Tough seeing these never ending terrorist attacks across the U.K. lately.
What more can the UK’s government and security services do to prevent further attacks?
The British government and its security services must now realise that there is no such thing as a low level so-called UK jihadist. They are all a major threat.
Once again Prime Minister Theresa May has come out with fighting words. Yet it was May as Home Secretary and now PM that has failed the national security test.
May’s time as Home Secretary (2011-2016) led to a major reduction in neighborhood policing which up to then was a key strand of effective local intelligence gathering.
The authorities understand that most of these extremists are homegrown and developed amongst minority communities. Thus there has to be push to recruit more front line intelligence officers from ethnic minority communities.
The government and media pundits keep lecturing the Muslim community to speak out more on extremist suspects.
Yet has the government tried hard enough to recruit intelligence officers from minority groups?
In 2014/15 MI5 had 8% (322) of its workforce (4000+) who are non white. You can bet a large percentage of those minority staff at MI5 work in administrative and office support roles. There were no senior management staff at MI5 from the ethnic minority community.
MI5 needs a workforce of at least 20% – 30% from ethnic communities to target extremists suspects and their support base on the ground. There is more than enough established ethnic minority civil servants across central govt (32,000) that could be seconded to MI5.
Labour and Tory UK governments over the last decade have tried to deliver an effective counter terrorism strategy on the cheap in the name of efficiency savings and austerity.
Extra human resources is necessary to push frontline ethnic minority intel staff to be embedded in certain locations where these Islamic extremists thrive. Towns like Luton and East London areas such as Leytonstone, Leyton, and in particular Walthamstow are prime examples.
Notorious Islamic extremists such as Anjem Choudary, Trevor Brooks and members of groups such as Al-Muhajiroun used local pockets in Walthamstow and Leyton to develop their extremists agenda. Thus attracting other extremists from across the U.K. to spend time in East London.
Some of their support base hide behind “respectable” businesses as a front to their real purpose in these towns.
These extremists in East London get a real buzz out of their hate preaching in the streets. If you are a non white male they will approach you, exchange pleasantries (“hello my brother”) and talk frankly of their desire for sharia law to be introduced in places like Walthamstow.
I have had my own tensions with some of these self extremists when I lived in Walthamstow. These exchanges would get acrimonious especially if I was walking with a Muslim female friend or acquaintance. One such friend from West London was so terrified at the intimidation and collective staring (by women) that she never visited Walthamstow again.
There is a belief that there are over 3000 extremists across the U.K. backed up by a support base of another 20000.
How many more times will the UK public hear that the next extremist attacker “was known” to authorities but not regarded as a genuine threat?
Therefore a more diverse team of intelligence staff needs to be embedded into certain communities working amongst Islamic bookshops, independent mobile phone stores/internet cafes, mini cab offices, bookmakers, local library and especially Halal-based fast food take aways.
Since 2011 most of the British media has given Theresa May a free pass on her performance on national security. May continues to push for more internet regulations. Yet GCHQ, and MI5 has more than enough powers and technology in place to perform their roles effectively.
(GCHQ also needs a more diverse workforce. As at 2014/2015 just 3-4% (166) of GCHQ staff (5564) were non white.)
The Daily Mail and other like minded leaning media houses are doing their best to ignore the current Tory government’s national security failings to ensure May wins tomorrow’s election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has every right to attack Theresa May’s record on national security. But Corbyn’s choice of Diane Abbott as Home Affairs spokeswoman was a dreadful decision; given the number of former Home Office ministers on the Labour backbenches.
Today the likes of Anjem Choudary, Trevor Brooks and others are serving time in prison. Soon or later they will be released and the next government must ensure that these men will no longer find a support base anywhere across the UK to restart their sick extremist agenda.