He addressed the Global Counter Terrorism Forum at a conference on countering extremism through communications - the first of its kind to be held in London.
In the speech he said:
Those who seek to justify and glorify terrorist acts, do so with twisted, perverted ideologies. They want to recruit people to their way of thinking: to see the world in divided, simplistic terms, and project a version of reality which splits everyone into ‘them’ and ‘us’.
This version of the world they promote to vulnerable audiences on a daily basis – vulnerable perhaps for a range of reasons.
This must stop. We have to do all we can to understand the process of radicalisation and challenge those processes every step of the way.
The work we are doing
The Minister highlighted the good work already being done to tackle extremist ideology, including:
stemming the flow of extremist propaganda by stopping preachers of hate and intolerance from coming to Britain to exploit our freedoms – whether their views are Al Qaeda-related or Far Right
training thousands of frontline workers to recognise vulnerability to radicalisation in sectors like health and education
working to ensure extremist speakers are denied the use of public platforms and supporting community projects which work with those who may be vulnerable to radicalisation
taking steps to tackle extremist and terrorist material online, including taking swift action to remove material which clearly breaches terrorist legislation from the internet. Over 6,000 pieces of online terrorist content have so far been taken down.
Countering radicalisation through communications
On the challenge of how to use communications to counter violent extremism, he said:
We must do more to understand the emotional and psychological vulnerabilities behind radicalisation, and the opportunities to intervene. We need to ask what are the points along the journey towards radicalisation where communications can be effective?
We need to understand more about the appeal of organisations such as Al Qaeda. We need to ask ourselves is it a brand? But also, to what extent is it a belief system? And what are the communications devices that break down brands and belief systems?
We should also remember that just as we must maximise our capacity to challenge extremists online, we must keep up with changing habits and the powerful, emotional call to action – to jihad – overseas.
The speech followed the second meeting of the Extremism Taskforce which was set up by the Prime Minister in the aftermath of the recent attack in Woolwich to consider ways to address extremism and radicalisation.