Islamism

Bob Lambert

Why does the Metropolitan Police sponsor the annual Muslim Brotherhood-organised bunfight, the so called “Global Peace and Unity” event?

Here’s the answer: Bob Lambert and the Muslim Contact Unit.

Everybody has been talking about Bob Lambert over the last couple of weeks. Recently retired, Bob Lambert was a Detective Inspector who pioneered the policy of building bridges with the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaati political bloc. Put simply, the Muslim Contact Unit bought the line that the Muslim Brotherhood has been running for some time now.

“Support us”, they say. “We’re soft Islamists. We may be theocrats, but we’re the only force that can prevent Muslims turning to Al Qaeda.”

Very few have bought that line, even in the Middle East, where the Muslim Brotherhood has a little bit of traction. The Conflicts Forum, run by the former spook, Alistair Crooke, is probably the key example of the group which pushes this analysis internationally. Fewer have bought into the frankly crazy (and bigoted) notion that the only thing that can possibly save British muslims from going over to Al Qaeda is an alliance between the British Establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood/Jamaat-e-Islami. After all, the number of muslims who say that these organisations represent their views, as muslims, is in single figures.

Nevertheless, and as you might expect, the Stalinist fantasist Seauauamus Milne is cheerleading for Lambert in today’s Guardian:

[Liberal hawks and neoconservatives] have played a key role in convincing the government to end its engagement with mainstream Islamist groups and sponsor more pliant Muslim bodies.

One man who thinks that’s not just bad for community relations but actually a threat to Britain’s security, is Detective Inspector Bob Lambert, who retired six weeks ago as head of the Metropolitan police special branch’s Muslim Contact Unit. With more than a quarter century at the sharp end of counter-terrorism operations, Lambert is scarcely a bleeding-heart liberal. But he has been unable to speak out publicly until now and is deeply frustrated by the Qaradawi ban. “Qaradawi is clearly useful in countering al-Qaida propaganda”, Lambert told me this week. “He is held in high esteem: how can we think meaningfully about enlisting credible Muslim community support against al-Qaida if we’re not prepared to engage constructively with the likes of Qaradawi?”

The aim of the Muslim Contact Unit, set up in 2002, was to avoid the mistakes made during the IRA campaign of alienating the Irish community, and to work with credible Muslim figures to isolate and counter those prepared to support terror attacks. Lambert points as an example to the crucial role played by prominent Islamist activists, such as the British Muslim Initiative leader Azzam Tamimi, in taking back Finsbury Park mosque in 2005 from supporters of Abu Hamza, now awaiting extradition to the US on terrorism charges.

“The government approach is increasingly to lump all Islamist groups together”, the special branch veteran says. “But Islamists can be powerful allies in the fight against al-Qaida influence. Our experience shows they can be the levers that help get young people away from the most dangerous positions. Issues that are most troubling to people like the oppression of women and gays mustn’t be swept under the carpet, but they also shouldn’t be treated as a block on engagement.”

Lambert also highlights the importance of Islamic activists’ cooperation with the anti-war movement and radical MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway in offering Muslim youth a way to channel their political grievances into peaceful political action. This isn’t about “political correctness or deference to Islamist thinking,” he insists, “it’s a genuine issue of London’s safety”. Groups now promoted by the government, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, may have their role, but from the perspective of countering terrorism they have “neither religious nor political credibility. Let’s be clear who it is that can keep London safe in the runup to the Olympic games”.

So, there you have it.

The policy of the Metropolitan Police for the last five years has been to treat far right Islamists as their allies and proxies. It is as if the Metropolitan Police had been supporting the British National Party because it represented a law abiding and peaceful alternative for white youths, to that offered by Brixton Bomber, David Copeland.

The trouble is, Lambert’s policy is premised upon a fundamental error. The Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami share the same “clash of civilisations” analysis as Al Qaeda. Last year’s Global Peace and Unity conference showcased a number of open supporters of terrorism, alongside leading politicians. It is fair to assume that these mainstream politicians participated in this Muslim Brotherhood event, alongside the supporters of terrorism, because they’d been assured by Bob Lambert’s Muslim Contact Unit that it was a vital to do so, as part of our anti-terrorism strategy. Tellingly, Jack Straw pulled out at the very last moment, and one of the more high profile backers of violent jihad billed to speak at the event never turned up. Sanity prevailed.

Milne is a big supporter of the policy of chumming up with the clerical fascists of the Muslim Brotherhood. His reason for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with countering terrorism. Rather, Milne is one of those who has responded to the utter collapse of Communism, by supporting any other political movement which is opposed to liberal democracy, even if that means shilling for theocratic sectarian fascists. And, of course, this means supporting Al Qaradawi:

The real reason for the ban, apart from the competition to appear tough on terror, is his links with the Muslim Brotherhood, the most influential Islamist organisation in the Arab world – but also a particular target for liberal hawks and neoconservatives.

Qaradawi illustrates the failure of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood analysis pretty well. The great attraction of Qaradawi is that he supports terrorism overseas, but not in the United Kingdom. However, even overseas, Qaradawi is quite happy to give his backing to Al Qaeda, as long as it is fighting ‘infidels’. As commentator Igorsfriend points out:

Milne and Bob Lambert both say that Qaradawi is opposed to al-Qaida, but this is not true. Just two weeks ago, in his regular sermon in his mosque in Doha, Qatar, Qaradawi offered the following prayer: “support our brothers who perform jihad in your cause everywhere, in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kashmir.” Who is fighting against British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan? al-Qaida (amongst others) and the Taliban.

Qaradawi is opposed to terrorism in the UK, but supports it overseas. I’m surprised there is anyone left who thinks it is possible to encourage terrorism overseas without it rebounding on us here in the UK.

So what will happen to the Muslim Contact Unit and its foolish policy of chumming up with the Islamist far right? With any luck, it will be forced radically to reorientate itself. There is a need to produce an effective policy which addresses Islamist radicalisation, certainly. However, that policy must be based upon the shared values of all British people, muslim or not. A policy premised upon handing over a section of the population to the pro-jihad theocratic far right will always fail, and should never have been countenanced in the first place.

The test, I suppose, will be whether the Metropolitan Police sponsor the Global Peace and Unity Conference again, this year.

UPDATE

A reader points out that Bob Lambert’s policy of working closely with the Muslim Brotherhood was tied very closely to Ken Livingstone’s own parallel policy: and that the two establishments worked closely together to cultivate the Islamist far right.

A lone voice against this policy was Atma Singh: the whistleblower who made public the crazy internal politics of Ken Livingstone’s administration. Singh was driven out by the Livingstone/Socialist Action clique because he refused to meet Lambert or sign up to his policy of working with the Islamist extreme right.

When Ken Livingstone sought to smear Singh, one of their main arguments was that he had failed to co-operate with Lambert’s policy of bringing in the Muslim Brotherhood to “combat” terrorism:

Having been presented with damning evidence that his source for the programme, Atma Singh, was forced to leave the Greater London Authority due to failure to answer requests for assistance from the anti-terrorism police, or to report to the Mayor’s Office this request for assistance, Martin Bright has now directly attacked the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorism Unit on which every single Londoner relies for their safety.

This statement is both slanderous against the police and entirely false. Mr Singh gave no ‘advice’ whatever. He failed even to report to the Mayor’s Office that he had received a request for specific assistance from the anti-terrorist unit. The Mayor’s office discovered this request for assistance only when the anti-terrorist police again contacted the Mayor’s Office to inquire why their request had not been met. The assistance requested was then carried out. Failure to inform the Mayor’s Office immediately of any matter relating to anti-terrorist activity is one of the most serious derelictions of duty that can be imagined of any person employed by the Greater London Authority.
Following this, despite being the staff member in the Mayor’s Office responsible for relationships with the Asian communities and the Muslim community, on 7 July 2005, the day of the terrorist bombing of London, Atma Singh failed to contact the Mayor’s Office in any way on that day or those that followed. He also did not contact City Hall following the attempted bombing of London on 21 July.

Let us hope that this incredibly dangerous policy of using Islamists as mediators between the State and British muslims is exposed more broadly, condemned, and shut down for good.

As a footnote, does anybody know about a disqualifed director called Carl Arrindell? Carl Arrindell “works” for the Islam Channel (although I’m told that there are some odd arrangements for his remuneration in place). He was apparently the main architect of the linkup between the Islam Channel and the Metropolitan Police.

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