1 Sep 2010

UK government terror strategy 'fuels mistrust'

Secrecy surrounding counter-terrorism operations is fuelling mistrust of authorities, a study by independent think tank Demos suggests. It urges the government and secret services to be more open to stop extremist groups using conspiracy theories to discredit them.


The study calls for greater communication with trusted community leaders and individuals. The report - entitled the Power of Unreason - says groups use conspiracy theories to recruit and radicalise people to commit acts of violence.

An example of one such theory is that the bombings in New York and London, on 11 September 2001 and 7 July 2005 respectively, were "inside jobs" carried out by authorities in the US and UK. Other theories highlighted were that "freemasons control the world economy through manipulation of paper currency", that the UK government is "consciously seeking to destroy Islam" and that a "conspiracy between the Japanese government, the US, and the Jews existed to gain world domination".

Jamie Bartlett, an extremism expert at Demos, said: "Clearly, there are occasions when more transparency is not possible for reasons of national security, the safety of certain individuals, or resource constraints. But the degree to which conspiracy theories make up part of the extremist mind-set and world view suggests it needs to be confronted."

He said such theories "destroy the trust that exists between the government and communities, which is the basis of effective counter-terrorism work".

BBC News