WORDS: Gary Kelly
A Freedom of Information request by The Guardian newspaper it has been discovered that the British Government is allowing 116 convicted and suspected terrorists to live in the community. This programme is said to include Anjem Choudhary as well as a returned ISIS extremist known as ‘Mother A’, along with her 10 month old child.
The revelations of course beg the question: Why not Shamima Begum?
The programme known as the Desistance and Disengagement programme (DDP) seeks to monitor and combat further radicalism/terrorism in the community. A good thing, I’m sure most of us can agree. However, given the furore surrounding the Shamima Begum case -a 19 year old girl who has been denied right to return to the UK after joining ISIS- it begs the question: How can ‘Mother A’ be allowed to return, with a 10 month old baby in her arms when Shamima Begum continues to languish in a Syrian refugee camp?
Controversy raged around Begum, and understandably so, as to whether she could be trusted to resume being part of British society. Now that we know the DDP programme exists, and that people who have done far worse than Begum are already within our community, surely she should be allowed to return as part of the programme.
The government initially rejected 2 freedom of information requests regarding DDP before acknowledging it’s existence. The FOI release revealed that 30 individuals were signed up from October 2016 to September 2017. This number tripling from September 2018 to 86 participants.
The DDP programme is shrouded in secrecy, little is known about the content of it, the responsibilities of the participants and in the case of Shamima Begum, why some are ruled out from it and why some are allowed to be part of it.
The debate surrounding Begum at it’s height included voices from people rightly or wrongly maintaining that “She can’t be trusted to live amongst us”, “Her baby will just turn out to be a terrorist” and “She has made her bed now lie in it”. So why ‘Mother A’ and her 10 month old child? Why 115 other convicted and suspected terrorists?
If I was to hazard a ‘wild guess’ I would suggest that the Tory government was looking for a distraction from the absolute shambles they have made of Brexit. What better way than to inflame tensions in the UK via leaks to the right wing media. Turning a young girl who has been groomed by terrorists as little more than a sex slave into a lightening rod for a visceral rage. Classic distraction tactics.
Previously I didn’t take this distraction theory to seriously, however in light of the new evidence regarding the DDP programme and the governments attempts to twice reject FOI requests it seems a much more likely hypothesis as to why Shamima Begum has been put forward as almost a sacrificial lamb. This is a highly dangerous game to play given how divided our country already is in the post EU referendum landscape.
Recently the Metropolitan police communicated with ‘influencers’, people with large followings on social media. The purpose of this was to ask them to use their voice to bring about calm as they feel the country is somewhat of a tinderbox. All it would take is a spark. Maybe they should have went to Sajid Javid’s office and ask him what the hell he thinks he’s playing at first.