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7 Jul, 2010 02:58

UK national security is failing to combat domestic terrorism

Five years after the July 7 terror attacks in London, which claimed 56 people, critics of the British government say national security policy has failed to guarantee the public's safety.

The suicide attacks of July 7, 2005, were the deadliest bombings in London since World War II and are burned into the memory of Londoners. Five years on, the threat of home-grown terrorism still looms large. According to some, UK national security policy is not up to dealing with it.

Dr. Azzam Tamimi is a Muslim scholar who believes the government is wasting valuable tools it has at its disposal for countering the threat.

"To combat terrorism you need to act on three things – policing, which they are already doing; secondly, community relations, and that is profoundly, misread, misinformed and neglected, sometimes confused; and most importantly, policy,” Tamimi said. “Foreign policy is the cause of radicalization, and despite having proven wrong, the British government, which went to war in Iraq and earlier in Afghanistan, continues to be in Iraq, and in Afghanistan.”

Britain spends more than £130 million a year on preventing terrorism. Funding is given to local councils to spend on anti-radicalization. A new report by the Centre for Social Cohesion shows that more than two-thirds of convicted Muslim terrorists in the UK come from the country. It also says those millions of pounds could be much better spent.

“What our report shows is that there is an average individual who could potentially go on and commit Islamism-related offenses. Our study found overwhelmingly that the people involved are young men, and some of them have connections with British-based groups such as al-Muhajeroon,” researcher Hannah Stuart explained. “I think the government needs to target its counter-extremism policy more acutely toward these sorts of communities, rather than blanketly targeting Muslim communities across the country.”

MP Jeremy Corbyn says the war in Afghanistan, together with the demonization of the Muslim community as a whole, leads directly to terror acts.

“We need to radically rethink our foreign policy, and the way it’s perceived around the world, because British politicians simply don’t understand how disliked British foreign policy is over huge swathes of the Middle East,” Corbyn said. “I think we’re in danger of blaming young Muslims. They’re excessively stopped by the police, excessively searched, usually suffer higher levels of unemployment than their peers, and are beginning to feel more and more isolated in society.”

That isolation is unlikely to recede, as a member of the UK's new coalition government  proposed a bill outlawing burqas at the beginning of this month – similar to France's recent actions in its parliament.

UK troops leave troubled Afghan area to Americans

It has been reported that the announcement of a pull out of British soldiers from the Sangin area of Helmand Province is expected.

US troops are to take over responsibility for the region, where nearly a third of British casualties have been sustained.

The sparsely populated spot has been called one of the most dangerous places in the world, leading many to question if it is worth the heavy losses suffered.

While the Taliban are likely to portray the move as a victory, the military insists that it is a simple redeployment, due to the extra American troops being sent by Washington.

Christopher King from Liberty, a human rights organization in London, says that it is due to the changes with the British government.

“This war is really a political war. It’s part of the American push to take control of the oil exporting regions in the Middle East and as such, I don’t think we ought to be there. And it’s this and other actions in the Middle East by our soldiers that are giving rise to the sort of terrorism that we have seen in London,” he added.

While anti-war activist and Labor Party member Paul Flynn says that despite the government’s attempts to present the exit strategy as a victory, the mission in Helmand province has been a “dreadful, futile waste of life.”

It’s been a terrible error,” Flyn stated. “Our presence in Afghanistan has achieved very little. We went into [Helmand Province] four years ago and only two British soldiers had been killed then in battle. Now it’s 312.”