Repatriation order for men in Syria raises questions about Canada’s consular obligations

I’m on the more cautious side on repatriation and the likelihood of rehabilitation, particularly with respect to adults:

Former diplomats say Canada should have moved to repatriate four men from northeastern Syria without a court order, avoiding another decision from the federal bench that casts more doubt on the country’s obligations to its citizens held for wrongdoing in foreign countries.

A day after the government came to an agreement to repatriate 19 women and children, the Federal Court ruled on Jan. 20 that four men held in detention camps for suspected ISIS members in northeastern Syria must be repatriated, too, noting that their living conditions are “even more dire than those of the women and children who Canada has just agreed to repatriate.”

The government has yet to indicate whether it will appeal the case. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) said on Jan. 23 that the government is looking at the situation “carefully” and is “making sure we’re defending Canadians’ safety and security.”

Former Canadian diplomat Daniel Livermore, who was director general of security and intelligence in Canada’s foreign service, said the Federal Court ruling will force Global Affairs to change its consular policy unless it is appealed.

“The tradition in consular service, the way it has been delivered … it doesn’t matter who you are and what you’ve done, you get consular service irrespective of background,” said Livermore, who authored Detained: Islamic Fundamentalist Extremism and the War on Terror in Canada. “Now, that didn’t happen with these people, and it didn’t happen because of their background.”

Livermore noted that there is little sympathy to provide any kind of assistance for those who are linked with allegedly going abroad to join a terrorist organization.

“I think the court case is really going to force the hands of Global Affairs to come up with something a lot better, and hopefully it is something that is anchored in a more sensible policy than they’ve pursued so far,” he said.

He added that in an “ideal world,” the case shouldn’t have even come to court and the repatriation should have taken place long ago.

In its policy framework to “evaluate the provision of extraordinary assistance,” the government notes that it has “no positive obligation under domestic or international law to provide consular assistance, including repatriation.”

The framework was unearthed as part of the Federal Court case.

The policy notes that Global Affairs “may” provide consular assistance to Canadians abroad with their request and consent, and pursuant to the government’s “royal prerogative on international relations.” The Federal Court ruled that the royal prerogative isn’t “exempt from constitutional scrutiny.”

Livermore said Canadian courts, in successive cases, have undermined the government’s claim of not having to provide consular assistance, including the most recent January decision. He said the notion was also disputed in 2010 when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Omar Khadr’s case. The top court ruled it could order the government to ask the United States to repatriate Khadr from detention in Guantanamo Bay, but chose not to. Livermore also cited the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, who the Federal Court ordered be repatriated from Sudan in 2009.

“[The three cases show] a nice little pattern, which undermines the royal prerogative argument and limits it very substantially,” he said.

He said the consular policy is a “residue” of Canada’s post-9/11 policies.

“A lot of our policies were changed without thinking them through,” he said. “A lot of the security agencies at the centre, at the [Privy Council Office], began to exercise powers that they don’t legitimately have a right to claim. Now we’re starting to untangle all this stuff … so presumably Global Affairs will have to work on that a bit and it will be interesting to see how it will come up with it.”

Livermore said one solution for future consular cases is to remove the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) from the co-management of the situation, suggesting that could be done by invoking the individual’s rights under the Privacy Act.

Under the government’s framework, CSIS and the RCMP will determine the “potential threat” an individual poses to public safety and national security, which includes “the individual’s involvement in, or association with, terrorist activity, and whether the risk of their return to Canada can be sufficiently mitigated in transit and upon arrival.”

Unlike other countries, Canada has made little progress to repatriate its citizens who have been held in Kurdish-controlled camps in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).

The government has cited safety concerns for its inability to travel to the camps to assess the consular cases. Under its framework, it notes that one of the guiding principles is that government officials “must not be put in harm’s way.” Other countries’ diplomats, as well as academics, journalists, and civil society advocates, have gone to the AANES camps.

Patricia Fortier, who served as Global Affairs Canada’s assistant deputy minister responsible for security, consular, and emergency management prior to her retirement in 2016, said the duty-of-care issue is a “very live issue.”

“There is no question that it is more top of mind now than it was in the past,” she said. “No one wants to order an officer into a place where they might not come back or they might be injured.”

She said the recent Federal Court decision continues a “long string” of cases involving the post-9/11 context and return to Canada.

“In each of those, everyone predicted that it would change things and it didn’t,” she said.

She said that the repatriation of the women and children had to come, but the question of the men is a more difficult one for potential public safety reasons.

“It’s going to be a really difficult security question,” she said, noting the situation is unlike many other consular cases as the Kurds who have control over the camps want to offload all the detainees.

“It is an odd situation,” she said, noting that it is unlikely that a similar case will have to be dealt with in the future.

Fortier said the situation will likely be resolved by Global Affairs and the security agencies, with the possible input of the defence department, before winding up on Trudeau’s desk.

She also noted the concern of the Yazidi population in Canada. In 2016, the House of Commons passed a motion that recognized that ISIS was committing genocide against Yazidi people. CBC News reported that survivors of the genocide who have resettled in Canada feel “heartbroken and betrayed.”

She said it is not always possible for the government to have a positive obligation to provide consular assistance, noting that could require Canada to repatriate a Canadian abroad who simply runs out of money.

Former diplomat Gar Pardy, who was the director general of the consular affairs bureau in the foreign service, said he doubted that the government would be interested in using the Federal Court’s decision as a foundation to change its consular policy.

He said that is why he thinks the government will appeal the decision.

Regardless of how the court process ends, Pardy said the government should be repatriating its citizens in northeastern Syria.

“The Canadian government should join what other governments have done,” he said, noting that many of Canada’s allies have repatriated their citizens who were in Syria. “Why the Canadian government has not followed this path—it just doesn’t seem to make any sense.”

The NDP and Green Party have called on the government to move forward on repatriation.

Source: Repatriation order for men in Syria raises questions about Canada’s consular obligations

Yazidis plead with Canada not to repatriate ISIS members

In contrast to the overly sympathetic article on efforts to rehabilitate ISIS returnees, a needed counterpoint from the experience of Yazidi women who were raped, tortured and otherwise abused by ISIS men and women. Not sure if Justice Brown and the court considered this context in his ruling:

The looming return of alleged ISIS members to Canada has brought trauma, worry and fear to people who were invited to Canada as a safe haven after the terrorist group all but destroyed their ancient community in northern Iraq.

“When I first heard the news, I felt the strength leave my body,” Huda Ilyas Alhamad told CBC News in her Winnipeg apartment. She is one of 1,200 survivors of the Yazidi genocide who were resettled in Canada; she spent years as a slave of ISIS members.

“I had to sit down right away. I was heartbroken and terrified at the same time because on one hand they had promised to protect us and bring us here and give us safety, and on the other hand they’re offering that same entryway for these very people who raped and tortured us on a daily basis.”

Source: Yazidis plead with Canada not to repatriate ISIS members

Canada has planned for years to handle returnees from the Islamic State. Now the plan has to work

It all strikes me as a bit too trusting and naive. Money quote:

“The women “all seem pleased to be back home,” the report noted, but there were “worrying reports that the majority of women refuse or are unable to take responsibility for their decision to travel to Syria, to have exposed their children to life in a war zone.””

They started disappearing a decade ago.

Slowly and mysteriously, then in a growing wave, young Canadians left behind their homes and families to join fellow Muslims fighting in Syria and Iraq or to experience the radicalized utopia of an Islamic caliphate promised by the Islamic State terrorism group.

Five or so years ago, psychologists such as Michael King and Ghayda Hassan began preparing for their imminent return — one that is expected only now, with a judge’s ruling last week that the federal government must bring Canadian citizens home from overseas detention camps.

“When the caliphate kind of crumbled and lost all its territory,” said King, of Alberta’s Organization for the Prevention of Violence, “there was this massive fear that everyone was going to come back to their countries of origin and charges wouldn’t be laid because it was hard to collect evidence in foreign countries.”

Like surfers in a strange sea, psychologists, social workers, police and radicalization experts waited in vain for that wave of returning male ISIS fighters, female adherents and their children.

Now it is taking shape. Six women, between the ages of 27 and 40. Among them are 13 children between the ages of two and 14.

Separately, there are four Canadian men who range in age from late 20s to early 40s. They have been detained for years in makeshift Syrian prisons on suspicion they fought with or supported ISIS, but they have never been charged with a crime.

One of them — Jack Letts, the 28-year-old son of a British mother and Canadian father — was reportedly being held with up to 30 other men in a cell built for six. Claiming to have been tortured, he is seeking the protection of the Canadian government after the U.K. revoked his citizenship.

Source: Canada has planned for years to handle returnees from the Islamic …

Canadian ISIL suspect with ties to Chatham could settle in Ottawa after repatriation

Sigh… An overly sympathetic treatment of an apparent ISIL member, UK born and raised, whose UK citizenship revocation allowed the UK government to “offload” him to Canada, despite his having never lived here. While I understand the desire of parents to do everything for their son, government should appeal this particular case (a Canadian is a Canadian need not necessarily be deemed a Canadian in cases such as this):

An activist working with the family of an alleged terrorist connected to Chatham and held for the past five years in Syria says Jack Letts could wind up living in Ottawa with his mother if he’s brought back to Canada.

Letts, a former British national nicknamed “Jihadi Jack” by the media there, is one of four Canadian men a court ruled last week must be repatriated to Canada. Stripped of his U.K. citizenship by the British government for alleged ties to ISIL, the Oxford-born Letts still retains a Canadian citizenship through his father, who is originally from the Chatham-Kent region but now lives in England.
Matthew Behrens, an advocate with the group Stop Canadian Involvement In Torture, which has been working with the Letts family on their repatriation efforts, said the “hope is that he will join his mom in Ottawa”He said Letts’ mother, Sally Lane, moved to the nation’s capital a few years ago after her son was stripped of his British citizenship. Behrens said Lane decided to move to Ottawa to maintain pressure on the Canadian government to bring her son home “because Jack is a Canadian citizen who has a right to return here.”

Source: Canadian ISIL suspect with ties to Chatham could settle in Ottawa after repatriation

Court orders government to repatriate 4 Canadian men detained in Syria

Of note. One of the arguments used against the previous government’s citizenship legislation revocation provision was that countries would “offload” their problem citizens to other countries. Jack Letts, a Canadian citizen by descent had his British citizenship revoked, forcing Canada to be responsible, despite him having minimal ties.

Gurski is likely correct that none of the returnees will ever be prosecuted given difficulties in obtaining evidence and witnesses:

The Federal Court has ordered the government to repatriate four Canadian men currently being held in northeastern Syria.

The Canadians are among a number of foreign nationals in Syrian prisons for suspected ISIS members that are run by the Kurdish forces that reclaimed the war-torn region from the extremist group.

Family members of 23 detained Canadians — four men, six women and 13 children — had asked the court to order the government to arrange for their return. They argued that refusing to do so would violate their charter rights.

The government agreed Thursday to move forward on repatriating the 19 Canadian women and children.

In the written decision, the judge cited the conditions of the prison and the fact that the men haven’t been charged and brought to trial.

“The conditions of the … men are even more dire than those of the women and children who Canada has just agreed to repatriate,” the decision reads.

“There is no evidence any of them have been tried or convicted, let alone tried in a manner recognized or sanctioned by international law.”

The judge also noted that the court was not asked to rule on why the applicants went to the region and that the government didn’t provide evidence that they took part in terrorist activities.

Lawrence Greenspon, the lawyer for most of the applicants, said that if there is any evidence the Canadians took part in terrorist activities, Canada should put them on trial here.

“These are Canadian citizens, they are being unlawfully, arbitrarily detained in either detention camps or in prisons, they haven’t been charged with anything,” Greenspon told CBC.

“There’s no likelihood that they’re ever going to be charged with anything over there. So bring them home.”

Jack Letts, who has been imprisoned in Syria for more than four years after allegedly joining ISIS, is among the four men.

Letts admitted in a 2019 interview to joining ISIS in Syria. His family says he made that admission under duress and there is no evidence that he ever fought for the group.

The former British-Canadian dual citizen, who was born and raised in Oxford, U.K., had his British citizenship revoked three years ago, leaving the Canadian government as his only viable means of escaping.

Barbara Jackman, the lawyer representing the Letts family, told CBC on Thursday that it is a violation of the detainees’ human rights to hold them without trial.

“This case was based on the human rights that are detained abroad and whether Canada, as a country, is obligated to help them,” she said.

Former CSIS analyst Phil Gurski told CBC News Network on Thursday that he doubts any of the adults returning would face justice for any crimes they may have committed.

“The witnesses aren’t here, the evidence isn’t here,” he told host Natasha Fatah. “As a Canadian citizen, I’m outraged that people are going to get away with it.”

Gurski said it would also put extra pressure on Canada’s intelligence bodies to monitor the individuals that do return.

In a statement Saturday, Global Affairs Canada said the department is reviewing the decision.

“The safety and security of Canadians is our government’s top priority. We remain committed to taking a robust approach to this issue.”

Source: Court orders government to repatriate 4 Canadian men detained in Syria

National security agencies’ relationship with racialized communities marred by a ‘trust gap:’ report

Not surprising and not one easy to reduce. And yes, my experience while in government with respect to the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security was that the information flow tended to be more one-way than a conversation:

The relationship between “racialized” groups and Canada’s national security and intelligence institutions —  like the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency  — continues to be bogged down by mistrust, says a new external report prepared for the federal government.

“We frequently heard about the trust gap between the country’s national security institutions and Canadians, and in particular with racialized Canadians,” says the report drafted by the National Security Transparency Advisory Group (NS-TAG) — an independent and external body first set up in 2019 to advise the deputy minister of Public Safety and the national security and intelligence community.

“At times, these relations have been marred by mistrust and suspicion, and by errors of judgment by these institutions, which impacted communities have perceived as discriminatory.”

The NS-TAG group, made up of 10 members from legal, civil society and national security backgrounds, warns that the emergence of artificial intelligence and data-driven intelligence poses a threat to racialized communities.

“Systemic biases in Artificial Intelligence (AI) design can have perverse impacts on vulnerable individuals or groups of individuals, notably racialized communities,” they found.

“These biases reflect not only specific flaws in AI programs and organizations using them, but also underlying societal cleavages and inequalities which are then reinforced and potentially deepened.”

CSIS responds

The report, published earlier this week, also calls on national security agencies to have better two-way conversations with communities.

“Too often engagement involves, in practice, government officials offloading a prepared message and failing to listen to the concerns of stakeholders,” says the report.

“Constructive engagement should instead be based on dialogue; government officials should be attuned to the questions and concerns of stakeholders, listen to them, and be prepared and willing to respond.”

The report also calls on agencies like CSIS to engage with communities on an ongoing basis — and not just when there’s a crisis.

The authors pointed to CSIS’s contact with the Iranian-Canadian community after the destruction of Flight PS752 in January 2020 and with the Muslim community following an attack on a mosque in Mississauga, Ont.

“Such engagement was important, but it was prompted by specific incidents. In our view, CSIS will not succeed in building long-term trust with racialized communities as long as its engagement is primarily reactive,” says the report.

CSIS responded to the report’s findings Friday by acknowledging the problem.

“We know that the voices of racialized communities and Indigenous peoples have not been heard as clearly as they should in conversations around policy, legislative and operational deliberations on national security matters,” CSIS wrote in a response published Friday.

“We are committed to changing this.”

Source: National security agencies’ relationship with racialized communities marred by a ‘trust gap:’ report

Osborne: How a neo-conservative think tank defined British Muslims

Interesting account. Remember from my days in multiculturalism following the UK’s PREVENT inititiatives to counter radicalization and extremism, and this article highlights one of the think tanks involved. Others with more experience in countering violent extremism may have some comments on this account:

In the wake of the calamity of the Iraq invasion of 2003, one might have supposed that the ideology which lay behind Tony Blair and George W Bush’s bloody misadventure would have been discredited. This has not happened. Neo-conservatism has continued to set the parameters for a great deal of policy discourse, and its supporters have continued to occupy many of the most prominent positions in British (and American) public life.

There are a number of reasons for this resilience. In the UK, Policy Exchange, a London-based think tank, is one organisation which kept the neo-conservative flame burning. Though its public profile is small, it has exerted prodigious influence in political circles. In conventional politics, Policy Exchange was at first associated in particular with ‘marketisation’, an ugly word which describes how the disciplines of the private sector have been introduced into the education system and the wider civil service. The think tank’s most enduring achievement, however, has probably been the reshaping of government policy towards British Muslims.

To simplify a rather complicated story, the British government, police and intelligence services originally saw their job as enforcing the law rather than policing ideology or personal beliefs. Abu Hamza, the notorious one-eyed cleric who made no secret of his sympathies with al-Qaeda, provides a fascinating illustration of this approach. Hamza, who used his position as imam of the Finsbury Park mosque to preach violent jihad, was skilful at ensuring that his public pronouncements stayed just within the law. There was general amazement and surprise when his eviction was suddenly brought about not apparently by the British state, but by his own congregation, who locked the doors of the mosque against him. The Metropolitan Police were, however, involved in Abu Hamza’s downfall. Its policemen built up close relations with the mosque’s faithful and were unobtrusively stationed nearby on the day of the imam’s eviction in case of trouble. This sensitive operation was a model of old-fashioned intelligence work and community policing.

However, the Muslim congregation who threw out Abu Hamza themselves held views which many sections of British society would find offensive. The congregation included sympathisers with Hamas, the Palestinian resistance group. Probably without exception, they were hostile to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and were dismayed by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Many worshippers at the mosque held socially conservative views about homosexuality and women which, while by no means unknown among the Conservative Party membership, are no longer mainstream opinions in the modern UK. None of these views bothered the Metropolitan Police. They were happy to work with the Muslim community for the removal of a figure who they rightly saw as a menace.

This kind of ‘multicultural’ approach lay at the heart of what was then the British way. As long as they obeyed the law, immigrants were allowed to bring with them the traditions and customs of the countries they had left behind. This approach fitted in naturally with the national tradition of letting in dissidents and exiles from abroad, from the Huguenots expelled from France in the seventeenth century to the Jews who made their way to the UK as refugees from the Russian pogroms before the First World War, or later as refugees from National Socialism.

Policy Exchange dismantled the British approach of tolerance. Its analysts naturally agreed that the police should counter violence. But they disagreed profoundly with any tolerance of the ideas which (so they maintained) might become gateways to this violence. Policy Exchange’s connections were second to none. It was set up in 2002, in the wake of heavy Conservative Party defeats in the 1997 and 2001 general elections, by a group of Conservatives who feared their party was destined to perpetual opposition. These were the self-proclaimed Tory ‘modernisers’. They greatly admired Blair and had supported the Iraq War. These modernisers believed that their mission was to help the Conservatives copy Blair’s achievements in making the Labour Party electorally successful. Michael Gove, at the time of writing a senior member of the Boris Johnson government, was the first chairman of Policy Exchange.

When David Cameron ran for the Tory leadership after the 2005 general election defeat, he looked to Policy Exchange for ideas. The organisation – defined by the Evening Standard as “the intellectual boot camp of the Tory modernisers” – helped shape his thinking. At its heart, Policy Exchange spoke of a political philosophy which appeals almost as deeply to the Blairite or Starmer wing of the Labour Party as it does to David Cameron or Boris Johnson’s Conservatives. Better than any comparable organisation, it has come to articulate what was rapidly becoming the philosophy of the British governing class in the 21st century.

Policy Exchange and British Muslims

When the think tank was founded, it contained a ‘Foreign Policy and Security Unit’. As far as can be ascertained, its publications focused on foreign policy, but displayed no interest in domestic ‘extremism’. This changed with the arrival of Dean Godson with the title of research director of international affairs in 2005. Godson, who had worked as chief leader writer for the Daily Telegraph, appeared to interpret his international brief as a mandate to generate domestic policy towards British Muslims. This should never cause surprise: the political right in the UK has a habit of discussing British Muslims as if they were a foreign policy issue.

Godson came from a family with a tradition of interest in Cold War intelligence work, propaganda and covert action. His father Joseph Godson was Labour attache at the United States embassy in London in the 1950s and used his influence to promote the interest of the pro-US wing of the Labour Party.

From 2005 onwards, Godson seems to have been on a mission to rip up the counter-terrorism strategy adopted by successive British governments. He promoted the new approach to Muslims through research papers, seminars and, not least, media muscle. In particular, he argued that methods used by the British state against terrorism – above all against the IRA during the Troubles – were no longer relevant. In Ireland, British ministers were happy to work with Catholic communities in order to isolate the gunmen and bring about reconciliation.

Confronted with the threat of terrorism in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, the first instinct of the British state was to copy the Irish experience. The police identified leaders who they felt they could trust with links into local communities. They sought to draw these figures into British politics, inviting them on to public platforms and making public funds available. In this way, they hoped to single out and segregate those individuals with an inclination to violence while gaining intelligence about their activities.

Policy Exchange argued that this strategy was wrong because, so it claimed, the British government was not merely confronting terrorists. Something much bigger was afoot: a confrontation of ideologies. For Policy Exchange, the UK was one of a band of free states, led by the US, that were engaged in a mortal battle against a set of deadly foes dedicated to a project to destroy Western civilisation. These foes were called ‘Islamists’ and they subscribed to a murderous ideology called Islamism. Policy Exchange acknowledged that not every Islamist was violent. However, over the long term that was irrelevant: Islamism had to be fought and ultimately it had to be defeated.

Islamism, said Policy Exchange, is a worldview which teaches its adherents that Islam is a comprehensive political ideology and must be treated as such. According to Policy Exchange, the Islamist outlook is one that essentially divides the world into two distinct spheres: ‘Muslim’ and ‘the rest’.

There could therefore be no negotiation. Islamists could never accept democracy, the rule of law, political institutions or the nation state. There was therefore no point in bringing Muslims into politics unless they renounced Islamism, in which case they could be welcomed.

According to Policy Exchange’s analysis, the core aim of counter-terrorism policy was no longer just protecting British citizens against violence. It was also the assertion of what Policy Exchange claimed to be Western values against so-called Muslim ‘extremism’. This grand battle of ideas demanded a return to the strategy of counter-subversion employed against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. My close reading of Policy Exchange publications has led me to conclude that Godson was, in essence, arguing that British Islamists should be isolated, never embraced and treated as suspect.

Twenty years ago I would attend the Telegraph leader conference. Godson, as chief leader writer, held court. He was a good mimic, an art he used to mock or denigrate political opponents or, if feeling cheerful, merely to entertain. He welcomed acolytes, but I took the liberty of challenging Godson. That evening I received a message through a mutual friend, who had arranged a dinner so that we could get to know each other better, that Godson was offended and no longer wanted to come across me socially. He was as good as his word.

A survey of his work at Policy Exchange suggests Godson had three objectives. First, he sought to weaken – or, better still, wreck – the alliance between the British left and British Muslim organisations. This he did by portraying Islamism as an outlandish far-right movement, with features in common with fascism. Secondly, Policy Exchange sought to challenge multiculturalism both as an idea and, more especially, as a basis for government policy. Above all, Godson was determined to break the link between so-called Islamist movements and the British state.

Godson was successful in all these objectives. His excellent Whitehall and Westminster connections may well have helped. These connections endure. Policy Exchange can whistle up a Cabinet minister for an event, an op-ed in a newspaper or access to Downing Street, while its authors are sought as experts on Islam on radio and television. The organisation’s reports tell the Conservative Party exactly what its leaders want to hear. At least six special advisers in the Boris Johnson government previously worked for Policy Exchange.

Godson’s first publication for Policy Exchange targeted British government collaboration with what was coming to be termed ‘radical Islam’. The author, Martin Bright, was a left-leaning journalist and then political editor of the New Statesman. This in itself sent out the important message that Policy Exchange worked with both political persuasions. Bright’s analysis was based on leaked material, courtesy of a Foreign Office source alarmed at the government’s relationship with Muslim organisations both in the UK and overseas. “It depresses me deeply,” wrote Bright, “that a Labour government has been prepared to rush so easily into the arms of the representatives of a reactionary, authoritarian brand of Islam, rather than look to real grassroots moderates as allies.”

Bright’s document took aim at two targets: the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Council of Britain. Policy Exchange (and Bright) present the Muslim Brotherhood as an Islamist movement guilty of propagating a dangerous ideology at odds with the West. As for the Muslim Council of Britain, that was condemned as guilty of being Islamist too. Bright’s document was an important blow in a campaign which would eventually lead to the severing of relations between the British government and the MCB. Policy Exchange can claim a large part of the credit.

Godson was an acute talent-spotter. Munira Mirza wrote his second publication and later worked with Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London, before moving to the crucial role of head of the Downing Street policy unit. Mirza demanded an end to “institutional attacks on Britain and its culture”, arguing that “the preoccupation with Muslim vulnerability and Islamophobia has skewered our understanding of why such problems exist, and in many ways, has made things worse for Muslims.” Mirza asserted that this reflected a “victim mentality” which was “given social credence by institutions, politicians, the media and lobby groups”. Her report also claimed Islamophobia has been ‘exaggerated’ by some British Muslims. Policy Exchange has a long history of questioning the idea of Islamophobia and has a record of recruiting members of minority groups to do the questioning.

The invention of non-violent extremism

In 2009, Policy Exchange published a report which explicitly presented the demand for the British state to apply to British Muslims the same counter-subversion regime used against trade unionists, socialists and others during the Cold War. This well-written and powerful polemic probably represents – more explicitly than any other Policy Exchange publication – the full Godson agenda. It was written by two Cambridge scholars. Martyn Frampton was a fellow of Peterhouse, the high Tory Cambridge college. His co-author Shiraz Maher was a former member of Hizb ut- Tahrir, having worked for the organisation as a regional officer in the north- east of England.

Frampton and Maher’s report called for the government to reinstate the 1989 Security Service Act, which would give MI5 the power to investigate subversion. As far as the British government was concerned, this involved a giant conceptual leap. The ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ initiative was rebranded as, simply, ‘Preventing Extremism’.

This was also a profound change of policy because it implied that the state should target not just violence but opinion as well. It criticised the government for “stressing law enforcement and strict security concerns over and above everything else’” Instead, it should deal with “non- violent radicals” who were “indoctrinating young people with an ideology of hostility to Western values”.

In other words, Policy Exchange wanted to create a new relationship between the British state and Muslims. This project meant creating a different kind of British citizenship. It led to a new concept in British public discourse: non-violent extremism. Policy Exchange was urging that Muslims should be obliged to sign up to a set of beliefs that fell within a state prescribed remit. In order to become British, Muslims were being asked to deny, or at least modify, their own identity and heritage. Until that moment, British citizens had generally been allowed to think and conduct themselves as they wanted, as long as they stayed within the law. The invention of the concept of non- violent extremism meant citizens could now be harassed, put on secret lists or barred from public life for offences which they often did not even know they had committed. It lies at the heart of the Prevent doctrine.

Prevent was used to fund organisations that would promote the government line on terrorism and extremism. But there was another component to the programme, which the Cameron government adapted to target “non-violent extremism” rather than just violent extremism. In 2015, Prevent became a legal duty for public sector institutions – including hospitals, schools, and universities. Under Prevent, public sector workers were and are (at the time of writing) expected to report anyone they suspect of extremism to the programme.

Extremism, according to the government, constitutes “vocal or active opposition to British values”. This means that people whose views may be mainstream or illiberal, but certainly not illegal, can be targeted as a threat to British society.

In a school context, Prevent demands that any teacher who suspects a pupil of having been radicalised must report them to the programme. The policy has failed at the crucial test of effectiveness. From April 2020 to March 2021, 86 per cent of referrals to the programme were false positives – representing people who were wrongly referred. Prevent only occasionally catches the people that it wants to. Even these individuals, however, have never committed a crime. There is, moreover, no evidence that they will ever commit a crime in the future, or that they would have committed a crime were it not for being identified by Prevent. Government statistics, meanwhile, do not illuminate the full picture: there are thousands of cases within schools, universities and hospitals where innocent people, often children, are needlessly interrogated and harassed over suspected extremism. Their cases are dismissed before being officially referred to Prevent and are left out of the official statistics.


Muslims are disproportionately affected by the policy, which relies on profiling. Over 70 per cent of Muslims in England and Wales live in ‘Prevent Priority Areas’ (PPAs), compared with just over 30 per cent of the general population. By requiring public sector workers to report people they find suspicious, moreover, Prevent effectively compels them to act on their prejudices and makes Muslims subject to majoritarian biases.

The development of the concept of extremism, pushed by think tanks like Policy Exchange, has had a material impact on the lives of ordinary British Muslims, pressuring them to assimilate by downplaying their distinctiveness from other Britons.

The idea of non-violent extremism thus brought with it a particular conception of national belonging: if foreigners wanted to become British, why shouldn’t they be like Britons? But this wasn’t a British logic. This country has always had a generous and capacious identity. You can be British at the same time as being Welsh, Jamaican, Cornish, Black, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or Scottish. The biggest problem is that nobody can be certain who is – or who is not  –  a non- violent extremist. That is why all attempts to establish a legally secure definition have so far failed.

Policy Exchange’s proposals have shifted the UK towards an American model of citizenship where new arrivals are expected to abandon old identities and join a common melting pot. Policy Exchange’s project to save Britishness was therefore also an attempt to destroy it. But Policy Exchange could not have won its argument without powerful allies, and the most important of these was the Conservative Party.

The Fate of Abraham: Why the West is Wrong about Islam is published on 12 May by Simon & Schuster. Peter Oborne won best commentary/blogging at the Drum Online Media Awards in both 2022 and 2017 for articles he wrote for Middle East Eye. He was also named as British Press Awards Columnist of the Year in 2013. He resigned as chief political columnist of the Daily Telegraph in 2015. His latest book, The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism, was published in February 2021 and was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller. His previous books include The Triumph of the Political Class, The Rise of Political Lying, and Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran.

Source: How a neo-conservative think tank defined British Muslims

As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels

Of note:

The police officer arrived at the Hindu temple here with a warning to the monks: Don’t repeat your hate speech.

Ten days earlier, before a packed audience and thousands watching online, the monks had called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches, in one of India’s holiest cities, promoted a genocidal campaign to “kill two million of them” and urged an ethnic cleansing of the kind that targeted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

When videos of the event provoked national outrage, the police came. The saffron-clad preachers questioned whether the officer could be objective.

Yati Narsinghanand, the event’s firebrand organizer known for his violent rhetoric, assuaged their concerns.

“Biased?” Mr. Narsinghanand said, according to a video of the interaction. “He will be on our side,” he added, as the monks and the officer broke into laughter.

Once considered fringe, extremist elements are increasingly taking their militant message into the mainstream, stirring up communal hate in a push to reshape India’s constitutionally protected secular republic into a Hindu state. Activists and analysts say their agenda is being enabled, even normalized, by political leaders and law enforcement officials who offer tacit endorsements by not directly addressing such divisive issues.

After the monks’ call to arms went viral, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his top leaders remained silent, except for a vice president with a largely ceremonial role who warned that “inciting people against each other is a crime against the nation” without making a specific reference to Haridwar. Junior members of Mr. Modi’s party attended the event, and the monks have often posted pictures with senior leaders.

“You have persons giving hate speech, actually calling for genocide of an entire group, and we find reluctance of the authorities to book these people,” Rohinton Fali Nariman, a recently retired Indian Supreme Court judge, said in a public lecture. “Unfortunately, the other higher echelons of the ruling party are not only being silent on hate speech, but almost endorsing it.”

Mr. Narsinghanand was later arrested after he ignored the police warning and repeated calls for violence. His lawyer, Uttam Singh Chauhan, said his speeches may have been a reaction to anti-Hindu comments by Muslim clerics.

Mr. Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party did not respond to requests for comment.

“Does the prime minister or home minister need to address every small, trivial issue?” said Vinod Bansal, a spokesman for the World Hindu Council, a party affiliate. “The accused have already been arrested. The secular groups will always highlight such incidents, but not when Hindus, Hindu gods and goddesses are under attack.”

The hate speech is stoking communal tensions in a country where small triggers have incited mass-death tragedies. The monks’ agenda already resonates with increasingly emboldened vigilante groups.

Vigilantes have beaten people accused of disrespecting cows, considered holy by some Hindus; dragged couples out of trains, cafes and homes on suspicion that Hindu women might be seduced by Muslim men; and barged into religious gatherings where they suspect people are being converted.

In recent weeks, global human rights organizations and local activists, as well as India’s retired security chiefs, have warned that the violent rhetoric has reached a dangerous new pitch. With right-wing messages spreading rapidly through social media and the government hesitant to take action, they are concerned that a singular event — a local dispute, or an attack by international terror groups such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State — could lead to widespread violence that would be difficult to contain.

Gregory Stanton, the founder of Genocide Watch, a nonprofit group, who raised similar warnings ahead of the massacres in Rwanda in the 1990s, told a U.S. congressional briefing that the demonizing and discriminatory “processes” that lead to genocide have been well underway in India.

In an interview, he said Myanmar was an example of how the easy dissemination of misinformation and hate speech on social media prepares the ground for violence. The difference in India, he said, is that it would be the mobs taking action instead of the military.

“You have to stop it now,” he said, “because once the mobs take over it could really turn deadly.”

The Dasna Devi temple in Uttar Pradesh state, where Mr. Narsinghanand is the chief priest, is peppered with signs that call to prepare for a “dharm yudh,” or religious war. One calls on “Hindus, my lions” to value their weapons “just the way dedicated wives value their husbands.”

The temple’s main sign prohibits Muslims from entering.

The monks’ anger is rooted in a sense of internalized victimhood that dates to the founding of India’s republic after independence from British rule in 1947. When Pakistan was carved out of India in a bloody partition that left hundreds of thousands dead, the Hindu right was incensed that the founding fathers turned what remained of India into a secular republic.

They celebrate a Hindu hard-liner’s assassination of Mohandas Gandhi — a renowned symbol of nonviolent struggle, but to them a Muslim appeaser. Pooja Shakun Pandey, a monk at the Haridwar event, has held re-enactments of Gandhi’s assassination, firing a bullet into his effigy as blood runs down.

The forces that shaped the ideology of Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, have slowly risen from the fringes to dominate India’s politics.

Mr. Modi, the prime minister, spent decades as a mobilizer for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the century-old right-wing organization to which Mr. Godse belonged. Mr. Modi’s party sees the group as the fountainhead of its political ideology and has relied heavily on its vast network of volunteers to mobilize voters and secure victories.

When he was chief minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi saw firsthand how unchecked communal tensions could turn into bloodletting.

In 2002, a train fire killed 59 Hindu pilgrims. Although the cause was disputed, violent mobs, in response, targeted the Muslim community, leaving more than 1,000 people dead, many burned alive.

Rights organizations and opposition leaders accused Mr. Modi of looking the other way. He rejected the allegations as political attacks.

After he rose to the country’s highest office in 2014 on a message of economic growth, there was hope that Mr. Modi could rein in the fury. Instead, he has often reverted to a Hindu-first agenda that inflames communal divides.

In 2017, Mr. Modi picked Yogi Adityanath, a monk who had started a youth group accused of vigilante violence, to lead Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state with more than 200 million people.

In his saffron robe, Mr. Adityanath has legislated a ban on religious conversion by marriage, an idea that he calls “love jihad,” in which Muslim men lure Hindu women to convert them. His group has served as moral police, hounding interfaith couples and punishing anyone suspected of disrespecting cows.

As Mr. Adityanath campaigned for re-election, the group held a meeting in New Delhi around the same time as the monks’ event. With a picture of Mr. Adityanath behind them, attendees took an oath to turn India into a Hindu state, even if it meant killing for it.

Mr. Adityanath’s office would not address his current relations with the group, but said the chief minister “had nothing to do” with the meeting.

Dhirendra K. Jha, a writer who has studied the rise of Hindu nationalism, said he worried that extremists now dominate India’s politics in such a way that those who call for violence feel protected.

“Unless this is dealt with, the kind of consequences that may happen — I can’t even imagine, I don’t dare to imagine,” said Mr. Jha.

The choice of Haridwar as the venue for a bold call to violence was strategic — the city attracts millions of visitors annually, often for religious festivals and pilgrimages.

The riverbank was recently busy with seers and worshipers. Families picnicked and took dips in the chilly water. Even as some religious authorities appeared troubled by the calls for violence, they were reluctant to condemn them.

Pradeep Jha, the main organizer of the city’s largest pilgrimage festival, said he shared the vision of a Hindu state, not through violence but by urging India’s Muslims to convert back; in such a view, everyone in India was Hindu at one point.

“I believe we need to pursue our goals with patience, with peace,” he said. “Otherwise, what is our difference with others?”

Mr. Narsinghanand has made a name for himself doing the exact opposite.

As he sees it, India’s Muslims — who account for 15 percent of the population — will turn the country into a Muslim state within a decade. To prevent such an outcome, he has told followers that they must “be willing to die,” pointing to the Taliban and Islamic State as a “role model.

In 2020, Mr. Narsinghanand was among the hard-liners stoking tensions during monthslong protests over a citizenship amendment seen as discriminatory toward Muslims. He called for violence, using the language of a “final battle.” “They are jihadis, and we will have to finish them off,” he said.

Riots followed in New Delhi, with 50 people killed, a majority of them Muslims.

Mr. Narsinghanand was always observant, but not an extremist, according to his 82-year-old father, Rajeshwar Dayal Tyagi.

He was a top college student, earning a scholarship to study food technology in Moscow. There, he helped open a vegetarian restaurant for Indian students that still operates.

Returning to India in 1996, he started a computer training institute with money from Mr. Tyagi’s pension. He soon dedicated his life to being a monk, leaving behind his wife and young daughter, said his father.

“I feel pained, I feel angry, it gives me stress,” his father said. “It’s not a good idea to use harsh words against anybody.”

Despite the police warning, Mr. Narsinghanand and his fellow monks repeated their messages of hate, including on national television and social media.

“This Constitution will be the end of the Hindus, all one billion Hindus,” Mr. Narsinghanand said at a virtual event. “Whoever believes in this system, in this Supreme Court, in these politicians, in this Constitution, in this army and police — they will die a dog’s death.”

When the police came to arrest an associate, he threatened the officers, who politely urged him to calm down. “You will all die,” Mr. Narsinghanand is seen in a video telling them.

The police arrested Mr. Narsinghanand on Jan. 15, and he was charged in court with hate speech.

“He said nothing wrong,” said Swami Amritanand, an organizer of the Haridwar event. “We are doing what America is doing, we are doing what Britain is doing.”

Mr. Amritanand said the call for arms was justified because “within the next 10 to 12 years there will be a horrible war that will play out in India.”

Late last month, the monks again sounded a violent call to create a Hindu state, this time at an event hundreds of miles away from Haridwar in Uttar Pradesh. They threatened violence — referencing a bombing of India’s assembly — if Mr. Narsinghanand was not released.

Ms. Pandey described their actions as defensive. “We must prepare to protect ourselves,” she said.

To the Haridwar police, the event in Uttar Pradesh did not count as a repeat offense. Rakendra Singh Kathait, the senior police officer in Haridwar, said Mr. Narsinghanand was in jail because he had acted again in the city; others like Ms. Pandey got a warning.

“If she goes and says it from Kolkata, it doesn’t count as repeat here,” Mr. Kathait said.

Source: As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels

Far-right groups like The Base will radicalise Australians until we confront their beliefs

Perspective of interest:

As one of the reporters who worked to uncover the operations of white power accelerationist group, The Base, I view the Australian federal government’s listing of them as a proscribed terror groupthis week as a belated but important recognition of the danger presented by white supremacist organisations.

But the national security state is a blunt instrument, and the apparatus of anti-terrorism is no substitute for making anti-racism principles central to a more inclusive democracy.

At its height, The Base was a transnational network of white nationalists who were seeking to collectively plan and prepare for what they saw as the inevitable collapse of liberal democracies they saw as decadent and corrupted by the values of feminism and multiculturalism.

In the Guardian US, I was the first reporter to identify Rinaldo Nazzaro, an American former US intelligence contractor now based in Russia, as the group’s founder and leader.

Previously he had only been known by the aliases Norman Spear and Roman Wolf.

An infiltrator gave me unprecedented access to the group’s internal communications. There I saw that although their group claimed only to be preparing for disaster, their conversations functioned to further indoctrinate members in a poisonous ideology of racial hatred, and the group’s relentlessly repeated fantasies of terroristic violence, for some of them, translated into real-world acts of destruction.

Members of the group are now facing trial for offences ranging from vandalising synagogues to assassination plots

Late last month, one member, former Canadian serviceman Patrik Mathews, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for engaging in a terror plot with other members of the group.

Later, I showed how The Base’s efforts to recruit in Australia had led to them vetting Dean Smith in 2019, who was a federal election candidate for One Nation in Western Australia the same year. Smith ended up withdrawing his application and there is no evidence he has engaged in or planned any violence.

Source: Far-right groups like The Base will radicalise Australians until we confront their beliefs

Close to home: how US far-right terror flourished in post-9/11 focus on Islam

Of note. Tragic irony:

The US government acted quickly after 9/11 to prevent further attacks by Islamic extremists in the US. Billions of dollars were spent on new law enforcement departments and vast powers were granted to agencies to surveil people in the US and abroad as George W Bush announced the war on terror.

But while the FBI, CIA, police and the newly created Department of Homeland Security scoured the country and the world for radicalized Muslims, an existing threat was overlooked – white supremacist extremists already in the US, whose numbers and influence have continued to grow in the last two decades.

In 2020 far-right extremists were responsible for 16 of 17 extremist killings, in the US, according to the Anti-Defamation League, while in 2019, 41 of the 42 extremist killings were linked to the far right.

Between 2009 and 2018 the far right was responsible for 73% of extremist-related fatalities in the US, while rightwing extremists killed more people in 2018 than in any year since 1995, when a bomb planted by an anti-government extremist killed 168 people in a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Despite the statistical dominance of far-right and white supremacist killings in the US, America’s intelligence agencies have devoted far more resources to the perceived threat from Islamic terror.

“The shock of 9/11 created this incredible machinery really, in the US and globally – the creation of entire new agencies and taskforce hearings, and all those sorts of things, that created blind spots,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, author of Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Far Right and a professor at American University, where she runs the school’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab.

“Of course, they were also interrupting plots and warning of threats. So some of that was happening, but at the same time, this other threat was increasing and rising, and they weren’t seeing it,” she added.

In the last few years alone, a gunman killed 23 people in El Paso, Texas, after allegedly posting a manifesto with white nationalist and anti-immigrant themes online. In it he wrote that he planned to carry out an attack in “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”.

In February 2019, a US Coast Guard lieutenant who was a self-described “white nationalist” was arrested after he stockpiled weapons and compiled a hitlist of media and government figures. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2020.

Nine black church members were murdered in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2017, by a 22-year-old who confessed to the FBI that he hoped to bring back segregation or start a race war.

But successive governments have spent most of the last two decades putting the majority of their resources towards investigating Muslims, both in the US and abroad. In 2019 the FBI said 80% of its counter-terrorism agents were focused on international terrorism, with 20% devoted to domestic terrorism.

As the government pursued Islamic terrorism, the civil rights of Muslims in America were impinged, and many innocent Muslims suffered. More than a thousand people were detained in the months following 9/11, and thousands more questioned as mosques and Muslim neighborhoods were placed under surveillance. The number of hate crimes against Muslims in the US spiked in the immediate aftermath of the attack, and have remained way above pre-2001 rates in every year since.

“There was a lack of attention from authorities – resources – but some of the actual interventions that authorities made were Islamophobic. And so they fostered some of this Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment,” Miller-Idriss said.

Michael German, a former FBI special agent who specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations, said a disparity in the attention giving to alleged Muslim actors and white supremacists was growing even before 9/11.

After that attack, however, new laws, including the Patriot Act, gave the government extra powers to surveil and target Americans, while the justice department was given more power to investigate people with no criminal record.

German, who is a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program said these powers were mostly focused on Muslim Americans, while paying white supremacists little heed.

“[There was] a disparity between how the FBI targeted Muslim Americans who simply said things the government didn’t like, or were associated with people the government didn’t like, or the government suspected just because they were Muslim, and had never committed any violent crime, had never been engaged with any terrorist group versus failing to even document murders committed by white supremacists,” German said.

After the World Trade Center attacks, “a tremendous amount of resources were coming into the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the counter-terrorism work”, German said. “But that was all being focused on potential terrorism committed by Muslims.”

A justice department audit in 2010 revealed that between 2005 and 2009 an average of fewer than 330 FBI agents were assigned to domestic terrorism investigation, out of a total of nearly 2,000 counter-terrorism agents.

The decision to not focus as intensely on white supremacist or domestic terrorism wasn’t just a strategic one, German said. He said the influence of money and big business had a role, as industries lobbied lawmakers and even the FBI itself to instead pursue anti-capitalist and environmental protest groups.

“The FBI needs resources. And to get resources, it needs to convince members of Congress. And Congress works most effectively when there are wealthy patrons who contribute to their campaigns,” German said.

“So the FBI has to cultivate a base of support in the wealthy community, and how can they do that? Well, by going to corporate boards, and telling them, you know, the FBI needs more resources.

“And then of course, that gets the corporate boards a lot of influence over what the FBI does. And what those corporate boards were saying wasn’t that there are minority communities in the United States that are being targeted by white supremacists, what are you doing about it?

“They were saying: ‘Hey these [anti-corporate or environmental] protesters are a real pain and you know, there’s a potential they could become violent.’”

When the government and intelligence agencies sought to expand its collection of intelligence post-9/11, that gave corporations another bargaining chip, German said – further knocking white supremacy and the far right down the priority list.

“Giant corporations hold a lot of private information about Americans, and getting access to that information became important to the FBI, so pleasing those corporations became part of the mission.”

Alongside that issue is the fact that there are “lingering racism problems within the FBI”, German said, with the agency still a predominantly white and male organization.

“So that’s one end of the spectrum, the people who are either explicitly racist or implicitly racist. Because white supremacists don’t threaten their community so they don’t see it as a threat.

“The white male agent who goes home to a white suburban community doesn’t really see a lot of white supremacist skinheads causing problems in his community. So it becomes a lesser threat.”

In 2020 there were signs that more attention was being focused on the far right. The Department of Homeland Security said white supremacists were “the most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland” as it announced a report on threats in the US.

But that came just days after Donald Trump had told the extremist group Proud Boys to “stand by” during a presidential debate.

Trump was notoriously reluctant to condemn white supremacist violence, and his “both sides” comments after the Charlottesville riots were seen as legitimizing the far right. In April 2020, as the pandemic raged in the midwest, he told his supporters to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” after Gretchen Whitmer, the state’s Democratic governor, imposed stay-at-home orders. Hundreds of armed rioters duly stormed the Michigan state capitol. In October 2020 the FBI charged six people with allegedly plotting to kidnap Whitmer, who had been a target of Trump’s attacks for months.

The riot in Michigan could be seen as a grim preview of the events of 6 January, when a far-right movement that had been brewing for years spilled out in Washington DC and attacked the Capitol.

Joe Biden has been less reluctant than his predecessors to identify the danger to US citizens. In June Biden said white supremacists are the “most lethal threat” to Americans, and later that month his administration unveiled a sweeping plan to address the problem.

PW Singer, a strategist who has served as a consultant to the US military, intelligence community and FBI and is a fellow of New American, a public policy thinktank, said the growing threat of white supremacism in the US was too complex to blame just on a lack of attention from government intelligence agencies – “but it certainly didn’t help stop it”.

“Think of it as akin to a disease striking the body politic. The person was not only in active denial, deliberately avoiding the needed measures to fight it, but the normal defenses [used] against other like threats were not deployed.”

Trump may be gone, but the pandering of some Republicans to rightwing extremists seems unlikely to stop. As recently as August Mo Brooks, a Republican congressman from Alabama, defended a Trump supporter who carried out a Capitol Hill bomb threat.

“Although this terrorist’s motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society,” Brooks tweeted, hours after the man had parked close to the Capitol and supreme court and told police he had a bomb.

“The way to stop socialism’s march is for patriotic Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 election,” he said. “Bluntly stated, America’s future is at risk.”

It’s a dangerous game, but with the rise of Trumpism and far-right extremism in conservative politics – which can be traced back to the Tea Party movement which demonized Barack Obama – it is one Republicans seem likely to continue.

“What was once the unacceptable extreme has become an accepted part of our politics and media,” Singer said.

“It is a hard truth that too many are unwilling to accept. It didn’t start on 6 January, but years before, where these extremist views were first tolerated and then celebrated as good for clicks, and then votes.”

Source: Close to home: how US far-right terror flourished in post-9/11 focus on Islam