WikiLeaks: fear of offending Muslims allowed extremists into Britain ahead of 7/7 London bombings
A fear of offending Muslims allowed extremists into Britain before the 2005 London Tube and bus bombings, a former Labour minister with close links to the intelligence services has admitted.
By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
1:23PM BST 27 Apr 2011
Kim Howells blamed “political correctness” for fostering a situation in which dozens of extremists being sent to fight the West after being indoctrinated in Britain.
The Daily Telegraph has disclosed this week how terrorist recruits from across Africa and the Middle East flocked to London to claim asylum.
According to leaked detainee files from the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph, at least 35 detainees were sent to fight against the West after being indoctrinated in Britain.
Mr Howells, a former foreign office minister and chairman of the influential Commons intelligence and security committee, blamed “political correctness” which meant that the extremists and their views were not challenged.
He said: “There is a great reluctance to talk about the whole issue.
These were Muslim communities who were in Bradford, Luton as well as in London.
“I think that people were terrified of stirring up allegations of racism, of wanting to vilify a particular part of the community.
“There was a great reluctance to speak about them as a separate part of the community or a community that was undermining our way of life and threatening it.
“It was political correctness and it lasted really until the bombings of July in 2005 when everyone realised that these people simply didn’t subscribe to political correctness.”
Britain ignored repeated warnings to stop granting asylum to Islamic extremists wanted in other countries for terrorism offences before the 7/7 bombings.
The Daily Telegraph disclosed today that a leaked US diplomatic cable, sent five days after the July 7 bombings, said Britain ignored repeated warnings to stop granting asylum to Islamic extremists wanted in other countries for terrorism offences.
After bombers killed 52 people on London’s transport system in 2005, the cable said Britain “should have expected such blasts”. An Algerian politician said Britain invited the attacks by “aligning itself with the devil”.
According to the cable, also obtained by WikiLeaks, the politician asked: “Did the English consider the risks of allowing Londonistan to develop? The British thought that sheltering terrorists was a good solution, but they did not realise that one can never align oneself with the devil, and they did precisely that for years and years.”
Mr Howells, who stood down as an MP at the last general election, said that even today there was a nervousness among moderate Muslims and mainstream political debate about tackling head on these inflammatory remarks.
He said: “There’s still a great reluctance to take on the basic philosophy that these jihadists argue for, which is that infidels should be killed – that it’s not really a murderous and hellish thing to do to set off a bomb and murder innocent people including innocent Muslims..
“Even now there’s a huge reluctance in many of these communities to actually condemn the activities of murderous individuals who spread this kind of poison.
“You can’t even begin to envisage speaking in the same way about the new republican threat in Northern Ireland. These people have declared they want to murder policemen, even Catholic policemen.”
On Tuesday, Lord West of Spithead, a former security minister in the Labour government, admitted that ministers had failed to get a grip on the problem. He blamed some of the failings on the Home Office’s counter-terrorism strategy.
“The counter-terrorist strategy was not working as well as it should have been,” he said. “I hope that this Government is looking at it very closely, I am sure they are. We need to keep this pressure on.”
Lord West said Britain in the 1990s was “very slow in realising the danger of the radicalisation that was going on”. He said: “Some of these ghastly people said loathsome things about our nation and our way of life and yet when you tried to get them to return to their own country they stuck here like bloody limpets.”
The news came as it emerged that the US Government has told lawyers for detainees at the camp in Guantánamo that the leaked documents remained legally classified even after they have been made public.
This means that the lawyers cannot view the leaked reports on the internet and instead would have to go to secure Government facilities to view them.
Joseph Margulies, a lawyer for Abu Zubaydah, told the New York Times he is barred from commenting on the documents.
He said: “Everyone else can talk about it. can’t talk about it.”