1 October 2014

Theresa May on ISIL

At the Conservative party conference in Birmingham there was an interesting contrast between the three big beasts that are regarded as contenders for the Tory leadership after Cameron. Boris Johnson did his usual comic turn but George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Theresa May, Home Secretary, offered serious, if not bordering on the grim, assessments of the economy and terrorism. Perhaps the success in the Scottish referendum of the Stay Together campaign, which was founded on a realistic approach to the risks and problems, will encourage politicians to think that the electorate may appreciate a more mature and serious tone about the difficulties that the 21st century has begun to present.

This is what she said about ISIL:
The terrorists who murdered David Haines like to call themselves the Islamic State. But I will tell you the truth: They are not Islamic. And they are not a state. Their actions have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Quran. What they believe has no resemblance whatsoever to the beliefs of more than a billion Muslims all over the world. And, like all the other Islamist terrorist organisations, they have caused the deaths of many thousands of innocent Muslim civilians. They occupy large parts of Syria and Iraq, and not only are they bringing death and destruction to the people of those countries, they have made absolutely clear their desire to attack Britain, America and the West. 
… If ISIL succeed in firmly consolidating their grip on the land they occupy in Syria and Iraq, we will see the world’s first truly terrorist state established within a few hours flying time of our country. We will see terrorists given the space to plot attacks against us, train their men and women, and devise new methods to kill indiscriminately. We will see the risk, often prophesied but thank God not yet fulfilled, that with the capability of a state behind them, the terrorists will acquire chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons to attack us. This is not somebody else’s battle. They have made clear their ambitions. And they have made us their enemies. And the lesson of history tells us that when our enemies say they want to attack us, they mean it. We must not flinch. We must not shy away from our responsibility. We must not drift towards danger and insecurity. While we still have the chance, we must act to destroy ISIL.
I am not sure that a British Home Secretary has spoken publicly before in such unveiled terms of the risk that terrorists may “acquire chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons”.

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