Thursday, May 03, 2007

When will we British learn to stop appeasing terror?

By Melanie Phillips

The ending of the Al Qaeda fertiliser bomb plot trial has posed crucial questions about the competence of MI5. In particular, the assurances we were given after the 7/7 bombings, that the perpetrators had been unknown to the security service, have been shown to be utterly false.

Disturbing as that is by itself, the case also raises yet more pressing questions about whether Britain is even now acting effectively enough against the threat to this country from Islamist terrorism. The fact is that Al Qaeda now sees Britain as both its principal target and its principal recruiting ground. By its own admission, MI5 is monitoring no fewer than 200 terrorist networks, 1,600 identified individual terrorists and 30 known terrorist plots. It says British Muslims are being indoctrinated with horrifying speed, and more terrorists are being recruited every day.

In truth, as our leading counterterrorist police officer, Peter Clarke, said last week, this country is facing a terrorist threat of a nature and scale it has simply never seen before. This terrorism is part of a global holy war - and the dreadful thing is that it is recruiting British-born boys as its foot-soldiers against their own fellow citizens. When my book Londonistan was published a year ago, my claim that we were in a state of denial about the unprecedented emergency we were facing from home-grown terrorism and extremism was dismissed in some quarters as unwarranted alarmism. Since then, public opinion has shifted. Many have realised that what I wrote was, if anything, an understatement of the true position.

But our official class is still failing to take the action that is necessary to defeat this threat to our whole way of life. Certainly, it is now aware of the enormous scale of the terror threat. But it is still fighting it with both hands tied behind its back. In particular, the Human Rights Act continues to make effective anti-terror policy almost impossible. Only last week, the Government was prevented from deporting two Libyan terrorist suspects, even though they came here illegally and are deemed to pose a serious threat to our lives, because our judges have said no one can be sent anywhere that might not uphold their human rights.

The Government was originally begged by our security services not to pass the Human Rights Act precisely because of the danger it would pose to national security by tying us in such knots. Ministers merely dismissed their concerns. Now the same security services face the nightmare that Islamist terrorists will obtain a nuclear or other dirty bomb to use against Britain, with a human rights law that makes it more difficult to thwart such a terrible outcome.

Even worse than this, ministers seem to have no idea about the need to attack the ideology driving all this. It is simply not enough to flush out the terrorist cells, vital though that clearly is. We have to defeat the ideas driving some British Muslims to commit these acts in the first place. The Government has started paying lip service to this. It has spoken against the extremism of the Muslim Council of Britain, and is encouraging a wider range of truly moderate Muslims to speak up. And a few more extremists are being arrested. But at the same time, it is still appeasing radicalism.

It has become a cliche to say that most British Muslims are moderate. Certainly, most of them undoubtedly would have no truck with terrorism or violence and encouragingly, a growing number are speaking out against Islamist extremism. But extremist views are not confined to a few rogue elements. Opinion polls suggest that more than 100,000 of our Muslim citizens think the July 2005 attacks in London were justified. A report by the Policy Exchange think-tank revealed that around one third of British Muslims thought that if Muslims left the faith, they should be killed; and 37 per cent of 16-to-24-year-olds wanted to live in Britain under Sharia rather than English law. These numbers subscribing to such extremist views are deeply disturbing. They swell the sea in which terrorism swims.

If this tide is to be held back, Islamist extremism in Britain must be stopped and British values reasserted and stoutly upheld. To defeat such extremism, we have to make it abundantly clear that we will not give an inch to those who want to destroy our values. But we appear instead to be doing nothing to stop the spread of radical Islamism. Indeed, in a myriad different ways we are giving out the lethal message that we have neither the will nor the courage to defend our way of life. British Muslims are being recruited in large numbers to terror because next to nothing is being done to stop it.

Last January, a Channel Four television Dispatches programme revealed that at certain mosques which were assumed to be moderate and which were even prominent in talking to other faiths, material was being preached and disseminated advocating such horrors as the murder of homosexuals, the beating of women and hatred of Christians and Jews. Despite the Prime Minister's promise to outlaw the radical group Hizb ut Tahrir (which believes that Britain should be an Islamic state), the Government refuses to do so. Yet, Ed Husain, an extremely brave former radical who has recanted, chillingly documents in his new book The Islamist the enormous influence of this group in telling countless British Muslims it's their duty to wage holy war, and that Muslims have a corresponding duty "to be prepared to launch attacks on Britain from within".

Not only are we failing to halt the spread of such lethally extremist views, we are also failing to hold the line for our own values. Above all else, we should absolutely refuse to countenance the spread of Sharia law, which is not only inimical to our own deepest principles but aims to supplant our own laws. Yet we are turning a blind eye to the steady Sharia-isation of our country. We have ignored the development of informal parallel Sharia jurisdictions, enforced by Sharia courts, in areas heavily populated by Muslims. We have not only turned a blind eye to the polygamous marriages they sanction in Britain, but now give extra welfare benefits to husbands settling here with multiple wives - even though bigamy is a crime.

Despite the fact that thousands of Muslim women are terrorised by the threat of "honour killings", only a few of these horrific cases result in prosecutions - because our police are terrified of being accused of "racism" if they pursue them.

Now Gordon Brown has said Britain should become the centre of global Islamic banking. But this is heavily backed by Saudi Arabia which will use it to further its objective of Islamising the West - and may even provide a cover for the financing of further terror. This craven appeasement of extremism gives Islamists the unmistakable message that Britain is theirs for the taking. Thus truly moderate Muslims are betrayed, and all of us are put in infinitely greater danger - not just from terrorism, but from a culture that still seems to be sleepwalking to oblivion.


US health executive offered top NHS role

British politicians are getting desperate to fix the NHS

An American executive with a lifetime's experience of paying for care in the US health system has been offered the job of commercial director at the Department of Health, overseeing the purchase of care for NHS patients. But the appointment of R. Channing Wheeler, who is in the final stage of negotiations ahead of an expected announcement this week, is likely to be controversial as he has been caught up in the scandal of backdated stock options in the US.

The appointment of a US big-hitter with extensive healthcare purchasing experience is seen within the department as a clear signal of its continued commitment to market-based reforms and to the use of the private sector to treat and commission care for NHS patients. His selection has been approved by Tony Blair, the prime minister, from a short list that included other experienced US candidates. The department has been encouraged by their apparent belief that there is a job worth doing in the NHS.

Mr Wheeler, 55, was an executive vice-president of UnitedHealth Group, which is still being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over the alleged granting of backdated share options. The scandal has brought down William McGuire, the former longstanding chairman and chief executive of UnitedHealth, one of the largest US managed-care providers. Mr McGuire resigned after it was discovered that he and other executives had repeatedly received stock options, meant to incentivise future performance, that were granted at or near the lowest point of the share price in each year they received them.

Mr Wheeler, who until 2004 was chief executive of Uniprise, the UnitedHealth subsidiary that deals with some of the biggest US companies, is alleged to have received grants of more than 409,000 options on similar dates to Mr McGuire between 1998 and 2002, according to court papers filed in the US. A civil action has been filed by public sector union shareholders in UnitedHealth seeking $5.5m in damages from him over the share options.

The UK's health department is understood to have done due diligence on the appointment and accepted that Mr Wheeler was unaware at the time that the way the options were granted was questionable. Mr Wheeler held executive positions with US health plans, while running UnitedHealth's north-east region, before becoming chief executive of Uniprise in 1998. and 2004.

Karen Jennings, head of health for Unison, said: "The American health system is riddled with fraud and we must protect our NHS from that sort of corruptioon. "UnitedHealth is trying to infiltrate the NHS, and it is worrying that someone from that organisation is being favoured over an NHS or civil service appointee." Mr Wheeler did not return calls to his listed home address.


The stupid Brits deserve this guy: "One of Britain's most infamous Islamist extremists is seeking three more wives through the internet. Omar Brooks, who described the 7/7 suicide bombers as "completely praiseworthy" and heckled Home Secretary John Reid in a high-profile confrontation last week, has signed up to a Muslim marriage website. Although already married with three children and reportedly living off 700 pounds a month in state benefits, the 31-year-old is seeking more wives, with the intention of fathering more than nine children."

Slap on the wrist for fatally negligent British cops: "Two police officers have been disciplined for "unacceptable failings" after they failed to arrest a man who went on to commit murder. Paul Cooper, 42, complained to Greater Manchester Police in March 2005 that he had been attacked several times by Neil Read, who had mistakenly thought him to be a paedophile. At the end of an "horrendous campaign of violence", Read murdered Mr Cooper. Read, of Heywood, Greater Manchester, was convicted and ordered to be detained at Ashworth Hospital, Merseyside. The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which recommended that the two officers should receive formal written warnings. Naseem Malik, IPCC Commissioner for the North West, said: "It is clear that there were unacceptable failings by those officers once the suspect was identified, which meant clear opportunities to facilitate Read's arrest were missed."

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