Intelligence services are facing an ever-growing demand on their expertise to hunt down members of the IS terrorism network which has claimed responsibility for a succession of attacks across the world in recent months.
Dr Afshin Shahi, the director of the Bradford University-based Centre for the Study of Political Islam, claimed the fragmented nature of the IS organisation means that it is extremely difficult for security agencies to track down those behind the most recent atrocities – as well as those who are planning future attacks.
He said: “IS is evolving as an organisation at a very rapid rate, and it is clearly pursuing a campaign that is aimed at creating as much fear in communities across the Middle-East and the West as it can. It had previously been more concerned about the expansion of its territories in Iraq and Syria, but now in retaliation to the anti-IS coalition in Iraq and Syria, they are targeting their enemies in their own countries. This is not just about targeting France, this is a message to every country that is part of the anti-IS coalition.”
But Dr Shahi claimed that the ability to track the terrorists was a huge challenge, due to IS having a loosely-based hierarchy and a fragmented structure spread across the globe. There has been a concerted effort by the terrorist organisation to promote the brand of IS to scattered networks of other extremists to aid its cause.
Dr Shahi said: “There are a host of reasons as to why Paris has been targeted again. There is a great deal of polarisation between Muslims and the wider communities, and a lot of tension. It may be as simple as the fact that the terrorists have been able to establish a better network in France than other countries, and the free movement around Europe into France has aided that.”
The Centre for the Study of Political Islam, which is based at Bradford University will be officially launched next month at the House of Lords in London, although it has been operating since February this year. It is the first academic centre of its kind in the UK to study the various aspects of political Islam.
Britain is at risk from the next Islamic State attack, supporters of the evil terror group have warned in unconfirmed tweets. They made the chilling threats on Twitter after at least 160 people were killed by a series of co-ordinated attacks on Paris last night.
After gloating about the horror that shocked the world, armchair jihadists tweeted that London could be next. The twisted tweeters also claimed to have two other major capitals in their sights – Washington DC and Rome.
London was last hit by a terror attack in July 2005, when 52 commuters were killed by suicide bombers linked to Islamist group al-Qaeda. But officials have reportedly been working tirelessly to thwart ISIS attacks since the militants declared a caliphate last summer. Last month Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, admitted the security service can “never be confident” in stopping all terror plots against Britain.
Muslims who travel to the Middle East for the “glamour” of jihad will become nothing more than “cannon fodder” for terrorists, David Cameron warns.
The “sick and brutal reality” is that young men will be used as suicide bombers, while women who join the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant will face horrific abuse, the Prime Minister will say.
In a major speech, heralding a five-year plan to tackle extremism, Mr Cameron will say British values are “our strongest weapon” in the battle against the twisted narrative of extremists. It came as Mr Cameron confirmed he was drawing up plans to expand Britain’s military action against Isil into Syria.
UK aircraft have been launching air strikes against terrorist targets in Iraq since September but Parliament is likely to be asked to approve bombing raids in the skies over Syria too because Britain should “do more” to defeat Isil, he told NBC News in America.
The Prime Minister’s upcoming speech will mark a new phase in the government’s assault on the ideology behind the rise of Islamist terrorism, in the aftermath of the mass gun attack that killed 30 British tourists in Tunisia last month. A new counter-extremism strategy will be published later this year, setting out in detail how government will seek to confront and stamp out the “twisted” ideology that justifies terrorism.
The Prime Minister will call for a new drive to promote traditional British values “much more” assertively across the country. “And here’s my message to any young person here in Britain thinking of going out there: You won’t be some valued member of a movement. You are cannon fodder for them. They will use you. If you are a boy, they will brainwash you, strap bombs to your body and blow you up. If you are a girl, they will enslave and abuse you. That is the sick and brutal reality of Isil.”
“We should together challenge the ludicrous conspiracy theories of the extremists. The world is not conspiring against Islam; the security services aren’t behind terrorist attacks; our new Prevent duty for schools is not about criminalising or spying on Muslim children. This is paranoia in the extreme. In fact that duty will empower parents and teachers to protect children from all forms of extremism – whether Islamist or neo-Nazi.”
Muslims who suddenly stop shopping at Marks & Spencer could be victims of radicalisation, Britain’s most senior Muslim policeman has warned.
Scotland Yard commander Mak Chishty said that teenagers who unexpectedly stop drinking, socialising with friends or wearing western clothes could also be becoming extremists. Mr Chishty said the danger of radicalisation in Britain today is so steep that he fears even his own children could be influenced by propaganda from terror groups.
The stark warning came as the Mr Chishty used a Guardian interview to justify more intrusion into Muslims’s “private space” to counter extremism. It comes with hundreds of Britain’s having fled to the Middle East to join Isis, also known as Islamic State, amid fears they could return to commit terrorist atrocities in the UK.
Britain’s security services have recently foiled a number of well-developed terrorist plots to kill policemen in central London. The current terror threat issued by the Home Office is “severe”. “We need to now be less precious about the private space,” Mr Chishty told the paper. “This is not about us invading private thoughts, but acknowledging that it is in these private spaces where this [extremism] first germinates. The purpose of private-space intervention is to engage, explore, explain, educate or eradicate.”
The Mayor of London complained that he had been criticised by the moderate Muslim group after he made comments about Islam in January. In a discussion about Islamist fighters, Mr Johnson had told The Sun newspaper that “this one religion seems to be leading people astray in so many cases”. In the same set of comments he also argued that Isis jihadists were driven to violence by an obsession with pornography.
He said, “I was astounded to be denounced, on the front page of The Guardian, by the Muslim Council of Britain,” he wrote in his regular Daily Telegraph column, released this morning. “A spokeswoman said that I was somehow attacking Muslims as a whole. Why on earth would she say that? Why is the MCB effectively claiming these porn freak jihadists for mainstream Islam?”
In his January comments to The Sun Mr Johnson had described jihadis as “literally w*****s”, arguing “They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort — which of course is no comfort.”
At the time, he also told the newspaper: “I often hear voices from the Muslim intelligentsia who are very quick to accuse people of Islamaphobia.
“But they are not explaining how it can be that this one religion seems to be leading people astray in so many cases. They are not being persuasive in the right way with these people.”
A recent online video released by ISIL (Daech) shows three mujahideen addressing French Muslims and calling on them to join the fight in Syria or to commit attacks on French soil.
The Public Prosecutor’s department has opened an investigation on the basis of “criminal association in connection with a criminal enterprise,” “possession of a weapon in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “incitement of terrorist acts using communication services.” The latter qualification has been created by the new antiterrorism law which was established November 13.
The seven-minute video was posted on jihadi Internet forums and drew the attention of the center for surveillance of radical Islamist websites. It appeared three days after the group posted the online video of Peter Kassig’s murder, in which two Frenchmen are present. They have since been identified as Maxime Hauchard and Mickael Dos Santos.
The three men, who call themselves Abu Osama al-Faranci, Abu Maryam al-Faranci and Abu Salman al-Faranci, are openly filmed and are seen burning their French passports.
Portsmouth’s Jami Mosque and Islamic Centre was attended by the “al-Britaini Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys”, also known as the Pompey Lads. The group of six flew to Turkey in October last year and ended up fighting for the Islamic State (Isis). One is now in a British jail, four of them are dead – one confirmed killed on Tuesday and another is with the Isis offensive on the Syrian town of Kobani, where the remaining member of the group is presumed to still be fighting.The issue of why the lads are a product of Portsmouth is a topic of heated discussion within the city.
Here, 57% of children live in income-deprived families: the average estimated household income is £430 per week compared with the British average of £670.
The Bangladeshi community is singled out as enduring particular hardship with more than half of all households headed by a Pakistani or Bangladeshi experiencing poverty. In addition, a recent survey named Portsmouth as among the most stressful places to live.
One resident, retired restaurateur Muhammed Badruz Zaman, 78, who arrived in the city from Sylhet in Bangladesh, never thought he would witness the day that young Bangladeshis would voluntarily leave the UK to fight in the Middle East. He says: “It seems totally crazy, their brains have been washed to leave this safe city, and for what?”
Another man stated: “There’s not that much to do around here, they probably wanted excitement. Whatever they were after, it was nothing to do with Islam,”
But the equation that economic hardship and alienation equals radicalisation is not straightforward. Some of the Pompey six had reasonable jobs, after all. Other city residents believe that the animosity experienced by Muslim youths from the port’s far-right fraternity could have driven some to Syria.
Yet some say it has nothing to do with Portsmouth. Instead they point out how they are radicalised online, often through Isis’s skilled use of social media. “It happens in their bedrooms, no one can reach them,” says Thakur, mimicking manic typing on the bonnet of a parked car. “Anyway boys will be boys, some will always want a fight,” he adds.
Spain’s greatest experts on Jihadism, are unanimous: the Portuguese authorities have reasons for concern. “Portugal must be very alert to the movements of jihadists in the territory and for the radicalization within and outside its frontiers” warns Fernando Reinares, principal investigator of the International Terrorism Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid. The same opinion is shared by Oscar Perez Ventura, director of the Department of Analysis of Terrorism and Organized Crime adding: “These Iberian jihadists are considered very dangerous.”
Manuel Torres Soriano, University Professor and author of “Al Andalus, 2.0” emphasises “attention, that all these mentions of these groups to the recovery of Andalusia refer also to Portugal. The jihadists do not believe in national divisions, but in the existence of a unique Muslim community who embraces the entire peninsula.”