Owen Smith ISIS talks: 'If you talk to terrorists you legitimise them', says security expert

In a Labour leadership debate Owen Smith suggested talks with militant groups might be a good way forward

Owen Smith has suggested having talks with Isis

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

After Labour leadership contender Owen Smith suggested he would support negotiations with militant groups such as Isis, security expert Afzal Ashraf told talkRADIO that talking to terrorists effectively legitimises them.

During a debate with current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Mr. Smith said "all actors" should be involved in talks to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East - in contrast to his opponent, who said he would not negotiate with Isis. Corbyn's campaign team subsequently called Smith’s comments “hasty” and “ill-considered”.

Ashraf, a consultant fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, has discussed the problems inherent in talking to terrorists, saying: “If you talk to terrorists you are in effect legitimising them.

“The problem with ISIS is you have an organisation there which is not primarily political. When you start talking about religion, religion requires you to aspire to perfection and any compromise in religion is a compromise in your faith.

“Even if the leader of Daesh (Isis) agrees to compromise, a very large proportion of its followers will believe that compromise or negotiation is a sign of weakness and you will get splintering.

“What you can't do with these organisations that pretend to be religious is come to a compromise, because whatever political compromise you come to, for them it's also a compromise in faith and belief." 

Listen to the full interview to find out more