UK pledges £5m to fight ex­trem­ists

Lesotho Times - - International -

LON­DON — Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron has pledged £5mil­lion to root out the “poi­son” of ex­trem­ists like Is­lamic State (ISIS) that tar­get the alien­ated and vul­ner­a­ble in Bri­tish com­mu­ni­ties.

The funds will sup­port lo­cal ini­tia­tives, cam­paigns and char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions this year in a so­called “na­tional coali­tion” against rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion.

“We need to sys­tem­at­i­cally con­front and chal­lenge ex­trem­ism and the ide­olo­gies that un­der­pin it, ex­pos­ing the lies and the de­struc­tive con­se­quences it leaves in its wake,” Cameron said on Sun­day.

“We have to stop it at the start — stop this seed of ha­tred even be­ing planted in peo­ple’s minds and cut off the oxy­gen it needs to grow.”

The pledge came on the eve of the launch of the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment’s counter-ex­trem­ism strat­egy, which will also in­clude a broader crack­down on ex­trem­ist con­tent on­line.

The strat­egy is widely ex­pected to in­clude closer work­ing be­tween in­ter­net com­pa­nies and po­lice to re­move on­line pro­pa­ganda, us­ing sys­tems cur­rently em­ployed against child abuse images.

There is also set to be a clam­p­down on ex­trem­ism in pris­ons and uni­ver­si­ties, and in­cen­tives for schools to in­te­grate pupils bet­ter.

The new strat­egy will set out “our new ap­proach to tackle this poi­son”, Cameron said.

The plan will tar­get “vi­o­lent and non-vi­o­lent” ex­trem­ism, sup­port main­stream voices, and ad­dress the seg­re­ga­tion and feel­ings of alien­ation that pro­vide “fer­tile ground” for rad­i­cal ide­olo­gies.

The pre­mier warned how­ever that the scale of the chal­lenge was “im­mense”.

“At the core is build­ing a na­tional coali­tion of all those in­di­vid­u­als and groups who are united in their de­ter­mi­na­tion to de­feat ex­trem­ism and build a more co­he­sive so­ci­ety.

“We will do every­thing we can to sup­port them — through my new com­mu­nity en­gage­ment fo­rum and with prac­ti­cal sup­port and fund­ing to tackle th­ese deep-rooted is­sues.

“The scale of the task is im­mense and that is why we need ev­ery­one to play their part.”

The strat­egy will also es­tab- lish a joint industry and gov­ern­ment group to tackle the pro­lif­er­a­tion of ex­trem­ist con­tent on­line.

Ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­search by Bri­tish-based think-tank the Quil­liam Foundation, the Is­lamic State pro­duces 38 unique pieces of high-qual­ity pro­pa­ganda ev­ery day — which spread on so­cial net­work­ing web­sites and tar­get ISIS sym­pa­this­ers and sup­port­ers across the world.

“The past 18 months has seen a big change in the way that ex­trem­ists use the in­ter­net to tar­get their rad­i­cal ide­ol­ogy di­rectly at young minds,” the gov­ern­ment added in Sun­day’s state­ment.

Cameron had al­ready vowed ear­lier this year to “de-glam­or­ise” ISIS mil­i­tants and clamp down on ex­trem­ists in Bri­tain.

Mean­while, ISIS is pay­ing sup­port­ers up to $10 000 for each per­son that they re­cruit to wage ji­had in Syria and Iraq, UN ex­perts says af­ter a visit to Bel­gium, one of the main coun­tries of ori­gin for so-called for­eign fight­ers.

Elz­bi­eta Karska, who chairs a UN group study­ing the is­sue, said IS was us­ing so­cial me­dia and in­for­mal net­works of friends and fam­ily, with many of them in Syria, to re­cruit new ji­hadists in Bel­gium.

The UN ex­perts learned from Bel­gian con­tacts that 500 for­eign fight­ers in Iraq and Syria orig­i­nated in Bel­gium, the high­est per capita of any EU coun­try, she added.

“We have heard... about sit­u­a­tions where re­cruiters were paid from two, three thou­sand to 10 000 dol­lars de­pend­ing on... who was re­cruited,” Karska told a me­dia con­fer­ence in Brus­sels, adding the find­ings were pre­lim­i­nary.

“If some­body was well ed­u­cated like com­puter spe­cial­ists or doc­tors, they were paid more,” the Pol­ish hu­man rights lawyer added.

They had no fig­ures on how many women had left Bel­gium, but said the num­ber of boys and men depart­ing for ji­had had de­clined from about 10 per month three years ago to about four or five per month now. Their av­er­age age is 23. — AFP

isis ex­trem­ists

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