‘Radicalisation via YouTube’? Jonathan Githens-Mazer examines Roshonara Choudhry’s turn to violent extremism

First, we can definitively put to rest Tony Blair’s claims that foreign policy isn’t linked to terrorism at home. We can’t say that Blair’s analysis caused Timms to be stabbed, but we can say that this wishful thinking has been proven inaccurate.

Second, the transcripts elucidate the dangers of internalised political-religious outlooks. It is quite telling that Choudhry said that she only prayed at home, and talked to no one about what she was thinking or planning. For groups that I work with in my research into this area, this is the No 1 danger sign – being political but not participating in politics; not attending large scale gatherings of Muslims with groups that may (or may not) be Islamically inspired in character, but withdrawing from all forms of political engagement.

This contradicts many of the claims of those who brand organisations like the MCB and mosques such as East London and North London Central Mosque as dangerous. It is exactly these entities which have been proven to help to channel anger about foreign policy away from this internalised, isolating and potentially dangerous way of thinking about issues into heated, heartfelt, and challenging but ultimately constructive wider political debates. If you cut off these constructive release valves, these problems will only get worse.

This was exactly the kind of thinking that sat at the heart of Prevent thinking and the Home Office Channel project when they were first conceived. At the start, Prevent wasn’t about surreptitious traffic cameras in Muslim neighbourhoods. The precursors to Prevent, in activities such as the Muslim Contact Unit, were about empowering, through shared agendas and partnership, Muslim communities to address and tackle exactly these kinds of isolated individuals.

Comment is Free, 4 November 2010