Muslim youth organisation the Ramadhan Foundation expressed concern on Monday after MI5 director-general Jonathan Evans claimed that there are “at least 2,000” individuals at large who “pose a direct threat to national security and public safety.”
Speaking at the Society of Editors conference in Manchester, Mr Evans said that the threat of “al-Qaida-style” terrorism was “the most immediate and acute peacetime threat in the 98-year history of my service.” Making no mention of British militarism in Iraq and Afghanistan, which many believe is a catalyst for the radicalisation of young Muslims, he asserted that “the root of the problem is ideological” and “is the expression of a hostility towards the UK which existed long before September 11 2001.”
But Ramadhan Foundation spokesman Mohammed Shafiq complained that Mr Evans had “failed to accept that 2,000 people out of 1.6 million is a very small problem.”
He said: “This sort of language is inflammatory and we urge all those involved to speak responsibly. There is a real and present threat to the nation from terrorism. Only together can we defeat it. Terrorism is evil and anyone who is involved must be engaged and convinced of why their path is wrong and bring them back to the mainstream.”
But Mr Shafiq stressed: “We are ready to talk to the police and security services about how we should move forward, but we have to be honest about why this threat has appeared, mainly foreign policy. Only then will we be able to defeat terrorism.”
Morning Star, 6 November 2007
For right-wing press coverage of Evans’ speech see for example “Suicide bombers in our schools”, in the Daily Express, “Al Qaeda grooming British children to carry out terror attacks in UK”, in the Daily Mail, and “MI5: Al-Qa’eda recruiting UK children for terror” in the Daily Telegraph.