Britain’s “slack” tactics for arresting terrorists and holding them to account has led to only one in ten jihadists being prosecuted on their return to Britain, an counter-terrorism expert told Eyes On Events.
MPs have called on ministers to toughen the UK’s counter-terrorist strategy amid recent reports only 360 out of the 400 jihadists returning to Britain from Syria and Iraq have been prosecuted.
Preventive terrorism expert, Temitope Olodo, told Eyes On Events’s Bill Dod that the government’s flagship Prevent program is “not fit for purpose.”
In September last year, the EU’s counter-terror coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, said there are between 20,000 and 25,000 extremists living in the UK. 3,000 are considered to pose a direct threat by Britain’s intelligence agency MI5 and 500 are under constant monitoring.
Asked why it is so difficult for authorities to spot extremists, Olodo said: “They are locked up within the community and that is where the challenge is.
“We’re not just talking about the over 400 individuals who have returned and haven’t been prosecuted, were talking about another 20,000 on the watch list and 3,000 said to be hiding individuals…so it’s a mess."
Olodo said that communities are “not really engaging”.
“Communities are supposed to be giving the intelligence to the police and security agents about these individuals returning, and the fact that we are not proactive enough to pick these individuals up, then we have a problem.”
Olodo rejected the idea that it may be easy for terrorists to get through to the UK, and instead blamed the slipping through of jihadis on “the fact that we are slack in the way we do things”.
“There is a prevent duty on every public authority to identify people and report them through a […] channel.
“The fact is we need to start asking questions about how fit this process is and how much people are doing what they are actually meant to do.”
He concluded by saying that far from being “ideal”, Britain needs an inclusive strategy that is people-driven, not one that is seen by the community as being against them.
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