An April 2022 report by three British extremism experts highlights the role that UK Muslim Brotherhood groups have played in delegitimizing the British government’s Prevent Strategy, part of a comprehensive policy framework aimed at stopping people from being drawn into terrorism. According to the introduction to the Policy Exchange report:
This report, written by three experts on Islamism, outlines the campaign against Prevent, and argues that this is not an exceptional campaign against a uniquely flawed policy – the groups opposing Prevent have tended to criticise pretty much any counter-terrorism policy, in sine cases for a generation.
Read the report here.
Prevent is part of the broader counter-terrorism strategy called Contest. It is funded by the UK Home Office and designed to address all forms of terrorism equally, prioritizing them according to the threat they pose to British national security. The British Counter-Terrorism and Security Act of 2015 created a positive duty for those working in education or health to report pthose who they deem at risk of radicalization. In 2021, nearly 5,000 individuals were referred to and supported through the program.
According to the Policy Exchange report, since the Prevent Strategy’s introduction, several inter-related, well-organized, and media-savvy campaigns have sought to undermine Prevent and counter-extremism efforts more broadly. These campaigns are said to be aimed at scrapping Prevent, effectively seeking to eliminate the role of Islamist ideology in terrorism and extremist social practices from official analysis and policy.
Several of the listed campaigns have been led by or strongly featured groups tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB) and other Islamist movements, including:
- Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), one of the most influential Muslim organizations in the UK and that frequently acts in concert with the GMB
- Muslim Engagement and Development, a UK Islamic NGO close to the GMB in Britain
- CAGE, a UK Islamic advocacy group tied to the GMB and whose senior leaders have advocated supporting violent jihad overseas
- Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a UK-based NGO and influence organization that is supportive of the Iranian regime
Countering government action against Islamist radicalization and counter-terrorism policies has long been an essential pillar of GMB activity in the UK. In August 2021, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported that a Scottish parliamentary Cross-Party Group had published an inquiry into Islamophobia that recommended the scrapping of Prevent and also featured contributions by MCB, CAGE, and the IHRC. In March 2021, the GIOR reported that a Belgian NGO with close ties to the GMB had launched an EU-funded report on such policies, demanding the EU refrain from using “vague and general labels” such as Jihadism, Islamism, and political Islam, arguing that their stigmatizing impact outweighed their analytical value.
Damon L. Perry, Ph.D., one of the authors of the Policy Exchange report, is a researcher and analyst specializing in extremism and security issues at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) at London’s King’s College. Perry has also authored a 2020 report into the ideology, history, networks, and activities of the revivalist “Islamic Movement” in Britain, essentially groups comprising the Jamaat-i-Islami and the GMB in the country, which credited the GIOR Senior Editor for coining the term “Global Muslim Brotherhood” in 2007.