UK ‘Prevent’ review call Islamists as major security threat; cautions on increasing anti-India extremism

10th February 2023 – An Independent Review of ‘Prevent’, a counter-terrorism program in the United Kingdom, has called for a major overhaul of the program and has sent several recommendations to the Home Office. The review found Islamists as the major internal security threat and found the program to be ‘out of kilter’ with other counter-terrorism programs run by the national agencies.

‘Prevent’ is a program started in the UK in 2003, post 9/11 attacks in the US, by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair with the objective to stop individuals from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

Specifics for India

The review found that Pakistan’s rhetoric impacts UKs Muslim community especially when there are calls for violence in Kashmir. The anti-India sentiment is inflamed by Pakistani clerics in UK

Though the review found Pro-Khalistan extremism as a low threat risk currently, it has asked ‘Prevent’ to be mindful.

Other Key Findings

‘Prevent’ was found to be not doing enough to counter non-violent Islamist extremism.

The program was also found to have maintained a double-standard when dealing with extreme right-wing extremism and Islamism. It takes a very broad approach when dealing with right-wing extremism including right-wing leaning commentary that has no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalization. On the other hand, with Islamism, it takes a narrow definition and ignores non-violent Islamist narratives and networks to terrorism.

The review found that 80% of counter-terrorism police network’s live investigation are Islamist while 10% are extreme right-wing.

Anti-Semitism is prevalent within the Channel and individuals of high risk have often been found with fanatical views about Jews, often expressing an intent to kill, assault or blow-up members of the Jewish community.

The program’s funding has been often found to be going in generic projects and civil society organizations which work with ‘Prevent’ have promoted extremist narratives including statements that appear sympathetic to Taliban.

The review also noted that there is a determined campaign to undermine and de-legitimize the program by spreading misinformation and half-truths.

UKs Home Secretary Suella Braverman welcomed the recommendations given by the review committee led by William Shawcross. In a statement released she said, “It is of the utmost importance that we are not deterred from our efforts to fight terrorism and extremism in all its forms…..That is why I commit here, on behalf of government, to fully implementing the recommendations from the review…..This review, which has been critical in sharpening our focus, will be used as a blueprint for strengthening our response to the threat that terrorism and the extremist ideologies that underpin it, poses to our safety and to the fabric of our society.”

The full review report can be accessed here

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