Extremist taskforce? David Cameron set up a team after Lee Rigby was hacked to death by cleaver-wielding fanatics in broad daylight last May
Ministers faced a storm of criticism last night over the failure to halt the radicalisation of British Muslims amid claims up to 2,000 may have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight.
Downing Street was forced to admit plans to prevent youths being brainwashed by jihadists, ordered following the horrific murder of Lee Rigby, have been gathering dust for months.
Prime Minister David Cameron set up an ‘extremism taskforce’ after the 25-year-old British soldier was hacked to death by cleaver-wielding fanatics in broad daylight outside Woolwich Barracks, South-east London, in May last year.
But as anger mounted over the beheading of American journalist James Foley by a masked Islamic State militant with an English accent, it emerged none of the group’s main recommendations had been implemented.
The extraordinary development fuelled concern the Government was failing to get a grip on fanatics who were ‘hijacking’ UK youths.
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, said the true number of young British Muslims who have gone to fight with Islamic State was far higher than the official estimate of 500.
He said: ‘It is closer to 2,000. I know there are still people going.
‘There are no real effective controls at the borders, either on exit or coming in.
‘When the Prime Minister says there is a real threat to the UK he is right, but what is he doing to stop that? He’s doing nothing.’
Mr Cameron’s taskforce reported back in early December with a long list of recommendations, including the introduction of ‘terror Asbos’ to curb the activities of hate preachers, bans on groups that ‘seek to undermine democracy or use hate speech’ and new powers to make it easier for the Charity Commission to close down groups raising funds for terror organisations.
But none of the key findings has been acted upon. Only a crackdown on extremist websites is under way but even then only 57 sites have been shut down.
In a much-vaunted speech on terrorism in Munich in 2011, Mr Cameron also pledged to make Britain ‘a lot less’ tolerant of Muslim fanatics who whip up hatred.
He argued that the UK had been too passive and said the West must ‘wake up to what is happening in our own countries’.
The British Black Beatle (left) who murdered journalist James Foley is one of at least 500 Britons fighting for ISIS – and 250 of them are believed to back already, including Abu Abdullah Al Brittani (right), 32
Mashudur Choudhury, 31, became the first Briton to be found guilty of travelling to Syria to fight. He failed the selection process to join extremists and blew cash borrowed from family to get there on foreign holidays
But three years later, not a single strategy document appears to have been published by the Government outlining what it plans to do about the problem. Ghaffar Hussain, managing director of counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam, said: ‘There is clearly a problem.
‘At least 500 people are fighting in Syria and Iraq and a lot more sympathise with the jihadists’ view and that is disturbing.
‘The Government has not really got a grip on it. The taskforce is a prime example of that. Some very good statements are made but nothing happens, even though huge numbers of people are being attracted to this crazy ideology.’
Mr Ghaffar said the UK’s Muslim community was also to blame for the failure to tackle radicalisation. He said it was in denial and prone to ‘ridiculous conspiracy theories’.
Professor Anthony Glees, of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘Why are there Brits there? In my view this is because Islamist extremist ideologies have been able to be spread with relative ease in our country under the cover of religion, free speech and multiculturalism.’
Three men who produced a propaganda video for ISIS from Iraq spoke in English accents
‘Terror Twins’ Salma and Zahra Halane, both 16, who have 28 GCSEs between them, fled Manchester for Syria, have married warlords and hope to train as doctors to treat ISIS fighters
Former security minister Pauline Neville-Jones said: ‘There’s a huge task to be done of staunching the flow of people (to Syria).
‘There are various things that the Government can do, particularly in cooperation with the Turkish government, to disrupt the flow of people and prevent them actually getting over the border, and that has now become an extremely urgent task.’
During the 1990s, the threat of Islamic extremism was not taken seriously as security chiefs focused resources on foiling attacks by terror groups in Northern Ireland.
Hate preachers such as hook-handed fanatic Abu Hamza were allowed to come to Britain and spout anti-Western bile.
In the wake of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, in which 52 innocent people were murdered, Tony Blair launched the ‘Prevent’ strategy, a £200million-plus scheme intended to stop young Muslims from becoming radicalised.
Ifthekar Jaman (left), 23, died last year in a battlefield clash 2,000 miles from his Hampshire home last December after bragging how life in Syria was ‘5-star’ jihad. Amer Deghayes, 20, (right) is fighting in Syria
Abdul Waheed Majeed was a father-of-three from Sussex who became the first Briton to blow himself up
HOLLANDE BLAMES RISE OF MILITANTS ON UK AND US FAILURE OVER SYRIA
Francois Hollande has suggested ‘major powers’ including the UK and US are to blame for the rise of Islamic State militants.
The French president hinted that a Commons vote last year, when MPs rejected David Cameron’s motion of using force in Syria if necessary, was partly behind the rise of the terror group in Syria and Iraq.
He said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde on Wednesday: ‘If, two years ago, we had acted to ensure a transition, we wouldn’t have had Islamic State.
‘If, one year ago, the major powers had reacted to the use of chemical weapons, we wouldn’t have had this terrible choice between a dictator and a terrorist group.’
Mr Hollande said France delivered weapons to rebels battling President Assad’s regime ‘a few months ago’. He added that France ‘should not stop the support that we have given to these rebels’, but that the country ‘could not go it alone’.
In August last year, the Prime Minister was humiliated when Labour MPs and Tory rebels defeated the motion, ruling out military action against Assad.
But by 2009 the Labour government was forced to admit it had been a disastrous failure, with money actually bankrolling extremism. Councils and police – in charge of handing over public funds to supposedly moderate Muslim groups – had made ‘serious mistakes’, said a hard-hitting think-tank report.
A Government source said: ‘Discussions are continuing across Government on the implementation of the taskforce findings. It is not true to say we are doing nothing. We are working to tackle extremism in a number of areas, including schools, colleges and prisons.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Extremism of any kind has absolutely no place in our society. We have a wide range of powers at our disposal to disrupt travel and manage the risk posed by returnees, including prosecuting those who break the law.’