Time to attack local terrorism

The greatest threat to the safety and security of Jews living in the UK comes from Muslims also living in the UK. Not all British Muslims, of course, or even a majority of them. But a section of British Muslim society harbours malevolent and occasionally murderous intentions towards British Jews. This is a deeply unpalatable truth. But truth it is.

In last week's JC, political editor Martin Bright commented on a forthcoming report by the Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute that identifies the UK as (in Martin's words) "the centre of a systematic assault on Israel's right to exist."

I have no difficulty accepting this analysis but what really caught my eye was the reference to the role, within this "hub of hate", of "British-based Islamists who find common cause with Hamas." And Hamas has at its ideological core a hatred not so much of Zionism and Israel as of Jews and of Judaism.

Hamas's antipathy to the Jewish state derives and is inseparable from its aversion to Jews. What the Reut institute is saying is that there is, within the UK, a cadre of British-based Islamists who exult in this aversion.

Hamas’s ideological hatred is for Jews rather than for Zionists

Next, consider the recent BBC Panorama report into the instruction that is taking place, here and now in the UK, in a network of more than 40 "weekend" schools catering for the religious education of British-born, Muslim children.

These institutions boast a syllabus derived explicitly from textbooks celebrating the demonisation of Jews - again, not Zionists but Jews. Jews are, according to this syllabus, descended from monkeys and pigs. To encourage pupils in this teaching, the textbooks invite them to list the "reprehensible qualities" of Jewish people. That is what these British youngsters are being taught, with, presumably, the full-hearted consent of their parents.

Without wishing to minimise the importance of the Panorama report I must point out that this is not the first time such allegations have been made. On the Guardian's website, on November 24, Rabbi David Goldberg, of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, wrote that it "is stating the obvious to affirm that such hate literature… cannot be tolerated in any multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society."

But tolerated it is, here in the UK.

Now let me draw your attention to a report that has not been given anything like the publicity it deserves. In July, the Centre for Social Cohesion published Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections.

This weighty tome comprises an analysis of the criminal trials of some 124 individuals convicted, here in the UK, of Islamist-related terrorist offences in the period 1999-2009. Roughly two-thirds of these terrorists were British citizens. Most were in their early 20s. Your "typical" terrorist is a British male of Pakistani origin but with no "formal" terrorist links.

British Islamist terrorists are in fact "home-grown". Thirty-one per cent are university graduates. Their "radicalisation" took place, for the most part, right here in the UK.

So the heroic sacrifices of our troops in Afghanistan can go only so far. It is said that the war cannot be won there. But it can be won here, once we all admit that there is a war here --- one that can and must be won.

In this connection, I must point the finger at my own sector: higher education. I read with astonishment, last September, the report of an inquiry set up by University College London into the career of its former student Umar Abdulmutallab, now charged in the USA with attempting to blow up a transatlantic aircraft using explosives concealed in his underwear. The UCL inquiry concluded that "there is no evidence to suggest… that… Abdulmutallab was radicalised while a student at UCL."

But, last January, Alan Johnson, the former Home Secretary, told Parliament that, when Abdulmutallab had been studying at UCL, he "was known to the Security Service MI5". He was "known" to MI5 because he had been observed making contact with acknowledged purveyors of Islamist violence. Yet nothing was done.

As my Buckingham University colleague professor Anthony Glees - the UK's leading terrorism expert - has rightly concluded: "If UCL thinks that making contact with terrorists isn't evidence of radicalisation, there is no point in trying to convince it of anything."

In fact, the intelligence services have identified no less than 39 UK higher-education institutions as being "vulnerable to violent extremism". Some have denied that the threat is at all serious.

As much as I deplore government intervention in our universities, I'm afraid that, unless vice-chancellors take appropriate action voluntarily, they will have to be compelled to do so.

    Last updated: 3:12pm, December 9 2010