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Britain eyes new powers to thwart Islamic extremists

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The British government said Wednesday it needs new powers to help combat the spread of violent extremist Islam, including administrative authority to ban groups and restrict the movement and behavior of alleged recruiters.

A special task force of senior ministers set up by Prime Minister David Cameron reported Wednesday, recommending new quasi-judicial authorities and defining Islamic extremism as "a distinct ideology that should not be confused with traditional [Muslim] religious practice," according to a statement from Mr. Cameron's office.

The report also recommends the government work with Internet providers in Britain to get them to block access to sites based abroad that carry material "illegal under U.K. law."

The new powers recommended for use against extremist recruiters would be similar to the controversial "anti-social behavior orders" introduced in 1998. Such orders are imposed by local magistrates on hooligans and other reckless youths — banning them from being in places like malls or parks, associating with certain people and exhibiting behaviors like swearing or playing loud music.

Anti-social behavior orders can be imposed "on the balance of the evidence." By contrast, criminal sanctions can be imposed only after conviction "beyond a reasonable doubt."

"We have already put in place some of the toughest terrorism prevention controls in the democratic world," Mr. Cameron said. "But we must work harder to defeat the radical views which lead some people to embrace violence."

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About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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