Says terror focus has shifted from Pakistanis to Muslims of African and ME origin
LONDON: Scotland Yard’s former Assistant Commissioner and highest-raking Asian officer Tarique Ghafur has suggested that specialist centres should be set up to lock up some 3,000 Islamist extremists who pose serious danger to communities in Britain through terror acts.
In an exclusive interview with Geo News here, the former top cop said that currently there are nearly 30,000 radicalised individuals living in Britain. Of these, around 3,000 are being monitored by the police and are considered to be posing serious and active risk.
Tarique Ghaffur is the only Asian, Pakistani and Muslim police officer who rose to the rank of Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police and served the police service across the country for 34 years. He was leading the police at the time of London bombings in 2005. Tarique Gahfur spoke after security sources confirmed last week that as many as 23,000 people have appeared on the radar of counter-terror agencies, laying bare the scale of the potential threat.
Tarique Ghafur’s high profile intervention comes after Libyan origin Salman Abedi killed 22 people including seven children during a terror attack on Manchester Arena.
“The problem is very very severe when there are 3,000 active extremists are living in the community, when there are 500 active cases of extremism being monitored. Around 25,000 extremists are living in different parts of the country. They pose potential threat and it’s a serious problem. I have worked for 34 years serving the police. My philosophy of community policing, with their consent and cooperation, was to prevent and disrupt, otherwise you focus on the community and criminalise them and put them in prison and that creates long term problems.”
He said after terror attacks on July 7, 2005 (called 7/7) in which 52 people were killed and more than 700 injured, major focus of the security was on British Pakistani communities but that focus has now changed and shifted away from Pakistanis and other Asians to Muslims of African and Middle-Eastern origin and on Daesh and IS – mainly linked with the current Middle Eastern conflicts. “We did a lot of soul searching after the London bombings and the police was able to disrupt many plots. Current problems can be traced with start of political movements in Middle East, disturbances and civil war there and the arrival of refugees unsettled by these conflicts. Unfortunately, many of these people have not integrated into the British society.”
Tariq Ghafur defended his view that extremists shall be detained because the security services don’t have resources to run 24 hours anti-terror operations. He said the detention method is necessary in current times because “the judicial system is old and new thinking needed to stop atrocities like Manchester. There has to be some of kind of structured formal intervention. I propose that there should be community protection order against the 3,000 extremists, regional community centres should be built where they should be debriefed theologically.
These elements should be risk-assessed and those at most serious risk should be detained for indefinite period, intern them through a fatwa.”
Tarique Ghafur said that most terror suspects at the time of London bombings – 12 years ago – and its aftermath were Pakistani origin “but as time has gone, Pakistani community has progressed. Pakistani youngsters are progressing and there are more graduates in the community than ever before. Religiously, they are strong but they know the difference between right and wrong. That has helped the focus to shift to other communities. The new arrivals are confused about their identity.”
He said that the threat level, unfortunately, will remain for the next decade because there is a global phenomenon involved and the type of atrocity has changed, there are now knifings and suicide bombings, this is all a dangerous situation.”
Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Ian Blair cautioned against locking up suspects without charge.
“It reminds one of the events in Northern Ireland which led to the hunger strikes where you started to sweep up whole sets of a community, you angered that community enormously. The internment was not effective,” he told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.
“The absolute thing we need now is the co-operation of the communities of Britain, particularly, I’m afraid it is clear, the Muslim community,” he added.