Transcript of ABC Australian Radio report from the Regents APrk Mosque where Muslim leaders gathered to deal with the threat of terroris
AM - Monday, 9 July , 2007 08:07:44
Reporter: Jane Hutcheon
TONY EASTLEY: As British police continue to question five suspects in connection with botched terrorist attacks in Britain, the UK's new Security Minister has warned that the threat against the UK has never been greater. The government has hired former Navy chief, Sir Alan West, who left the force six months ago, to work out how to respond to the new challenges from terrorism. Sir Alan admits that dealing with extremism will be a difficult and drawn out process. Here's Europe Correspondent Jane Hutcheon.
JANE HUTCHEON: Sir Alan West paints a worrying picture of Britain. He said the current threat from terrorism was greater now than six months ago when the former head of the intelligence agency MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, warned her office was tracking 30 terror plots and 200 networks totalling more than 1,600 individuals.As the second anniversary of the July the 7th bombings passed, Sir Alan, who has been in the job for a fortnight, spoke of a new reality and urged Britons to become "dobbers" or "snitches" to help authorities safeguard the country. He believes the task ahead is daunting.
ALAN WEST: A lot of people outside the country in the higher echelons of some of these jihadists, I think are influencing our young men and young women in some parts of our society, and we need to think about how we can change that.
JANE HUTCHEON: His comments came after the Muslim Council of Britain held a conference at London's Central Mosque to discuss a response to the threat of terrorism. The MCB claims to represent 60 per cent of British Muslims, but a fracas erupted when conference organisers locked the door on a group of angry young men.(sound of people arguing)Abu Faruk, who's 22, has a long beard and is dressed in battle fatigues.(to Abu Faruk) Are you being allowed in?
ABU FARUK: No, we're being refused entry. Why? Because they're saying it's for invitees only.
JANE HUTCHEON: And which group are you from?
ABU FARUK: We're not from a group, we're just Muslims come together because my Lord tells me to (inaudible) the good from the evil. Because my Lord tells me that even if you help them, even you're allied with them, the Jews and the Christians, they'll never ever be happy with you.
JANE HUTCHEON: The young radicals are believed to be members of the disbanded extremist group al-Muhajiroun affiliated to Lebanon-based Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed. He is barred from entering Britain.The young men are all British-born, devout Muslims and well-educated. They say the Muslim Council are "lackies" and "bootlickers" to the British Government. These men are incensed by Muslim deaths at the hands of coalition forces, and believe that provides the motivation for attacks such as the attempted bombings in London and Glasgow.
VOX POP 1: Where's cause in the resentment? Where's cause in the motivation? You don't think a person wakes up in the morning, and just goes, "I know, I'll go kill innocent people today for a laugh". Where does it come from?
JANE HUTCHEON: Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadan Foundation was invited to attend the conference. He believes disaffected Muslims need to be heard.
MOHAMMEND SHAFIQ: These young people are totally disenfranchised, and what these people are talking about is they want their voice to be heard. And actually I agree with them. I totally disagree with what they're preaching.
JANE HUTCHEON: What are they preaching?
MOHAMMEND SHAFIQ: Well, they're preaching a lot of, you know, things that… there isn't extremism in this country, that there isn't a problem with terrorism. We all know there is a problem with terrorism, where people are killing them, planting bombs on themselves trying to blow up airports and tube trains. We have a problem, we have to deal with it.
JANE HUTCHEON: In the aftermath of the latest attempted bombings, the Muslim Council of Britain is keen to show solidarity with the security establishment. But as Britain's new Security Minister has acknowledged, tackling fringe elements will be a long, hard struggle. In London, this is Jane Hutcheson for AM.