...there are two stories in the news today. First, the Home Secretary is an alien out to destroy Britain:
And, the Home Secretary announces a new plan for therapy for extremists:
"Controversially, the new plan makes clear that people who fall under the influence of violent organisations will not automatically face prosecution."
No connection at all.
Just kidding! Before I get accussed of something, clearly there is a space for those who have gotten somewhat involved in terrorism to receive some treatment other than the swift, sharp deployment of the criminal justice system.
1. Huge chunks of supposedly anti-extremism spending is actually spent either trying to promote the benefits of Islam to non-Muslims or funding Muslim community activities. A classic example is the response by Whitemoor's authorities to discovering that their prison is run by Islamist gangs. The Pathfinder fund (PDF) for preventing violent extremism is another example. Nothing wrong with promoting the benefits of Islam or funding Muslim community groups but both the first is a dubious use of taxpayers' money and it would be better if community groups (I think there's a basketball programme in there somewhere) funded were ones where different communities interacted. The authorities current attempts to combat extremism the touchy-feely way are a bit suspect and that raises questions about whether this therapy will be run effectively.
2. Violent extremists respond (PDF) to political signals. Jacqui Smith hardly has something of the night about her. To send the proper signal that terrorists should, on no account, mess us about we need her to behave like a border line psychotic. There is every reason for the British Home Secretary's first, second and third thoughts when the word 'terrorist' comes up to involve 'getting 'em'. That, instead, we regard terrorism, along with sadness, as yet another pathology we want to 'treat' is worrying. By all means offer those with only a fleeting encounter with Islamist extremism treatment instead of prison but it doesn't need to be a grand plan that sends all the wrong signals.