by REENA KUMAR
INDIVIDUALS with suspected extremist views should be subjected to greater vigilance and surveillance, Britain’s former counter extremism minister has said.
Lord Tariq Ahmad, who was the minister in charge of the portfolio in the Home Office between 2015 and 2016, told Eastern Eye that the UK also needed to review weaknesses in the current system after it emerged that at least one of the attackers behind the London Bridge terror attack was known to security services.
The Tory peer expressed concern at the fact that “too often, we are still seeing young minds being radicalized”.
“We’ve got to identify where this is happening, why this is happening and work to eradicate it,” he said.
“We need greater vigilance and surveillance on individuals and we need to look at weaknesses that exist in the current system.
“That means looking at our intelligence, looking at the causes and identifying it at an early
stage, which means having quite candid discussions with people within different parts of society including the Muslim community.”
Last Saturday night’s (3) terrorist attack saw three men in a van driving into pedestrians before they exited the vehicle and stabbed people in and around Borough Market in central London.
It was the third militant Islamist attack in Britain in three months. Khuram Butt, a 27-year-old British national who was born in Pakistan,was known to security agencies and had appeared in a Channel Four TV documentary broadcast last year called The Jihadis Next Door.
Police named Rachid Redouane, a 30-year-old who claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan, as the second London Bridge attacker. The third assailant was Youssef Zaghba, 22, who had not been a subject of interest for the police or the MI5.
Butt, Redouane and Zaghba were shot dead at the scene of the attack by officers within eight
minutes of police receiving the first emergency call. As Eastern Eye went to press on Tuesday (6), seven people had been declared dead and 48 people injured.
Lord Ahmad said current laws on curbing extremism needed to be reviewed. Addressing allegations that more should have been done to monitor Butt, he said: “We can’t arrest people just on the basis of them being reported. They need to be monitored more extensively and more robustly; that’s an area that could be looked at. Before action can be enacted there needs to be a strong evidence base.”
The Conservative politician believes it is the collective responsibility of all citizens and not just Muslims in helping to stamp out evil extremist ideologies.
However, he said the Muslim community also had a role to play in identifying practical solutions.
“When it comes to this issue, it is my faith of Islam which is being tarnished when these acts happen. Unfortunately in most cases, you hear it was someone through a perverse interpretation of a noble faith who has acted in a manner which is completely contrary to that faith.
“So there is also a responsibility on the community itself to help identify practical solutions
that the community can assist the government and security and police agencies with. We cannot turn a blind eye in the hope that someone else will report it, if there is a concern that exists then report it.”
Lord Ahmad said he felt heartened to see Muslims around London this week meeting people
and spreading peace and integration – the true message of Islam.