Another terrorist attack has occurred in Barcelona and Cambrils and, once again, we see the dreadful consequences of inaction by European governments, including our own. Once more, candles are lit and people mourn the dead, politicians speak of togetherness and defeating this ‘invisible’ enemy, but with no plan, no change to the inaction that follows, and with continued ineffectiveness, typified by our Prime Minister’s feeble and predictable response.
It was feeble because it offered no solution and predictable because leaders always trot out the same rhetoric. We know for certain that there will be another attack, then another, then another, so why don’t we do something about it?
We are fighting an enemy that operates from within the shadows. The perpetrators are the ones who emerge to commit these acts of wanton destruction, but they are simply the tools. They are weak minded and gullible misfits, driven on by those who prefer to remain in the background offering everlasting heavenly reward to the fools who so easily believe them. Those who commit the acts are the expendable pawns but somewhere there is always a connection to those who encourage. Whether on social media or in a mosque, or in carefully arranged meetings, these misfits, who allow their minds to be so easily filled with empty promises from those who remain in the dark, always leave a trail.
After every attack, we learn that they were on a ‘watch list’, or that somebody in the chain is on one, and we collect this information as if it were an academic survey when, instead, we desperately need a strategy to be able to act upon it.
This is what we should do.
Our security forces, including the police, the border force and anti-terror units, must be staffed to above optimal for the foreseeable future as an absolute priority. This will take time but priority should be given to former officers with the necessary training and experience to hasten the recruitment process.
Whilst we are strengthening the physical enforcement presence we must amend our laws, to address the nature of this partially hidden threat. The watchwords for this legislative change would be ‘Substantive Intent’. This is a new description for actions that clearly show an intention to commit anti-British and anti-humanitarian acts for the furtherance of political Islam, the ideology that promotes Muslims as superior to all other beings and seeks to control the world by any means.
Substantive Intent would become the mechanism whereby we would be able to lawfully prosecute those who seek to undermine our values; those who engage in activities likely to cause, encourage or facilitate acts of violence or hatred. The real work in establishing this legislation is in defining exactly what Substantive Intent would encompass. By that mechanism, we would have the tool not only to know our likely future murderers but to halt them in their tracks and, as a result, take appropriate action.
We need this legislative change because existing laws are insufficiently focussed on this ideologically-driven violence, and we must ensure that any actions we take follow the due process of law.
Likely behavioural patterns may include the following:
- Travelling to fight or support, in any way, terrorist groups.
- Preaching hatred and isolationism. Promotion of an ideology through violence.
- Accessing terrorist material, or such material as may promote 1 and 2 above.
- Supporting, encouraging, or providing succour to those who commit or intend to commit violent acts.
And there would be more. Clearly, the establishment of a fair and appropriate definition for Substantive Intent is critical in creating the legal framework to prosecute offenders before they commit terrorist acts. Perhaps some may feel aggrieved, though I doubt that would compare to the lifelong grief of the never-ending stream of victims and relatives, the sorrow and desperation of repeated vigils or the growing fear amongst honourable and decent people.
The problem is Islamic terrorism. It is Islamic, it takes its authorisation from Islam, but it’s not all Muslims, it is some Muslims, so the process of determining who is and who isn’t is to the benefit of those Muslims who follow a different path. Their help is critical in identifying the future terrorist and to do so would be to the benefit of everyone, including Muslims themselves.
Establishing the concept of Substantive Intent and acting upon it will be seen by the majority as a rational way of dealing with the problem before people are killed rather than after. This is not about what people are thinking but of their actions and behaviour.
Intelligence and surveillance are of no value unless we act upon what we find.
So, what’s to be done?
We must recognise and apply a zero-tolerance approach to assessing and prosecuting Substantive Intent, but the approach must begin in an appropriate manner. Many who may be of initial interest could prove to be entirely innocent and interrogation must be cognisant of that likelihood.
- Muslims suspected of potential Substantive Intent must all be interviewed and their communications analysed. If no Substantive Intent exists, the process ends there and they may resume a free and uninterrupted life.
- If there is a suspicion of Substantive Intent, their interrogation will deepen to make sure they are not, and will never become, a threat.
- A similar approach would be taken with mosques and imams who embody Substantive Intent into their preaching.
It must become clear that we will no longer tolerate an enemy within.
Where individuals are successfully prosecuted, their term of imprisonment will be followed by deportation. If they were born in the UK, then deportation to their country of origin, as Germany has already done. Such deportation may be voluntarily undertaken in return for a reduced sentence, which should, otherwise, have a maximum term of life imprisonment, meaning life.
Mosques that allow the preaching of hatred would be closed, demolished and their assets sequestrated. Zero tolerance must mean exactly that.
To enforce deportation (and no return), we must have tight border controls so that we know who is here and who has left. An appropriate determination of identity must be a part of the process of admitting non-British immigrants and deportees.
This is a way to avoid the next mass murder, the next candle-lit vigil and the repetition of political platitudes we’ve heard so many times before.
It is time to put an end to this threat in the UK.