Dewsbury West Yorkshire, is believed to have become Britain’s youngest ever suicide bomber.
It is said he was one of four suicide bombers who attacked forces near an oil refinery in Iraq.
He was just seventeen years old.
These are not isolated incidents.
The number of terror suspects being investigated by prosecutors has risen over the past four years and is still increasing.
Figures show that four hundred and six (406) suspects were either charged or arrested in the year to April 2015 compared with two hundred and ninety eight (298) four years ago.
The Director of Public Prosecutions said numbers could reach six hundred (600) this year.
Such cases have a devastating impact on individuals, on families and on communities.
Why is it that people feel the need to reject the values we stand for.
Values of democracy, equality, free speech, respect for minorities and the rule of law.
Why are people such as those I have mentioned attracted by division, hatred and intolerance?
Syed Choudhury’s defence barrister said his client did not appreciate the complexities of Middle East politics.
He claimed his client had been, and I quote:
“deeply influenced by older men in the Cardiff area who he considered to be more learned than him.”
Talha Asmal’s family, in a statement, said:
“Talha’s tender years and naivety were, it seems, exploited by persons unknown who, hiding behind the anonymity of the world wide web, targeted and befriended Talha and engaged in a process of deliberate and calculated grooming of him.”
They went on to say:
“Whilst it appears that Talha fell under the spell of individuals who continued to prey on his innocence and vulnerability to the point where, if press reports are accurate, he was ordered to his death by so-called Isis handlers and leaders too cowardly to do their own dirty work.”
This should come as no surprise to us.
Earlier this year, Professor Anthony Glees, a former Home Office advisor on national security, warned that recruiting sargeants for Islamic State were roaming Welsh cities in search of new recruits.
“People are not just radicalised online. They are approached by what we might call Islamic State’s recruiting sargeants who deliberately go around schools, campuses and Islamic community centres looking for young people like them.”
David Cameron pointed out in a recent speech that the Muslim community had to play a greater role in tackling radicalisation.
He argued that a young person looking for meaning may be exposed to an ideology that may appear acceptable if no-one energetically opposes it.
An ideology that is quietly condoned online or perhaps even in parts of the local community.
This view is supported by a former radical Muslim recruiter.
Abu Muntasir said on television that families play a vital role in stopping young people from becoming radicalised.
“There is grooming no doubt—I know how we used to convince people by ignoring a lot of facts on the ground, ignoring reality and alternative views amongst Muslims and Muslim teaching.”
“So the parents need to have more communication with their children, they need to have more of the overseeing aspect of how to be a good parent.”
Helen Ball, Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said the more that we can work with families to help them understand the signs and symptoms the more we can try to protect them from travelling.
Parents and families are vital if we are to defeat this ideology and prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims.
I fully support the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland, in her call for strong mentors in schools and places of worship to prevent radicalisation.
We must also recognise the challenge that urban policing faces.
The police must build relationships with communities in which vulnerable people are most affected by grooming of any type, while ensuring that families and communities do not feel under siege from the authorities.
Communities that feel under siege will retreat from the real world.
When this happens they damage inter-community relations , restrict their own ability to take advantage of all Britain has to offer, and to put others at risk from the outside influence of extremist and terrorist organisations.
The law cannot take the place of familial and community responsibility.
But the Government has a duty to take the action necessary to protect its citizens.
The UK Government’s intentions are to strengthen government and law enforcement powers to combat extremism.
Much has been done already.
The Government has tackled the poisonous extremist ideology that can lead to terrorism.
So far, eighty four (84) hate preachers have been excluded from Britain.
Some sixty five thousand (65K) items that encouraged or glorified terrorism have been removed from the internet.
The Home Secretary has cancelled twenty nine (29) passports since April 2013 and a new power has been introduced for police to seize passports from suspects at the border.
From today, public bodies are legally required to take steps to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.
The Prevent duty will make sure key bodies across the country play their part and work in partnership to tackle radicalisation.
Bur clearly there remains much more to do.
The Queen’s Speech committed the UK Government to introducing an anti-extremism bill.
This bill will implement a comprehensive anti-extremism strategy.
At the heart of their approach lies an uncompromising defence of British values.
The core message will be in Britain you have the freedom to live your life how you choose.
But with that right comes responsibilities.
If you enjoy the right to live your life as you see fit then you must allow your fellow citizens to do so as well.
It is ironic that, at a time when many thousands of people wish to come to live here in the UK precisely because of the values we treasure, that a small proportion , most of whom are British citizens, reject those values.
The anti-extremism strategy will act in four ways.
First, it will develop a better understanding of the threat we face from extremism.
It will promote our values and the rights and responsibilities of our citizens taking into account our multi-racial, multi-cultural society.
It will ensure the response to tackling extremism is as effective as possible.
Finally, it will work in partnership with our communities and organisations to identify, challenge and defeat extremism.
Under the measures proposed, groups that foment hate will be outlawed with the introduction of new Banning Orders for extremist groups.
These could be applied to dangerous organisations that fall short of the existing threshold for proscription under terrorism legislation.
To restrict the harmful activities of extremist individuals, new Extremism Disruption Orders will be created.
These new powers might, for example, prevent those who are seeking to radicalise young British people online from using the internet or communicating by social media.
A strategy will be developed to tackle the infiltration of extremists into our schools and public services.
A new counter-entryism strategy will be developed to ensure that government, the public sector and civil society as a whole is more aware and resilient against this danger.
And Ofcom’s role will be strengthened so that tough measures can be taken against channels that broadcast extremist content.
Ofcom’s remit will be reviewed to make sure it has the right responsibilities and the right powers to take action against extremist broadcasts.
Deputy Presiding Officer.
Radicalisation starts with the individual and must try to stop this at source.
We have to stop the slide towards violent extremism faced by too many young Muslims in Britain.
I believe the measures outlined above, consistent with our values as a country, will do just that.