Police Reveal Attacks On British Muslims

By James Blitz and Jimmy Burns in London Senior police officers on Sunday revealed that they had recorded several incidents of “hate crime” following the London bombings – including one that had led to “serious injury”. As one of Britain’s leading Islamic figures insisted the London bomb attacks had been “contrary to Islam”, the police acknowledged that the terrorism had triggered reprisals against Muslims in recent days. “We have had some incidents of hate crime – racially and religiously motivated offences – and we take those kinds of offences very seriously,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick said in London. “But thankfully none of these has been the cause of major damage, although there was a serious injury reported in one of those incidents.” Senior government figures have been concerned about the possibility of reprisals against ethnic minority groups because of the London bomb attacks. However, leading religious figures from across the faiths on Sunday met in London to stress their common values and to condemn the attacks. Sheikh Zaki Badawi, head of the Council of Mosques and Imams, said the attacks were “totally contrary to Islam”, adding: “Anyone claiming to commit a crime in the name of religion does not necessarily justify his position in the name of that religion.” Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, said the fact that Britons were worried about reprisals after the bombings was a sign of the “normality” of inter-faith relations in the country. Some senior government officials expressed concern about the possible impact on community relations after Sir John Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner, warned that the London bombers were “almost certainly” British and that there were many more born and bred in the UK willing to attack. Sir John said last Thursday’s bombers were “totally aware of British life and values” and although international terrorists might have provided the expertise, it was “wishful thinking” to suspect the perpetrators came from abroad. In an article entitled “Young, clever . . . and British” written in the News of the World newspaper on Sunday, he said: “I’m afraid there’s a sufficient number of people in this country willing to be Islamic terrorists that they don’t have to be drafted in from abroad.” Such a warning, while privately shared by some security officials, is condemned by others as politically dangerous when uttered in these terms and publicly. “The British police and government are very worried about community tensions getting out of control. These kind of comments risk being counter-productive,” said one European police insider. Senior police officers and security chiefs believe the support of British Muslims could be critical in finding those responsible for last Thursday’s bombings. They believe that information provided from within the Muslim community could provide intelligence on the bombers’ movements since the explosions. But police are also appealing for information on individuals who might have been acting suspiciously in recent weeks, including those arriving from abroad. While MI5, the security service, is thought to have boosted its recruitment of individuals with specialist cultural and language skills since the 9/11 attacks on the US, the current search for the bombers – thought to be supporters of the aims of al-Qaeda – is likely to be aided if they are not provided with safe havens.

Id Cards Needed Urgently To Fight Terror – Top Policeman

By John Deane, Chief Political Correspondent Britain’s most high profile police officer has called for the rapid introduction of a national identity card scheme as a tool in the struggle against terrorism. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said there was an urgent need to enhance the authorities’ ability to check identities – and ID cards should be introduced “the sooner, the better.” At his monthly press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Tony Blair indicated that ID cards were moving up the political agenda rapidly. Mr Blair said: “I think that the whole issue of identity cards, which a few years ago were not on anyone’s agenda, are very much on the political agenda here, probably more quickly even than we anticipated.” In an interview for GMTV’s Sunday Programme, Sir John was asked whether the security of Britain’s borders is a problem. He said: “It is a problem. I think it is a recognised problem. This is why I think identification cards would be of great assistance. “Up to a year-and-a-half ago I would have been against identification cards because we had no certainty that the documentation used for identification cards could actually prove with certainty the identification of someone. “Biometrics, the use of eyes, the use of fingerprints is now a certainty in a way that never was before, so therefore identification, either whether it be on border controls or whether we have to deal with stop and search in the street, anti-terrorism kind of activity … would give a certainty we need. “And I’m very much in favour of that as is the Association of Chief Police Officers.” Reminded that last week Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt suggested that compulsory ID cards were “many, many years away”, Sir John replied: “Well, I disagree with her totally. “I think the sooner they’re brought in the better and as a professional police officer I have to tell you we need them … I’m afraid the minister is wrong. I have to say that we do need those ID cards now.” Sir John stressed that “proper border controls” were needed to help combat terrorism and crime. “We do need proper border controls, we do need proper immigration controls in this country. “The borders of this country have been porous and we can prove that with a number of cases which have had high profile recently. “I think that the drive towards ensuring that immigration, customs and the police are working together and on occasions working together with some of the excellent work done by MI5 in particular and MI6 is the way forward. “You’ve got to have some border controls which are there, which are obvious and which work.” Sir John was asked about Islamic fundamentalist preachers living in Britain who make provocative remarks about relations between the Muslim community and the rest of society. Sir John said: “We monitor what people say on a regular basis. If they in fact obviously break the law then we will do something about it there and then. “But a lot of these cases are on the very edge of the law in terms of breaking the law and in those cases we submit these comments to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Crown Prosecution Service to see whether people have breached the law. If they have breached the law we will take action.” Asked if the police were keeping a close eye on controversial London-based Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, Sir John replied: “Very much”. Sir John was also asked about Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, leader of the London-based group Al-Muhajiroun, who this week said Muslims should not cooperate with their local authorities against other members of the faith. Sir John said: “I think any comments that talk about not assisting the police – because we’re there for the public, we’re there to ensure their safety – is not helpful.” Asked whether Sheik Omar should be deported, Sir John said: “Well again you can only deport people if they’re breached the law.” Sir John was also asked about this week’s major anti-terrorism operation in south east England. He said: “Well I can’t talk about the specific arrests because that would be totally wrong. But I think what we have to acknowledge is that we have to look at the reasons why people do want to come to this country – or are in this country – and do want to bomb people. “I think we’ve got to try and understand it more because unlike the IRA there is no kind of political head, no political people that we can negotiate with – this Al Qaida.”