(CNSNews.com) – British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Sunday that the United Kingdom (UK) is cracking down on the speech and activities of sympathizers of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)--also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
In an oped, Camerson said the group represents a "poisonous extremism" that poses "a clear danger to Europe and to our security."
“If people are walking around with ISIL flags or trying to recruit people to their terrorist cause, they will be arrested and their materials will be seized,” Cameron wrote in The Telegraph.
“We are a tolerant people, but no tolerance should allow the room for this sort of poisonous extremism in our country,” he added.
“The creation of an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and extending into Syria is not a problem miles away from home,” Cameron emphasized in his column. “Nor is it a problem that should be defined by a war 10 years ago. It is our concern here and now.
"Because if we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain.”
Cameron’s remarks follow increasing instances of recruitment attempts by ISIL (also known as the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State) in the UK. Last week, leaflets were being handed out on Oxford Street in London encouraging British Muslims to join ISIL in jihad in Iraq. An ISIL flag was also recently flown at a housing project in East London.
“Here in Britain we have recently introduced stronger powers through our Immigration Act to deprive naturalised Britons of their citizenship if they are suspected of being involved in terrorist activities,” Cameron noted in the oped,
“We have taken down 28,000 pieces of terrorist-related material from the web, including 46 ISIL-related videos. And I have also discussed the police response to this growing threat of extremism with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. The position is clear.”
The exact number of British ISIL recruits is not known.
However, "François Hollande, the French president, told a press conference [in January] that up to 700 Britons were in the Middle Eastern country,” while the British government “stood by estimates that 350 Britons are fighting in Syria,” The Telegraph reported in January.
“A humanitarian response alone is not enough,” Cameron added in his oped. “We also need a broader political, diplomatic and security response. For that, we must understand the true nature of the threat we face.
"We should be clear: this is not the 'War on Terror', nor is it a war of religions. It is a struggle for decency, tolerance and moderation in our modern world. It is a battle against a poisonous ideology that is condemned by all faiths and by all faith leaders, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim.”
Cameron also outlined recent steps the UK has taken to stop ISIL.
“On Friday we agreed with our European partners that we will provide equipment directly to the Kurdish forces; we are now identifying what we might supply, from body armour to specialist counter-explosive equipment. We have also secured a United Nations Security Council resolution to disrupt the flows of finance to ISIL, sanction those who are seeking to recruit for it and encourage countries to do all they can to prevent foreign fighters joining the extremist cause.”
“This is a clear danger to Europe and to our security,” the prime minister concluded. “It is a daunting challenge. But it is not an invincible one, as long as we are now ready and able to summon up the political will to defend our own values and way of life with the same determination, courage and tenacity as we have faced danger before in our history. That is how much is at stake here: we have no choice but to rise to the challenge.”
Cameron penned the column after receiving a letter on Saturday from Nicholas Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, asking the prime minister: “What is the overall strategy that holds together the UK Government’s response to both the humanitarian situation and what IS is actually doing in Syria and Iraq?
“Behind this question is the serious concern that we do not seem to have a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamist extremism as it is developing across the globe,” said the bishop, whose letter was supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Bishop Leeds also mentioned “the plight of tens of thousands of Christians who have been displaced,” asking if the British government had “a coherent response to the plight of these huge numbers of Christians whose plight appears to be less regarded than that of others?”