Peter Hitchens writes:
The Government won’t publish its own report into who funds Islamist extremism in this country.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, comically claims that she is gagging herself for reasons of national security.
This is the same Government that – also in the name of national security – happily attacks civil liberty, demands the power to pry into our phone calls and emails, and searches for ‘extremists’ in schools and universities. It is the most astonishing development of the week.
But more fuss was made when Ms Rudd’s hat blew off at some ceremony than was made about this sinister decision.
Like almost all suppressed reports about terrorism in London or Washington DC, the truth that is being kept from us is that great danger comes from Saudi Arabia, HQ of the most fanatical and intolerant Islamism on the market.
Nobody really doubts that this report, if published, would say that.
The pathetic scraps of the document which Ms Rudd allowed into the open last week hinted strongly at it, for those who knew where to look.
Her statement said: ‘For a small number of organisations with which there are extremism concerns, overseas funding is a significant source of income.’
Hurriedly, she added: ‘However, for the vast majority of extremist groups in the UK, overseas funding is not a significant source.’
Why ‘however’? So what? If foreign funds are significant at all, that’s what we need to know.
Because she also said: ‘Overseas support has allowed individuals to study at institutions that teach deeply conservative forms of Islam and provide highly socially conservative literature and preachers to the UK’s Islamic institutions. Some of these individuals have since become of extremist concern.’
By ‘socially conservative’ they don’t mean me. They mean those who support the forcible shrouding of women and who froth hatred of Jews.
How mealy mouthed to call it ‘conservatism’.
But our Government is terrified of offending the Saudis, terrified beyond reason or self-respect.
That’s why flags fly at half-mast in London when Saudi monarchs die, and why Theresa May, poor thing, had to accept the King Abdulaziz Sash last April, a decoration awarded for ‘meritorious service’ to the despotic kingdom.
I look forward to seeing her wearing it.
I’m a realist. I can see that we have to grovel a bit to the Saudis, because we’re not as rich and powerful as we used to be, and we need their money.
But doesn’t this go too far when we suppress a report which might help us combat terrorism on our own streets, just to spare the blushes of a foreign tyranny?
The only mercy in war is a swift victory.
We delude ourselves if we think you can capture a defended modern city with bombs and guns without doing dreadful things.
Fanatical jihadis are expert at terrorising the population of such cities, preventing them from fleeing and then using them as human shields.
The shields die, in unknown thousands.
So I am very glad to see the end of the battle of Mosul.
Last December, I was just as relieved when the Syrian state, backed by Russian air power, crushed equally ruthless Islamist fanatics in Aleppo.
But at that time I was surrounded by a media chorus accusing the Russians of terrible war crimes.
I pointed out that this was a double standard. If we did the same, we would excuse it.
I then asked those damning the Russians and Syrians: ‘When Mosul falls, as it will, and those who defeated IS are applauded, as they will rightly be, please think about this.’
As it happens, one rather courageous voice, Amnesty International, last week produced a careful and thoughtful report, pointing out that the West and its allies had taken less care than they might have done to avoid killing innocents in Mosul.
My view of this is that’s what war is like. If you don’t like atrocities, don’t start wars.
What was interesting was that a British general then let fly at Amnesty.
Major General Rupert Jones, the deputy commander of the international coalition against IS, said Amnesty were naive to think a huge city such as Mosul could be captured without any civilian casualties, while fighting a merciless enemy.
I rather agree with him, though Amnesty’s point was that some of those deaths might have been avoided.
But if a Russian general had said exactly the same about Aleppo last December, as he would have been completely entitled to do, he would have been torn to shreds as a barbaric war criminal by Western media and politicians.
The old rule applies. You can’t have it both ways.
Either you accept that war against such enemies is bound to have bloody results, or you don’t.
But don’t justify your own unintended but cruel actions, while condemning those of others.
There’s a word for that which I can’t quite think of just now.