Britain’s top security and counter-terrorism minister believes that the deadly Israeli war on Gaza Strip was a setback to his government’s efforts to address radicalism, The Guardian reported on Wednesday, January 28.
"The business in Gaza has not helped us at all in our counter-radicalism strategy," said Lord Alan West, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Home Office and security adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown
"Without a doubt it will have set us back," he told a seminar on terrorism in London.
More than 1,350 people, including 437 children, were killed and 5,450 wounded in 22 days of air, sea and land attacks Israel unleashed on December 27.
During the attacks, anti-Israel rallies swept Britain and the whole world, demanding an end to Israeli atrocities in the densely-populated strip.
Britain, however, allied with the US in delaying a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
"We have key people in the Muslim community who we are in dialogue with, and they are quick to let us know there is an issue that is causing us a worry," warned Lord West, who has recently conducted a review of the UK’s anti-terrorist laws.
"They said it [the war] was coming over very badly."
Earlier this month, Britain’s communities secretary Hazel Blears said she was "very concerned" that Israel’s military offensive could be used by extremists to recruit vulnerable young people.
In a letter to Brown, Muslim anti-terror advisors warned that the Israeli blitz in Gaza would help extremists in Britain and abroad, urging the government to distance itself from the shaming US bias towards Israel.
Lord West, a former navy chief, said that Britain’s reaction to the Israeli offensive has reinforced perceptions among people that there was a "linkage" with Israel.
"There is no doubt that when you see these pictures coming back, that in the mind of people making hate, there is a linkage between the US, Israel and the UK."
He admitted that the Gaza war was not the first example when UK’s flawed foreign policies had a damaging ripple effect domestically.
An outspoken critic of the US-led invasion of Iraq, West was scathing about the assertion, made by former premier Tony Blair, that foreign policy did not increase the terrorism risks in the UK.
"They [the Blair administration] were very unwilling to have any debate about how our foreign policy impacted on radicalization."
Blair, who stepped down in June 2007 after 10 years in office, had been seen as former US President George W. Bush’s poodle, backing his 2003 Iraq invasion despite opposition from European allies and fierce political attacks at home.
A Guardian/ICM poll had shown that the majority of Britons believed Blair’s foreign policy made their country more of a target for terrorists.
An open letter by 38 British Muslim organizations blamed Blair’s foreign policy for giving "ammunitions" to terrorists.
A Home Office’s inquiry into the terrorist 7/7 bombings admitted they were motivated by London’s foreign policy, principally the Iraq invasion.
"We never used to accept that our foreign policy ever had any effect on terrorism," said Lord West.
"Well, that was clearly bollocks."
(IslamOnline.net and newspapers)