The then head of the Muslim Contact Unit

I was pretty sure I’d heard of Bob Lambert before reading Nick Cohen’s piece on the SPLC’s attack on Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I was pretty sure I remembered a co-authored piece at Comment is Free making some kind of claim that Islamists Are Our Friends, and that I’d blogged about it. I was not wrong.

It was April 2009. The ridiculous title is The demonisation of British Islamism. It’s shockingly stupid and perverse – or, as Nick suggests, it’s part of Lambert’s undercover disguise.

In recent weeks an unnecessary schism has been created between government and British Islamists.

First, government failure to condemn Israel in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead exposed a bias towards Israel and an ambivalence towards the value of Palestinian lives that angered British Islamists. Next, the government’s new counter-terrorism strategy (“Contest Two“) served to amplify pre-existing British Islamist concerns at being treated as “fifth columnists”. Then, along came Hazel Blears with an ill-judged assault on Daud Abdullah and the Muslim Council of Britain. Taken together these incidents reinforce concerns that British Islamists are uniquely held out for political attack, and illustrate the power of key anti-Islamist lobbying groups. The result is a feeling that the government holds Islamists to a different political standard based on a Bush-ite principle of “either you are with us or against us”, where the “us” is clearly not Muslim.

If you replaced “Islamists” with “Muslims” and then talked about different people and groups, you could see their point. But they talked about Islamists, not Muslims.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Islam, “Islamist” describes an Islamic political or social activist.

That’s a ludicrously incomplete definition, and you would expect a cop to know that.

Over the last year we have been interviewing Islamists in Britain. While all of them fit this dictionary definition, none match the negative caricatures provided by UK thinktanks such as the Quilliam Foundation and Policy Exchange. Ironically enough, all of our interviewees do appear to resemble Britain’s first Islamist, Abdullah Quilliam (1856-1932) who was himself critical of imperial British foreign policy in the Middle East in much the same way that his modern day descendents are critical of the Blair and Brown governments’ policies in the same region. In Quilliam’s day, however, it was difficult for British Muslims to be politically engaged.

Happily, in today’s pluralistic Britain, Islamists are able to work in partnership with mainstream (though by no means centrist) politicians like Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn to present their concerns about UK foreign policy to a wider public. While British Islamists are as diverse as British socialists, the interviews do reveal important unifying characteristics, most notably a devotion to social justice and a concern for community needs over individual or corporate ambitions. British Islamists are typified by a sense of moral obligation to confront injustice, and they strive, in their own ways, to try to make the world a better place. These are messages which have more power than ever in modern Britain.

Oh dear god. Is that the spy talking, or the useful idiot?

My post at the time is as enraged as you’d expect.

Here again is what Nick said about the SPLC and Bob Lambert and Quilliam:

I asked the SPLC’s Mark Potok, ‘one of the country’s leading experts on the world of extremism,’ according to its website,  if he was Muslim himself. ‘No.’ Was he happy, then, branding a liberal Muslim ‘an anti-Muslim extremist?’ Well, Potok said, the head of Scotland Yard’s Muslim Contact Unit had accused Nawaz of  ‘demonising a whole range of groups that have made valuable contributions to counter-terrorism,’ and that was good enough for him.

I tried to explain that the then head of the Muslim Contact Unit was Bob Lambert, one of the most notorious agent provocateurs British policing has produced. He stole the identity of a dead boy and infiltrated left groups. Pretending to be one of them, he got an activist pregnant then vanished from his partner and child’s lives. He had a shadowy part in the ‘McLibel’ case, which led to two environmental activists being persecuted for years in the courts, and is under investigation for allegedly smearing the campaign for justice for the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence. There are reasonable grounds for suspecting that, when Lambert attacked Nawaz, he was trying to ingratiate himself with Islamists as he had tried to ingratiate himself with leftists.

If the suspicion is true then Lambert also did his bit to influence public opinion to see Islamists as social justice activists, which is surely a step too far for the police.

It’s all grotesque.

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