Manchester is another wake up call against a known evil

As Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seeks to blame UK foreign policy for the Manchester attack, serious and decent people know this is a global and civilisational struggle against Islamist barbarism that we still have not fully grasped

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Grief in Manchester
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Jeremy Havardi
On 26 May 2017 05:58

The carnage inflicted by Salman Abedi in Manchester has shocked and outraged the nation. To carry out such a planned and indiscriminate act of savagery against innocent children seems almost too evil to comprehend.

Yet this barbarism is nothing new. Events such as the 2004 massacre of schoolchildren in Beslan and the abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria teach us that radical Islamic fanatics have no compunction about targeting the youngest members of society.

Moreover, trying to appease these bloodthirsty killers by assuaging their ‘grievances’ remains futile. Within hours of the atrocity, ISIL sympathisers spoke of their joy in attacking ‘infidels’ in Manchester.  For being non-Muslim, these teenagers were seen as fair game for extermination, losing their right to life because they were deemed to be of the ‘wrong’ religion.

These warped killers are blinded by a visceral and fathomless hatred of the West and all the cherished values that govern our society: democratic pluralism, liberal tolerance, religious equality, freedom of speech, sexual liberty and female emancipation. Our living in a modern, tolerant and relatively free society is the jihadis' real grievance.

They have a totalitarian ideology  which, to us, seems unremittingly bleak but, to them, represents paradise. No amount of hashtags or peace vigils will ‘drown out their hate’.

So instead of succumbing to anodyne sentiments about unity and mutual love, it’s time that we collectively demanded a robust response from our political class.

For starters, it is horrifying that our security services, which have foiled dozens of plots since the 7/7 attacks, are seemingly stretched to breaking point. According to the MI5 chief, there are some 3,000 Muslim extremists seeking to attack Britain right now.

It takes dozens of operatives to provide 24/7 surveillance on one individual, meaning that they can only keep track of a handful of potential terrorists at any one time. Some will slip through the net, as happened on Monday.

The security services must be given vastly greater resources to deal with the minefield of information they are having to process.

We might also ask why the jihadis who trained for murder in Syria and have now returned to the U.K. are not behind bars. If the security services are under resourced, can we afford for these people to be roaming free on our streets, ready to plan their next atrocity?

One answer used to be control orders but these were banned in 2011, replaced by much weaker Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs). Even this watered down measure is hardly used. As of last October, it is believed that only six TPIMs are in force across Britain, despite the terror threat being set to severe.

With the level now critical, control orders should be reintroduced and extended to cover far more suspects, a policy advocated by Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terror legislation. The civil liberties brigade can protest all they like but in a state of national emergency, there is no excuse for inaction.

It is also shameful that hate preachers are still tolerated in some British mosques, despite 7/7 and the dozens of plots that have followed it. One recent study found that nearly half of our mosques are under the influence of the Deobandi sect, which preaches an extremist, anti-western ideology closely akin to that of the Salafis.

Theresa May made it a key priority to ban hate preachers in the UK and she must follow through on that pledge. Foreign born imams should be thrown out of the country if they preach extremism while the law must be enforced against UK citizens who incite violence.

Similarly, there should be more public pressure on social networking sites to co-operate in the fight against terror.

The government must also follow through on its pledge to tackle Islamist extremism in our prisons. A report last year by Ian Acheson, a former prison governor, found multiple problems.

Supervisors were pressured to leave collective prayer sessions, Islamists were actively trying to prevent searches by claiming that ‘dress was religious’ and extremist literature was freely available.

The fear of being labelled racist was restricting staff from confronting these issues, just as political correctness made possible the despicable sex attacks on girls in Rotherham. After the Manchester attack, political correctness must come to an end.

We should finally learn important lessons from the Israeli experience of counter terrorism. No other society has had a more painful and prolonged confrontation with jihadi extremism over the last two decades.

In the various deterrent measures it has introduced, ranging from profiling, airport style security in shopping malls and road blocks at public events, the Jewish state can offer vitally important lessons for Britain and other countries. Inconvenience will be a small price to pay for enhanced security.

The Manchester atrocity must serve as a wake-up call to our governing class. We cannot afford to just weep for the dead, important though that is. We face a grievous battle against evil Islamist terrorists and the hateful ideology that inspires them.

If we cannot confront the menace they pose with all the tools at our disposal, we will fail the innocent victims whose lives were taken this week.

Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton

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