Home Secretary Amber Rudd has vowed to defeat the terrorists that attacked the UK in 2017, as well as defeat the “warped Islamist ideologies” that inspired them.
Rudd was speaking to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester earlier today. Britain has suffered five terror attacks this year which have killed dozens of people. All except one has been claimed by ISIS.
“Westminster, Manchester Arena, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green… some of the worst terrorist attacks in decades. They have tested our resolve. It will likely be tested again. What terrorists want is for us to fear, to turn away from each other, and to become divided,” she said.
“We will not. We will stay united, together. Because this is our Britain, not theirs. It is our way of life that defines us as a country. It is our values, our freedoms and the communities we’ve built that make us a proud, strong and united nation.”
Rudd said the terror threat had evolved in the past few years.
“The UK faces an unpredictable threat from terrorism. From ‘lone wolf actors,’ to those radicalised online in their bedrooms, to Daesh groups hiding in the ruins of Raqqa. We face random attacks at home, and well-planned threats to British nationals and our interests overseas.
“We also face a real and growing threat from the extreme right. We all remember the tragic murder of the excellent MP, Jo Cox, as she took part in our democratic process. Last year, I made the first terrorist proscription for an extreme right-wing organisation – National Action. And just last week I banned two more repugnant mutations of that organisation.
“What I can tell you today is that while 5 plots got through this year, 7 were also stopped by our world class security services. Be in no doubt, the huge investment we are making in our counter terrorist efforts is saving lives, even when we tragically have seen so many lost.”
She added: “We have seen what could be interpreted as a shift towards crude attacks, with lone or few attackers, using everyday items. There also appears to be a trend towards shorter timescales, from aspiration to attacks.”
Rudd also defended the controversial Prevent counter terrorism strategy, which has been roundly criticised by Muslim groups, as well as academics, trade unions and human rights organisations, as targeting the Muslim community.
“Removing harmful material from the internet is a core activity of Prevent, our prime counter-radicalisation programme. But there is also a clear, human safeguarding element. In London earlier this year, I met a mother whose son had travelled to Syria to fight for Daesh. She had no idea of his plan. She was devastated.
“But it was not just her son who had been groomed by Daesh’s toxic influence. Her daughter’s school had concerns that she too might travel to Syria. The local Prevent team provided counselling to both mother and daughter. Without the support that Prevent provided, it is likely she simply would not have known where else to turn.
“Conference, Prevent works. This is not to say that we cannot improve it. But I would issue this challenge today to its detractors: work with us, not against us. We all have a role to play. Prevent isn’t some ‘Big Brother’ monolithic beast. It’s all of us working together, through local initiatives set up by local people, schools, universities and community groups.”
Rudd also said:
- The new Commission on Countering Extremism will expose extremism and division and will challenge those who preach hatred. Its task will be to tackle the “warped Islamist ideologies” that have inspired terrorist attacks.
- People who repeatedly view terrorist content online could face up to 15 years in prison.
- If someone publishes information about the police or armed forces for the purpose of preparing an act of terrorism, they could face up to 15 years in prison.
- A new offence will be created to prevent the sale of acids to under 18s.
The Home Secretary ended her speech by claiming that a Labour government would not keep the country safe.
“When the country is facing so many complex threats, I do not believe that our country would be safe in the hands of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott. The Conservative Party has always been, and always must be, the party of law and order. And I will give credit to previous Labour Home Secretaries that took important steps to improve our security.
“But this lot are different. They have spent three decades opposing anti-terrorist laws. They’ve talked of their ‘friends’ in Hamas and Hezbollah. They are silent on the anti-semitism that festers in their Party. They won’t clearly condemn the actions of the IRA. They don’t support police officers shooting to kill. They’ve called for the dismantling of the police, the disbandment of MI5 and the disarming of police officers.”