Archive for the ‘Guardian’ Category

More for Comment is Free for the Guardian (still burdened with that awful picture) – this time looking at the presentational problems which the British government is having with terrorist trials and cases. It is a problem since it is worrisome how much this is exacerbating a long-term problem – and it is very hard to definitively know one way or the other which way it goes. As is usual with CiF, some interesting comments and some which appear not to have actually read the text at hand. Charming.

More on this topic on the way with some other publications I write regularly for, as well as some longer academic pieces which will invariably take months to appear. Big editorial hat tip is owed to a friend and Institute member from Birmingham. As ever, thoughts, comments, links, etc are very welcome.

Appearance is key in tackling terrorism

The number of terrorist suspects cleared after blundered arrests provides a public relations disaster for the government

The conclusion of the trial of the three men accused of being co-conspirators of the 7/7 bombers means it is unlikely anyone is going to be convicted for that terrible crime.

Furthermore, the conclusion of the trial and a number of other recent events and trials in British counterterrorism all suggest one of two things: either the British government is chasing the wrong people, or the British legal system is unfit for purpose in effectively countering the terrorism the government thinks it is fighting.


More for the Guardian Comment is Free which is always fun as it attracts some interesting responses and rather immediately too. So far only a few by the looks of it, but maybe more. I also see they still have that diabolical picture of me. This builds on something I have written previously for Jamestown, and would be a fascinating source of further research, but unfortunately no direct leads at the moment. Any thoughts or reactions, or pointers to other interesting work on this subject very welcome.

Comment is free

UK prisons: incubators for terrorism?

If we refuse to help prisoners who convert to Islam in prison, especially after they leave, the indoctrination will continue

Much of the coverage into Dame Anne Owers’ report about Long Lartin prison focused upon the growth of gangs. Conjuring images of television prison violence, one prisoner reported that “all violence is gang related” and the prison was turning into “an American style jail”. An underlying issue that was only hinted at in the report is the problem of the spread of violent Islamist extremist ideas in prisons.

The actual problem itself is very hard to quantify or measure: prison services are notoriously closed mouthed, and the spread of violent Islamist ideologies are hard to measure in any objective way. What is certain, however, is that there are clear precedents of individuals radicalised in British prisons who went on to attempt to carry out terrorist attacks: Richard Reid the “shoe bomber” and 21 July 2005 plot leader Muktar Said Ibrahim were both radicalised while serving prison terms for petty crime, and a significant number of other individuals who have been incarcerated on terrorism charges have also spent some time in prison. Overall it is estimated that there are somewhere between 90 to 130 prisoners currently in Britain’s prisons for “al-Qaida-linked or influenced” offences, including a number who are proselytising leaders like Abu Izzadeen, Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza.


My latest on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website. I see it has sparked off some debate, though i also see the Doctor’s plot trial in the UK started today as well, which i now somewhat regret not referencing in some way. Oh well, that’ll be for next time.

Community is key to tackling Islamic extremism

The ‘Prevent’ strand of counter-terrorism is difficult to implement. But security services should see those at risk individuals first.

The British government is reported to be overhauling its counter-terrorism strategy. The threat is apparently as high as ever and there are heightened fears about the appearance of “lone wolf” terrorists self-radicalising and moving into action without the usual connections to known networks.

At the core of this overhaul is an apparent revision of the “prevent” strand of the policy and the problem of measuring success in this opaque field.


Why talk to al-Qaida?

Posted: June 10, 2008 in Guardian
Tags: ,

Am gradually penetrating the Brit press more, which is good. Here is my latest on the Guardian’s Comment is Free page. Was a reaction to something someone said about talking to Al Qaeda, something which on the face of it is a pretty silly idea.

Why talk to al-Qaida?

Negotiation worked in Northern Ireland, but the conflict with al-Qaida is completely different. We should instead address the causes of radicalisation.