UK's Top Spook Warns About 'Militant Muslims'

M15 BossBritain's Secret Service chief has spoken publicly about her alarm at the  'scale and speed' with which Muslims, even those still at school, are being radicalised against the West.

Director-General of MI5 Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, speaking about the terrorist threat in Britain, told a university audience in London that the view of history which prompted feelings of grievance and injustice was shared, not only by extremists, but by many others in the country.

She said that MI5 is aware of some 200 groupings, comprising about 1600 individuals, including many teenagers, who are actively planning suicide attacks and the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; these include "resilient networks, some directed from Al-Qaida in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it".

For example, opinion polls suggest that over 100,000 people think that the July 7, 2005 attacks in London were justified.

Manningham Buller was guest speaker at an event organised by the Mile End Group run by modern history professor Peter Hennessy, of Queen Mary College.

Prime minister Tony Blair supported Dame Eliza's statement, but said: "This is a threat that has grown up over a generation."

Also, the Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute think tank, called on the Muslim community to "stand up and be counted" in the fight against terrorism. She said that  "Muslim communities, have a special ability to make a difference in the struggle against extremism.Her words were criticised by Muslim leaders who said she should spend more time tackling Britain's biased Middle-East policy, including the illegal invasion of Iraq, rather than attacking their community."

The Scotsman newspaper has uncovered what it calls "a largely-unannounced propaganda campaign" by British Home Secretary John Reid 'intended to prevent the spread of extremism among young British Muslims'. Islamic teachers and preachers have been recruited to put the case against violence and promote moderation. The media used for this campaign include a website - The Radical Middle Way, events held in different parts of the country, courses of lectures, pod casts, and CDs. Listed among the supporters of this campaign, which include a number of book shops. food providers and charities, are the Home Office, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

One Home Office source is quoted as saying that "...there are forces within this country trying to manipulate the feeling of British Muslims, and we have to do more to combat those forces".

Prime Minister Tony Blair is said to have instructed Ministers to look beyond the Muslim Council of Great Britain and engage with all streams of Muslim opinion.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality is reported as saying on BBC 1's Sunday AM programme that he would not want to be a Muslim, because what should have been a proper conversation between all kinds of British people "seems to have turned into a trial of one particular community, and that can't be right".

What stimulated the rush to the studios of politicians and Ministers to give their opinions on Muslim culture was the objection that the Leader of the House of Commons, Jack Straw had, to women wearing the full veil when attending his surgery.

Related news

"Beckett to break ranks again?". Wikinews, November 5, 2006
"UK Government propaganda directed at Muslim youth". Wikinews, October 23, 2006

Sources

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller "Terrorist threat to UK - MI5 chief's full speech". Times, November 9, 2006
Philip Johnston "Terrorists are recruiting in our schools, says MI5 boss". Telegraph, November 10, 2006
Philippe Naughton, and Michael Evans "Blair backs MI5 chief over terror warning". Times, November 10, 2006

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