Because the Islamist project has reached a far more advanced stage in Europe, events there often serve as warnings to America about how not to deal with the challenges that lie ahead. Thus it is quite refreshing to be able to highlight a few positive developments in Britain that the United States should consider emulating.
First, there is growing realization that the UK's old strategy of empowering nonviolent Islamists, assumed to "possess the necessary 'street cred'" to marginalize violent Islamists, has been a disaster. A report by Policy Exchange argues that the government is "underwriting the very Islamist ideology which spawns an illiberal, intolerant, and anti-Western worldview":
"Not only is it failing to achieve its stated objectives; in many places it is actually making the situation worse," they said. "A new generation is being radicalized, sometimes with the very funds that are supposed to be countering radicalization."
The problem has been caused by the link between violent and nonviolent extremism being "habitually underplayed in official documents produced by central government, local government, and the police."
Second, Britain has launched a new strategy that recognizes the importance of opposing nonviolent Islamism. Among the updated criteria for defining Islamic extremists:
- They advocate a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries.
- They promote Shari'a law.
- They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world.
Third, the government has suspended ties with the Muslim Council of Britain — think CAIR with a cockney accent — after one of its senior officials signed a document interpreted as "advocating attacks on the Royal Navy if it tries to stop arms for Hamas being smuggled into Gaza." The government has reinforced the break by pledging to focus its efforts on mosques and smaller groups. Sadiq Khan, the minister for community cohesion, said, "The days of lazy politicians just speaking to one or two powerful community groups or leaders are gone."
America could learn from these changes of direction. While the FBI has cut off CAIR, other Islamist bodies are still welcome in Washington. Moreover, there has been little discernable movement to reach out to smaller organizations representing mainstream Muslims.
Advice for the feds: Contact a few of those Muslims who disowned CAIR publicly this week. They will be some of your best allies in protecting America against the threat of radical Islam, while helping our nation avoid the mistakes that Britain now must correct the hard way.