Counter-terrorism police apathy and disbelief is allowing slippage of extremists
05 Jun 2017
London: June 5, 2017. (PCP) Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association Wilson Chowdhry, is calling for a review of Counter-terrorism policy and practice in the UK.
Mr Chowdhry believes that political correctness and fear of being labelled Islamophobic is hampering the success of existing counter terrorism measures and operations led by SO15, otherwise known as 'Counter Terrorism Command'.
In October 2016, the Counter Terrorism Command (CTC) or SO15 a Specialist Operations branch within London's Metropolitan Police Service was established. By merging the Anti-Terrorist Branch (SO13), and the Special Branch (SO12) and bringing together intelligence, operations and investigative functions to form a single command, it was hoped that a more seamless solution to a rise in radicalization. CTC currently has over 1,500 Police Officers and staff, and a number of investigators based overseas.
However recent reports suggest that Counter Terrorism officers and processes are failing to react upon intelligence gathered. Speculation is mounting on whether this is due to apathy, disbelief or simply self-preservation from prevailing attempts by groups intent on scuppering the 'Prevent Strategy' adopted by CTC.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association wrote in a statement to media:
"Three terrorist attacks in only three months provides a worrying sign that Britain must return to 'Critical' the highest threat level. Three terrorist attacks in less then 3 months illustrates Britain must brace itself for another imminent attack.
"I am used to attacks such as these occurring in Islamic nations such as Pakistan where sectarian schism and religious intolerance has led to frequent bomb attacks, in particular the beleaguered Christian community who have suffered four terrorist attacks in four years. However currently Britain is suffering a frequency of terrorism that surpasses most nations.
"Our professional security forces thwart many attempted attacks and have up to now been extremely successful with intelligence gathering. [A total of five terrorist attacks were prevented since the Westminster attack (click here)].
However serious questions need to be asked about the failure to respond to direct intelligence from the brave Muslim community of Britain who choose to challenge the radicalization in their midst. A growing number of concerns are being raised about the Government's 'Prevent' strategy and the anti-terrorism hotline, especially the failure by CTC to respond to reports of radicalization from witnesses who implicated Mr Salman Abedi before his suicide attack at Manchester Arena on 22nd May 2017 that killed 20 people and injured 120..
"In particular I refer to the five times reports of extremism exhibited by Salman Abedi were raised with Police (click here). The first report was over five years ago yet for all intents and purposes little action seems to have been taken to investigate the concerns raised?
"After the Westminster attack I led a multifaith peace concert inviting key figures from all faiths to help restore peace and community harmony in London. We had an Imam, a Nazi Holocaust Survivor and a Hindu campaigner with many other key faith and secular figures - all uniting against extremism. Every
speaker called for communities to stand firm and bravely condemn and report any form of fundamentalism (click here). Initially our appeal was based on a belief that our communities were not speaking out but recent reports highlight that the blame should be placed elsewhere.
"Sadly, my experiences with SO15 in recent weeks corroborate the malaise and have left me deflated.
Tackling the increasing radicalization of Muslim communities has to become a stronger focus of any counter-terrorism approach. Yet when I tried to report a property from which local people feared extremism was emanating only days before the Manchester Bomb attack, I was met with apathy and disbelief.
"I travelled to the flats in Barking from which arrests were made after the recent London Bridge terror attack. I wanted to see if any of the culprits were linked to the property I reported but could arrived too late. As a British citizen, I am willing to stand up against extremism and I know this puts me in danger, but I fear more for the future of my three daughters who are being brought up in a society full of schism and polarisation. I will do all I can to make life for them as safe as possible.
"Instead of taking my concerns and adding it to a list of potential leads I found myself attempting to overly justify my concerns and those of others who bravely shared knowledge with me - many of whom were Muslim. I felt like I was the criminal. This has lessened my desire to share intelligence in future and I am sure many others will hold similar apprehension - which only serves to deter essential intelligence.
"Police forces that are uber-politically correct and fear being labelled islamophobic will undermine an essential process that would otherwise sift out the real criminals.
"Extra armed Police and the deployment of soldiers on our streets will provide a much-needed visible deterrent. However, it is imperative that we get to grips with a dire need for more effective intelligence gathering. Moreover, the looming threat of increasing radicalization shows no sign of abatement. On the contrary reports of a potential 23,000 jihadists in Britain is a deplorable and frightening statistic (click here).
"It is appalling that Mr Abedi used a student loan and benefits to purchase his bomb components. Despite all the UK gave him he chose violence against innocent people (click here). Measures should be introduced tracking appropriate use of funds for purposes of furthering education - especially as this is what funds are intrinsically required for.
"In my opinion stiffer sentencing is required for acts of terrorism this may not deter the suicide bomber who has already been brainwashed. However it may deter the people inculcating hatred that is brainwashing vulnerable people and also deter the slightly less braindead collaborators from getting involved.
Police programmes like 'Griffin' and 'Argus' that build networks of volunteers and organisations trained in counterterrorism and informs on incidents and threats - needs to be rolled out much wider. The next attack might not happen in a city centre - just look at France and policing levels in wider areas are blatantly insufficient. This has to be addressed immediately.
"I am praying for solace for families affected by this latest violent attack in London and the previous attacks. I pray for the quick and wholesome recovery of any survivors daily.
"I will continue to pray for peace in the UK - we cannot let the extremists ruin the wonderful community cohesion amongst all the people of Britain of diverse origins.
"Arguments will persist on whether we should increase our Police force and whether it will have any affect on reducing radicalization and terror attacks. For me the most important thing for now is to ensure existing levels of service remain. So I challenge people to sign our petition calling for no further reductions."