Cash intended to check the rise of Islamic extremism following the London 7/7 bombings ended up funding the very radicals it was meant to fight. Britain’s home minister made the extraordinary admission while outlining changes to the nation’s overarching anti-terror strategy, called Prevent.
“In trying to reach out to those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting,” Theresa May told the lower house of parliament on Tuesday. “We will not make the same mistakes.”
The programme, with a budget of £63 million a year, was launched to tackle the roots of radicalisation after July 7, 2007, when four suicide bombers killed 52 people across London. Some of the money reached a small number of groups that either expressed extremist views or employed people who held such views, according to an official review of the government strategy.
There were other problems. Since 7/7, 1,120 people have been referred to the government as being at risk of radicalisation. But they also included 290 under-16s and 55 children below 12, which risked undermining the credibility of the whole programme.
Most of them were named by schools colleges, police and local authority groups known as youth offending teams.
Apart from colleges and universities, the new strategy, for the first time, will bring in doctors and other medical professionals in order to identify those “vulnerable to the risk of radicalisation.” They will be expected to identify both patients and medical staff.
An Indian doctor-turned-terrorist, Kafeel Ahmed, died while trying to execute a suicide bombing mission at Glasgow airport in 2007.