The UK is facing a serious threat from “far right” terrorists, the country’s top counterterrorism official has said, whilst demanding the children of “extremists” are removed from their parents.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley argued that exposing children to “propaganda” or parents with unpopular views in the home was as “equally wicked” as keeping them in environments where there was sexual abuse.
“I wonder if we need more parity between protecting children from paedophile and terrorist parents,” he added in a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank on Monday evening.
He also spoke of “the twin threat from Islamist and Right-wing extremism and terrorism” and drew a direct equivalence between the hate preacher and convicted Islamic State terror recruiter Anjem Choudary and the controversial activist Tommy Robinson, claiming they both inspired attacks.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing lead Mark Rowley calls for a ‘Whole Society Response’ to extremism and terrorism in his valedictory speech.
— Terrorism Police UK (@TerrorismPolice) February 26, 2018
“While Choudary became the de facto spokesperson for Islamism in the UK mouthpieces from the far right-wing, such as Tommy Robinson, also attracted notoriety and attention,” he said.
Continuing: “The right-wing terrorist threat is more significant and more challenging than perhaps the public debate gives it credit for.”
Adding that, “while Islamist and Extreme Right Wing ideologies may appear to be at opposing ends of the argument it is evident that they both have a great deal in common”.
Mr. Rowley was speaking unusually freely, with his 31-year career in policing coming to an end in weeks, but official police social media platforms promoted and appeared to back his message.
He also directly compared the group Britain First – which has been roundly condemned by authorities whilst their leaders prosecuted – to the Islamic extremist groups CAGE and Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND).
MEND, however, have actually been embraced by some UK police forces, were “teaching” officers “about Islam and Islamophobia” just last year, and frequently share a platform with Labour Party politicians and leaders, and work with local councils.
Cardiff MEND team teaching British Transport Police Wales about Islam & Islamophobia
— MEND Community (@mendcommunity) October 10, 2017
Sadiq Khan, meanwhile, has appointed an activist who has worked with CAGE as London’s ‘Deputy Integration Mayor‘ and leaders of the group have frequently appeared in public with Labour leaders including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
Mr. Rowley slammed CAGE for characterising counter-terror programmes as an attack on Islam and, despite the group’s links to police, said of MEND:
“Leaders of MEND have claimed the UK is approaching the conditions that preceded the Holocaust seeking to undermine the State’s considerable efforts to tackle all hate crime and making an absurd comparison with state-sponsored genocide.”