Memorandum from The Board of Deputies
of British Jews
1.1 The Board of Deputies of British Jews
and the Community Security Trust welcome the opportunity to make
this submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee.
We have previously made written and oral submissions
to the Home Affairs Committee Inquiry in Racially Motivated Attacks
and Harassment (1993), Lord Lloyd's Inquiry into Legislation Against
Terrorism (1996), the Home Secretary's Consultation Document on
Legislation Against Terrorism (1998).
1.2 The Board is the representative body
and voice of the British Jewish community. It was founded in 1760.
The Community Security Trust was established in 1994 to provide
security and defence services and advice for the community. It
works closely with the Board, and with the police.
1.3 This submission is an expression of
our concern to see a determined and consistent attack on terrorism.
Modern terrorism threatens us as British citizens and also as
members of the Jewish community.
1.4 We wish to comment on the third aspect
of the Committee's Inquiry, that of the continuing Middle East
conflict, and its bearing on terrorism generally. Our submission
therefore focuses on this, and the pretext that the conflict provides
for a continuing range of terrorist threats.
We wish to begin with some general comments,
which we believe will assist in understanding the nature of modern
2. THE NEW
2.1 Much of the "new" terrorism
during the last 10 or so years may be distinguished from that
of the previous 30 years, in that the latter was frequently the
product of national liberation struggles or of anti-capitalist
movements. This terrorism sought to influence its opponents or
change policies and was often the product of a failed political
process. The development of such terrorism was more often than
not observable, and may have been part of a cyclical process of
opposition and response. It frequently had state backing.
2.2 New terrorism often seeks not to achieve
publicity for its cause, nor simply to terrorise its enemy into
submission. It may be driven by an uncompromising, nihilistic,
and sometimes apocalyptic religious fervour that may be difficult
for the western liberal mind to comprehend.
This new terrorism may be broadly divided, so
far, into three main categories:
far right/lone wolf terrorism; and
Political goals often provide the underlying
impetus, and the adoption of, for example, religious aims may
serve to mask the terrorists' real intentions.
2.3 Although new terrorism contains many
of the elements of old terrorism, there are a number of new and
outstanding features which characterise it:
its command and control processes
are diffused and networked, and its leadership may be nomadic.
These processes have been aided by the development of information
and communications technologies, such as the internet;
it operates trans-nationally so that
its perpetrators may live in one country and its targets in different
new terrorism's development processes
are sometimes difficult to detect;
new terrorism may sometimes rely
on "amateur" actors;
new terrorism may be less money intensive;
it does not require state funding, and may frequently be self-financing
(as the product of crime, or donations);
new terrorism may be franchised,
or sub-contracted; and
most importantly, new terrorism does
not set out to change minds so much as to destroy the enemy.
2.4 Over half the 64,000 recorded incidents
of terrorism between 1970 and 1995 were the work of religious
terrorists, according to US State Department statistics.
2.5 While much of the terrorism directed
at Israel, or its institutions abroad, may be said to be the product
of "old" terrorism, it is religious terrorism and Islamist
terrorism which currently threatens the UK most acutely.
3. ISLAMIST TERRORISM
3.1 The US military presence in Middle East
countries, and its continuing support for Israel, have been interpreted
by Islamist terrorists as providing a rationale for their actions
within, and without the region. Prior to recent terrorist outrages
against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the bombing of
the USS Cole in Aden, and the 11 September outrages, attacks had
taken place against US installations in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia
with large-scale loss of life, and US diplomatic representatives
in the Middle East and Africa have been murdered.
Among the reasons cited by the terrorist groups
responsible have been their opposition to the USA as the symbol
of westernisation and modernism, the US presence in Muslim lands
(the prophet Mohammed had declared that Muslims must never allow
the occupation of its holy soil), and US support for Israel.
3.2 Islamist terrorists now recognise that
US support for Israel, and attacks against Israel's right to exist
as a state, may be harnessed as a central core message to attract
wider support within the Muslim world.
Calls to attack Israel and its supporters around
the world, the Jewish communities, have therefore become an important
feature of Al-Qaeda publications.
The name of Al-Qaeda's associated body, the
International Front to Fight Jews and Crusaders, in itself is
telling evidence of the group's intentions. These anti-Jewish
threats have also been regularly reinforced by the group's directives
to its members. The basic strategy was outlined in The Ladenese
Epistle: Declaration of War (1996), and subsequently in Jihad
Against Jews and Crusaders (1998). Both called upon Islamists
to attack "the Zionist Crusader alliance" which has
sought to "occupy the land of the two Holy Places [Saudi
Arabia] and Jerusalem".
The theme was expanded upon in the subsequent
important strategy documents; The Manual of Afghan Jihad,
discovered recently in Afghanistan, and Ayman Al-Zawahiri's testament,
Knights Under the Prohphet's Banner, published in Afghanistan
shortly after 11 September. Both provide a framework for continuing
Islamist terrorism, which must firstly stage a tactical retreat
to recover from the American and British assault on Afghanistan
and destruction of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terror apparatus,
then proceed to carry the terrorist war to the west, attacking
American and Jewish targets particularly. The latter are chosen
because Al-Qaeda insists that Palestine is the sole issue which
unites all Muslims.
3.3 Calls to attack Jews draw upon deep
antisemitic motifs within Islamist thinking. Anti-Jewish sentiment
is central in the teachings of, for example, Sayid Qutb, the post-Second
World War leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is Brotherhood
ideology which underlies much Sunni Islamist thinking.
A consequence of this has been the continued
demonisation of Jews in Islamist teachings and writings. Pernicious
anti-Jewish material permeates the media in Middle East countries,
and such messages are frequently underlined by schools and mosques
which teach hatred of the Jews.
Islamist terrorists have attacked Jewish, as
well as Israeli institutions. For example, the Algerian Armed
Islamic Group (GIA) bombed a Jewish school in Lyon, France in
1995 as part of its terrorist campaign against the French state,
and a joint Hizbollah/locally recruited group of nazi sympathisers
within the police bombed the central office of the Jewish community
in Argentina in 1994.
Jewish communities around the world, including
the British community, report that they are the targets of intelligence
gathering, and it is only the vigilance of police forces and the
communities themselves which have prevented or deterred further
attacks which would undoubtedly have resulted in large-scale loss
3.4 The inability of the Muslim community
to integrate fully into Britain, despite the fact that it now
contains its third UK-born generation, and the influence of its
religious, cultural and political life from the Indian subcontinent
and the Middle East make it receptive to increasing Arab antisemitism.
Although previously confined to the Islamist
fringes, it is apparent that antisemitism is now seeping into
the discourse and publications of the mainstream Muslim community.
3.5 There is now evidence of a second generation
of terrorists emerging from the Al-Qaeda apparatus. New military
commanders are said to have been appointed and that many senior
members have fled to Pakistan, Lebanon, Gaza, Iran, Yemen and
3.6 The Al-Qaeda attacks on the US Embassies
in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the USS Cole in 2000 and the World
Trade Centre in 2001 reveal that Al-Qaeda operations were heavily
reliant on local pre-positioned infrastructures.
Attempts to destroy such infrastructures continue
but may not be totally successful in the short to medium term.
Arrests of Al-Qaeda members, and of other associated
terrorist groups, in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the UK
indicate how widespread and deep-seated is the threat. It is now
clear that the Muslim community in Britain has provided a recruitment
ground for these groups, often to the despair and embarrassment
of its leadership.
4. ROLE OF
4.1 Iran and Syria have both increased assistance
to terrorist groups operating in the Middle East in recent months.
Syria continues to host the Palestinian secular
and Islamist terrorist groups. The headquarters of Palestinian
Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
(PFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of PalestineGeneral
Command (PFLP-GC), and others, are all based in Damascus.
Some of these groups maintain foreign infrastructures
outside the Middle East, although they generally have lain dormant
since the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991.
The PFLP which recommenced terrorist activity
lately has previously established an extensive foreign infrastructure,
as has Hizbollah. Both have had an infrastructure in the UK.
Prior to the start of the peace process Jewish
communities were repeatedly attacked by Palestinian secular terrorist
groups, and frustration with events in the Middle East may cause
them to return to committing terrorist acts in Europe.
4.2 Iran continues to arm and finance the
Islamist groups Hizbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Recent events, most notably the Karine A shipment,
indicate clearly that Iran has also now embarked on a long-term
attempt to arm the Palestinian Authority with offensive, rather
than defensive weapons. It should also be noted that the interception
of the Karine A followed other less publicised interceptions by
4.3 Antisemitism is used as a strategic
weapon. Iran continues to hold its own Jewish community hostage;
in recent years 11 members of the community have disappeared,
and 13 have been falsely imprisoned on espionage charges.
There is growing evidence that Iran and Syria
fund neo-nazi activity abroad, as well as funding Holocaust denial.
Both have provided asylum to a number of neo-nazis who fled their
countries of origin following prosecution, and or conviction,
for Holocaust denial activity.
Iran and Syria therefore directly and indirectly
threaten the long-term security of Jewish communities abroad.
4.4 Iran's refusal to accept HMG's newly
appointed Ambassador, shows that it is not possible to isolate
the growing antisemitism within the Muslim world from the international
Antisemitism occupies a growing place in the
Muslim world's media and this influences the diplomatic stage,
and the worldwide Muslim diaspora, including that of Britain.
In some cases the anti-Jewish propaganda emanating from Middle
East capitals, particularly Tehran, Damascus, and Cairo, is almost
comparable in its virulence to that of the nazi era.
Like its precursor, the Muslim Brotherhood,
Hamas shares the view that a state of war has existed since the
founding of Islam in the seventh century between Muslims on the
one side and Christians and Jews on the other. Together with other
Islamist terrorist groups they believe that Jews, Christians and
other "disbelievers" will ultimately be vanquished in
a cataclysmic war or Jihad in which Muslim forces will triumph.
5.1 It is not possible to separate Islamist
or Palestinian terrorist groups from other terrorists. Terrorism
threatens us all, and there is clear evidence to show that terrorist
groups increasingly interact with one another, sharing resources
and technology. A successful operation by, for example, a Palestinian
terrorist group gives a green light to terrorist groups elsewhere.
5.2 Terrorism per se is not caused by any
single factor it is a complex phenomenon and the individual terrorist
or terrorist group may be subject to a number of influences. Moreover
the destruction of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan does not address the
underlying causes of terrorism in the countries from which its
members originate or which they have targeted.
Police and judicial action against terrorism
in these countries has caused many active members to flee abroad.
While it is generally believed that they have come to regard Britain
as a safe haven from which to plan action elsewhere with impunity,
the recently published strategy documents mentioned above suggest
that Britain in turn now may also be a target.
5.2 Recent changes in the UK's anti-terrorism
legislation, shifting the focus from Irish to international terrorism,
have been important and welcome.
However, gaps still remain in HMG's capacity
to combat effectively and comprehensively the challenges described
above. Terrorist groups, and their associated bodies, should not
only be added to the list of proscribed organisations, but effective
action should be taken to undermine their capacity to recruit,
finance and communicate. States which support terrorist groups
who threaten British interests should not only be warned, but
effective measures should be taken to restrict their international
The UK has taken important steps to counter
the terrorism. The campaign however will not be won in the short
term and requires a consistent and continuing effort.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews