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A Conversation with the Right Honorable Theresa May

Speaker: Theresa May, Home Secretary, United Kingdom
Presider: Christopher Isham, Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, CBS News
September 16, 2011, Washington D.C.
Council on Foreign Relations

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MODERATOR: (In progress) -- the home secretary from the U.K., the Right Honorable Theresa May, joining us. She'll be discussing counterterrorism and the strategy by both the U.K. and the work that they do with our government to combat terrorism globally.

You have a detailed biography, I believe, in your package there. But quite briefly, she is the home secretary, minister for women and equality, a position she was appointed to in May of 2010. She was elected before that, in May of 1997, as a member of Parliament from the Conservative Party and served in the Parliament up until the point she was appointed to home secretary. She served as a member of the Shadow Cabinet from 1999 to May 2010.

As I said, she'll be discussing terrorism and counterterrorism, and we'll have a brief discussion after her remarks and we'll open it up to the floor for questions.

Please welcome the home secretary.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY THERESA MAY: Thank you very much, and it's very good to be able to join you here today.

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is inevitably a time for reflection, a time first and foremost to remember all of those who lost their lives, but also to reflect on the terrorist threat that we still face, on the lessons we've learned and on the challenges ahead.

We know that the terrorist threats we face have changed significantly over the past 10 years. Al-Qaida is now substantially weaker than it was -- than it has been since 9/11. U.S. military and intelligence operations, the international effort in Afghanistan, work by Pakistan and many other countries are all key factors.

Al-Qaida has lost its people, its facilities, its freedom of action and much of its support and reputation. This is a considerable achievement, and we should be thankful for it. But we need to be realistic about the threats that remain.

In the U.K. we continue to arrest very significant numbers of people for terrorist offenses -- almost 2,000 since 9/11, but over 650 in the past two years alone. This is more than other countries in Europe.

The leadership of al-Qaida continues to plan operations in the U.K. They attract people for training; they have sections dedicated to overseas operations; they radicalize and recruit. And even as the capability of the al-Qaida leadership has reduced, other threats have emerged which, in the U.K., affect us directly. We've seen a wider range of terrorist groups active in and from Pakistan. Some are new, but rapidly growing. Others are well established.

We all now pay more attention to al-Qaida's affiliates in Yemen and the Horn of Africa, in particular. These affiliates have independent capability. They can radicalize people in our country. People are traveling to fight in Somalia with al-Shabab and al-Qaida and to train in Yemen. Some aspire to conduct attacks back home.

We remain alert to terrorist activity in and spreading out of Iraq. We're watching with concern terrorist planning and plotting in Nigeria and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. And of course we know that as its command and control is attacked, al-Qaida seeks to inspire lone acts of terrorism, organized and conducted without its guidance or instruction.

The new terrorist threats are no less complex and difficult than the old, and in some ways they are harder to deal with. They challenge our systems and structures. Terrorism now is more diverse, decentralized and perhaps also more agile than the landscape of 9/11.

In the U.K., we also face a significant threat from terrorism in Northern Ireland. In 2010, almost three times as many people were arrested for terrorist offenses in Northern Ireland as were international terrorist offenses across the U.K. We had 40 attacks in 2010 and 16 by the end of June this year.

The tragic events in Oslo this summer have made us reconsider the threat from the extreme right. This is much less widespread and systematic than terrorism associated with al-Qaida, but it has a strange symbiotic relationship with extreme Islamism. They feed off and fight each other. Our counterterrorism police and our counterterrorism strategy were already addressing this threat. After Oslo, we will be allocating further resources to this work.

In the last decade, we've learned a great deal about effective counterterrorism. The core of our response requires the closest coordination between policing and the security and intelligence agencies -- much closer than they may have imagined 10 years ago. This response needs to be dispersed around our country under central command, but integrated into local policing and close to the communities which it aims to protect.

The network needs to join seamlessly with what we've come to call our upstream response -- our efforts overseas to stop attack planning against the U.K. Until very recently, almost all the attacks planned against the U.K. had an organized and structured overseas connection.

We also know that successful counterterrorism needs to be more wide-ranging and wider in scope than we first thought. It must include not only capabilities to investigate and prosecute, but also to prevent or to counter radicalization, to provide protective security and to establish community and state resilience. It must involve the whole of government, linking to work on community integration, diplomacy, counterproliferation, foreign aid and, of course, to military operations. And it needs to be local, national and international; to embrace state and nonstate actors, governments overseas, industry and communities at home. The very complexity of this task, the number of moving parts, requires careful coordination and a genuinely strategic approach.

Shortly before the summer, both the U.S. and the U.K. launched new counterterrorism strategies. They both look forward, taking account of these lessons in different ways. They also describe the threats we face, using comparable terms and language. That is important, because the threats we face have not always seemed similar.

From very soon after 9/11 and certainly by 2005 we in the U.K. realized that terrorist groups had become embedded into the fabric of our society and, in particular, our cities. These groups had a complex relationship with nonviolent extremists who exploited the freedoms in our society, even as they sought to attack its very principles, all the time skirting around the edges of the law. This terrorism came into the U.K. from outside, but it made use of small numbers of British residents and citizens who were already in our country. In America, for many years you saw the terrorist threat as something external, practiced by people over there who wanted to strike at American citizens over here.

Our difference sense of threat led us to respond in different ways. Your response has often been framed by military action overseas. Ours has been grounded in policing and law enforcement in our own country. Neither approach was wrong.

In recent years, that view of the threat to America has been challenged by the experience of so-called homegrown terrorism. And in the U.K., we are very clear that a domestic law enforcement response alone will not resolve the continued threats we face. Our strategies now reflect these common perspectives. Our security relationship is grounded not just in an exchange of intelligence but on collaboration on many other areas. We both recognize the need to tackle urgent, short-term threats but also vital, long-term challenges.

Today I want to focus on four of these challenges: legal, ideological and technical, and on the enduring need to secure our borders.

First, looking at the legal challenge, we agree that our counterterrorism work must reflect our core values: respect for human rights and the rule of law. Our laws must create powers that are proportionate, necessary and effective. We must use these powers in ways that are as focused, targeted and precise as we can make them. Both strategies make clear that the successful prosecution of terrorists is vital. It is our highest priority.

But writing strategies is easier than delivering them. It may now be an inevitable feature of counterterrorism work that we identify more people engaged in terrorist-related activity than we can prosecute. Intelligence-based operations cannot always deliver evidence we can use in court.

Domestically, that causes us both problems. In Britain, we've had to develop means to restrict the actions of people who are -- who we can neither prosecute nor deport, but who we know are engaged in terrorist-related activity. These measures are necessary, but we must ensure they are always applied in a way consistent with our laws and our values.

But the legal challenges overseas are far greater. In countries where terrorists are most active, they are often least likely to be prosecuted. In these countries, agencies may not have the skills to investigate terrorist cases. The judicial system may be weak or corrupt, or both. And there may be an absence of political will.

The consequences are far-reaching. When we identify terrorist threats, we cannot always resolve them. The absence of a functioning judiciary may lead to the violation of human rights. It may then be impossible to cooperate with states in the way that we would wish, and we cannot then deport to these countries foreign nationals engaged in terrorist activity on our own soil. It is hard to see how we can deal with terrorism in the longer term without better promoting the rule of law overseas.

We are looking to expand our international work around the rule of law and to ensure that agencies overseas have the capabilities to develop evidence-led investigations into terrorism. But the challenge far outstrips our own resources. The solutions to this problem and others must be international. Promoting the rule of law must be a hallmark of our global counterterrorism work in the years to come.

The second challenge is ideological. Our strategy argues that the ideology associated with al-Qaida may continue to mobilize lone terrorists and others long after al-Qaida itself is gone, so dealing with the terrorist ideology must be a central part of our overall efforts to defeat terrorism.

Your strategy is very clear about this. You rightly say that we must always carefully weigh the costs and risks of our actions, recognizing that tactical success can sometimes inadvertently contribute to strategic failure. Our counterterrorism work must not give legitimacy to the claims made by terrorists about us.

We also agree that we have to demonstrate that the ideology of those who wish to do us harm is wrong. We must recognize and take on the core of that ideology that we as countries are at war with Islam and that this justifies acts of terrorism against us. In the U.K., both terrorists and nonviolent extremists support this outlook. They back up this claim by saying that it is unacceptable for Muslims to participate in a democracy, and indeed that it is wrong for Muslims and non-Muslims to live alongside and to associate with one another in an integrated, content and cohesive society.

We will deal with those who promote terrorism through our criminal justice system. We will prevent extremists operating freely in our schools, universities and our prisons. We will not amend our legislation to ban extremist groups operating just within our laws, but nor will we let them pass unchallenged, and we will stop extremists, of whatever kind, coming to our country to preach hatred and division.

But there are limits to what governments can do. It is vital to empower communities to contest these issues. Muslims living in our countries can best disprove the claims made about them. Muslims struggling for freedom across the Middle East and North Africa have shown that political change does not depend on acts of terror. In the Arab spring, al-Qaida has been irrelevant.

In this ideological struggle, we must of course recognize the role of the Internet. The Internet facilitates not only terrorist attack planning and recruitment, but also radicalization and the circulation of extremist ideologies. We know that terrorist and extremist use of the Internet is becoming more sophisticated, and we know that much of the extremist material that concerns us is hosted overseas, including here.

We are determined in the U.K. that the Internet must not be a no-go area for government, where terrorists and extremists can proceed unhindered. We've encouraged the development of a specialist policing unit responsible for enforcing the removal of material which is unlawful under our legislation. That unit has international reach. Since it started, the unit has removed material from the Internet on over 170 occasions.

We've also developed a new online facility, which more easily allows the public to refer unlawful or offensive material they've identified to Web-hosting companies. When this breaches their own conditions of use, which it often does, they will remove it. I commend this model. I believe this is exactly the kind of community participation and empowerment, which best ensures that terrorism remains marginal in our society.

But the Internet is merely one of the technological challenges that we now face. We know that terrorists use technology for operational planning, to communicate and spread ideology, evade protective security and increase lethal impact.

The attacks in Mumbai in 2008 were directed by people using off-the-shelf, secure communications technology. Software to encrypt mobile phone voice and messaging is widely available. Satellite imagery, which used to be the classified preserve of military planners, is now freely available. Some terrorists want to acquire or develop access to chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear weapons. In future, the direction and wider publication of scientific research may make that easier.

We continue to see little evidence of systematic cyberterrorism, but this is now part of the language of al-Qaida. As a tactic and as a weapon, cyberterrorism is perfectly suited to the world of the lone terrorist operating outside a hierarchy and without traditional command and control.

Collectively, these are very significant issues for us and our allies. The pace and availability of technology has the potential to more than compensate for the progress we have made since 9/11. It can make the ideological struggle look irrelevant. Technology can give much more lethal power to many fewer people.

Of course, a great deal has been done to address these threats. You have again taken the lead in work on counterproliferation around the world. We've both developed solutions to deal with some emerging technical threats, and we've shared that technology and learnt from others. But we have much more to do.

We will need a much clearer shared idea of how technology will change terrorism and our response to it. We will need to nurture the academic links between our two countries to find solutions in the future. And we will need to develop new and rather different relationships with our private sectors who, of course, own much of this technology and who, for our wider benefit, will develop it as fast and as aggressively as they can.

Let me turn finally to one of the most striking achievements since 9/11: the improvement of security at our borders and for aviation in particular. I use the term "striking" because of the complexity and scale of the task, because it has been achieved alongside the continued rapid expansion of travel around the world, because it has required global cooperation and because it has retained the support of the vast majority of the traveling public.

The U.S. and the Department of Homeland Security in particular have led the way. We've developed a dialogue together, which is vital to our national security and to our counterterrorist efforts. It has given a new meaning to the term "border security" and perhaps to the term "border" itself.

But in future, this work will get more challenging. Right now, 200 million passengers travel by air to or through our country each year, from some 465 points of departure around the world. By 2030, that number will have risen to around 390 million.

We know that a common feature of the threats we face is that terrorists increasingly operate across states, traveling and networking freely. We know they aim to carry lethal material, either with the intent to use it in midair or at their destination. We also know that our border security, to a considerable extent, depends on border security in other states often less capable than ourselves. And it depends too on the collection, exchange and analysis of large amounts of data.

Within the U.K. we have done a great deal to strengthen our borders. We are working on new technical programs, and we will be setting up a new border police command. We're looking at your Customs and Border Protection, which offers important lessons for us. We're also working closely within the European Union and other countries to develop passenger data-sharing agreements. I've secured agreement in Europe that this is vital to our collective security.

There is often talk of the value of our intelligence exchange, and that's of course absolutely right. The exchange of data and information on border security may be far less glamorous, but it is no less important or effective.

In the U.S. alone, for example, you've used the analysis of travel data to identify 3,000 people suspected of terrorist connections over two years. Countries around the world must commit to developing an international consensus on secure borders, common capabilities and sharing data. We know our enemies share technology, new ideas and expertise, and we must do so, too.

So as we look back to 9/11, we can rightly point to many achievements in containing and reducing the threats we face. Looking forward, we can see these threats will continue to change. Dispersed organizations and lone individuals will make more use of different technologies. They will test our law enforcement and intelligence capabilities.

As the 9/11 Commission warned us, we will have to use our imaginations to anticipate future trends. Terrorism in 2015 is likely to be very different from terrorism today. Success will depend on balancing the near- and long-term objectives. Repeated tactical success will not of itself assure us a strategic victory; we must extend the rule of law, address the ideological challenge, harness and not be harmed by technology, and preserve our borders in what will surely remain a period of instability.

But in that period of instability, one thing must remain stable: the strength of the U.K.-U.S. security relationship. Its scope will change; its importance will not. The security of our citizens and the wider world depends on it.

Thank you.

(Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I should have said at the outset that this session is on the record. So we will -- I will begin. I'll ask a few questions of the home secretary, and then we'll open it up to the floor. And please do turn off your BlackBerrys and cellphones and shoe phones and whatnot.

You made reference at the very outset to the fact that the al-Qaida, the core al-Qaida, had taken some hits. Obviously, the killing of Osama bin Laden and subsequently at least five other senior al-Qaida operatives just the other day -- Abu Hafs al-Shahri was killed, the head of operations for al-Qaida.

How seriously do you think the core al-Qaida has been damaged by these military operations?

MAY: Oh, I think the core has been damaged very significantly by these operations. But as I say, I think the problem we now face is that we have a greater diversity in terms of the threat from al-Qaida affiliates elsewhere, but there's no doubt that that core has been significantly damaged.

MODERATOR: Do you think the core is still capable of carrying out a major operation?

MAY: I think we must assume that the core is still capable of that, of tasking, of planning and so forth. And it is wise to plan and to prepare on that basis.

But I think as -- what has happened, of course, over the recent years -- and particularly now with these very significant changes that have taken place -- is that we not only have to look at that core; it's that standard problem that when you've got one substantial area of threat that you can -- you can look at and prepare for, life is sometimes -- you know, it's sometimes easier to do that than have to deal with a number of diverse threats.

We now have to accept that there are a number of diverse threats around the world, and increasing areas of threat. I mean, obviously we've been talking about areas like AQAP in the Yemen, like al-Shabab in Somalia for some time. Countries like Nigeria are now countries that we also need to look at.

MODERATOR: You mentioned al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula -- the shorthand, I guess, AQAP. Last October of -- October of 2010, I believe, your authorities intercepted a shipment from Yemen at the East Midlands Airport, which intelligence indicated contained an explosive device which was aimed for the United States. This was a stopover in East Midlands. Upon inspection, no explosive device was detected, initially. I believe it took several hours, and they had to go back and check it.

How did that happen? How did -- how did the inspectors and the authorities on the ground not detect that device?

MAY: Well, I think we have to understand that what we are continually dealing with are terrorists who become more sophisticated in the devices that they prepare. And it's a challenge. Part of the technological challenge, in a sense, to us is making sure that we can find ways of increasing our ability to detect and increasing, obviously -- the whole question I mentioned, aviation security -- the whole question of cargo security is part of that, as well as the question of security on passenger planes.

MODERATOR: But that was a specific incident in which an explosive device -- where you had specific intelligence. Were you surprised that the inspection didn't detect that? Were you surprised at the level of sophistication of that particular device? What did that tell you about the individuals making explosive devices these days?

MAY: Well, I think what it tells us is, as I've just said, that they are becoming more sophisticated in that -- in what they do. Terrorists can learn from what's gone before as, indeed, you know, counterterrorism and law enforcement agencies must learn, have to learn from what has gone before.

MODERATOR: Right. The other thing we -- last year, there was a major alert, which we all heard about, both in this country and in Europe, that there was an impending attack on Europe. And apparently the intelligence was very good, and everybody was on quite high alert for some time, and then it just kind of evaporated. And I wonder if you could give us any insight into what your -- at the end of the day, a year later, what the -- what the assessment was of that particular threat.

MAY: Well, it's -- I mean, in a sense, this is the world of dealing, and counterterrorism is a world where you will hear of a number of -- number of threats or a number of attack plans, potential attack plans. The challenge is always to assess what response is needed in relation to those, depending on -- an assessment of credibility and capability. And sometimes obviously then that, thankfully, proves not to be -- I won't say credible or valid in the sense that -- but if nothing happens, it's maybe because of the action that you've taken in order to deal with the threat that you've perceived.

I mean, in the U.K., we made -- did a number of things in response to that. I mean, one of the things that we've done is significantly enhanced, for example, our firearms capability in the -- among the police in the U.K.

MODERATOR: Your country has been targeted and attacked by members of both homegrown as well as imports from a number of Muslim countries that you mentioned, Pakistan and others. What steps -- and you have a large immigrant population, as do we.

What steps have you taken, has your government taken, to monitor these populations and to try to detect these kinds of plots before they are actually hatched, without interfering with people's civil liberties?

MAY: Well, a lot of that is about, actually, people understanding communities, involved in communities. We have a particular area of work that we do that isn't about the detection of threats, but is about trying to prevent people from being involved, prevent them from being radicalized and so forth. These depend on good community engagement from the police and with local community groups and organizations working with them to understand what is happening in a community.

Now, there is -- there is constantly, I would say, and always in these areas there's more to be done in these -- on these issues. I think one of the challenges for us is to, as I mentioned in my speech, what is important is that the best people to give a message to those who are at risk of adopting the ideology that leads them into violent extremism is the message to come from their own community, to negate that ideology.

And one of the things I think we are -- will be certainly doing is working not through my department but through our department of government that deals with communities, working on a new program of community participation, community engagement as part of this process of working with those -- the vast majority people in our Muslim communities who want to get on with their lives and just -- you know, carry on like everybody else and aren't involved in this and don't listen to the ideology -- but working with them to ensure that the positive messages of being part of the community can be spread throughout.

MODERATOR: And what steps have you taken to counter the influence of individuals -- extremist imams or other leaders in the communities who seek to radicalize these populations? It wasn't that long ago when -- you know the Finsbury Street (sic) mosque and we saw the -- you know, the imams out on the street really trying to indoctrinate people with very extremist ideology.

What steps have you taken to try to intercept that kind of behavior?

MAY: There's a -- I mean, there's a number of things that can be done of course. If people are actually preaching a message that is -- that is -- in a way that is against our law, then we can take criminal justice action against people.

But also it's about working with mosques, with -- about the sort of messages that are being given by imams in mosques. But there are some areas where we recognize we need to do more work -- I mean, in our prevent strand of our counterterrorism strategy, which is about this preventing radicalization.

We have identified a number of key areas where we do need to do more -- universities, higher education and further education. We think there is scope for much more to be done there in both identifying individuals who might be vulnerable to radicalization, but also in working with universities in terms of the sort of people who go and speak at universities.

So it's a fine balance between freedom of speech and academic freedom --

MODERATOR: Now, where do you draw the line? What's acceptable and what's not?

MAY: Well, I think the -- I mean, first of all there's an obvious line that can be drawn in relation to -- anything that would be suitable of being prosecuted under the law. I mean, that's a -- that's sort of obvious.

But there's also -- I think one can work with -- and we've done some work with our national union of students about the sort of organizations that they are willing to see working and speaking in universities. But there is more to be done in that area.

And our prisons is another area where we need to, I think, do more to look at what messages can be given between prisoners but also by others going into prisons.

MODERATOR: Well, I think one of the interesting phenomenon -- and I think Ed Husain, who's here is -- started the Quilliam Foundation. And there is a -- clearly have been some movement in -- among British Muslims, but Muslims everywhere to try to counter extremism. How important do you think that is?

MAY: I think it's very important. I think it is -- it's vital that messages about countering extremism, countering the ideology, come from within the community and not just from government.

MODERATOR: Have you seen that that's been -- had any impact yet?

MAY: I think it is having an impact, but it is slow. I think there is much that we can do around that isn't just about countering that ideology. There is -- it's about what I mentioned earlier. Fuller community engagement and community participation is an important part of this too.

MODERATOR: Can you give us a brief summary of what steps you're taking to meet the challenges of the upcoming Olympics in London and what kinds of things that you see as the primary challenges and threats to that?

MAY: Certainly. We've been working on -- obviously, on the security of the Olympics and Paralympics for some considerable time, but we -- and we have a security plan in place and -- but that is constantly being worked on to make sure that we're monitoring any potential issues that develop so that we can respond to those.

And it's -- obviously, it's a sort of mixed response. There will be a very significant police presence at the -- at the Olympics. The Metropolitan Police are talking about numbers in the order of 12,000, which is police on the streets at certain times, which is double the number that would currently be there on what is their biggest policing event in -- that currently takes place -- so very significant policing presence around the Olympics and Paralympics, obviously, working with the organizing committee to -- in relation to venue security.

So a full security plan -- and which goes beyond the immediate venues of the Olympics, but also looks at some of those areas where other allied events will be taking place.

MODERATOR: And give us a sense, if you will, if the U.K.'s involved in a major austerity program at the moment? Is that cutbacks across the board in many areas? Have those cutbacks impacted all the capabilities of the police?

MAY: No, we've been very clear. There have been -- there is a need for cuts in police budgets, overall police budgets. In relation to counterterrorism policing, we've been protecting the counterterrorism policing budget. We've protected the Olympic security budget as well, specifically protected that.

As far as overall general policing is concerned, it is possible to make significant cuts in budgets in policing in the U.K. without affecting front-line policing operations.

MODERATOR: How do you do that?

MAY: Well, just some simple -- if you want the figures, I can give you the -- (laughs) --

MODERATOR: But by cutting bureaucracy, or --

MAY: You cut bureaucracy. You cut -- if you brought the -- all forces -- the least-efficient forces currently up to the level of efficiency of -- average level of efficiency, then you save 1.15 billion pounds. We've got to save -- we've asked them to save, over four years, just over 2 billion (pounds). Then you can add on to that by changes in the way they deal with IT, with procurement collaboration, by bringing all forces up to the level of the most efficient, and by -- on both of those you save 350 million (pounds) each.

And you can save a further 350 million (pounds) with a two-year pay freeze, and we have a two-year pay freeze across our public sector. So we're -- it's in negotiation at the moment, but we're expecting it's likely there'll be a two-year pay freeze in policing as well. And that adds up to the money that you need to -- you need to save.

MODERATOR: Well, we might need you to pop round to our supercommittee and give them a -- (laughter) -- give them a few tips. They've got to save 1.5 trillion (dollars). Right.

So we'll open it up now to the -- to everyone here. We'd ask you to wait for the microphone, state your name and your affiliation, if you have one. And once again, we're on the record, which means your questions are on the record, as well as the answers.

Mr. Bremer.

QUESTIONER: Paul Bremer, World Team Sports -- Madam Home Secretary, one of the problems we've dealt with here since 2011 (sic) is the problem of getting intelligence on terrorist threats collected at the national level, down to the state and municipal officials who need it. Our problem is somewhat more complicated than yours, because of the federal structure.

But I wonder if there are some lessons we could learn from how you cope with that problem.

MAY: Well, I can talk about how we do cope with that, and I think one of the -- because it's -- the U.K., both having a different structure, governmental structure; and also the size being different, significantly different -- (chuckles) -- does make it a little easier.

But one of the things that was recognized by the last government was the need to set up regional counterterrorism units of the police and agencies. And we have done that, and it's through, I think, that regional structure that we've got that we've been able to ensure that intelligence is down much more at that regional, and then down through that into the local level.

And it -- but it's -- obviously you've got to get that two-way stream right. It's not just the picture that is gathered at a national level going down to a local level so it can be acted on; it's also the information, the vital information that comes from local communities and that local level being properly fed back into the national picture where it can be connected up with other information.

QUESTIONER: Does that involve getting classified information down -- (audio break)?

MAY: In terms of when you say the municipal level, do you mean those bodies that are not law enforcement bodies?

QUESTIONER: No, I meant --

MAY: No.

QUESTIONER: I meant municipal --

MAY: It will be the -- well, information will be shared as is necessary with -- within those regional units, yes. And further down, if necessary. Yeah.

MODERATOR: Sir?

QUESTIONER: Good afternoon. I'm Clayton Swisher, with Al-Jazeera English. I'd like to congratulate you on the royal wedding. I was there passing through London and I thought that the security forces performed commendably.

Having returned to Qatar and watching on our screens the arrest and treatment of Sheikh Raed Salah, I was a bit disappointed, just because it seems that -- Britain has seemed to have taken a more hard-line stance than even the Israeli government.

Can you explain why this prominent Palestinian imam has been held until now, and -- he's never been convicted of any anti-Semitism back in Israel -- and they obviously felt it was safe enough for him to fly -- and how that continues to radicalize your own population?

Thank you.

MAY: Well, in relation to that, I'm going to be a bit -- going to make the point that I don't comment in detail on an individual case. And given there are some legal proceedings taking place in relation to that at the moment, I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment in detail on that at the moment.

I have the power as home secretary to exclude people from the U.K. who I think would not be conducive on -- to be in the U.K., and a decision was taken in relation to that particular individual. As you know, what happened was he was then able to actually enter the U.K., and of course action is being taken to remove him from the U.K., and it is that that is currently being challenged through the legal process.

I think it is right that we -- obviously, that I have that power. I think it's also right we have taken a slightly different stance over the last 18 months as a new government in looking at this, because we believe so that this issue of words that are said, what people actually saying and what they're able -- how they're able to encourage others through the words that they say is an important issue for us to address. And that's why we have perhaps taken some decisions in relation to individuals that might not have been taken in the past.

That's why we have chosen in our Prevent strategy, for example, to look not just at violence extremism, but at extremism. And I think it is important that we do so, because if we are able to do that, I think that enables us to operate at an earlier level than simply waiting until people have gone down the route of violent extremism.

So I'm sorry I'm not going to answer the specific of your question in relation to that individual, but I think, given that there are some legal proceedings under way at the moment, it would not be right for me to do so.

MODERATOR: Right there --

QUESTIONER: Secretary May, thank you for being here. I'm Karen Donfried, and I wanted to pick up on one of the comments that you made when you were talking about the -- meeting the challenge of border and aviation security.

And you were speaking about cooperation at the European level on passenger data collection, which made me think about the very different perspectives in the U.S. and Europe on data privacy.

And I wondered if I could draw you out on the role you see a European Union playing in the fight against terrorism, specifically the role of the European Parliament and what lessons we might draw from the Swift case.

Thanks so much.

MAY: Gosh, that is quite a challenge to answer in a short -- in a short fashion.

You're absolutely right. I mean, there are some different views about privacy of data and data sharing across member states in the European Union. And this is one of the discussions that we are having within that -- within the European Union at the moment, and with the commission, about what is appropriate in terms of data sharing and how long you would hold data and all of those -- all of those issues.

What I think is interesting, in relation -- and obviously you mentioned the SWIFT, the TFTP decision that was taken. I mean, yes, it did - the European Parliament did take a blocking position initially. But then it was possible to work with the commission and with the parliament to come up with a solution that actually met everybody's needs.

It's a -- it can be a lengthy process, but I think by carefully working with other member states and with the commission in parliament, it is possible to achieve what we need.

I think one of the things that is changing within Europe is that more member states within the European Union now, more countries within Europe now understand perhaps the issue of terrorism in a way that some of them didn't in the past. And obviously, the U.K. has a history of dealing with terrorist attacks and therefore has been -- has been well aware of the issue and dealing with it -- one or two other significant countries likewise.

But if you look at what's happened in recent -- over the last year, for example, if you look at the attack in Stockholm, what's happened with the extreme right wing in Oslo, as I mentioned, I think there's a greater awareness now of this as an issue that people need to address and need to be thinking about. And it's in that context that we're seeing now more willingness to move forward on this.

But I won't say that it's some -- that everybody is suddenly leaping up to share data, because there are still some significant issues of data privacy that we have to get -- overcome.

MODERATOR: Over here. Yeah.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Marisa Lino, from Northrop Grumman -- the U.K. is not the only country, which is tightening its belt, and I wonder if you might reflect or give your reaction to belt-tightening all over Europe, particularly in the southern half of Europe, where borders are long and porous and there are issues of not only people-trafficking, but infiltration of terrorism -- terrorists through people-trafficking, and whether you have heightened concerns about this because of belt-tightening in other countries and whether this might lead the European Union to greater cooperation because everybody's cutting back?

MAY: Yes. I mean, it is -- there are -- there are some very particular issues. I mean, there's one country where there's a very particular issue about the border, issue of the border into the U.K. -- into Europe, in terms of the ability to deal with problems at the -- at the border.

But within the European Union, what we are increasingly and what I'm certainly from the U.K. trying to encourage my colleagues to do is to look at the practical cooperation that we can give each other. And dealing through the -- there's a new -- relatively new organization within the European Union which is -- yes, which is there to give support and to be able to move in and to -- if a country has particular problems in maintaining its border security, being able to move in and give it support and help. And we give practical support in terms of individuals, my U.K. Borders Agency being willing to be part of groups who will go into countries and deal with -- deal with these problems.

So I think that's the way to go forward. It's one of the -- I think one of the discussions we have with Europe is the question of, do we pass more legislation on this area or do we actually just get down to it and work practically. From the U.K., our view is very simple. Legislation isn't going to do it; you've got to actually have the practical cooperation on the ground, and that's something we've been looking at.

And of course we've been working with other -- a number of member states too, in relation to what has happened as a result of the Arab spring, some of the movements we've seen as a result of the Arab spring. And also from our point of view we very much see that border security should be part of stabilization packages in countries like Libya.

MODERATOR: Roger?

QUESTIONER: Roger Cressey, Booz Allen Hamilton -- Madam Home Secretary, you talked about the affiliates and the influence that they are now having from a threat perspective. Can you talk a little bit about Pakistan-based groups that heretofore have not been considered a potential threat for projecting a power or a potential threat to Western Europe and the United States?

Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad -- how do you see that threat evolving, and do you see specific evidence that within the British population there is recruitment and training going on for that scenario of seeking to project a threat west?

Thank you.

MAY: Yes. Well, as I -- as I referred to in my speech, I mean, I think these are areas that we need to have a growing awareness of and look at more closely. I mean, there have been some links into the U.K., particularly for LeT -- less, but more in terms of fundraising and that sort of activity in the past. But we must be ever vigilant about what might develop in relation to that, as we see the group perhaps expanding its interests.

And so it is important, I think, for us, as I was saying, to be willing to think through not just al-Qaida and al-Qaida's affiliates, but to be aware of the changes that are taking place elsewhere and working within communities in relation to those sorts of groups. And sometimes you will see people who do activities which -- things like fundraising, which they think are perfectly reasonable and they don't realize what money is going to -- what the money is going to and what it's end usage might be. And working with communities and explaining these things to them can have -- is another part of the picture that we need to be involved in.

MODERATOR: But you don't see any evidence that LeT is doing any activities in the U.K. beyond fundraising, at this point, recruiting for operations or anything of that nature?

MAY: What we've seen in the U.K. has tended to be in the relation -- more in relation to fundraising.

MODERATOR: In the back --

QUESTIONER: Hello. I was actually interested in hearing more about whether there've been any changes to monitoring and combating extremism following the Norway tragedy and also if there's just been any concerns around the English Defence League, for example.

MAY: Yes. In relation to the English Defence League, I mean, it is an organization who has been -- as you know, I mean, it's -- the main activity we see from the English Defence League is marches, demonstrations. And there've been a number of occasions where those have taken place, been policed perfectly well. There are a number of occasions where we've actually banned EDL marches.

I recently agreed to a ban for EDL march -- an EDL march that was due to take place in part of East London very soon after the riots had taken place in London. And so we do take decisions from time to time to ban EDL.

But we have looked, following -- we were looking anyway, but we have looked, following the Oslo -- what happened in Oslo, in more detail, perhaps, at some of the more extreme right-wing groups and looking at what intention capability they might have. And we will be putting some more resources into that, and I think it's right.

I mean, our new CONTEST strategy -- as you may know, the counterterrorism strategy in the U.K. is CONTEST. And we -- when we revised our CONTEST strategy earlier in the summer, what we did was we actually expanded it to say that we -- we're not just looking at international terrorism in terms of al-Qaida; we're also looking at all -- we're looking at all forms of terrorism, and I think it's right that we do so.

The bulk of the threat, if you like, is still that al-Qaida-related threat, but we are looking more widely now.

MODERATOR: Maurice?

QUESTIONER: Maurice Sonnenberg, J.P Morgan -- I'd like you to educate me. (Scattered laughter.) And what I'm thinking about is your own laws. For example, you mentioned we're trying to stop propagandizing by the terrorists, yet you do have a glorification law, and I wondered whether or not they have been -- glorification of terrorism, whether you've had prosecution of that. It's my understanding that high authorities can get warrants on searches without judges, and your extradition laws, some of us think could be much better in terms of the movement of these people.

And I won't hold up anyone here with any more, but will you get into that a little deeper, please?

MAY: Yes. I'll try to do a sort of short summary of some of the issues around our laws. And just for -- I mean, we will be, we are looking at publishing a green paper on some aspects of the legal system in relation, particularly to issues like protection of closed material, and that green paper will be published sometime in the next couple of months or so, we hope. So we are looking at that whole issue.

On the question of the sort of propaganda and laws relating to glorification, yes, there have been people prosecuted. There've been people prosecuted for holding terrorist-related material, so these are laws that are being used.

In relation to some of the -- some of the other aspects of the legal system -- I'm sorry, because you mentioned two others, and the --

QUESTIONER: Search warrants and a higher authority --

MAY: Higher authority --

QUESTIONER: -- (meaning it ?) doesn't necessarily need a judge --

MAY: Yes. I mean, there are -- there's a whole variety of types of warrant, and the request -- the requirement that is needed to enable those warrants to be undertaken varies, depending on what the -- what the warrants are. I mean, for example, on the -- under the Regulation of Investigatory Practices Act, RIPA, those sorts of warrants for interception and so forth are a responsibility of the secretary of state. So it's that level that decisions are taken in relation to those.

And we've made some changes to our RIPA authorities recently, but it's not in relation to counterterrorism. It's the fact that counterterrorism laws were being used by our local government inappropriately, and so we're now going to require them to have to go to a magistrate to get the go-ahead to use some of those -- some of those powers.

QUESTIONER: The other one was extradition.

MAY: Extradition, thank you -- yes, extradition, we have a review of our extradition -- of extradition being undertaken at the moment, and I would hope that within the next couple of months that will be published.

It is looking at a variety -- it's looking at the U.S.-U.K. relationship; it's looking at the relationship of U.K. with other countries; it's looking at the European arrest warrant question. We have a group of lawyers. Justice Scott Baker is leading that panel. The panel came over to the U.S. two or three months ago, met with the Department of Justice here, has talked to people here and in other parts of the world about our extradition. So we're waiting at the moment to see what that review comes up with, what that proposes in terms of extradition.

But we do have --

MODERATOR: I think there are more than 40 cases or so that the U.S. has extradition requests in that are still not resolved.

QUESTIONER: (Inaudible.)

MAY: Yes, I'm aware of that, and there are a number of high-profile cases where the decision ultimately as to what happens is down to the -- down to the home secretary. And I'm aware of -- aware of that.

But if I could just slightly -- there is an issue that we need to deal with which is less about extradition, but is about the impact of human rights and ability to deport or remove people from the U.K. if that would be to a country where our courts decide that they would not be treated properly, that they might be subject to inappropriate treatment when they return back home. And that is an issue for us in how that -- and we're looking at working at working with a number of countries.

We've already got some agreements with a number of countries for us to be able to deport people with assurances that they will be treated properly when they return. But we're working with more countries in looking at if we can develop some of those assurances, some of those agreements so that we can give ourselves greater ability to remove people from the U.K. who we think have been involved in terrorist-related activity but who we're not able to prosecute.

MODERATOR: Anybody else? In the back --

QUESTIONER: Vince Gwiazdowski, Northrop Grumman -- I'd like to go back to the secure borders theme.

Could you expound more on your border police command, its roles, responsibilities? You made a remark that it could be similar to our CBP. Our Border Patrol's about 20,000 agents. We have a very large fleet of airplanes and UAVs, and there's quite a bit of men and equipment around that. Could you expound on that, please?

MAY: Yes. What we are doing is we are setting up a new National Crime Agency. We're changing the structure of -- slightly changing the structure of policing within the U.K. and we are moving at local force level to directly elected police and crime commissioners, who are a voice of local policing. And then we're creating a separate National Crime Agency, which will be dealing with national- and international-level crime. It will have a number of commands within it.

Just to complete the picture for you, our child protection, CEOP, will be in there. Our serious organized crime command, which will be based on SOCA, the Serious Organized Crime Agency that operates today -- and we're going to create a new economic crime command, because the -- we think the U.K. has not been good enough in the past at dealing with economic crime. And so there'll be a new economic crime command within the NCA.

And then the fourth command will be the border policing command, and it will bring together policing capabilities together with our U.K. Borders Agency, the immigration authority at the borders, which does have a -- it has a bit of kit. You'd be surprised. Perhaps it -- doesn't have as much as you've got here, but it has some things that appropriately that you mentioned.

But the -- and one of the reasons for looking at CBP here is to look at the extent to which we can learn lessons from CBP here in terms of that border police command, how we set it up within the National Crime Agency and the capabilities and powers that it has.

The National Crime Agency will require legislation to set it up, so it won't be in place until 2013, and although we will be appointing a new -- the person who will head it will be appointed within the next couple of months or so, who'll work with us obviously on making -- as we put the necessary legislation and powers into place.

So we're looking at the example here in the United States to see what we can learn from that and whether there are -- there's a model there, whether there are aspects of that model that we should take into the border policing command.

MODERATOR: I think we have time for one more question, and then we'll wrap it up.

Sir?

QUESTIONER: Hi. Mike Levine with Fox News -- I believe you met with Secretary Napolitano this week? We often hear that these meetings are productive and you had good conversation. Just wondering if you can give -- with so much going on right now, can you give a sense of what you actually talked about this week, what are you working on, what ideas were exchanged, things like that?

MAY: (Laughs.) Well, I'm not -- I'm not going to tell you everything that was exchanged, because -- I mean, there'll be one or two things that we might want to talk about more publicly, but at a later stage when some of the ideas have been developed.

I mean, we did -- we talked quite a lot about counterterrorism. We talked about the issue that we've -- I've just -- the question I've just responded to about border security here in the U.S., about the way that the CBP operates and so forth, and how we can learn from that particular model.

We have talked about -- we've -- I've been talking with others here in the U.S. about the experience we've had recently in terms of the riots and the gangs and the use of social media as networks to get information around in relation to those -- so quite a number of issues.

MODERATOR: Very good. Well, please join me in thanking the home secretary for her time. (Inaudible.) (Applause.)

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