The US's disengagement from the Middle East will result in crisisby Jay Elwes / July 16, 2015 / Leave a comment
In the last 10 years, the extremist threat in Britain “appears to have increased,” according to Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6. Since the London terror attacks of 2005 in which 52 people were killed, there has been only one terrorist death in Britain—the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich in 2013.
“But in terms of sheer numbers,” said Dearlove, “the inspirational aspects of a movement like IS [the Islamic State group] have caused a good degree of attraction among young Muslims.”In the light of the June terrorist attacks in Sousse, the Tunisian beach resort where 30 British citizens were murdered by a gunman with links to IS, these comments will give cause for deep concern. Islamist extremism has increased in the Middle East, North Africa, Nigeria and the southern Arabian peninsula. Authorities in the United States are concerned that growing numbers of Americans are being exposed to promotional and fundraising material for IS. Dearlove suggests that more British Muslims are becoming radicalised.
“We’re fortunate that many of these people have actually left the country and are not here—they’re in Syria,” said Dearlove. “But that leaves the worry as to whether they come back and how they behave and what sort of attitude they have towards our society when they do get back.”
Part of the government’s reaction to the threat of extremism has been the introduction of a so-called “full-spectrum” approach, whereby non-violent extremism will be regarded as a precursor to violent extremism and will be treated as such. Dearlove called this “an exceptionally difficult area.”
“When you talk about ‘full spectrum,’ I don’t quite see what the follow-ons from that are. Obviously if one is going to start attaching legal constraints to that, one has to be very concerned about what that actually means in practice.”
Dearlove said that the cure for extremism can only be found within Britain’s Muslim communities, making it a “cultural and social issue more than a legal issue.” “There has been a failure, not only in our relations with…