Flabby thinking opens doors to British terrorists, study finds.
A new report says 'flabby and bogus' government thinking has made the country vulnerable to attack from Islamist extremists.
Britain has become a "soft touch" for home-grown terrorists because ministers have failed to tackle immigrant communities that refuse to integrate, according to a study published by the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi).
The think tank, which employs the wisdom of retired generals, former spy chiefs and diplomatic figures, argues that a loss of British values and national identity caused by "flabby and bogus" government thinking has made the country vulnerable to attack from Islamist extremists, the Telegraph reports on its front page today.
"Misplaced" policies on multiculturalism have failed to "lay down the line" to immigrants, leading to a fragmented society opposed by "implacable" terrorist enemies, the report says.
But a leader in the Telegraph, which probably has more retired generals, former spy chiefs and diplomatic figures among its readers than most papers, argues that although the report's analysis is sound, its prescription is less persuasive.
"The report's authors call for a constitutional re-structuring involving the creation of twin Whitehall and parliamentary committees to draw together 'all the threads of government relating to defence and security'. They liken it to the creation of the Monetary Policy Committee, which took interest rates out of the political arena.
"This is a dangerously flawed proposition. De-politicising defence and security by creating some cosy cross-party machinery actually means de-democratising it."
The Mail also splashes on the Rusi story and says that its "bleak assessment" follows two blows this week to Labour's anti-terror strategy. On Wednesday five Muslim men had their convictions for terrorism offences quashed.
Yesterday, the appeal court ruled that the Algerian pilot Lotfi Raissi was entitled to claim compensation from the British government after he was falsely accused of training 9/11 pilots and banged up in Belmash prison. He is now preparing to claim millions, the Mail says, for the devastating effect his arrest had on his career.
How could anyone believe he was a terrorist, asks the Times. "While other al-Qaeda suspects sat sullenly in the dock, Mr Raissi, then 27, sobbed uncontrollably as allegations now known to be utterly false were made by Crown lawyers acting on behalf of the US government ...
No one who came to know about his uncle's role in the front line against Islamist terrorism in Algeria could accept that this frightened young man was a follower of Osama bin Laden."
James Welch, the legal director of the human rights group Liberty, is quoted in the Guardian saying: "Luckily for Mr Raissi he was arrested before the new extradition arrangements under the Extradition Act 2003 came into force.
"If he were arrested now he would have been whisked off to the US without the possibility of a British court considering the strength of the charges against him."
Britain 'a soft touch for home grown terrorists
Robert Winnett Deputy Political Editor
Britain has become a "soft touch" for home grown terrorists because ministers have failed to tackle immigrant communities that refuse to integrate, warns a report released today.
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a body of the country's leading military and diplomatic figures, says the loss of British values and national identity caused by "flabby and bogus" Government thinking has made the country vulnerable to attack from Islamic extremists.
"Misplaced" policies on multiculturalism have failed to "lay down the line" to immigrants, leading to a fragmented society opposed by "implacable" terrorist enemies, the report says.The stark warning - which comes just days after the Archbishop of Canterbury was plunged into a row over the adoption of sharia, or Islamic law, in Britain - will embarrass the Government.
RUSI, whose patron is the Queen, is one of the most respected and long-established defence research organisations in the world.
Gordon Brown, who is due to unveil his national security policy next week, has described the think-tank as "leading the debate about homeland security and global terrorism".
Its analysis represents the views of senior defence experts including Lord Inge, the former chief of the defence staff, Vice Adml Sir Jeremy Blackham, Gen Sir Rupert Smith and Baroness Park, a former senior officer with MI6.
It was written by the Marquess of Salisbury and Professor Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics.
In addition to raising concerns over the threat from home-grown terrorists, the report warns that:
• The military is not receiving adequate funding and the Armed Forces are in a state of "chronic disrepair".
• Competition for energy, water and food from China and India raises significant questions for security policy.
• British reliance on a weakening UN, Nato and EU could leave this country vulnerable to emerging terrorist threats.
However, it is the vulnerable state of British society that attracts the most criticism.
"The UK presents itself as a target, as a fragmenting, post-Christian society," the report says, and is "increasingly divided" on its history, national aims, values and political identity.
"That fragmentation is worsened by the firm self-image of those elements within it who refuse to integrate."
The report places most of the blame for this on a "lack of leadership from the majority, which, in misplaced deference to 'multiculturalism', failed to lay down the line to immigrant communities, thus undercutting those within them trying to fight extremism".
"The country's lack of self-confidence is in stark contrast to the implacability of its Islamist terrorist enemy, within and without.
"We look like a soft touch. We are indeed a soft touch, from within and without."
The report also accuses ministers of "flabby and bogus strategic thinking" which has led to public money being spent in "perverse ways".
"All this has contributed to a more severe erosion of the links of confidence and support between the British people, their government and Britain's security and defence forces, than for many years," it says.
Citing the creation of the independent monetary policy committee at the Bank of England, RUSI concludes that the situation is so serious that "moves are needed to take defence and security, as far as possible, back out of the arena of short-term party politics".
"The range of threats and risks facing the UK, together with the experience of the past few years, suggest that measures to achieve that should go beyond changes in policy. Institutional changes are needed."
Last night, the report was welcomed by Baroness Neville-Jones, the shadow security minister and former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, who said it showed how multiculturalism had been a "disaster" for Britain.
She said: "This report sends a powerful message to the Government that leadership is badly lacking at a time of significant threat to our country.
"The Conservatives agree that multiculturalism has been a disaster for national cohesion and has increased our vulnerability to the terrorist threat."
RUSI's report is the latest indication of the growing unease about Labour's counter-terrorism policies, which many believe have failed to stem the growth of home-grown terrorists.
The multiculturalist approach has been condemned by a wide array of figures from Trevor Phillips, the equalities watchdog, to John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York.
The debate was re-ignited last week after Dr Rowan Williams said that adoption of parts of Sharia, or Islamic, law in Britain was "'unavoidable"' - a suggestion condemned across the political spectrum.
MI5 estimates that there are about 2,000 active terror supporters in Britain and claims that schoolchildren are being recruited by al-Qa'eda. RUSI formed the private seminar group to discuss Britain's security in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings in 2005 and the botched 21/7 terrorist attempt.
The report also draws attention to the "narrowly pre-empted attack on planes in 2006" and last year's car bomb attacks at Glasgow airport and London's West end.
"A declaration of war is almost inconceivable today, and yet both our defence and security services are in action against active forces, abroad and at home, at this moment," the report says.
RUSI, which is thought to represent the views of many current senior members of the Armed Forces, issues a call to Britons to re-establish a sense of identity. It states: "The deep guarantee of real strength is our knowledge of who we are.
Our loss of cultural self-confidence weakens our ability to develop new means to provide for our security in the face of new risks. Our uncertainty incubates the embryonic threats these risks represent."