Former government adviser believes warnings of extremist attacks were ignored

A former government adviser has hit out at the security agencies and the way they assessed potential extremist threats on British soil in the months and years before the killing of Lee Rigby.

Days after the conviction of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale for the murder of the Fusilier Lee Rigby, Jahan Mahmood, a former adviser to the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) in the Home Office, has decided to speak out over warnings of potential extremist attacks on British soldiers in the UK that he believes went unheeded.

Mr Mahmood, a historian and former lecturer at the University of Birmingham, specialising in the martial traditions of Afghan and Pakistani diaspora communities, had contact with the OSCT between 2009 and 2010 on a volunteer basis. He remembered one particular meeting on 27 January 2010 at a mosque in Birmingham, which involved five young Muslim men as well as the director of the OSCT, Charles Farr, and what Mr Mahmood called “another OSCT civil servant”.

Mr Mahmood said: “One of the young men responded by saying he was angered by the death of women and children in Afghanistan and, if given half a chance, he would go abroad to fight British soldiers in Afghanistan. Another member of the group intervened and said: ‘Why do you want to go abroad when you can kill them here?'”

While there is no evidence to suggest that any of the five men were involved in terror activities of any kind, the exchange remained lodged in Mr Mahmood’s memory.

Mr Mahmood’s motivation for setting up the meeting was to explore the link between gang and jihadi culture. He said that some of the men were drug users. He said he set up the meeting after one of the young men, called Sabeel, and expressed concerns about the vulnerability of his peers and particularly the attraction of jihadist materials.

After the Government come into power in 2010, there was a change in the Prevent strategy that began under Labour and was modified in 2011 to tackle radical ideology first and foremost, rather than what Mr Mahmood described as the more important problem of grievances within the Muslim community.


The Independent:

Mosque site hunt over

A new mosque could be built in Cambridge for the city’s growing number of worshippers. The Abu Bakr Jamia Mosque has outgrown its home in Mawson Road, which originally welcomed 200 people to Friday prayers, but last year more than 700 were turning up, with latecomers having to pray in the street. Now the Muslim Academic Trust, in partnership with the Cambridge Muslim Welfare Society, has bought the former Robert Sayle warehouse in Mill Road, which would be demolished to make way for a new mosque. Mohammed Mahmood, a member of the mosque, said it was time a purpose-built facility was developed in the city as groups had been looking for an appropriate site for years. Mr Mahmood said: “There are about 4,000 Muslims in Cambridge now, and they have been using temporary prayer areas, but there has never been a proper mosque. “Cambridge is a growing city, and we wanted to find somewhere in the city centre so the people living around the area could benefit from it. “At the moment, when it rains, people are just getting wet when they come to pray, and we have been looking for a site for a long time now.”