The Westminster attack succeeded because of a lethal cocktail of elements which are hard to monitor or prevent – it was a ‘home-grown’ perpetrator (i.e. UK born); it was ‘low-tech’ (i.e. car-keys and kitchen knife); it was a convert to Islam (i.e. bringing personal issues and idealism). Are the security services keeping up with the threat and how can we pray?
This is an adapted version of a piece by Tim Dieppe who draws attention to a 1,000-page report, released by the Henry Jackson Society, highlighting the ongoing threat from ‘home-grown’ Islamism. The report is a study of Islamically-inspired attacks between 1998 and 2015. The report concludes that: ‘the majority of the Islamism-inspired threat to the UK remains from ‘home-grown’ terrorism.’
The security services are to be praised for claiming to have prevented 13 potential attacks since June 2013. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said there were 500 live counter-terror investigations ongoing and the head of MI6 has said the scale of the threat to the UK is ‘unprecedented’.
Since August 2014 the threat-level for international terrorism in the UK has been “severe” – meaning an attack is highly likely. Back in 2015, it was revealed that MI5 and anti-terrorism police were monitoring more than 3,000 ‘home-grown’ Islamic extremists who might be willing to carry out attacks in Britain. The Westminster attacker Khalid Masood was a ‘peripheral’ name on that list.
The report also shows a clear link between “segregated” Muslim areas of Britain and Islamism. Only 14% of British Muslims live in neighbourhoods that are more than 60% Muslim, yet 24% of all Islamists come from these areas; a problem I myself have highlighted with parliamentarians.
British Islamism seems to be a tale of two cities – London and Birmingham – because just five Council voting wards in Birmingham (n.b. out of 9,500 in Britain as a whole) account for 26 convicted terrorists which is a tenth of the national total. Birmingham overall has had 39 convicted terrorists while London has been home to 117 of them; although in London they are more widely spread and roughly proportional to the Islamic community.
The recent report notes that: ‘Only one in ten offences was carried out by someone who acted entirely alone and had no extremist connections.’ The internet is increasingly a source for engagement with extremism, and was influential in over half of the more recent cases.
The report states:
‘There is little correlation between involvement in terrorism and educational achievement and employment status, and the majority of offences were committed by those living with their partner and/or children, or increasingly, at their family home.’
Offenders are ‘increasingly less likely to be known to the security services’, which means that – along with the ‘increased prevalence of smaller cells and individualistic offending’ – fewer opportunities to identify them arise. At the same time, terror convictions have doubled in the past five years.
The report states: ‘Religious converts were disproportionately involved in Islamism-inspired terrorism’, which highlights the difficulties faced in combatting ‘home-grown’ terrorism and the need to tackle the issue of the “social segregation” of Muslim communities, as a matter of urgency.
Source: Christian Hope for our Nation, Tim Dieppe, published March 10th, 2017
Steve Bell is the National Director for Interserve England and Wales. A mission leader, analyst, trainer and author, Steve is a recognised cross-cultural communicator with 35 years’ experience in 100 countries. Steve is author of Friendship First, Grace for Muslims and Gospel for Muslims and co-edited Between Naivety & Hostility. Steve is married to Julia, a senior teacher and they are “owned” by a mentally deranged Siamese cat called Izzy.