Cablegate: Uk Government Seeks Deeper Counter-Radicalization

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P 211358Z AUG 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 001933



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2019

Classified By: Political Counselor Robin Quinville, Reasons 1.4 (B,D)

1. (C/NF) Summary. During a USG-HMG Video Tele Conference (VTC) meeting on August 14, UK officials focused on the UK's PREVENT counter-radicalization strategy expressed strong interest in collaborating more closely with the US Government to counter violent extremism. UK officials outlined several programs abroad that they believe have been effective and suggested efforts to enhance strategic communications in Pakistan. End summary.

2. (C/NF) During a VTC on August 14 between US and UK officials, HMG representatives from across government outlined PREVENT counter-radicalization research and programs in Pakistan and expressed strong interest in deepening cooperation with the US Government to counter violent extremism. Participants at the VTC included: HMG: Arthur Snell, Assistant Director, Prevent, Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) Lucy Hughes, Head, Prevent Policy and Communications, FCO Abdy Yeganeh, Deputy Head, Prevent Policy and Communications, FCO Zaiba Mughal, Deputy Head, Counter Ideology Team, FCO Isabel Arthur, Department of Communities and Local Government Margo Passmore, Department for International Development (DfID) Brigadier Chip Chapman, Head of CT and UK Resilience, Ministry of Defense Mark Clayton, Head, International Team, Office for Security and Counterterrorism Danae Meacock-Bashir, Deputy Head, Research, Information, and Communications Unit (RICU) Clive Hughes, FCO USG Agencies and Offices: National Counterterrorism Center Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism Office of Public Diplomacy Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Department of Homeland Security National Security Council Office of the Secretary of Defense CENTCOM

3. (C/NF) The delegations agreed to start with monthly VTCs on countering violent extremism in order to improve the coordination of counter-radicalization strategic planning and to explore collaboration for addressing joint challenges. HMG officials consider DfID an important component of PREVENT abroad and noted that it would be helpful to include USAID in future VTCs. UK officials also recommended that VTC agendas and resulting actions be coordinated with the work of the DHS-led Joint Contact Group. The next VTC will focus on Somali Diaspora communities.

UK Believes Programs Working in Pakistan ----------------------------------------

4. (C/NF) UK officials cited three FCO-supported programs they believe have been effective. (Comment: Evidence for effectiveness was anecdotal, and the UK Government still lacks metrics for program evaluation. End comment.) -- Projecting British Muslims (formerly Projecting British Islam): British Muslim professionals travel to Pakistan to undermine the myth that British Muslims are mistreated in the UK. The use of private UK citizens is seen as an effective entry point to raise awareness among Muslims abroad about PREVENT. UK Muslim delegates are briefed on UK policy but have latitude to freely converse with Muslims in Pakistan and to develop their own initiatives. Returning delegates have helped counter positive images of the Taliban among some British Muslims by sharing insights and experiences from their trips to Pakistan. Pakistani television has aired documentaries about the British Muslim tours in Pakistan, increasing exposure for the program. -- Radical Middle Way: The Radical Middle Way began as a domestic UK program to promote mainstream Islamic arguments against extremism but has expanded to include a Pakistan program as well. Prominent religious scholars hold open forums to discuss controversial issues, such as jihad and martyrdom. -- Quilliam Foundation: Former Hizb uh-Tahrir (HT) leader and Quilliam founder Maajid Nawaz conducted a lecture tour in Pakistan in April-May this year to discuss how he was recruited and why he decided to leave HT. Quilliam will release a report on the tour in the near future.

5. (C/NF) Because of the strong linkages between the British Muslim community and Pakistan, these programs play back to UK audiences and thus have a domestic effect, according to UK officials at the meeting. For example, large numbers of British Muslims watch Pakistani satellite television, so Pakistani reporting on the initiatives reaches British Muslim audiences. UK officials emphasized throughout the VTC that taking advantage of this international-domestic connection is essential for PREVENT.

6. (C/NF) Responding to questions from US officials about security concerns for implementing these kinds of programs in Pakistan, UK officials noted that adjustments probably will be necessary in some cases to ensure the safety of delegates. For example, local partners may need to identify audiences and bus them to secure venues if delegates cannot travel safely.

Government Funding Not Death Knell For Programs --------------------------------------------- --

7. (C/NF) HMG officials believe government sponsorship does not completely undermine the legitimacy of programs, particularly abroad where audiences already expect that PREVENT-related programs and British Muslim delegations are funded by the UK Government. Government support for Quilliam,s tour, for example, was widely known in Pakistan, but this did not appear to undermine its effectiveness, according to HMG participants in the VTC. Perhaps more importantly, UK officials expressed skepticism about the ability of Muslim organizers to attract sufficient funding to launch counter-radicalization initiatives. (Comment: While recognizing the potential credibility issue related to government funding, particularly for domestic Muslim audiences, HMG appears to have calculated that it is essential to provide money to get the programs off the ground. End comment.)

Pakistan Strategy Nearly Completed ----------------------------------

8. (C/NF) The FCO,s strategic communications plan for Pakistan will be completed in two to three weeks and shared with the US Government, according to RICU officials at the VTC. The strategy reflects the UK Government's emphasis on an evidence-based approach to counter-radicalization, building on seven research studies commissioned by the FCO, a DfID study, and studies on UK Muslims. Based on these sources, the strategy identified eight distinct audiences in Pakistan, and RICU is assessing media consumption patterns to ensure it can effectively place messages for each audience (RICU already has assessed media consumption patterns for British Muslims). An FCO official involved in the strategy, however, privately told Poloff that there was some concern that RICU would begin placing messages before fully evaluating message content and its likely effect on target audiences. The FCO official feared RICU would take advantage of its assessment of consumption patterns without first developing appropriate messages, potentially doing more harm than good.

HMG Working With Pakistan Government, Civil Society --------------------------------------------- ------

9. (C/NF) The FCO is sharing its strategic communications research with the Pakistani Government to improve the latter's efforts to counter violent extremism. Although the Pakistani Government now recognizes the radicalization threat and has the political will to conduct PREVENT work, FCO officials warned that it lacks sufficient institutional capacity and needs external support in its efforts. Many of the outlets for strategic communications in Pakistan, for example, are already &government branded8 and as a result may not be effective.

10. (C/NF) The FCO also is helping civil society organizations in Pakistan improve their strategic communications. FCO-funded research indicates that community organizations on the ground are the most trusted sources of information in Pakistan, and the UK Government is attempting to work through them to deliver messages. RICU officials at the VTC highlighted efforts to build a communications pipeline between these Pakistan-based organizations and UK Muslim communities. In one example, the UK government connected an organization in the UK with a Pakistani charity that has collected testimonials about Taliban aggression, helping ensure dissemination to British Muslim audiences. (Comment: Building networks of civil society organizations between Pakistan and the UK seems to be a high priority for PREVENT. End Comment.)

11. (C/NF) A RICU official now spends extended periods of time in Pakistan, working with Pakistani Government officials and communities to improve strategic communications. HMG officials at the VTC emphasized the importance of face-to-face contact and time on the ground to ensure the Pakistan strategic communications plan succeeds.

Comment -------

12. (C/NF) The UK Government clearly would like to coordinate counter-radicalization strategies more closely with the US, and several potential areas of collaboration emerged during the VTC: -- Link US Pakistani organizations and professionals to the growing UK-Pakistan network; -- Develop strategies to address Internally Displaced Persons; -- Develop projects to take advantage of new media and technology for strategic communications; -- Address India in a Pakistan counter-radicalization plan.

13. (C/NF) UK officials after the meeting appeared positive about institutionalizing the VTCs to coordinate PREVENT work, viewing this initial session as a good starting point. Several officials after the meeting told Poloff that they hope the VTCs eventually will focus on specific joint projects and programs. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX ed Kingdom Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX

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