My 22 September Talk TV interview with Peter Cardwell is available to watch, here, and below.
Back in January I contributed to a Policy Exchange report on police staff associations.
Blurred Lines: Police staff networks politics or policing? has a marvelous front cover, and a small section on the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) which I was keen to write as it may be the first critical examination of this grouping.
You can download the full report from the Policy Exchange website here.
I attach as a pdf, below, my section on NAMP, which focuses on their interventions on the language of counter-terrorism, and their associations.
Earlier this year the Bloom report called for a greater relationship between government and faith. It argued government should recognise faith groups as a force for good. You can read Colin Bloom's report here.
I see things as much more complicated, and in May put pen to paper with the Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, discussing both Bloom's report and the wider dangers it's suggestions signpost. You can view our article on the spiked website here, or as a pdf below.
Earlier this year Routledge, who seem to dominate academic output when it comes to the political fringe, published the Routledge Handbook of Non-Violent Extremism.
Edited by Elisa Orofino and William Allchorn, it is a pretty hefty piece of work, with 32 separate articles.
One of them is from me, 'The phoney war,' which charts radical environmental and animal rights activism across five decades. I argue direct action leads to a conversation between protestors and the authorities, and in the case of the animal rights movement, militant activism faded as many of the protestors core demands (such as the abolition of hunting) were won. The present era is significantly different, in that activists propagate arguments of imminent environmental collapse, a position that is to at least some degree accepted, and even echoed, by ruling elites.
What happens though, to this movement, as we get potentially closer to the environmental point of no return (2030?) that they insist is approaching? When does the conversation stop?
Two short comments on the handbook itself. It is a substantial piece of work, covering differing types of extremism, from religious actors to the far-right, far-left and environmentalists. Unfortunately the nature of academic publishing means that for all the sterling work put into the project, few will seriously study it. The cheapest price - £178.18 - guarantees that. Although you can read it via a Kindle for £38. Academic publishing appears content to phase out actual books, and to sell at a high price to universities and similar institutions, leaving out the man and woman in the street. In the long-term that strategy is unsustainable - it is taxation which of course funds the universities. The relevance of academic research, especially in the social sciences, needs to be debated far more than it is. Secondly, I salute the enormous amount of work the editors have put in to tie this project together. It is much appreciated by this author.
Earlier this month I wrote a short piece for spiked on the third and final part of the Manchester Arena inquiry.
It details some of the sorry revelations to emerge, and highlights the reluctance of sections of the British state to really get into the weeds and the dirt when it comes to Islamist extremism.
You can read the article online here, and a pdf can be viewed below.
Last month I was co-author, along with my colleague Damon Perry, of a report into the Trojan Horse Affair in Birmingham Schools.
You can read The Trojan Horse Affair: A Documentary Record online here. A pdf of the report can also be downloaded below.
On Friday 12 August an attempt was made to murder the writer Salman Rushdie at a public event in New York State.
I was quoted on the issue of Rushdie's security, and the wider threat from terrorism in the Sunday Post newspaper on 14 August. As the article does not appear to be online, I attach it as a pdf below.
The protests against The Lady of Heaven movie have ended in a complete victory for the protestors.
England and Wales abolished laws against blasphemy under the last Labour government in 2008. As at Batley Grammar School in 2021 however, it appears possible for Islamist protestors to enforce blasphemy codes by taking to the streets.
This research note, published yesterday by Policy Exchange, considers events this month, and traces the opposition to The Lady of Heaven movie back to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
You can read the research note online here, and download a pdf below.
This week the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European parliament published the report on the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe that I have worked on with the Italian researcher Tommaso Virgili.
You can see the report launch, and download a copy of the report, on the ECR website here.
A pdf of the report can be found below.
As Saudi Arabia increasingly looks to move away from influencing the growth of Islam in the west, Turkey is a more important player than ever.
This article, for Policy Exchange's Understanding Islamism project, seeks to explain the influence of the Diyanet, Turkey's Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Read it online here, and as a pdf below.
I wrote the following for the Policy Exchange website earlier this month.
You can read the text here, and as a pdf below.
This article, for Policy Exchange, examines the French NGO BarakaCity.
Proscribed for extremism in its home country, its CEO Idriss Sihamedi, has publicly sought asylum in Turkey. However it has for several years been active in this country, and is currently seeking to expand its operations in Britain, an issue that should raise concerns.
There is a link to the article here, and a pdf below:
9/11 retrospective articles are everywhere this weekend.
This piece, for the Policy Exchange website, dabbles with that, but attempts to look more broadly at the importance of funding in the propaganda wars which follow in the wake of both terrorism and counter terrorism.
You can view online here, or as a pdf below:
I neglected to post my final comments for Spiked on Labour's eventual victory in the Batley and Spen by-election.
You can read it on the excellent spiked website, here.
I also place the article as a pdf below. Perhaps the most significant development since the result has been the Labour MP for Bradford West and Shadow Minister for Social Cohesion, who spoke in the Commons of the need to protect Muslims from the 'hurt' of insults to Muhammad. It is hard not to see a connection between the by-election result, and Ms Shah's intervention. It bodes ill for the direction Labour is taking.
It seems likely the Conservatives will win the Batley and Spen by-election on 1 July. There is even the possibility of George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain beating Labour into third place.
As I discuss for spiked, having played the game of identity politics, abandoning the Batley Grammar school teacher in the process, Labour now risks being outplayed at their own game by Galloway. You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh.....
A pdf of the article is available below:
I took part in a panel discussion yesterday on Iranian influence overseas, as part of the promotional work following the report I published with the Henry Jackson Society earlier this week.
The panel was chaired by the Conservative MP Theresa Villiers, and I was joined by Prof Saul Chorev, Simone Rodan-Benzaquen and Jonathan Spyer.
You can see a video of the event here.
I am the author of a new report on Iranian influence in the United Kingdom. You can read the press release and find a link to the report here.
The report looks at seven areas of interest: political networks, religion, the media, cultural networks, the Iranian diaspora, education and academia, and finally, the fields of business and finance. The bulk of the focus, however, is in the fields of politics and religion.
A pdf of the report can be downloaded below:
The Summer 2021 issue of the Salisbury Review is now out. You can buy the magazine, or download a copy, here.
Within its pages I have a review of Douglas Murray's short book 'Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady.' What are the consequences of an outbreak of Islamophilia? Read the review and find out.
Following the inquest into the killing of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt in the November 2019 terrorist attack at Fishmongers Hall in London, I have written a short piece for Spiked on the question of whether the attack could have been prevented.
The article is on the Spiked website here.
It can also be read as a pdf below.
It is not sure exactly when it will happen, but a by-election in the west Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen appears inevitable, after the sitting MP, Tracy Babin, was elected as the new Mayor for West Yorkshire.
The central issue in the by-election that brought Ms Babin into office in 2016 was the fascist terror attack which saw Jo Cox MP murdered by Thomas Mair. This by-election will occur to the backdrop of threats of violence to a teacher at Batley Grammar, who is in hiding after threats from Islamists. In an article today for Spiked, I argue standing up to the aggressors in this case must be a central issue when the by-election is held.
The article can also be read as a pdf, below.
On Tuesday 22nd December I will be chairing an online event at 1500 for the Henry Jackson Society entitled 'President Macron's Response to Islamism and Jihadist Terror: Lessons for Other Nations'.
The discussion should last for about an hour, with three leading researchers in the field - Liam Duffy, Dr Tommaso Virgili and Simone Rodan-Benzaquen. There will also be a Q and A session. Sadly, as the event is online, the anticipated mince pies and glasses of sherry will have to wait until next year.
To attend, all you need to do is register online with HJS, and you will receive an emailed link to join the event as it starts.
This is a 45 minute discussion of the 2008 terror attacks carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba, at the direction of the Pakistani deep state.
From the Canadian station TAG TV, I contribute to a panel with the SOAS orientalist Burzine Waghmar. The sound is a little ropey at first (part of one answer sounds as if I am impersonating the late Norman Collier) but it soon improves.
You can view the discussion below
Over the weekend I had a short article published in the Sunday Guardian in India, concerning the 2008 terror attacks in the city.
In it I attempt to characterise some aspects of jihadist violence, for example its anger and hatred directed at 'the other', and also discuss aspects of the impact of the attacks. For example, the view of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, was reinforced.
You can read the article on The Sunday Guardian website here, and also get a pdf of the piece
Download Nature and impact of Mumbai attacks 21 11 2020.
Now - what are my chances of getting a commission to write for the Guardian in this country?
There is much to be encouraged by in the response of President Macron to the wave of jihadist attacks in France.
His understanding of the threat posed to the west's freedoms is correct, and in casting the question in terms of sovereignty, Macron illustrates that the goal of both Islamists and jihadists is to enforce the laws of Islam in the west. That cannot pass.
I discuss this, the emergence of President Erdogan's Turkey as a key player in Islamist circles and the response of British Islamists to events in France, in an article today for Spiked. It can be read here.
A pdf of the article is available
Download Islamism threatens us all - spiked 04 11 2020.
The Sunday Guardian in India has published my article on the overlap between British jihadists, Islamic State and the Indian subcontinent. You can follow a link to it here.
I have also saved the article as a pdf attached
Download Three points of the Triangle Islamic State Britain Indian subcontinent - The Sunday Guardian Live 03 10 2020
More generally, most of my writing is collected on my Academia.edu page here. It is all free to download, but you will need to register to do so. In time I will bring over everything from there, to here.
The 22nd May was a year to the day since the Manchester Arena bombing in which 22, mostly young people and children, were killed.
To coincide with events held in Manchester, the Survivors Against Terror group (SAT) issued an open letter in the Observer of 20th May (scroll down here), calling for five distinct positions to be adopted against terrorism. This received considerable media coverage, see for example that from the BBC. The main figure in SAT is Brendan Cox. Whilst he resigned from positions in two charities linked to continuing his wife’s work in February, his work on countering terrorism was not mentioned at the time. Even when he has been publicly labelled a sex pest, it is perhaps rather difficult to condemn him when he is standing with fellow victims of terrorism. That of course is precisely the type of thing he will have calculated into his thinking, as he seeks to return to public life.
The SAT intervention has a five point programme it seeks support for:
• Please keep your focus on honouring the memory of those who have been killed. Terrorists often attack partly to gain notoriety. We should deny them it; their names don't deserve to be remembered.
• Give to appeals to help the victims of attacks and demand government provide the high quality services that survivors need.
• Ask media and social media organisations to do far more to take on and shut down those driving hate.
• Support our emergency and security services to do their job. If you know something or suspect something, tell them.
• Take on hatred wherever you find it. Very few of us will ever meet a terrorist, but lots of us will experience those driving hatred. Hatred is the sea that terrorists need to swim in, if we take on that hatred, we dry up that sea.
It would be interesting to know who wrote this, or developed the draft. Points 1, 2 and 4 are so anodyne as to be agreeable by virtually anyone, not least those who have suffered bereavement in terrorist incidents. Points 3 and 5 are more contentious, and open up a potential agenda – restricting social media, and acting against ‘hate’ that is more debateable, and entirely in keeping with political agendas from liberal elites and their little helpers.
Social Media and Terrorism?
Terrorism long predates social media – the IRA campaign, or that of the various loyalist groups from 1969-98, hardly needed it, even if the technology had existed. Historically, explanations for terrorism have considered concepts such as injustice, poverty, bad foreign policy, or the nature of, and trends within, ideologies and belief systems, serving to radicalise individuals and groups. Social networks are also important – you are more likely to join a terrorist group, if friends are doing so. That is why some towns, like Portsmouth, appear to have had Islamic versions of First World War ‘Pals Regiments’ going off to Syria. Cox and co ignore all of this. Instead the problem is the media and social media, and the wide, perhaps all too wide concept of ‘hate’.
There is little evidence social media played any role in the Manchester bombing.
The bomber, Salman Abedi, was a supporter of Islamic State, and a Mancunian of Libyan heritage. His father, Ramadan Abedi, was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an organisation the British government helped to overthrow Gadaffi. Salman Abedi had long moved in Islamist circles in Greater Manchester, and fought in Libya in 2011 in its Civil War. His brother Ismail Abedi is currently in custody in Libya, fighting extradition to the UK.
But - there is nothing here from SAT or Brendan Cox on foreign policy, immigration or religion. Is it a good idea to be allowing members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to settle in Manchester? Why did the British government seemingly support the overthrow of Colonel Gadaffi, then work with him against the Islamists, then change course again, to support regime change? What does Theresa May, either the Home Secretary or Prime Minister in much of this period, have to say? There is nothing from SAT on breaking up friendship groups of extremists - in the months before the attack, Abedi twice visited a convicted terrorist in prison. Should we be allowing young men convicted of supporting terrorism to hang out in jail with impressionable young men from the streets?
Taking on 'hatred', requires a definition of hatred that is agreed upon by a majority of the populace. How likely is that? Whilst elite level groups and government departments can readily agree (debating terminology is one of the things they do) such a consensus is unlikely to emerge from where it is needed - the bottom up. And where does any definition of ‘hate’ sit with the concept of free speech?
The deployment of victims of terrorism to promote the idea that social media is in some way a ‘cause’ of terrorism is now underway. At the same time, there seems to have been a low level purge on Twitter of ‘extremist’ voices, most prominently of Tommy Robinson. In due course, that is likely to be extended to You Tube, and Nigel Farage has made the accusation that algorithms are being used to censor conservative comment on Facebook.
That, combined with loose accusations of ‘extremism’ or ‘hate’ is likely to be at the centre of the work of groups like Hope not Hate, and it seems, Survivors Against Terrorism, going forward. It avoids asking hard questions about foreign policy, immigration policy and (almost certainly) it avoids asking hard questions about trends within contemporary Sunni Islam. Consider all those politicians and news readers talking about ‘Daesh’ or ‘so-called Islamic State’ to see how readily euphemism can predominate. It risks conflating those involved with violence, with those who are not. And it will almost certainly serve as one of the fronts in the conflicts over politics we will see over the next 18 months.
Do you trust Brendan Cox to define what constitutes ‘hate’?