New Look, Old Tactics: British Muslim Youth and the Counter-Extremism Agenda


Continuing the theme which sees a resurgence of organisations calling for “engagement” and which use and abuse particular scholars in an effort to try and create themselves some space in the already crowded but lucrative counter-extremism industry, is the youth-focussed organisation, British Muslim Youth (BMY).

The Not So Forgotten “forgotten voice”

BMY seems to have been a local organisation which dealt with the Rotherham child abuse scandal and subsequently rebranded and nationalised. Its “CEO”, Muhbeen Hussain comes from a family connected to local politics: his uncle is Mahroof Hussain, Labour councillor for Rotherham.  He and his relative and BMY press officer, Vakas Hussain, are leading the charge to revive the “forgotten” voice of Muslim youth in the context of radicalisation.

The voice of Muslim youth has never been forgotten by those Muslims who monitored and experienced the first phase of PREVENT.  It was a voice which was exploited by politicians and made to fit neocon designs.  Pertinently the first version of PREVENT, which provided the stepping stone for the present mutation of the Strategy, did in fact engage the youth.  The Radical Middle Way project, which was born specifically from FCO demands, thoroughly engaged the youth and diffused confusion in Islamic theology (see here).  The short-lived “Hear My Voice” initiative was another PREVENT project designed to provide a platform for the youth.  The defunct Campus Salam project by the Lokahi Foundation funded by PREVENT money was yet another youth focussed endeavour.  In other words, once again, we have been here before, where the Muslim minority has burned as a consequence.

On the face of it, Hussain does come across somewhat balanced. He criticises Cameron’s “silently condoning” rhetoric, as well as “the idea of preaching British values”, which forms the basis for the present PREVENT Strategy.  Moreover he notes that there are many drivers for radicalisation, as expressed in his discussion with Dilly Hussain on Sky News. Digging deeper however, reveals some behaviour which is completely add odds with this perception of balance.

Collaboration with Faith Matters

Muhbeen Hussain reveals that his organisation is collaborating with Faith Matters.  Faith Matters is an interfaith organisation founded by the opportunist Fiyaz Mughal, who is linked to Quilliam’s Haras Rafiq, and shares platforms with deformists like Sara Khan, Tehmina Kazi, Usama Hasan and Ziauddin Sardar.  Mughal’s deformist leanings were exposed when he relegated the mainstream Islamic viewpoint on homosexuality to “conservatives” and the “ultra-orthodox” only.

Mughal operates within the remit of PREVENT. Quilliam Foundation recently published a report which proposes a new counter-extremism strategy, and which reads like a project plan to maximise their own revenue. It outlines four constituent parts of the radicalisation process: ideology; narratives; grievances; and identity crisis. As a counter-extremism strategy then, grievances, such as “anti-Muslim hatred” are to be addressed because “anti-Muslim hatred is one of the key grievances that is exploited by charismatic recruiters to radicalise young Muslims”, and presumably, less because it’s actually a bad thing. Dealing with anti-Muslim hatred falls under PREVENT as what Quilliam identifies as “soft-end community cohesion” measures. The report states,

“DCLG’s work includes efforts to address or reduce grievances through initiatives such as TELL MAMA, an organisation that raises awareness of and improves the reporting methods for anti-Muslim hatred.”

Mughal’s organisation is thus merely fulfilling the “soft-end” of PREVENT’s counter-extremism measures. This may explain why Mughal, has joined ranks with notorious discredited spin-doctor, the PREVENT-mouthpiece, anti-Muslim journalist, Andrew Gilligan, after a failed PCC complaint against him. It is no secret that Mughal is close to Quilliam, whilst Gilligan frequently uses Quilliam founder Rashad Zaman Ali as his source. Mughal and Quilliam have also shared platforms together. One of the central aspects of the Quilliam report is counter-entryism, i.e. preventing “Islamists” from gaining positions within government institutions in case they promote their own worldview. Gilligan dog-whistled about this topic at length in his diatribe piece about purported infiltration of the cross-Government working group on anti-Muslim hatred. This article is directly referenced in Quilliam’s report. The source for Gilligan’s article is Mughal. A coincidence? Perhaps.

Despite Mughal’s dubious circle, Hussain and his BMY, are keen to work with and promote (see here and here, for instance) Mughal without any qualms.  In fact Hussain congratulates Mughal for endorsing Shaykh Tahir-ul-Qadri’s counter-terror curriculum.

The interactions with those who advance PREVENT and work to deform Islam do not end here.  The circle of synergy on social networks include, Qari Asim’s Leeds Mosque (see also the mosque being praised here), which is connected to the Imams Online initiative, Sajda Mughal’s Jan Trust, which exploits women for the PREVENT agenda, and Imams Online (see here and here). Its activities are such that it has even attracted the keen attention of PREVENT bodies.

Endorsing Counter-Extremism Extremism

BMY has endorsed Shaykh Qadri’s Quilliam-endorsed counter-extremism extremism (see here, for instance). In justifying their support, BMY Tweeted that “those who make the world a better place, like Tahirul Qardi, we will support them”.

BMY further writes in its blurb for Shaykh Qadri’s material that,

“This project being launched by [Qadri] is a comprehensive progressive action to fight the ideology of Daesh (ISIS). All that are working progressively to end this monstrous ideology, must support and implement such initiatives”.

This sledgehammer initiative, as discussed in my previous blog, gives credence to the present PREVENT Strategy by firmly believing in what Shaykh Qadri articulates as a super version of the conveyor-belt theory, which sees no distinction between the already ambivalent “extremism” and “violent-extremism”. The initiative also overtly discriminates against the Muslim minority in that Shaykh Qadri’s calls for his books to be mandatorily imposed on Muslims and optionally on non-Muslims. Furthermore, the focus is solely on ideology, which is far removed from Hussain’s veneer of balance outlined above.

Interestingly, the other organisation which endorses Shaykh Qadri is Faith Matters.

With the above set of endorsement and associations, one begins to understand that BMY, inadvertently or otherwise, is yet another cog in this rehashed model of counter-extremism.

The above set of endorsements and associations indicate towards the trajectory of this organisation: towards a rehashed model of counter-extremism.

The Counter-Extremism Industry

My last piece on Shaykh Qadri explained how his initiative was merely a pawn in global counter-extremism complex. This aforementioned model of counter-extremism is linked to this complex, which is directed by Zionists and neocons.  Against Violence Extremism (AVE) brings a “global force” to tackle the extremist narrative, and is managed by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), Google Ideas, and the Gen Next Foundation. To briefly recap, there is an incestuous relationship between all three of these organisations with the Quilliam Foundation.  The Board of Trustees President for ISD is George Weidenfeld, a Zionist who has no scruples co-signing a pro-Zionist petition with neocon warmongers and Islam-haters.  Weidenfeld was also the inspiration for Michael Gove’s neocon manifesto of anti-Muslim hatred, Celsius 7/7.

ISD has cross-pollinated researchers with Quilliam. Quilliam founder Rashad Zaman Ali, and Islam-deformist Dilwar Hussain are also listed as ISD personnel.  Gen Next and the American arm of Quilliam have shared office spaces and even directors and CEOs, whilst at the same time having on Quilliam’s US board of directors Chad Sweet, who has been campaigning for a racist, anti-Muslim, neocon war-mongering bigot, and who has spoken alongside far-right, terrorist-inspiring hate-preacher, Robert Spencer. Finally, Quilliam has worked, shared platforms with and, in his book, thanked, Google Ideas founder Jared Cohen.

Youth Against Violent Extremism

Hussain’s manifesto, in which he outlines his need to re-engage “the forgotten”, seems to have been derived or at least influenced to some extent by this counter-extremism complex.  On the 4th of June this year, BMY attended the European Conference on Countering Violent Extremism in Oslo, Norway. The event was titled “Youth Against Violent Extremism” (see here and here).

BMY CEO alongside Imams Online managing editor at CVE conference

BMY CEO alongside Imams Online managing editor at CVE conference

ISD was responsible for facilitating the event, which had booths set up for ISD and AVE.  Opening speeches were delivered by ISD and the morning session was set up by AVE.

The entire premise of the conference was to – in the words of the Norwegian Prime Minister who opened the event – “undermine extremist ideologies”.  It is worth noting the rhetoric which sets the tone for the Youth Conference:

“Countless young people are manipulated and exploited every day by religious and ideological extremists… I believe it is particularly important to work with young people, and to put young people at the front of this effort. We often talk about young people as victims, but above all, they are a key part of the solution.”

At this point, I should point out that Quilliam’s proposed counter-extremism strategy also advises the government to “build relationships with a broad spectrum of community partners”, prioritising in particular “young people”.

BMY believed, naively I might add, that they were there to “help advise policy” at an event steered and controlled by the organisations run by neocons and Zionists and which have helped deliver the securitised British state Hussain criticises.

Additionally, the event was attended by Google and Facebook, which helped “teach about countering online extremism”.

Youth Consultation or Muslim Profiling?

Recall that Hussain has stated that there are many factors in radicalisation, however it is worth noting the first major activity he does when gets back from Oslo. The conference’s combination of emphasising ideology only, and the online impact it has, culminated in what BMY and Faith Matters jointly launched for maximum effect on the 7th of July: a National Youth Consultation on Extremism.  Clearly groupthink has struck out sense. When the Norwegian PM said that young people should be put at the “front of this effort”, Hussian, seemingly internalised this wholesale.  In an interview with Al-Jazeera recently, he said,

“Young people need to be at the front of the debate”


According to event details outlined here, the focus is on “Jihadi” groups only:

“Youth Consultation… will review and assess the drivers and the pulls on-line that affect young people, possibly pushing them towards groups like ISIS.”

In what sounds like an intelligence gathering exercise targeting the Muslim minority only, the National Consultation will engage with “youth groups in Birmingham, London, Manchester, Bristol and Leeds over the next 12 months and produce a detailed analysis of on-line behaviour, extremist material and sites that young people may have come across, their thoughts on the material and elements of the material that is attractive to them”.

This is something that the RICU propaganda unit of the Home Office has done in the past in the context of the Muslim blogosphere. It smacks of PREVENT which was penetrated by GCHQ and used as an intelligence gathering exercise.  Shockingly, from the areas targeted and the ideology noted (Jihadi), the “consultation on extremism”, only targets the Muslim minority, thus adding itself to a catalogue of actions and measures which profile the Muslim minority.  There are concerns, which are completely ignored by the government, in the young white community (the recent incident of two fifteen year olds wanting to blow-up Buckingham Palace comes to mind) and the Jewish community, from which young Jewish men travel to Palestine to partake in state terrorism.  Indeed if it was truly a “youth consultation”, then children from ALL backgrounds would be “sampled” in order to have their “online behaviour analysed”. Instead we have a double-speaking organisation treating Muslim children like cattle and guinea pigs for “sampling” and behavioural and ideational profiling.

Additionally, assumptions for the consultation have already been defined: ideology and online radicalisation. Thus the cattle will be providing answers within a framework determined by the global counter-extremism industry.

Concluding Remarks

Particular groups which have been exploited for their sectarian hatred have re-emerged and repackaged brandishing superficially more palatable discourse.  “Khaarijite” is used instead of a specific theological group, engagement is called for over government centralisation of its counter-extremism efforts, and acknowledgments recognising a multitude of factors in radicalisation is promulgated on national television.

Peeling back this rhetoric however, reveals the same rotten core which maintains the assumptions that the neoconservatives have imposed upon Muslims.  Scholars are abused to serve a broader agenda. We witness Shaykh Tahir-ul-Qadri reinforcing David Cameron’s appalling Slovakia speech and the conveyor-belt theory of radicalisation. We see a Muslim youth organisation fully-supporting it, working with former PREVENT peddlers and deformists. And we recognise the global counter-extremism industry primed by Quilliam, neocons, Zionists and Islam-haters, influencing an event which targets and profiles the Muslim minority.

The consequences of all this is the assistance in the relentless targeting of Muslims in Britain.

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