Cherished freedoms make the fight against radical Islam more difficult in the United States and the United Kingdom but the battle can be won through the ideas and by putting an end to cultural coddling of radical ideologies, according to a terrorism expert with extensive ties to the UK.
Frustrations over recent, deadly terrorist attacks in London and Manchester are more aggravated by stories revealing one of the terrorists was featured in a documentary called “The Jihadis Next Door” and made no secret about his support for jihad and that more than 20,000 people in the UK are of concern to authorities.
However, Anglosphere Society Founder Amanda Bowman says rounding up these suspects is much tougher to do in a free society.
“The problem that we are dealing with in the United States and the United Kingdom is that you can’t actually detain people until they do something, because in our countries we respect the right to speak out,” said Bowman, who also ran the New York office of the Center for Security Policy for eight years.
“We are now, both in the U.S. and the UK and in western Europe, the victims of our own tolerant societies and what makes it so worthwhile to be American or to be British,” said Bowman.
But that tolerance has a limit, as British Prime Minister Theresa May said in the wake of the London attacks.
“There is, to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out, across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations,” said May.
Bowman says May is right on target but has also contributed to the problem at times.
“I think she in many ways has, like much of the UK, in the name of multiculturalism, has been tolerant for the intolerant,” said Bowman.
Bowman says there has to be much stronger resistance to the Islamist ideology behind the attacks.
“We tolerate the intolerable and we don;t stand up and make our values the values that they need to embrace if they want to be part of British society. That’s a lesson for Americans as well,” said Bowman.
Bowman says May has a tough balancing act in getting tough on radical Islam while also reaching out to Muslims for cooperation on who is actually planning to carry out deadly attacks. She says May and others should be pointing out that it is in the best interest of Muslims to root out the evil from their midst.
“What she’s recognizing she has to do is to galvanize the more tolerant Muslim population so that they take on this as their problem and not look upon it as our problem. They have to stand up and be British before they’re Muslim,” said Bowman.
A big part of that, says Bowman, is gutting the allure of terrorism.
“Part of the problem is that for a lot of these young people, it all seems very glamorous and it’s not. It’s just wicked and evil and deeply against everything we stand for,” said Bowman.
Bowman says it’s impossible for any nation to marshal the resources to monitor 20,000 people 24 hours a day, but she says having vigilant eyes in key places is important, especially in the mosques.
“If you see something in your mosque, say something. Much of this radicalization, while much of it is online, a great deal of it happens in the privacy of mosques with radical imams. The United Kingdom has allowed radical imams in the name of free speech to speak out and to galvanize and to inspire these terrible acts,” said Bowman.
Bowman does expect May and the Conservative Party to win Thursday’s parliamentary elections, but by a much narrower margin than if the London and Manchester attacks had not taken place. She says Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has his own issues in the wake of the attacks since he has aligned himself very publicly with some radical Islamic figures.
Thus, Bowman does not expect many May supporters to switch sides, but she does fear a substantial number will stay home.