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20 Oct, 2021 11:38

UK’s ‘Prevent’ anti-terror scheme ‘hamstrung’ by PC culture & ignoring radical Islam threat while targeting far-right, report says

UK’s ‘Prevent’ anti-terror scheme ‘hamstrung’ by PC culture & ignoring radical Islam threat while targeting far-right, report says

The UK’s flagship anti-terror scheme, ‘Prevent’, is reportedly “failing to deliver” after being stymied by political correctness – diverting resources from the “gravest threat” of Islamist terrorism to tackle far-right extremism.

A new report, published in the wake of the fatal stabbing of MP David Amess last week, has criticised agencies with oversight authority on the program for being swayed by “false allegations of Islamophobia.” The analysis claimed there is a “fundamental mismatch” between the threat posed by radical Islam and the attention given to it by Prevent.

There has been renewed scrutiny on the program after media reports emerged that Ali Harbi Ali, the 25-year-old suspect in the Amess killing, had been referred to Prevent five years ago but was not deemed to be enough of a risk to become a “formal subject of interest.” Only 147 individuals from a list of 6,287 terror suspects flagged by British security services in 2019 were apparently still being monitored by the program.

According to the report by counter-terrorism think-tank Henry Jackson Society (HJS), Prevent is devoting increasing amounts of time and money to combating other forms of extremism, such as from the far-right, which constitutes a smaller threat to national security.

“The Prevent scheme has been hamstrung by political correctness following a well-organised campaign by Islamist groups and the political Left of false allegations of ‘Islamophobia’ so that its work is skewed away from the gravest threat – that of radical Islam,” HJS head Alan Mendoza told the Daily Mail.

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Data from the Home Office reportedly shows that Islamist extremists account for 22% of all referrals to the program, while 24% relate to neo-Nazi and other far-right extremists. Of the most serious cases taken up last year by Prevent’s ‘Channel’ intervention phase – where a panel of senior council officials, health workers and anti-terror police decide on a course of action, about 30% (210) were related to Islamists compared with 43% (302) for far-right causes.

As recently as five years ago (2015/16), as much as 69% (262) of the most serious cases referred to Prevent were regarding suspected Muslim extremists, while 26% (98) related to far-right beliefs. In the years since, the number of cases tallied as serious far-right extremism has apparently increased yearly, while there has been an 80% drop in the number of initial referrals related to Islamist terrorism.

That shift in focus coincides with the 2016 murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a white supremacist. Last year, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu had warned that the far right was Britain’s fastest growing terror threat.

However, an unidentified intelligence source told the Telegraph that right-wing extremists were “by and large... hoodlums” who do not “present the same risk as Islamists by any distance, by a factor of four or five to one.”

Noting that the process had become “unbalanced” due to an emphasis on being “politically correct and not Islamophobic,” the source called for an “honest appraisal about where the threat is actually coming from.”

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Earlier this week, British security experts warned that the UK could face lone-wolf terrorist attacks by “bedroom radicals” drawn to extremist content online due to “isolation” during Covid-19 lockdowns. In July, Richard Smith, head of the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command, said there had been a “significant decline” during the pandemic in the number of referrals to Prevent.

Meanwhile, an unnamed security source told the Times that an upcoming review of Prevent is likely to recommend the addition of “more hawkish” MI5 and counter-terrorism police officers during the Channel phase and increase the current one-year deradicalisation programs for suspected terrorists to three years.

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