Mosques Remain Under Security One Week After the Christchurch Massacre

Mosques will remain under heightened security for Friday prayers a week after the Christchurch terror attack, while counter-terror police investigate a spate of “abhorrent” vandalism.

The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit was working with police after five mosques in Birmingham had their windows smashed in a “despicable act” on Thursday.

The motive is unknown but a series of suspected Islamophobic hate crimes have blighted the UK following the massacre of 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand by a suspected right-wing extremist.

Two were charged after a report a taxi driver in Rochdale was abused and threatened by people referencing the terror attack, and far-right symbols were spray-painted near a school in Oxford.

An Asian man in London was left with a head injury following a “horrible hate crime assault”, and a man was being questioned following a suspected terror attack in Stanwell, Surrey.

Scotland Yard said on Thursday that officers would be continuing increased patrols, while working with Muslim communities and faith leaders to give security advice.

Commander Mark McEwan said: “This approach will continue … as well as over the week ahead with policing tailored in response to local community concerns and needs.

“This has specifically taken into account Friday prayers and vigils in response to the attack in New Zealand.”

There has been no intelligence linking the events in the UK with the attack in Christchurch during Friday prayer last week, but the efforts have been taken to reassure communities.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, speaking after a meeting between Muslim leaders and police at the capital’s City Hall on Thursday night, said: “Mosques should always be sanctuaries, places where people feel safe to worship and practise their faith in peace.”

Farooq Aftab, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, stressed the need to be alert to danger.

“We have heard what’s going on in Birmingham, and we have to be on our guard and we have to be vigilant,” he said.

A sledgehammer had been used to smash some of the windows during those attacks.

Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said: “This is an abhorrent, despicable act that is clearly designed to create fear in our communities who are actually cherished in Birmingham.”

Police were collecting forensic evidence and examining CCTV to identify a suspect.

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Categories: Christchurch, Christchurch massacre, Islamic, mosques, News

Investigation Launched After FOUR Birmingham Mosques Have Windows Smashed

An investigation involving counter-terrorism officers has been launched after four mosques had their windows smashed with a sledgehammer overnight.

Officers were called at 2.32am on Thursday after reports of an attack on a mosque on Birchfield Road in Birmingham, West Midlands Police said.

Police were then called to a second mosque attack on Slade Road in Erdington at 3.14am.

Patrols were then started in areas with mosques and officers came across further damage on Witton Road, Aston, and on Broadway, Perry Barr.

The force said forensic officers are working to identify evidence and CCTV is being examined.

Neighbourhood officers are working closely with mosques around the West Midlands today, police added.The attacks are being treated as linked and West Midlands Police and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit are yet to establish the motive.

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: “Since the tragic events in Christchurch, New Zealand, officers and staff from West Midlands Police have been working closely with our faith partners across the region to offer reassurance and support at mosques, churches and places of prayer.

“At the moment we don’t know the motive for last night’s attacks.

“What I can say is that the force and the Counter Terrorism Unit are working side-by-side to find whoever is responsible.”

Mr Thompson added: “At difficult times like this, it is incredibly important that everyone unites against those who seek to create discord, uncertainty and fear in our communities.”

The force have asked anyone with information to come forward.

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Categories: Birmingham Mosques, New Zealand, News, Perry Barr, Wilton Road

Race and Religious Hate Crime Statistics Around Investigations With No Suspect Identified

The breakdown by police forces of the proportion of racially or religiously aggravated offences recorded by officers in the last 12 months to September 2018 which were assigned the outcome of “investigation complete – no suspect identified”, is concerning.

The figures are from police-recorded crime data for England and Wales published by the Home Office and cover five types of offences, all of which have a specific racially or religiously motivated element defined by statute. According to the Home Office, “these racially or religiously aggravated offences are by definition hate crimes”.

The five offences are:

– Racially or religiously aggravated assault with injury

– Racially or religiously aggravated assault without injury

– Racially or religiously aggravated harassment

– Racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage

– Racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm or distress

The list reads, from left to right: name of police force, the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences recorded by police in the 12 months to September 2018, the number of these recorded offences assigned the outcome “investigation complete – no suspect identified”, and this number expressed as a percentage.


Speaking about these figures, the Director of Tell MAMA, Iman Atta OBE, said:

“These figures are concerning and may indicate that online investigations do not lead very far because of the difficulty of identifying perpetrators. It may also indicate a lack of evidence in some cases, though what is concerning is that public confidence may well be affected over time and we know that trust in getting outcomes falls. This has a corrosive effect in public confidence in the long term”.


Rankings By Percentage

The list is ranked by percentage, starting with the highest.

Greater Manchester: 5,199 2,385 46%

West Midlands: 3,405 1,496 44%

British Transport Police: 2,619 968 37%

Northumbria: 1,269 421 33%

Sussex: 1,076 338 31%

Lancashire: 1,553 474 31%

Thames Valley: 1,666 484 29%

West Yorkshire: 4,458 1,292 29%

Humberside: 549 151 28%

Gloucestershire: 233 64 27%

Merseyside: 1,613 442 27%

Metropolitan Police: 11,915 3,214 27%

Nottinghamshire: 771 206 27%

South Yorkshire: 1,191 318 27%

South Wales: 924 245 27%

Durham: 369 89 24%

Cleveland: 621 148 24%

Avon and Somerset: 1,634 380 23%

Hertfordshire: 1,006 231 23%

Cambridgeshire: 686 157 23%

Leicestershire: 731 167 23%

Essex: 1,219 276 23%

Suffolk: 434 94 22%

Devon and Cornwall: 815 173 21%

Hampshire: 1,563 328 21%

Wiltshire: 410 84 20%

Surrey: 1,085 222 20%

Northamptonshire: 457 93 20%

Kent: 1,787 361 20%

Cheshire: 792 159 20%

Dorset: 338 67 20%

Dyfed-Powys: 147 29 20%

Warwickshire: 412 78 19%

Norfolk: 411 74 18%

Derbyshire: 510 89 17%

Cumbria: 217 37 17%

Bedfordshire: 607 99 16%

Lincolnshire: 260 41 16%

North Wales: 354 55 16%

Staffordshire: 962 149 15%

Gwent: 373 57 15%

City of London: 109 15 14%

West Mercia: 633 86 14%

North Yorkshire: 269 11 4%

 

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Categories: Greater Manchester, Hate Crime Stats 2018, Home Office, News, Racially or religiously aggravated

Terror Suspect ‘Claimed To Have Visited Near the Syrian Border as Tourist Excursion’

A terror suspect accused of planning to join Islamic State claimed to have visited a Turkish province bordering Syria as a “tourist excursion” after checking the area out on TripAdvisor, a jury has heard.

Safwaan Mansur, from Birmingham, and Hanzalah Patel, from Leicester, both deny a charge of travelling to Turkey in preparation for terrorist acts.

The men, who spent nine days in jail in Turkey in 2017 after being arrested at an Istanbul hotel, now claim they intended to travel briefly into Syria to gain “bragging rights” on their return.

Prosecutors allege Mansur, 22, of Hampton Road, Aston, and Patel, also 22, of Frederick Road, Leicester, undertook a 24-hour bus journey from Istanbul to near the Syrian border during a previous visit to Turkey in 2016.

Opening the case against the pair at Birmingham Crown Court, prosecutor Simon Davis said they were arrested at Heathrow Airport in 2017 after being reported missing by family members.

During subsequent questioning by police, the court heard, Mansur said he had gone to Turkey’s Hatay province – described in court as a “transit area” for Syria – in 2016 to “have a look” like “lots of other tourists”.

Claiming items including water purifiers and solar chargers were found in the men’s luggage, Mr Davis told the court: “Mr Patel, when interviewed, throughout maintained a no comment stance, as was his right.

“He put forward two prepared statements which were effectively denials of any wrongdoing.”

Jurors were told Mansur told officers items in his luggage were gifts for friends at a mosque in Germany, where he intended to stop off en route to or from Turkey.

Outlining Mansur’s account, Mr Davis told the jury panel: “The people at the mosque liked outdoor pursuits like camping – that was the explanation being given.”

Addressing the reasons given by Mansur for the 2016 visit to Turkey, Mr Davis added: “He said he had checked on TripAdvisor … effectively explaining the trip to Hatay as a long tourist excursion.”

At the conclusion of his opening speech, Mr Davis said jurors would be invited to consider whether the men intended to commit terrorist acts.

Questioning why the former school friends had misled their families and travelled via another country to Turkey, Mr Davis told the jury: “You might want to ask yourselves whether this was an innocent camping holiday or, as the prosecution allege, the two of them engaging in conduct with a view to crossing into Syria with the intention of joining Islamic State.”

The Crown’s opening was followed by a brief speech to the jury by Patel’s barrister, Richard Thomas.

Mr Thomas, making submissions for both defendants, said: “The issue in this case is not, ‘Did they intend to go to Syria?’

“The central issue between the prosecution and the defence is whether they made those efforts to travel to Syria with the intention to commit acts of terrorism.

“They are adamant they had no intention whatsoever of fighting or otherwise committing acts of terrorism.”

Mansur and Patel had “hopelessly naive and idiotic” plans to cross the Turkey-Syria border and return soon after “having seen something of what was happening” to secure bragging rights on their return, Mr Thomas said.

The case continues on Wednesday.

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Categories: Islamic State, News, Safwaan Mansur, Turkey

No Upstanders Here: No-One Reported the Killers Facebook Live Stream in says Facebook

No-one reported the video of the Christchurch terror attack while it was being streamed live, Facebook has said.

It was 29 minutes after the video had started – and 12 minutes after it had ended – before the first user flagged up the footage, the social media giant said.

The company earlier revealed that it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack worldwide in the 24 hours after the shootings, 1.2 million of which were blocked at upload.

Facebook and other social media firms have come under fire over the rapid spread of the footage across the networks and around the world.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Chris Sonderby, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said the video was viewed fewer than 200 times during its live broadcast.

“No users reported the video during the live broadcast,” he added.

“Including the views during the live broadcast, the video was viewed about 4,000 times in total before being removed from Facebook.

“The first user report on the original video came in 29 minutes after the video started, and 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended.

“Before we were alerted to the video, a user on 8chan posted a link to a copy of the video on a file-sharing site.”

Mr Sonderby said Facebook was “working around the clock” to prevent the video from appearing on its site.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called on social media companies to take responsibility for ensuring that such content cannot be distributed or viewed on their platforms, saying they are “the publisher, not just the postman”.

She told the country’s parliament: “There is no question that ideas and language of division and hate have existed for decades, but their form of distribution, the tools of organisation, they are new.

“We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published.

“They are the publisher, not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”

In the UK, Home Secretary Sajid Javid told social media companies “enough is enough” in the wake of last Friday’s shootings.

Reacting to a tweet from YouTube claiming that the video-sharing service was working to remove the footage, he said: “You really need to do more @YouTube @Google @facebook @Twitter to stop violent extremism being promoted on your platforms. Take some ownership. Enough is enough.”

Damian Collins, Tory chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, called for a review into how the footage was shared and “why more effective action wasn’t taken to remove them”.

And Downing Street said social media companies needed to act “more quickly” to remove terrorist content.

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Categories: Jacinda Ardern, Livestream, New Zealand, News, Sajid Javid

Banning Return of ISIS Fighters Would Remove Burden on Police Forces, Ministers Told

Banning all Islamic State terrorists from returning to the UK would “remove a substantial burden” from police forces, ministers have been told.

Conservative MP Luke Hall (Thornbury and Yate) argued that the public is concerned that countries were taking “too lax an attitude in dealing with extremism”.

He said signatories to a petition calling for a ban on foreign fighters returning to the UK were concerned an environment existed where “people feel able to join terrorist groups without any retribution”.

His comments were made in a Westminster Hall debate triggered by the online petition that called on the Government to “ban all Isis members from returning to UK”.

More than 580,000 people have signed the petition, with 100,000 needed for it to be considered for debate in Parliament.

The debate comes after Islamic State bride Shamima Begum was stripped of her citizenship by Home Secretary Sajid Javid after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp.

Mr Hall said: “There are also a number of people who have signed this petition who feel that at the point that foreign fighters come to the realisation that the area they have travelled to is not the utopia which they had anticipated, they feel freely able to return to their old lives in Britain without being prosecuted.

“And taking a strong line in denying these people the right to return to the UK at all would remove a substantial burden from our police force who are required to spend time and resource in response to terrorism-related incidents and that they time could be better used on other issues.”

During the debate MPs also argued that Ms Begum should be returned to the UK as part of efforts to prosecute British citizens who join terrorist organisations abroad.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said Ms Begum should be “brought home, questioned, interrogated and put on trial if that was the right thing to do”.

Ms Abbott warned that stripping British citizenship from people with dual nationalities could be “potentially counter-productive”.

Independent MP John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) said “I think it is deeply alarming that it seems possible that there is not sufficient evidence to try her.”

He argued Ms Begum was “our problem to sort out” and MPs need to be careful what message they were sending out to other British citizens.

Mr Hall said the Government should retain the option of stripping citizenship from foreign fighters but highlighted the circumstances of each case were different and there was no “catch-all solution”.

He called on the Government to explain what action it was taking to build cases against and prosecute foreign fighters.

Mr Hall told MPs that according to the Home Secretary, around 900 people of concern to national security had travelled to Syria and Iraq.

Of these around 20% had been killed, 40% remained in the region and 40% had returned to the UK.

More than 100 people had been deprived of their citizenship, he added.

Ms Begum, from Bethnal Green, who left the UK for Syria aged 15, previously said she wanted to return to the UK for the sake of her newborn baby boy.

Mr Javid later rejected suggestions he was responsible for three-week-old Jarrah’s death after the baby caught pneumonia in the refugee camp.

 

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Categories: Banning, foreign fighters, Luke Hall, Ms Begum, News

Surrey Stabbing a ‘Terrorist Incident Inspired by the Far Right’, the Police Say

A stabbing in Surrey in which a man rampaged with a baseball bat and knife while hurling racist abuse is being treated as a terror attack.

Counter terrorism officers and Surrey Police are investigating the incident in a Tesco car park in Stanwell on Saturday night.

A 50-year-old man from the village, which is near Heathrow Airport, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and racially aggravated public order offences, Counter Terrorism Policing South East said.

Neighbours said they were “shocked” and “scared” by the incident.

Officers were called at around 10.30pm to reports of a man acting aggressively and shouting racist comments while carrying the weapons in Viola Avenue where vehicles had been damaged.

They then received another call reporting a man had been stabbed nearby.

Armed police attended and arrested a suspect who remains in custody.

A 19-year-old man, who went to a nearby McDonald’s to try to get help, was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries and continues to receive treatment, police said.

The extent of his injuries has not been confirmed.

Abhishek Agrawal, 40, and his wife Tanu, 36, who run catering company Indian Homemade based in the street, said they were shocked and scared by news of the attack.

Mr Agrawal said: “Last night I saw a helicopter so we knew something was happening. We could hear it flying above the area for a long time.

“We didn’t know what happened until today.

“We have lived here for nearly a decade and have never heard of anything like this happening.

“It’s very scary to hear this has happened, I work in central London and often come back late on the last bus.”

Mrs Agrawal said: “It’s very scary and sad.

“It’s a very quiet area.

“We have never heard of anything like this.”

It is believed the suspect in both incidents is the same man and officers are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack, police said.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of counter terrorism policing,

said: “While this investigation is still in its infancy, it has hallmarks of a terror event, inspired by the far right, and therefore it has been declared a terrorism incident.

“This allows us to use all of the specialist capabilities available to establish the full circumstances of this attack.

“Police are committed to tackling all forms of toxic extremist ideology, which has the potential to threaten public safety and security.”

Officers will be out on patrol in the area and visiting places of worship and businesses, he said, and urged any witnesses or anyone who sees anything suspicious to report it to police.

Detective Superintendent Karen Mizzi, of Surrey Police, said it was a “shocking and worrying incident”.

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Categories: Isamophobia, News, Surrey, Terrorist incident

Rabbi Wittenberg on at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand

“We stand with you in solidarity and sorrow.

Wherever we are in the world, whatever our faith and beliefs, we stand together with you as pilgrims on this earth, as fellow human beings striving to do what is compassionate and just, hoping to share with our loved ones, friends and fellow citizens the privileges and responsibilities of life.

We have no place for racism, hatred and supremacism.

We are appalled and disgusted at the premeditated racist murder of Muslim people, made even more brutal, blasphemous, hurtful and despicable because it was carried out in the sacred precincts of prayer, during the peaceful hour of worship.

We mourn the victims alongside you, children, teenagers, healers and teachers, heroes who tried to save others, people from different parts of the world, contributing to the civic life of Christchurch and New Zealand.

Our hearts are with the bereaved. Our prayers are with the wounded and traumatised, and with all those striving to heal and support them. Our anguished thoughts are with all whose family members are still missing.

We feel for Muslim communities across the world.

The oneness of God and the fellowship of our common humanity unite us. We must stand as surety for each other in times of threat and danger. We must act collectively against all forms of hatred and bigotry. We must foster friendship and understanding between us and all people. We must work together for the safety and good of all life everywhere.”

Written in sorrow

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

Senior Rabbi, Masorti Judaism

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Categories: Al-Noor, Jews, Linwood Mosque, Masorti Synagogue, Opinions, Rabbi Wittenberg

Far Right Symbols Possibly Linked to Attacks in New Zealand Painted on Wall in Oxford

Far-right symbols “possibly linked to the attacks in New Zealand” were spray-painted on a wall near a school, police said.

Thames Valley Police is investigating after the graffiti appeared in Cheney Lane, Oxford, on Saturday.

Images taken by the Oxford Mail newspaper show two swastikas as well as the words “sub 2 pewdiepie” on the wall near Cheney School and Oxford Brookes University.

The symbols appeared just a day after the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch which left 50 people dead.

The expression appears to refer to words uttered by the gunman during his live-stream of the killings, who can be heard saying “Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie” in reference to an internet meme.

YouTuber PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, said later he felt “absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person”.

Superintendent Joe Kidman said: “I deplore the actions of the person or persons responsible for this graffiti and there are no excuses for those who carry out hate crimes.

“Oxford is a tolerant community with strong links between our faith communities.

“This act is not representative of the people of Oxford and it will not be tolerated by Thames Valley Police.

“We are aware that the awful events in New Zealand will have heightened concerns for many communities.

“As a result officers in Oxford as well as the wider Thames Valley, will be visiting places of worship to reassure all faith communities.

“I have personally also made contact with a number of our faith leaders to offer support and advice on reviewing their safety and security measures.”

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Categories: anti-Muslim hate, Far right symbols, New Zealand, News, Oxford, PewDiePie, Swastika

50 Year Old Man Arrested for Racially Aggravated Offence For Stabbing 19 Year Old Whilst Carrying Baseball Bat & Knife

A 50-year-old man from Stanwell was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and racially aggravated public order.

The 19-year-old victim sustained non-life threatening injuries and remains in hospital.

Surrey Police were called to Viola Avenue, Stanwell, just before 10.30pm on Saturday to reports of a man acting aggressively and shouting racist comments whilst carrying a baseball bat and a knife.

Several nearby vehicles were also damaged.

A further call was received by Surrey Police at 10.30pm reporting that a man had been stabbed.

It is believed that the suspect is the same man who was reported as acting aggressively, Counter Terrorism Policing South East said in a statement.

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Categories: News, Racially aggravated, Stanwell