The UK faces a threat to public safety and public order from suicidal, murderous, home-grown jihadists whose actions are to some extent coordinated by a range of Muslim lunatics labelled ISIL. Other EU states face a similar threat – as does the United States. As the perpetrators are home-grown the solutions will vary from country to country. Selfishly perhaps, I am predominantly concerned with the UK.
The motivation of the individuals seems to be to achieve martyrdom while killing as many as possible. The level of skill required to be an effective jihadist is minimal, as is the weaponry. The correlation between actions as a state or as part of an alliance and the incidence or cessation of these attacks is weak. They are not, therefore, like other terrorists who have a political agenda. There is no possibility of a political solution being found; there is nothing to negotiate. This requires a change of thought (the mantra of British counter-terrorism is that there has to be a political solution to end the violence).
The common denominators between jihadists are that they are Islamic, male and young. Within the UK there are 2.7 million Muslims. Around 1.4 million of them are male and of those around 20% are aged 15 to 29. That is a total of just under 300,000. (data from last census via Wikipedia. I suspect one could get much better profiling from the raw data on ONS, but I haven’t the time or inclination) So far as I can recall fewer than 30 jihadists have acted in the UK in past few years so that is about 1 in 10,000.
The UK’s aim is, I think, to preserve the rule of law and restore public confidence in order to maintain public safety. It can’t be to defeat Islamic terrorism as these arseholes aren’t terrorists.
It is reasonable to assume that it is relatively simple for the security forces to identify the suspect pool by name and address. Finding the 1 in 10,000 or 1 in 1,000 is harder, although I’m sure that a range of tools and techniques are being used to get it down to 1 in 100 or so. (Few of these cretins have children, most are not employed at anything above manual labour).
For sure the apparent lack of a command structure and lack of reliance on complex weaponry actually makes it harder for the security forces; turning one cretin does not help identify another. Obtaining surface to air missiles is hard and much more likely to attract the attention of security forces than purchasing a machete.
Anyway, what happens in the intelligence agencies is speculation, which would for my part be uniformed. So let’s move on to what happens when a suspect is identified as either (1) definite jihadist and/or (2) probable jihadist?
At the moment nothing can lawfully be done unless (1) can be proven – which in practical terms means proving without compromising sources, which is hard. It might be that internment could be useful, although that was less than successful in Ulster and there are issues within the concept of the UK’s rule of law. One work around might be to argue (and decree) that being indoctrinated as a jihadist is a mental health issue, and thus detain them under mental health legislation (i.e. indefinitely) while trying to un-brainwash them. No doubt this would be easier if we withdrew from the European Convention on Human Rights – which might not be a bad thing anyway. Again, Brexit makes this easier but we need to do it now.
We also need to make it clear to the Muslim communities (if such things exist) that if they have suspicions about an individual their choice is simple. The either report them to and cooperate with the police or they do nothing and await counter-terrorist team’s arrival, at which point they will be deemed as an accessory and potential jihadist themselves. Again, painting Jihadism as a mental health issue could help raise support.
Solving the jihadist problem is going to be a long haul. However, there are some straightforward steps that we can take now to prevent the problem from growing.
Firstly, we need to secure our borders. Now. Yes, the perpetrators are home grown but some of the Imams/coordinators are probably not. Free movement will end with Brexit, so tell EU its being brought forward for security reasons. We also need to sort out the Border Force.
Secondly we need to force integration of all British Muslims into British society. No more Islamic faith schools, no more Sharia courts. I don’t think this is as large a problem as it appears in the media, nor do I think that there will be much objection from the overwhelming majority of British Muslims.
Thirdly, we need to man up as a society. Within the UK in past 5 years only Lee Rigby has been killed by jihadists, and three more wounded by a nutter with a knife. There is no point in being afraid and nothing to be afraid of. The media need to understand that they are doing the terrorists work for them by creating a state of fear from events in other countries. Even for the French and Belgians, the chances of being involved in a terrorist incident are actuarially insignificant.
That said, it is bloody hard to see how security forces can prevent leakage. At some time, some incident will kick off, and it is unlikely that security forces will be on hand to intervene before it has developed into a siege or slaughter. I doubt that the sometimes mooted arming of some parts of society would achieve much. Those involved in the incident will have to face the awful truth is that if you act like sheep the wolves will eat you.
The good news for the overwhelming majority who are not involved is that sheep thrive in the UK; it is the wolves that are extinct.
In summary then, I don’t think jihadists pose any threat to the nation state, and only a very minor one to public safety. There are some steps that can, and should be taken to increase the efficacy of the security services. As there is no discernible positive political objective behind the jihadists there is no need for any sort of dialogue, or even thinking about it. They are deranged, insane fools and should be treated as such.
The vast majority of us can get on with enjoying our lives.