Quilliam welcomes the Home Affairs Committee report on counter-terrorism that was released this morning. Many of the recommendations made can help form the foundations for a more comprehensive and effective approach to counter-terrorism. The renewed emphasis on ensuring that human rights form the basis of all counter-terrorism measures is an encouraging step. This report also continues a trend of cautious liberalisation in counter-terrorism policy which should be welcomed.
Regarding specific points detailed in the report, we suggest the following:
• On the issue of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs), we applaud the committee’s consideration of Quilliam’s recommendations cited within the report, especially in terms of its emphasis on the importance of ongoing de-radicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration efforts. However, intervention providers from the Channel Program, as opposed to so-called community leaders, are perfectly situated to engage ideologically with those placed under the measures.
• We welcome the news that rehabilitation programmes are being developed as an off-ramp for British foreign fighters returning from Syria. The need to reintegrate those who have been exposed to jihadist indoctrination back into society is very important if we are to minimise their long-term threat to national security. Due to the increasing trend of British foreign fighters returning from Syria, these programmes must be implemented immediately.
• As was recommended in Quilliam’s response to the recently launched national awareness campaign, engagement with those Britons most vulnerable to extremist ideologies is the most efficient means of reducing the threat of terrorism in the UK. This view was shared by Independent Reviewer of Counter-Terrorism legislation David Anderson QC and features heavily in the report, hopefully signifying that an official strategy based on challenging extremist ideologies and narratives is on the horizon.
• The report touches on the importance of the internet as a means of tackling violent extremism. While this is a pertinent observation, the brevity with which it is dealt downplays the significance of the internet and social media as potential counter-extremism tools. This is dealt with comprehensively in a forthcoming Quilliam report on online extremism.
Further steps must also be taken to ensure a joined-up approach to counter-terrorism and counter-extremism. Quilliam’s Political Liaison Officer, Jonathan Russell, said:
“Multiple governmental departments and executive offices have to consider the threat of extremism in their portfolios and we strongly recommend the establishment of a permanent office to oversee counter-extremism policy and to ensure a greater emphasis on and commitment to human rights in any future counter-terrorism legislation and policy.”