Dr Robert Lambert

Counter terrorism research published

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack, an expert in counter-terrorism from the University of Exeter has published a book Countering al Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership

The book will be launched in Parliament on Wednesday 7 September.

Dr Robert Lambert, formerly head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit in charge of relations with Muslims, moved from this strategic position to work on a doctorate at the University of Exeter to extend his specialist interest in counter terrorism and Islamophobia.

Dr Lambert was one of the key players in the successful operation to oust radical cleric Abu Hamza’s supporters from Finsbury Park Mosque in 2005 and is building on this experience within higher education. 

Dr Lambert who was awarded an MBE for his police service said: "It is probably a safe bet that all police officers learn a lot from experience during thirty year careers. It was true for me but I really felt that my specialist experience of working with Muslim communities to keep London safe from al-Qaeda terrorism was worthy of research so as to become more widely known and available for consideration by academics, policy makers, civil servants, former police colleagues, Muslim and other faith communities and NGOs.”

He added, “The transition of workplace knowledge into the academic arena is no easy task. I am indebted to my PhD supervisor Bill Tupman for his skill and patience in enabling me to undertake the research on which my new book is based.  Professor Jonathan Githens-Mazer, the co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre and Professor of Arab and Gulf Studies Tim Niblock are two other outstanding Exeter academics who played key roles in enabling me to make a successful transition into academic research. As a result I am now able to make contributions to public and policy debates in a topical arena that are grounded in research as well as experience."  

In Countering al Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership (Hurst), Dr Lambert calls for stronger links between police and Muslim community leaders, as well as a better understanding of the grievances which push some Muslims to the brink.

He makes the case for a fresh approach to tackling al Qaeda inspired or directed terrorism and challenges the assessment of Britain’s counter-terrorism policies advanced by Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron.

Bill Tupman, Honorary Research Fellow in Politics at the University of Exeter said: “Dr Lambert’s research makes an important contribution to understanding both the opportunities for building partnerships between police and Muslims in counter-terrorism policy as well as the challenges involved. Helping him relate his work to other research literature was an opportunity in itself to develop a partnership between academic and practitioner together which has delivered an assessment of existing policy on which future research and policy can be built.”

Dr Lambert explains,“I want to show how we won the respect of Muslim community organisations which have otherwise become suspicious of government policy throughout the so-called ‘war on terror’, and how this should be central to the country’s approach to Muslim communities as a whole."

“The book can serve as a guide for politicians, policymakers and the police, as they seek to engage Muslim communities in projects intended to keep London and other major cities safe against terrorist attacks inspired or directed by al Qaeda.”

Lambert adds, “After the Breivik massacre in Norway, and in the face of routine violent anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US and Europe, it is even more important that Muslims are not demonised for holding legitimate political grievances, which they share with many of their non-Muslim neighbours.”

Date: 7 September 2011

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