THE sickening murder of the aid worker David Haines has been a shocking reminder of the brutality of ISIL terrorists and the threat that they pose to our own security.

Because ISIL claims to act in the name of Islam, questions have been asked in the media about the response of Britain’s own Muslim community. And they have spoken out. In High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Chesham, Imams and the lay leaders of the community have denounced the terrorists in unequivocal term, while national leaders have issued a formal religious condemnation – a fatwa- against ISIL.

In my own experience, the reaction of Muslim constituents has been one of horror and revulsion, coupled with anguish that the religious faith which is so central to their lives should be perverted by extremists.

Now of course it is true that there are some young Muslims from this country who have travelled to the Middle East to join the terrorists, and others still here who support their aims. They are a small minority but no less dangerous for that.

In one sense this kind of challenge is not new. The history of the last century demonstrates that totalitarian ideologies offering easy answers to difficult problems and pointing to scapegoats, exercise a magnetic attraction for some people. Mass-murderers like Lenin and Hitler had their defenders here.

Today, modern technology and social media make it easier than before for such people to find each other and to identify and groom new recruits to their cause. One point that’s often been made to me by British Muslims in Wycombe and Aylesbury is that the extremists shun the mainstream mosques and use other means to associate together. The fanatics have also often rejected the authority of their elders and look instead to hard-line sermons and messages distributed on web sites or via a messaging service.

It’s important that the moderate mainstream of British Muslims continue to speak out forcefully against extremism and work with the police and intelligence agencies to disrupt the terrorist networks that are a threat to us all. But it would be wrong to think that this will be enough on its own.

We shall need to keep up-to-date the powers that the police and others have to deal effectively with extremism. And we need to work very closely with other countries. Almost every nation in Europe has citizens who have gone to Syria or Iraq to support terrorism. We need to cooperate more closely with our European partners on practical measures to combat terrorism, things like sharing air passenger records. We should also swap ideas about what works best in trying to counter extremist ideologies and build community cohesion in our own countries.

And of course community cohesion depends in large part on what we all, at local level, are willing to do. The Aylesbury Mosque recently held an open day at which they welcomed in people of any religious belief or none. It was an opportunity not just to learn more about Islam but also to ask the difficult questions and explore disagreements in a constructive fashion. I’d like to see more of this in Bucks and more widely.