In a documentary taped earlier but scheduled to be broadcast Sunday on the BBC, Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism branch, said that “thousands” of British Muslims are now being monitored by police and intelligence agencies.
And from The Observer:
Police are investigating a network of terror training camps across Britain which they fear are nurturing a new wave of home-grown Islamic extremists. The investigation is linked to raids late on Friday in which anti-terrorism officers arrested 14 people.
Yesterday police also sealed off a school in East Sussex run by an Islamic charity, Jameah Islamiyah, in the grounds of which The Observer understands the jailed cleric Abu Hamza secretly ran terror camps, training young militant Muslim men to use firearms.
A counter-terrorism official described the arrests as part of a ‘new plank’ of attack against Islamic terrorists in Britain, one that targets their ‘upstream’ activities. ‘It is not just about disrupting specific plots,’ the source said. ‘It is about closing down their opportunities to plan these attacks. Those that set up terror training camps are very much in our sights.’
The source said they were not just talking about military-style camps, but bases where religious extremists ‘bonded’ and indoctrination took place preparing young extremists to become suicide bombers.
The source refused to quantify the number of camps they were investigating, but confirmed there were likely to be several around the UK, both in metropolitan areas and remote rural regions.
The Observer understands camps have operated in some of Britain’s most isolated areas including Scotland, Wales and the Lake District. There has long been speculation that Abu Hamza operated a training camp in the Brecon Beacons in Wales and an unknown location in Scotland. At least two of the 7/7 bombers were known to have gone on white water trips in North Wales before their lethal attacks in London, and the use of activity-based training camps are suspected of playing a pivotal role in preparing young extremists.
At first glance this might seem reasonable. But what of the precedent being set? What if it were Jews being monitored and their firearms training being investigated in Germany in 1938? For those that don’t pay that much attention the German Weapons Control Act of 1938 forbid Jews from owning firearms.
I am certain we must Destroy Their Culture. But unless there is some probable cause (does being Muslim constitute probable cause?) I’m uncomfortable with widespread monitoring. Yes, I realize this is the U.K. we are talking about in this case but in many cases restrictions on human rights in the U.K. are a predictor of things to come in the U.S.