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Anti-terror strategy: Adequate or not?

As the news of the Manchester Arena bombing was broadcasted on every television station, Muslims around the world silently prayed that the perpetrator wouldn’t have a Muslim name, while foreigners in the UK hoped that the suicide bomber would not have a name that sounded remotely foreign.  Both groups were hoping that they would not be asked to apologise or pay retribution for an attack their religion entirely opposes or pay the price through the flare up of hate crimes that usually follow such an event.

This has been the second terrorist attack in the UK this year, following the pedestrian knockdown in Westminster. Previous years from 2010-2014 had less than one terrorist attack per a year on average. This is all while UK budget for anti-terrorism have increased dramatically over the years with the UK spending $61 800 million on military expenditure in 2014 alone (according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) while investing in numerous anti-terrorism strategies such as CONTEST (The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism) and the Quilliam Foundation.

CONTEST, the UK’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism is four-fold and fails dismally on all four of those fronts by not only being counter-productive and discriminative against Muslims and immigrants but also perpetuating a gross violation of human rights and dignity. “Our Pursue effort has continued to involve work with a range of countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East where the terrorist threat to our people and interests is greatest. Overseas, we need to be able to find and track terrorists in the hostile environments where they thrive – in unstable states and amid civil wars.’   This extract from the 2015 CONTEST document displays the irony and absolute arrogance from the UK Government in implementing such a law.

Extremism and radicalisation has never and will never operate in a vacuum. Terrorism in it’s core is entirely anti-Islamic and extremism is always rooted in the anger and contempt that arises from the ‘unstable states’ and ‘civil wars’ that are largely promoted and contributed to by countries such as Britain and the US. It is worth noting that at the end of 2014, UK terrorist threat levels were raised astronomically due to the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

In a document by Human Rights Watch, the Prevent aspect of CONTEST also came under attack. In a document opposing Prevent, especially its effects on profiling children as “potential future terrorists” HRW said the following in the report:

“It appears that Prevent is having the opposite of its  intended effect:  by  dividing,  stigmatizing  and alienating  segments  of the  population,  Prevent  could  end  up  promoting  extremism, rather  than  countering it. Detailed in this report, Prevent has led to violations of the right to education, the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of religion, the right to privacy, the right to freedom from discrimination, and the fundamental principle that actions taken in relation to children must treat the child’s best interests as a primary consideration”

Quilliam Foundation, run by ex-extremists Maajid Nawaaz, Ed Husain and Rashad Ali, manages to judge all Muslims by the radical ideas these individuals held previously. Their organisation’s main goal is to work as a think tank to counteract ‘Islamism’.  The use of the word Islamism is in itself highly problematic, being a propaganda tool used to link Islam and terrorism. It propagates the idea that Islam is a good religion, if and only if, it conforms to modern day society and that Muslims are only not dangerous if they’ve reformed, abandoning shariah beliefs.

The combined glaring failure of UK counter-terrorism initiatives is that they focus mainly on the ‘threat’ posed by innocent Muslims, profiling and generalizing them while conveniently ignoring the threat posed by right-wing extremists.  It increases paranoia which results in hate crimes against Muslims, which consequently acts as a recruitment tool for extremists groups such as ISIS. According to Human Rights Watch, a US citizen is 7 times more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim.

While media houses were reporting about the events in Manchester on loop, they’ve conveniently ignored terrorism in other parts of the world. The past month has been the deadliest on record for Syrian Civilians killed in US led air strikes – yes, this too qualifies as terrorism. 225 civilians, including 36 women and 44 children, were killed in the period between 23 April to 23 May yet all the reporting this received on major news houses was a by-line at the bottom of the screen.

It seems the world requires continuous reminders that the events that have occurred in Manchester and Westminster are tragic, but what is more tragic is that the majority (over 80 percent) of those who die from terrorist attacks are in only three regions of the world: Iraq/Syria, Afghanistan/Pakistan, and Nigeria.

The current failing efforts to prevent terrorism should begin with the cessation of profiling based on ethnicity and religion, move beyond security responses and instead begin with the withdrawal of British Special Forces and US soldiers and their murderous drones from countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Somalia.