UK authorities are radicalising young Muslims by tackling the terror threat in the wrong way, a former Home Office counter terrorism advisor has claimed.
Jahan Mahmood, who resigned from his government job over disagreements on counter-terrorism strategy, claims authorities are misrepresenting the severity of the threat facing the UK.
Mr Mahmood said far too many people were being arrested, with the majority never charged or convicted.
“I put that down to the legislation, but also because of this constant talk about the threat level being severe,” he told Sky News, adding multiple arrests created an “atmosphere of fear.”
"Not just fear within the community, but fear within the counterterrorism units around the country - a fear of not doing enough on time, which sometimes means they act without taking due process into consideration.”
He claimed this led only to further radicalisation of already ostracised individuals, arrested on “very flimsy” evidence only to be released.
Mr Mahmood spoke to Sky News as part of an analysis into arrest statistics, which reveals as many as two-thirds of those arrested under terror legislation last year were never charged with a terrorist offence.
Terror plots foiled by British security since 7/7 attack
Terror plots foiled by British security since 7/7 attack
1/10 'Poppy terror plot'
Nadir Ali Sayed, 21, his cousin Yousaf Shah Syed, 19, and Haseeb Hamayoon, 27, were charged with terrorism offences over an alleged plot to behead a member of public. The trio were arrested in London and High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire on 6 November - three days before Remembrance Sunday
2/10 Heathrow airport arrests
A 19-year-old from Coventry man was arrested at London's Heathrow airport on suspicion of preparing for acts of terrorism in November 2014
3/10 Extradition of Abu Hamza
Radical muslim cleric Abu Hamza was used as an example of the kind of people the Home Office has extradited
4/10 South East Counter Terrorism Unit arrests
Six people were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after a series of dawn raids in the south of England in October 2014. Three men and three women were detained separately in two properties in Portsmouth, one in Farnborough and one in Greenwich following an operation by the South East Counter Terrorism Unit. Counter-terror officers said they had disrupted what was believed to be the early stages of what could have turned into a “significant plot”
5/10 Law student arrest
A law student who was the subject of a controversial secret trial was convicted for possessing a bomb-making manual, it can now be reported. Erol Incedal, 26, is said to have kept the manual on a memory card adhesive-taped to the inside of his iPhone cover. He now faces a retrial starting on 23 February next year after jurors failed to agree whether he was plotting a terrorist attack
6/10 October 2014 arrests
Three men were arrested in central London on 13 October as part of an investigation into Islamist-related terrorism. The arrests come nearly a week after five men were arrested in dawn raids that Whitehall officials said “may have foiled the early stages” of a plan to attack the UK
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
7/10 Anjem Choudary arrest
Anjem Choudary, the radical activist and co-founder of the banned al-Muhajiroun group, was arrested in September 2014 as efforts intensify to disrupt the ideological backers of young British Muslims travelling to fight in foreign conflicts. Mr Choudary was among nine men held on suspicion of supporting a banned terrorist group and encouraging terrorism. The arrests came shortly after Mr Choudary fired off a series of angry tweets after David Cameron called on MPs to back air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
8/10 North West Counter Terrorism Unit funds seizing
Police seize £250,000 of cash intended to fund Isis at Manchester Airport and north-west ports. Using powers under the Terrorism Act, the money was confiscated by officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit
9/10 Tarik Hassane arrest
A medical student who was offered a place at a London university has been named among four men who are being questioned by counter-terror police after a series of raids across the capital. Tarik Hassane, 21, is believed to have been Tasered when he was arrested on suspicion of being involved in a "significant" Islamist terror plot on 7 October
10/10 Abu Qatada removed from UK
Radical preacher Abu Qatada will not be returning to the UK after being cleared of terror charges in Jordan
His claims are echoed in this year’s figures: just 124 people were charged with a terror offence out of 315 arrested in the last year (ending September) working out as 39 per cent of the total detained.
In comparison, there is a 58 per cent charge rate for all criminal offences, according to analysis from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
Record 315 terror arrests in year to September 2015. Here's what happened to those arrested. pic.twitter.com/BVt97onB2S— Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) December 10, 2015
The research follows claims over this summer that British authorities were contributing to radicalisation. A Survation poll in April of this year claimed four out of 10 British Muslims believed the police and MI5 were contributing to radicalisation.
In November the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) warned new legislation could fail as it may conflate all social conservative Muslim views with violent extremism.
“The current policy has a real risk of being counterproductive with alienation being fermented as a result,” MCB assistant secretary general Miqdaad Versi told the Guardian.
In response to the latest analysis, Scotland Yard said it was working “proactively and positively to prevent attacks”.
A spokesperson defended arrests by claiming they “may be the only way to find out that a person should no longer be suspected of committing an offence or to understand the need to refer them for further support or to confirm that there is evidence that offences have been committed.”
They added arrests are “carefully considered and only made if it is necessary”.
Meanwhile security minister John Hayes said public safety was paramount at a time of “significant threat”, but in a statement to The Independent said police and security services were working to "keep the pubic safe".Reuse content