Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts

23 June 2017

Dealing with Jihadist Returnees: A Tough Challenge

By Fabien Merz

With the military setbacks ISIS is now experiencing, the number of jihadist foreign fighters returning to Europe will rise. Like its neighbors, Switzerland must prepare to deal with these individuals. According to Fabien Merz, there is much the Swiss can learn from the experiences of Denmark and France, including 1) there is no panacea for dealing with foreign fighters, and 2) pursuing a ‘balanced’, anti-repression approach is the most sensible way to address this problem.

With the ongoing military setbacks the “Islamic State” (IS) suffered, the number of jihadist foreign fighters returning to Europe might further increase. Switzerland, too, must be prepared to deal with these individuals. Some clues may be gained from experiences made in France and Denmark, two states particularly affected by this phenomenon.

Since the start of the civil war in Syria and the resurgence of the conflict in Iraq, around 30,000 “foreign fighters” have joined jihadist militias fighting in these conflicts. Around 5,000 of them are from European countries. Many have joined IS, which has, amongst others, the stated goal of carrying out attacks in the West. This phenomenon is also of relevance to Switzerland (cf. CSS Analysis No. 199). As of May 2017, the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) had registered 88 jihadist-inspired journeys. Of these, 74 were destined for Syria or Iraq.

IS has recently come under severe military pressure in Syria and Iraq. This has also led to a worsening of conditions for foreign jihadist fighters on the ground. Experts warn that further territorial losses by IS could lead to an increase of returnees. Thus, today more than ever, the question arises of how to deal with a potential increase of jihadist returnees and the concomitant security and societal challenges. The present analysis will only consider the post-return phase.

22 June 2017

Fighting, While Funding, Extremists

Even sophisticated observers admit to confusion and consternation about the Middle East, where rivalries and jealousies among nations have reached new levels of complication. Saudi Arabia and some of its neighbors decide to punish Qatar and some of its citizens, ostensibly for fostering and financing Islamist terrorism. But Saudi Arabia itself has been accused of underwriting extremists. No matter: President Trump, captivated by Saudi royalty, sides with the Saudis — even though the United States has two important bases in Qatar.

Baffling, right? But here is one clear bottom line: The biggest loser in all this may turn out to be the fight against the Islamic State. Nobody likes ISIS. Yet the idea of a united front among Gulf states against the terrorist group has all but evaporated, and hypocrisies and contradictions abound. Here’s a primer on some of the main players.

QATAR This tiny but exceedingly wealthy country definitely has a mixed record. But is it a colossal threat? Last week, the United States agreed to sell it $12 billion worth of F-15 jets and two Navy vessels arrived there for joint military exercises. If Qatar were seen as a serious terrorism threat, that wouldn’t be happening.

While Pentagon Slowly Ponders Its Next Move, the Afghan Security Forces Still Have Not Proven They Can Contain or Defeat the Taliban and ISIS

ISLAMABAD — As American military officials complete plans that are likely to send several thousand additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a flurry of setbacks in the war have underscored both the imperative of action and the pitfalls of various approaches.

Further complicating the picture are questions about how to deal with neighboring Pakistan and balance separate fights against Afghan and foreign-based insurgents.

In the latest attack Sunday morning, Taliban fighters stormed a police base in southeastern Paktia province after detonating a suicide car bomb outside. At least five members of security forces and several civilians were killed, officials said. The attack came one day after an Afghan army commando shot and wounded seven U.S. troops inside an army base in northern Balkh province.

Almost every week seems to bring alarming and embarrassing developments that cast doubt on the ability of Afghan security forces to protect the public and make headway against the domestic Taliban insurgency and the more ruthless Islamic State.

From the powerful truck bomb that decimated a high-security district of Kabul on May 31, killing more than 150 people and sparking days of protests, to the Saturday shooting at the same base in Balkh where Taliban infiltrators killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers April 21, a spate of attacks from various sources is inflicting blow after blow on the nation’s battered psyche.

The Saturday shooting was one of several recent insider attacks that are raising new concerns about poor vetting and conflicting loyalties, even among the elite Afghan special operations forces that the U.S. military sees as crucial to boosting the war effort. Experts said such attacks would be likely to increase if more U.S. troops arrive.

U.S., West Must Do More to Deny Terrorists Access to Online Social Media

The terrorist attacks that have swept the United Kingdom mark yet another chapter in the long war by violent Islamist extremists against the free world. Terrorism in Europe is not a new phenomenon. The fact that three attacks have struck Britain in the last three months alone exposes that despite safeguards and a vast understanding of the terrorist threat, much more must be done to defeat these radical killers.

In March, 52-year-old Briton Khalid Masood who converted to a radical brand of Islam in prison and was investigated by British intelligence drove his car into pedestrians near the Palace of Westminster and then fatally stabbed an unarmed police officer. Masood injured more than 50 innocent people and killed five in his terrorist rampage in London.

A few weeks ago, another British national, Salman Abedi, bombed a concert in Manchester full of young children, killing 22 people and injuring over 119. Abedi previously attended a mosque led by an Imam who had condemned ISIS’ ideology and whose members had reported Abedi’s radicalism to British authorities on several occasions. His radicalization appears to have started with his father, Ramadan, who is known to have supported Islamists with ties to al-Qaeda. He took his three teenage boys to Libya in 2011 to participate in the civil war against Muammar Qaddafi.

Tragically, our ally across the Atlantic was struck again by terrorists on June 3rd. The tactics of the perpetrators of that attack appear to echo the methods of the Westminster attack from March. There terrorists used simple vehicles and knives to kill as many people as possible. Just hours before the attacks in London, ISIS reportedly encouraged its followers to kill Western civilians with guns, knives, and trucks over the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

According to the British Home Secretary, the UK security services are investigating 500 different plots with 3,000 high priority suspects and 20,000 lower tier suspects. With this extraordinary volume of potential threats combined with terrorists’ ability to adapt to changing security measures and innovate new methods of attack, it is an enormous challenge to stop every plot. As Irish IRA terrorists reminded British authorities just three decades ago, “we have only to be lucky once, you will have to be lucky always.” This may cause many to conclude that there is no way to stop this growing threat to our countries. But that defeatist attitude is unacceptable.

British authorities have revealed that at least two of the three London attackers on Saturday were known to British intelligence services. One of them, a British citizen born in Pakistan, apparently eluded police despite being on a watch list and appearing in a 2016 British television documentary highlighting the United Kingdom’s home-grown extremism problem. The other, a Moroccan-Italian man who lived in east London, was allowed to enter to the UK in January, despite being listed on the Schengen Information System, an EU-wide database of potential suspects. 

Frankly, our Western allies across the pond have, for too long, coexisted with radicalism festering in their borders. British Prime Minister Theresa May said it best after last week’s attack, suggesting that there is “far too much tolerance” of Islamist extremism in Britain today. Now our European partners must take a more serious look at this threat. They must have “some difficult and often embarrassing conversations,” as Prime Minister May said. Western values are the bedrock of our free civilization, but they can lead to its ultimate destruction if they are used to tolerate and coddle the criminal extremism that seeks to attack it.

Our allies in Europe must not resign to a defeatist attitude that accepts these attacks as the norm. The free world must not treat these attacks as separate incidents. It’s time that we come to terms with the fact that the terrorists themselves see the attacks as part of a single war against the West. Countries must allocate more resources to local and federal authorities investigating these ongoing threats so that they can keep up with the growing number of individuals suspected of extremism. Our allies in Europe face a greater risk than we do, as more of their citizens who fought with ISIS and other terrorists return home. Borders must be protected, and perhaps individuals who are on watch lists should not be allowed entry until their cases are thoroughly investigated. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Protection should extend beyond physical borders, as well. Terrorism is increasingly transcending borders instantly over the internet where terrorists radicalize, recruit, fundraise, and plan their treachery. That is exactly why I have led the charge in Congress to remove extremists from social media. Last year, the House of Representatives passed my bill, the Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act. It was eventually included in the Department of State Authorities Act and passed into law late last year. As Twitter and Facebook make progress to deny terrorists online presence, terrorists have migrated to other platforms, like Telegram. More must be done to take these thugs offline.

President Trump’s May 21 speech in Saudi Arabia set the right tone: communities, particularly all those in the Middle East, must drive out the radicals who spread the jihadist hate and murder. And we, in the West, must do the same. We must no longer tolerate those that seek to destroy our way of life. We can no longer coexist with terrorists that exploit and misuse our rights and freedoms in order to eventually kill and maim innocents. We must drive the violent extremists out of our cities and cyberspace. We must never tolerate and allow this spate of terrorist attacks to become the norm. Defeatism is not an option. And that’s just the way it is. 

21 June 2017

The Age of Blowback Terror


World powers have often been known to intervene, overtly and covertly, to overthrow other countries’ governments, install pliant regimes, and then prop up those regimes, even with military action. But, more often than not, what seems like a good idea in the short term often brings about disastrous unintended consequences, with intervention causing countries to dissolve into conflict, and intervening powers emerging as targets of violence. That sequence is starkly apparent today, as countries that have meddled in the Middle East face a surge in terrorist attacks

Last month, Salman Ramadan Abedi – a 22-year-old British-born son of Libyan immigrants – carried out a suicide bombing at the concert of the American pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, England. The bombing – the worst terrorist attack in the United Kingdom in more than a decade – can be described only as blowback from the activities of the UK and its allies in Libya, where external intervention has given rise to a battle-worn terrorist haven.

The UK has not just actively aided jihadists in Libya; it encouraged foreign fighters, including British Libyans, to get involved in the NATO-led operation that toppled Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s regime in 2011. Among those fighters was Abedi’s father, a longtime member of the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, whose functionaries were imprisoned or forced into exile during Qaddafi’s rule. The elder Abedi returned to Libya six years ago to fight alongside a new Western-backed Islamist militia known as the Tripoli Brigade. His son had recently returned from a visit to Libya when he carried out the Manchester Arena attack.

20 June 2017

** After Raqqa, How the US Must Adapt to ISIS


What to do when ISIS goes underground, and other things to worry about after the caliphate falls. 

The last bastions of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria – Mosul and Raqqa –could be liberated within months. But they will remain perilous places, and in some respects, the fall of Raqqa will complicate the conflicts that swirl through the region.

How might the U.S. have to adapt to ISIS after Raqqa?

ISIS GOING UNDERGROUND: Military analysts have already warned that the elimination of the Islamic State as a territory governed by ISIS will not end the group’s armed struggle. Its leaders spent years underground and can revert to a covert terrorist campaign. Even while pummeled and pushed back by Iraqi, Kurdish, and other ground forces backed by coalition air power, ISIS demonstrated its capability to simultaneously carry out terrorist operations in Baghdad and Damascus as well as in neighboring countries. That will continue and may escalate.

How Russia Targets the U.S. Military

Source Link

In the fall of 2013, Veterans Today, a fringe American news site that also offers former service members help finding jobs and paying medical bills, struck up a new partnership. It began posting content from New Eastern Outlook, a geopolitical journal published by the government-chartered Russian Academy of Sciences, and running headlines like “Ukraine’s Ku Klux Klan — NATO’s New Ally.” As the United States confronted Russian ally Bashar Assad for using chemical weapons against Syrian children this spring, the site trumpeted, “Proof: Turkey Did 2013 Sarin Attack and Did This One Too” and “Exclusive: Trump Apologized to Russia for Syria Attack.”

In recent years, intelligence experts say, Russia has dramatically increased its “active measures” — a form of political warfare that includes disinformation, propaganda and compromising leaders with bribes and blackmail — against the United States. Thus far, congressional committees, law enforcement investigations and press scrutiny have focused on Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s successful efforts to disrupt the American political process. But a review of the available evidence and the accounts of Kremlin watchers make clear that the Russian government is using the same playbook against other pillars of American society, foremost among them the military. Experts warn that effort, which has received far less attention, has the potential to hobble the ability of the armed forces to clearly assess Putin’s intentions and effectively counter future Russian aggression.

Philippine City is a Battleground in Global Fight Against Extremism


Last week, General Eduardo Ano, the Philippines Chief of Staff, said he hoped that the city of Marawi would be liberated from Islamist militants before June 12, the country’s Independence Day.

The deadline has come and gone, but the fighting continues. Islamist militants still hold about a fifth of the city of Marawi. Fighters from an ISIS-affiliated coalition formed from the Abu-Sayyaf and Maute groups, who seized portions of the city May 23, have dug in and are now repelling sustained air and ground assaults by Philippine forces. A military spokesman in Manila said that 58 soldiers and police officers and 26 civilians have died and that 206 militants have been killed. The spokesmen added that 100 more fighters may remain in Marawi, and though most of the city was evacuated weeks ago, 300 to 600 civilians may remain trapped within the city.

The Philippines has struggled with insurgencies for decades. Historically, its island geography complicated Manila’s centralized authority, particularly over the southern province of Mindanao where Marawi is located. Tensions between the Catholic majority and Muslim minority have generated religious strife. These conditions have produced several insurgent groups who ascribe to Maoist or militant Islamist ideologies. The latter have grown increasingly bold in recent years.

19 June 2017

It’s Getting Harder to Draw Lessons from Today’s Wars


The researchers compiling the U.S. Army’s accounts of Iraq and Afghanistan have an overwhelming yet spotty volume of material to work through. 

When Major Spencer Williams was ordered to “shut down shop and move out” of Afghanistan in 2005, he closed his final message from the field as he always did—quoting a long-dead historian. “Plant yourself not in Europe but in Iraq; it will become evident that half of the roads of the Old World lead to Aleppo, and half to Bagram.” 

Williams made up one-third of the U.S. Army’s historical field staff in Afghanistan—a team directed to cover the breadth of the country, vacuuming up media, documents, and oral histories so that some future soldier or academic could better understand the course of the war and how one might respond to circumstances should they arise again. The war offered more than enough material to keep Williams and the others busy, but they weren’t able to communicate the importance of that work to those leading the mission in the country. Following a command from the highest-ranking officer in Afghanistan, the historians were on their way out of Kabul.

18 June 2017

Military Omnipresence: A Unifying Concept for America’s 21st-Century Fighting Edge


The Pentagon should converge its technological and doctrinal efforts towards a perpetual, networked presence that enables operations and awareness anywhere in the world. 

When the Royal Navy’s new steam-powered ships emerged victorious from the First Opium War in 1842, one British newspaper could barely contain itself: “Steam, even now, almost realizes the idea of military omnipotence and military omnipresence; it is everywhere, and there is no withstanding it.” 

One hundred years later, Wernher von Braun, a German engineer who’d been secretly whisked away to the United States, suggested a different approach: an armed space station into low earth orbit. As he put it, “Our space station could be utilized as a very effective bomb carrier, and the nation who owns such a bomb-dropping space station…will have military omnipresence.”

Don't Follow the Money

By Peter R. Neumann

In the first days of the “war on terror,” before the United States had launched air strikes against the Taliban or Special Forces raids on Osama bin Laden’s compounds, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13224. The presidential decree, which dates from September 23, 2001, targeted al Qaeda’s money by “prohibiting transactions” with suspected terrorists. “Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations,” Bush said at the time. “We’re asking the world to stop payment.” Five days later, the UN Security Council followed suit, calling on states to “prevent and suppress the financing” of terrorism in its first substantive resolution since the 9/11 attacks.

More than 15 years later, the war on terrorist financing has failed. Today, there are more terrorist organizations, with more money, than ever before. In 2015, for example, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIS) had a budget of up to $1.7 billion, according to a study by King’s College London and the accounting company Ernst & Young, making it the world’s richest terrorist group. That same year, the total amount of all frozen terrorist assets amounted to less than $60 million. Only three countries—Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States—had seized more than $1 million.


This project documents and identifies activity linked to and inspired by the Islamic State outside of the territory it claims as part of its physical Caliphate. In doing so, the project seeks to provide insights into how the influence, operational reach, and capabilities of the Islamic State are changing in certain locales over time.

To provide a nuanced analysis of the group’s operational activity, the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) has created a database that categorizes different indicators of such activity (see methodology overview here for details). The temporal starting point for the data collection is June 2014, when the group’s Caliphate was officially created. Since that point in time, CTC researchers have collected open-source data regarding the Islamic State’s operational activity in select locations outside of the physical territory claimed by the group.

As collection and analysis continues, the CTC plans to release a number of short country and regional reports that leverage the data CTC has collected. All releases will be available on this page.

17 June 2017

Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) – Volume 9, Issue 06

Muhammad Haziq Bin JaniRohan Gunaratna

Volume 9, Issue 06 (June 2017): ‘Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)‘ In 2013, the US announced the end of its Global War on Terror (GWoT) after defeating Al-Qaeda. Two years later, in 2015, at a White House-hosted summit, the Obama administration propounded the concept of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) to confront, contain and eventually eliminate the latent threat of radicalism and extremism. Though CVE is not an entirely new concept, the purpose of the summit was to add more urgency and impetus to the various on-going non-kinetic efforts to counter extremism and its underlying causes.

Recently, some media reports have indicated that the Trump administration is toying with the idea of scrapping the CVE project. Others maintain that the US is considering renaming CVE as countering radical Islamic extremism and shifting the focus back to kinetic-efforts. Regardless of the decision, it is clear that components of CVE will have to be retained if the present threat of religious extremism and terrorism is to be checked. These involve community engagement to build social resilience and counter extremism, and rehabilitation and re-integration of radical elements.

16 June 2017


By Imran Shamsunahar

The first part of this two-part series on the Strait of Hormuz analyzed the strategic importance of the Strait for global energy shipping and political stability in the Arabian Gulf, and provided an overview of Iran’s overall strategy of using its asymmetric doctrine to disrupt commercial shipping within the vital waterways to both deter enemies and fight a protracted war if necessary. This second part will focus on Iran’s actual maritime capabilities and discusses whether their threats to close down oil shipment in the Strait of Hormuz are credible or not.

Asymmetric Weapons and Tactics

Although Tehran has frequently made clear their intentions to close the Strait of Hormuz in times of war or heightened tensions, do they actually have the military capability to do so? Both the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) and the Revolutionary Guards’ Navy (IRGCN) have invested in a multitude of asymmetrical weaponry which would be used to harass and disrupt shipping coming through the Strait.

Terror Finance in the Age of Bitcoin


Terrorists’ tactics evolve with the times. Just as we have seen an adaption of terrorist methods for sowing fear and distrust, so, too, we have seen their propaganda machines evolve to inspire audiences globally. Gone are the days of printed manifestos, pamphlets, or fuzzy VHS tapes. The internet now facilitates many-to-many recruitment messaging that reaches spectators in real time.

The key to bankrolling terrorist causes could also soon be found in the cyber domain.

Once such mode of financing is the growth of virtual currencies, particularly pseudo-anonymous cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, capable of obscuring the identities of those transacting, and efficiently and verifiably funneling finances around the world. Bitcoin is the most common cryptocurrency, with one bitcoin worth about $2,800 in a market capped at $17 billion, but others exist. Terrorist use of virtual currency remains anecdotal at the moment, but that does not mean the strategic threat that extremist groups use of the technology could pose should be ignored.

15 June 2017

From 9/11 to London: The Need for Virtual Battle Space Maneuver Doctrine

by Stefan J. Banach

The ability to generate global influence by maneuvering one civilian population against another, along Virtual Battle Space Avenues of Approach, to produce catastrophic physical effects is a significant transformational change for warfare. This phenomenon first occurred in the 21st Century on 9/11, when 19 foreign civilian terrorist fighters from the Middle East, attacked the United States. The buildup to the strike on 9/11 was conducted largely in virtual space to set the conditions for the terrorists’ success in physical space. This new form of global Virtual Battle Space Maneuver (VBSM), created significant detrimental physical space effects and was demonstrated a second time during the Arab Spring in 2011 and with similar success as exhibited by ISIL. The myriad terrorist attacks since 9/11 to the June 2017 murderous acts in London, underscore the point that this virtual scheme of maneuver is no longer an anomaly; rather it is the norm in the world today.

What we see as apparent problems, are often merely symptoms of deeper issues. These problems possess their own dynamics and relationships in both virtual and physical space. The sources of novelty and complexity that the U.S. military experiences everyday are derivatives of technological revolutions and ideological influences that have driven adaptation for millennia. The U.S. military is now confronted with a mounting number of strategic and operational negative externalities, given the growing cognitive dissonance relative to VBSM and Physical Battle Space Maneuver (PBSM), in an unprecedented 21st Century global conflict space. The velocity and viral nature of these evolving dynamic factors often overwhelm existing industrial-age cognitive processes and leadership approaches, which are proving to be inappropriate for contemporary complex problem-solving. 

Special Operations and Diplomacy: A Unique Nexus


Marines from a Special Operations Company of the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion meet with local leaders in the town of Qal’eh-ye Gaz in Afghanistan’s Helmand province to assist with medical needs and discuss their issues with anti-coalition forces operating in the area in August 2007.

Afghan National Army soldiers watch as a Special Forces soldier kicks in the door to a home before clearing the house during a village search in Zabul province in September 2004. Afghan National Army soldiers assisted the Special Forces soldiers in the search for Taliban fighters in the remote village.

For most of us in the Foreign Service, one of the most striking developments in the 16 years since the 9/11 terror attacks has been a dramatic increase in synergy between the Department of State and the U.S. military. Coordination of our military and diplomatic activities overseas has become a guiding principle.

Lessons in logistic transformation and a new agenda for change

By David Beaumont.

This post concludes the ‘Transforming the Australian Army’s logistics’ series, and is an abridged extract from a larger paper.

Over a series of articles, I have outlined a basic history of change with respect to logistics in the Australian Army. Institutional history is not always the most interesting to read, but what it reveals is often highly important for understanding how change occurs in militaries. Militaries adapt during wars and on operations, but the ‘hard work’ of long-term transformation often occurs over extended periods of time and by people far removed from the battlefield. In the case of the ‘Transforming Army’s Logistics’ series of posts, the reveals a variety of lessons relevant to those seeking to influence the trajectory of change in those capabilities relevant to sustaining military forces. This includes the logistic community and force designers of land forces beyond the Australian Army, and perhaps even other Services.

The first and second periods of logistic transformation in the Australian Army were distinct. The first, from the late 1980’s to Army’s deployment to East Timor in 1999, was essentially defined by the pursuit of Australian continental defence strategy and the far-reaching programs of commercialisation that transitioned much of Army’s strategic organic logistic capability into the private sector. It was a period during which change was imposed, and Army’s logisticians were forced to make compromises and difficult choices about which capabilities had to remain organic to Army. Therefore, it serves as a reminder that logisticians should not take the opportunity to lead transformation for granted – there is always someone around the corner to do the ‘leading’ for them.

Opioid Dealers Embrace the Dark Web to Send Deadly Drugs by Mail


As the nation’s opioid crisis worsens, the authorities are confronting a resurgent, unruly player in the illicit trade of the deadly drugs, one that threatens to be even more formidable than the cartels.

The internet.

In a growing number of arrests and overdoses, law enforcement officials say, the drugs are being bought online. Internet sales have allowed powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl — the fastest-growing cause of overdoses nationwide — to reach living rooms in nearly every region of the country, as they arrive in small packages in the mail.

The authorities have been frustrated in their efforts to crack down on the trade because these sites generally exist on the so-called dark web, where buyers can visit anonymously using special browsers and make purchases with virtual currencies like Bitcoin.

The problem of dark web sales appeared to have been stamped out in 2013, when the authorities took down the most famous online marketplace for drugs, known as Silk Road. But since then, countless successors have popped up, making the drugs readily available to tens of thousands of customers who would not otherwise have had access to them.

14 June 2017

Stop fretting over religious sensitivities. We must push hard against Islamists

Sara Khan

In this time of political uncertainty, we can be certain about one issue. The battle against Islamist extremism is one we are losing. News of 23,000 jihadis living in Britain, each considered to pose at least a “residual risk”, indicates the breathtaking scale of the challenge facing us. The horse, as they say, has well and truly bolted. 

We need to learn lessons from previous mistakes, including our comatose response to growing religious fundamentalism. Yet the truth is we remain blind to the facts. With our liberal blessings, extremist preachers are free to promote their hatred, virtually unchallenged. Anjem Choudary radicalised hundreds, if not thousands of Muslims freely over 20 years. As a result, he influenced more than 100 Britons to carry out or attempt to carry out terrorist attacks at home and abroad. 

We defended the right of extremists to free speech in the belief that the most effective way of undermining them was for us to counter their speech. This was nice in theory; there was, however, one rather large problem. Apart from a handful of people, no one did counter them. And those who did were promptly labelled “Islamophobes.”