Ministers have adopted a new language for declarations on Islamic terrorism. In future, fanatics will be referred to as pursuing
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that extremists were behaving contrary to their faith, rather than acting in the name of Islam.
Security officials believe that directly linking terrorism to Islam is inflammatory, and risks alienating mainstream Muslim opinion.
In her first major speech on radicalisation, Smith repeatedly used the phrase "anti-Islamic". In one passage she said: As so many Muslims in the UK and across the world have pointed out, there is nothing Islamic about the wish to
terrorise, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief. Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic'.
The strategy emerging across Government is to portray terrorists as nothing more than cold-blooded murderers who are not fighting for any religious cause. Al Qaeda inspired terrorism is instead being described by key figures as "more like a
Last night the Home Office stressed that no phrases have been "banned". But senior Whitehall sources have made it clear that the "war on terror" and "Islamic extremism" will not be used again by people at the top of
Government or those involved in counterterrorism strategy.
In her speech, Smith said extremists who use the internet to radicalise young children would be pursued in the same way as paedophiles.
The Home Secretary described the internet as a key tool for the propagandists for violent extremism. Let me be clear: the internet is not a no-go area for government.
In the next few weeks, I will be talking to industry and, critically, those in the community about how best to do this - and how best to identify material that is drawing vulnerable young people into violent extremism. Where there is illegal
material on the net, I want it removed.
Illegal material will be tracked down and removed using tactics already deployed against online paedophiles. Those guilty of grooming youngsters for terrorism could face prosecution under incitement laws.
Smith said: If we are ready and willing to take action to stop the grooming of vulnerable young people on social networking sites, then I believe we should also take action against those who groom vulnerable people for the purposes of violent
Her plans also include a new unit to sift through intelligence gathered by police and security agents. The unit will be told to identify, analyse and assess not just the inner circle of extremist groups, but those at risk of falling under their
There will also be measures to restrict extremist material in libraries and galleries.
Meanwhile, internet service providers said that it was not their job to police the internet for offensive comment. They said they worked with charities such as the Internet Watch Foundation which monitored the web for such content and blocked
access to sites hosting illegal content where possible, but that censorship was a job for the authorities.
If we spent time searching the web's millions of pages for extremist content then we'd do nothing else, Jody Haskayne, a spokesperson for Tiscali, said. It's not an ISP's job to censor the internet.
When asked to name countries that impose extensive internet censorship, you might think of China, Iran, or North Korea; I doubt
you'd think of the UK, but, after the home secretary Jacqui Smith's speech to the International Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence today, you really should.
Smith's headline-grabbing proposal, to use the same tools against "extremist" websites as are currently used against child pornography, should worry us all. Few hard details are available, but if we take her at her word this is a
dangerous extension of government powers, with a dangerous lack of oversight. Press talk of extremist websites being taken down is foolish and betrays a lack of understanding of the internet. Just as with child pornography, web servers within the
UK, maintained by UK ISPs or not, can be dealt with legally and technically relatively easily. Those outside our borders - ie, the vast majority, in both cases - are beyond our laws and technical reach, but the content they supply is not. Blocking
traffic from servers that host child porn - effectively at our geographical borders - has been a UK government goal for some time, and in 2007 they made a huge step towards that.
Terrorist websites will be targeted by a new national police unit.
Government officials and senior police officers hope the small team will better co-ordinate work to silence online extremists. They want to replicate the success of police in hunting down paedophiles.
The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) will handle tip-offs from members of the public about suspect sites.
Investigators will work with internet service providers to remove illegal content or alert authorities overseas.
The move came after it emerged that the government has never used powers granted under the Terrorism Act 2006 to close down a website.
Speaking in the House of Lords last November, security minister Lord West said police forces preferred to use informal channels to shut sites.
CTIRU, comprising five detectives and civilian employees from forces across England and Wales. They will remove sites containing information about weapons and targets that could help terrorists strike, as well as those promoting extremist groups.