Top Anti-Terror Chief Blames Press Coverage for ‘Exacerbating’ Terrorism

LONDON - JULY 08: A view of the bus destroyed by a bomb in Woburn Place on July 8, 2005 in
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Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of the Metropolitan police force said that the “relentless” reporting on extremist attacks could be promoting terrorism.

Speaking at a counter-terrorism conference in Israel, Mr Basu claimed in comments reported by The Telegraph that “Relentless media coverage of terrorist events is understandable given the public interest, but may exacerbate the problem. I am concerned that both social and mainstream media unwittingly amplify the threat.

“I don’t seek to undermine press freedoms – they are important – but I do want to work with them to understand if their reporting style can help prevent, not promote, terrorism.”

Mr Basu was criticised in July for seemingly undermining press freedom when he told journalists that publishing leaked diplomatic memos, in the wake of the the Kim Darroch affair, may be a “criminal matter”.

The assistant commissioner is widely tipped to be the next head of London’s Scotland Yard — which also has responsibilities for coordinating counter-terrorist activity nationwide — departed from the accepted position that terrorism needs to be defeated through intelligence and policing, by telling The Guardian last month that extremism needs to be fought also through “policies that go towards more social inclusion, more social mobility and more education”.

Exploring what he believes makes some people are more ‘vulnerable’ to recruitment by terrorist groups than others, he said: “It might be everything from high anxiety, to lack of confidence, lack of education, things that may have happened to them when they are young, bullying, racism, bigotry, lack of opportunity, early experiences with law enforcement even, domestic violence.”

In further remarks, he said that Muslims should not be expected to “assimilate” into British culture, and in a separate interview said that if someone made critical comments about the burqa — as Prime Minister Boris Johnson had done — “they wouldn’t be recruited into policing”.

Saying that London’s Metropolitan Police Service “prided ourselves” on being “inclusive” and “diverse”, he told the newspaper: “What we must not do at any point, now or in the future, is lower our standards in terms of integrity and professionalism, diversity, inclusion.”


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