Claims that Isis militants from Britain had been radicalised by their contact with the security services have been dismissed as “nonsense” by David Cameron.
Critics have said that MI5’s attempts to recruit Mohammed Emwazi, who has gained notoriety as Jihadi John, as an informer pushed him into the extremists’ arms.
But the Prime Minister poured scorn on the idea yesterday, telling LBC: “Our police and security services have a very important role to play to find out about people that could do us harm and to step in and prevent them from doing that.
“Of course we need to work with communities to do that – and we do. But I totally reject the idea that police or security service tactics have somehow radicalised people. That is, I think, nonsense.”
The Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, also hit out at “apologists” for Islamist terrorism who tried to blame the intelligence agencies for radicalising Emwazi.
“The responsibility for acts of terror rests with those who commit them. But a huge burden of responsibility also lies with those who act as apologists for them,” Mr Hammond said in a speech in London.
Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute, Mr Hammond – who is responsible for MI6 and GCHQ – said the agencies are facing an “unprecedented” level of challenge in the face of a wide range of threats from around the world. Speaking afterwards, he added that parents and schools have a responsibility to help prevent young people from travelling abroad to take part in the conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Mr Cameron also said yesterday that no institution such as the police or the UK Border Force should be made a “scapegoat” for three London girls fleeing to Syria.
“We have a problem, clearly, that has got to involve all of us – politicians, parents, communities, schools,” he said.