A consistent theme on this site has been how global extremist and terror groups take advantage of the general liberalism of Western institutions to finance themselves and disseminate their message. We of course have bemoaned this fact and wished for a more unified, robust approach from the West to countering these networks of extremism; occasionally in a manner critical of western governments.
Therefore, it is only fair that we also point out when a step in the right direction is being taken (though we will certainly have some suggestions for how to best take this step). We were happy then to read last week that the UK Home Office is planning to purge extremists from charity boards in England and Wales.
This has come out as documents leaked out of the Home Office showing the Government’s plan for a new counter-terrorism strategy that will be implemented this fall after the passage of a bill currently before parliament. The Charities Commission will be empowered to fire trustees from charities who show “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.” This will not only target Islamist extremists, but also could affect individuals affiliated with right-wing and nativist causes in Britain, Christian Groups and one spokesman for charities suggested to the Daily Telegraph that it could even ensnare outspoken politicians.
We heartily support this new policy as an overdue first step in the right direction. Along with the Muslim extremist groups outlined in the above cited report, individuals such as Anas al-Tikriti of the Cordoba Foundation, Essam Mustafa of Interpal, and Dr. Hany El Banna Obe of the Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) should be at the top of the Charities Commissions list of individuals (and charities for that matter) who oppose fundamental British values. The Charities Commission should be taking a long hard look at these groups anyways, and hopefully this new regulation will allow them to clean up the network of extremist charities currently operating out of British cities, preventing them from further fundraising in Britain on behalf of Hamas and other terror organizations.
As mentioned above, this is a good first step. Firing extremists who are trustees of English charities is a step in the right direction. Extremist and terrorist groups however are still using Britain to raise and launder money and broadcast their message outside of traditional charities. In general, western governments need to increase their diligence in the regulating and monitoring of financial transactions. This is the best tool there is to fight terrorism and until all western governments are working together to do as much as possible, the problems will continue to fester.