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UK scrambling to deal with ISIS

world Updated: Aug 22, 2014 09:32 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar

The David Cameron government appeared to be scrambling to deal with the ISIS challenge on two fronts: the security aspect as well as dealing with the radicalisation of British youth amidst a plethora of legislation on human rights and the coveted idea of freedom of speech.

Britain’ s security apparatus combed through databases to identify the ISIS man assessed by language experts to be with an London accent in the video depicting the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

Efforts were also on to deal with the wider security implications of the challenge.

Shaun Gregory, professor of International Security at Durham University, told HT that the ‘Foley horror’ and the estimated 500 or so young British Muslims who had gone to Syria and Iraq, and thousands more in places such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Libya and Somalia were raising two key debates.

He said: “The first is about the potential security threat such individuals pose on their return, with a Mumbai-style attack the most feared; and secondly, that it is provoking criticism of the UK government’s counter-terrorism strategy called Contest/Prevent from two main quarters”.

"One, from security specialists - many on the right - who argue not enough is being done to stop extremist funding from Saudis, etc; not enough action against known extremists or related groups in the UK, and not enough done to shape what is being taught in UK's mosques and madrassas, etc”.

Gregory added: “The other is from Muslim apologist groups which argue that UK counter-terrorism strategy and UK foreign policy is provoking young men and women joining radical groups.

Such groups want a greater say in UK counter-terrorism and in UK foreign policy, and are really seeking to parlay violence and the threat of violence into political influence”.