Young Muslims are specifically targeted by UK authorities, and it is understandable why they would feel that the only way out is to fight for what they perceive is to be a good cause in foreign countries, Michael Raddie, BSNews co-editor, told RT.
Raddie says the media is unfairly stigmatizing Muslim communities in the UK and it manifests itself in all kinds of things.
RT: Some are concerned that these drastic measures suggested by David Cameron could see innocent Brits mistakenly fall victims of these policies. How likely is that?
Michael Raddie: I think it is extremely likely. If we look at the control orders of the past under the Labour government of Tony Blair there were many people who were swept up in this who were completely innocent. And I think that is probably the idea of the government. It is not necessarily returning jihadists that they want to target, it is actually innocent people that are trying to send some truth into the world, trying to educate themselves and the people around them in their communities about what the government is doing. That kind of public service effectively is the thing that the British government doesn`t want to see and they want to clamp down on. So by raising the threat level they know that they can control and adjust the laws to actually clamp down on those kinds of threats. These are not threats to people, but threats to the government.
RT: Why has the British government noticed this jihadist threat only now - why hadn't the authorities spotted it earlier?
MR: If they have been talking about that earlier maybe about two or three years ago it would have obviously blown that cover in terms of the fact that UK and special forces have been training these jihadists, they have been crossing the border from Turkey into Northern Syria with weapons supplied by the French and the British and the US. But normally when they get into Syria and Iraq the weapons and the funding have been coming from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. But the actual entry into these war zones is at the knowledge of the UK and the US intelligence services. Sometimes they all get training before they go out there, so there is no disguising the fact that the British government has known about these people traveling to these countries. Whether they come back and they deem to be a threat I don`t know, I doubt it personally. I think many of them are going because they do believe in what they are doing. In my eyes it is pretty naive to be actually fighting a sovereign government of Syria. That whole civil war has been created by the West in order to oust a sovereign government of Bashar Assad. Basically it is one of the few last remaining sovereign countries left in the world. We had Libya, we had North Korea, and we have Russia regaining its sovereignty, China and Iran possibly. So Syria is the stepping stone to Iran, no doubt about it. And Iran is probably the stepping stone to encircling Russia by NATO forces.
RT: It is known that a number of British citizens have a significant role in the Islamic State group. What do you think is turning those Britons into ruthless militants?
MR: I think that the state of affairs at home is probably not helping this situation. We have huge unemployment back here in the UK, we have very high youth unemployment, and there is not much in the way of opportunities for young people in this country. And it is easy to see why young Muslims especially are turning to radical Islam and groups like IS, because they see that the government in the UK is clamping down on their freedoms; they are specifically seen as being targeted by the UK authorities. And that kind of impression comes in many guises. The media is obviously stigmatizing Muslim communities here in the UK, unfairly obviously. And that manifests itself in all kinds of things. There are a lot of attacks against Muslim communities. We have seen attacks against mosques and places like this. The rise of the far-right groups in the UK is obviously putting fear into Muslim communities. So it is really understandable, in my eyes, why these people would feel that the only way out is to go and fight for what they perceive is to be a good cause in foreign countries.
RT: If these measures get the green light - how effective do you expect them to be?
MR: I think the security services and the police in the UK have not been using the current legislation because they see that it as fairly ineffective, it's effectively control orders, house arrest and we have seen at least two people in the last 12 months escaped house arrest - one just called up a taxi, another one walked out of the house arrest wearing a burqa. So it is not extremely effective. I know the cooperation with other European states like Germany in trying to ascertain manifests for airplanes as they return to the UK that has not been extremely successful. These people don`t have to fly back, there is a land route back through to the UK via Germany, France and the rest of Europe. So I don`t think that is going to be extremely effective. I also don`t think that people actually know the true number. The UK authorities are saying 500 or so British-born Muslims have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight. But I think that number is likely to be far higher. If we think about crossing the border between Turkey and Syria there is no real border crossing where people are checking your passports. So people look like they have been traveling to Turkey for possibly legitimate family reasons and then they can easily cross the border and then the other effectively poor border between Iraq and Syria. As for the actual control it is going to be really difficult to keep a lid on I think. It is probably going to be almost impossible for the police to act effectively in the situation. They may have come up with these laws with the intention of stopping this activity. But it is going to be so difficult to try to enforce it.