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Met scheme aims to identify Muslim extremists
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 2141 days ago | Friday, 10th August , 2007 , 02:34 [am] | International
|.||Scotland Yard has drawn up plans for a “safety foundation” which would identify extremists within Muslim communities across the UK and which could be up and running within six months. The project is the brainchild of Tarique Ghaffur, Britain’s most senior Muslim officer, who is an assistant commissioner|
Scotland Yard has drawn up plans for a “safety foundation” which would identify extremists within Muslim communities across the UK and which could be up and running within six months. The project is the brainchild of Tarique Ghaffur, Britain’s most senior Muslim officer, who is an assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard. He suggests the foundation will identify and combat extremism and act as a thinktank analysing “the dynamics of disaffection”.
The foundation would encourage greater Muslim “self-reporting” of potential terrorists and remove what Mr Ghaffur calls “the vulnerabilities around religious institutions”. It would also ask countries such as Pakistan to monitor young British Muslims travelling in groups. One aim would to be to “debrief some of these young people academically or theologically”.
Mr Ghaffur warned that it could take as long as 10 years to secure integration, with one generation “basically not changeable”, but estimates that less than 1% of the Muslim community is prey to extremism. He made the proposals during evidence to an all-party parliamentary inquiry into the causes of terrorism here and abroad.
The committee, chaired by Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, has heard from the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, Middle East ambassadors, academics, former diplomats, the clergy and the British general in charge of Iraq’s reconstruction in 2003. It is due to report to Gordon Brown later this year.
It has been told there is a “frightening aggression” among some young Muslims, born from factors including anger at foreign policy. “There has to be a sense of shared responsibility. The communities have got to grasp hold of these issues and deal with them,” said Mr Ghaffur.
But Abdurahman Jafar, a human rights lawyer and spokesman for the Muslim Safety Forum, said Muslims had already been helping police with information that led to arrests and said it was “very sad” that this had not been recognised. “It’s also sad that it’s not recognised that those who carry out acts of violence in the name of an ideology are not known in the community. They work underground.
“The 7/7 bombers were on the radar of the security services, but their families had no idea what was going on. The foundation … could give the impression that Muslims are hiding extremists.”
Mr Ghaffur said the launch of the foundation was a time for people to stand up and be counted.
“It is identifying the leadership that is prepared to do that … and if it means visiting particular towns and having face-to-face meetings, I can talk hard … tough talking needs to take place.”
Mr Ghaffur said the lack of integration was a serious problem. “It gives me no encouragement to say that in London there is no single chief executive of a local authority from a Muslim community, not a single NHS chief executive, not a single vice-chancellor, not a single permanent secretary in the civil service.” He urged politicians not to speak of a war against terrorism, but instead a battle against criminals. “When you use the language of terrorism, people switch off.”
The committee was also told by Crown Prosecution Service officials that with many investigations, the problem was local people not knowing “what was going on within their communities”.
Deborah Walsh, deputy head of the CPS’s counter-terrorism division, also acknowledged that excessive use of stop and search powers could be counterproductive. “Inappropriate use of such powers can alienate the community.”
Ali Dizaei, a senior Muslim police officer who is the borough commander in Hammersmith, west London, admitted the police did not have a road map on how to deal with terrorism, saying the force remained insufficiently engaged with the Muslim communities.
“We are good at putting cops and guns on the streets of London and making people feel safe. What I think we are not so good at is knowing where we want to be in 10 years’ time. What we tend to do is go to the community when we are in trouble.”
He favoured setting up third-party reporting centres so that Muslims could disclose their concerns confidentially.guardian, Voice of a Nation