Monday, November 23, 2009

Another big mistake by pursue

Yesterday, Greater Manchester Police released Shaykh Asif Hussain Farooqui after he had been arrested on counter-terrorism related offences the week before. Four others who were arrested at the same time have been charged. The police have been in their words investigating this case for the last fifteen months.

There is a lot of anger in the community about the arrest of the respected Sufi Shaykh. Years ago, when there was no prevent, and hardly any linkages between the community and the police - this kind of mistake could have been explained away. Today, when prevent is anywhere and everywhere, and there are hundreds of police officers employed to know about the community, how the police could have arrested the Shaykh is totally beyond me. That they spent fifteen months investigating this and then released him within seven days after searching his house just beggars belief. It confirms one of my greatest worries - that is there is too much focus including from the Muslim community on prevent and not enough on pursue.

From the policing perspective, the damage to the credibility of British counter-terrorism is immense. Some mistakes are just too big, and this is one of them. How are we supposed to take the pursue strand seriously? Let it be remembered that this is the same force that arrested the Pakistani students earlier this year.

Our problem as a community is that we react. Instead, we should be proactive and organised. We need to know:

Which officer was responsible for the decision to arrest the Shaykh. He has some serious explaining to do, on the very specific question of the arrest of the Shaykh himself - why was it necessary?

Who trains and has trained the counter-terrorism unit in North West (CTU NW)?

Which Muslims were responsible for advising on this arrest, if any?

How many Muslims do GMP or CTU NW employ or have in scrutiny positions?

If we wish to ensure that mistakes like this do not happen again, then we need to ask questions of those who are employed by us to protect us. Also worryingly, if the police are still arresting innocent good people then are they also missing the potential criminals?