In the Name of Preventing Terrorism, the British Government Is Funding Islamists

March 22, 2023 | Kyle Orton
About the author:

In the wake of the July 7, 2005 London terrorist attacks, the United Kingdom developed Prevent, a set of programs that aim to discourage young people from joining “extremist” groups and to “deradicalize” those already in their clutches. Recently, William Shawross published his findings after conducting an extensive independent review of the program at the government’s behest. He found numerous troubling patterns, including a disproportionate and wrongheaded focus on right-wing extremists, with the result that reading the works of John Locke or C.S. Lewis is taken as a sign of incipient white supremacism, but reading the works of Sayid Qutb—founder of Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood—is not considered a sign of anything. Then there is the problem that Prevent gives money to Islamist preachers and organizations in the hope that they will exert a moderating influence.

Kyle Orton comments on Shawcross’s findings:

First, and in the most direct sense, there are signs of deep confusion about what Islamism is, which is perhaps not that surprising when the use of the very word is still being contested. . . . Prevent’s tendency has been to secularize jihadists, [which] means that instead of experts on jihadist ideology, the program “frequently seeks guidance from academics or psychologists with a clinical or theoretical background.” . . . It has been a popular understanding in such circles that extremism is like a virus people can catch by watching the wrong YouTube video.

Some of the most severe problems are specific to Channel, a division of Prevent that intervenes with people flagged by the program’s other branches:

Shawcross found an extraordinary prevalence of anti-Semitism in the Channel system. Anti-Semitism “spanned across the full range of Channel cases we observed, regardless of the nature of the ideology. . . . [Anti-Semitism] unites both Islamists and [the] extreme right wing, as well as the extreme left, in a kind of modern-day Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact,” Shawcross writes. Individuals not only openly expressed their belief in anti-Semitic, Protocols of the Elders of Zion-type conspiracy theories, but their wish to blow up synagogues, admitted to having done hostile surveillance to enable same, and their desire to do violence against Jewish people, either collectively or individually.

Shawcross does not point this out, but the scale of the targeting of British Jews in hate crimes is staggering: seven times the rate of attacks on Muslims, and nearly one-quarter of all hate crimes, despite [Jews] being less than 0.5 percent of the population.

Read more on It Can Always Get Worse: