Armed police stand outside the Houses of Parliament in London.
By Reena Kumar
HOME SECRETARY Amber Rudd has sought to reassure faith communities
in Britain following last week’s terror attack in London by insisting the government will continue to monitor hate crimes against minorities.
Writing exclusively in Eastern Eye, Rudd, who last week returned from a visit to Pakistan, addressed the fact that Muslims may be feeling vulnerable to reprisal attacks following the terrorist incident.
She said: “This atrocity has united communities and faiths across the UK, and while I recognise that faith communities might feel vulnerable at this time,
we will not be complacent and will continue to monitor hate crime and ensure
anyone affected has the support and protection they need.”
Attacker Khalid Masood used his rented vehicle to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge last Wednesday (22), before stabbing a police officer to death outside parliament.
Masood, who was shot dead, killed four and left 29 injured; seven are said to be in a critical condition. Rudd joined religious leaders condemning the attack at a meeting at New Scotland Yard last Thursday (23).
She added that powerful shows of solidarity, including the line of Muslim women holding hands across Westminster Bridge last Sunday (26), were ensuring the lone attacker had failed in his mission to spread hate.
During her visit to Pakistan, the home secretary met prime minister Nawaz
Sharif and the interior minister Chaudhry Nisar and discussed how both countries could work together to tackle the shared challenges of security, extremism and illegal migration.
Rudd explained that it was crucial for the UK and Pakistan to cooperate, adding that tackling common threats also involved working with communities and organisations.
Paying tribute to Londoners who continued with their lives after the attack last week, Rudd said it showed terrorists that they would never win.
“We will not allow the detestable actions of one individual to divide us. And we should not allow those actions to change our country’s shared values. It is vital we come together at this difficult time and unite even more strongly,” she added.
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi spoke to British prime minister Theresa May last week as he expressed solidarity and conveyed condolences for victims of the terror attack.
Modi also said that India stood with the UK in the fight against terrorism.
In a tweet, the Indian leader said: “Deeply saddened by the terror attack in London. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.
“At this difficult moment, India stands with UK in the fight against terrorism. @theresa_may @Number10Gov (sic),” he added.
In New Delhi, Britain’s high commissioner to India, Dominic Asquith, said counter-terrorism measures were an important part of Britain’s engagement
“It covers a variety of strands of activity-sharing analysis, policy, intelligence about what’s happening and sharing capability to respond to incidents when they do happen,” Sir Dominic noted.
Police investigating the attack made a new arrest last Sunday (26) as authorities try to piece together the assailant’s motive.
A 30-year-old man was arrested in Birmingham on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts, London’s Metropolitan Police said.
A dozen people were arrested since last Wednesday’s attack. Nine people have been released without charge, while a 58-year-old man remains in custody and a 32-year-old woman has been released on bail.
Senior national coordinator for UK counter terrorism policing and deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said Masood’s attack method appeared to be based on low sophistication, low tech and low cost techniques copied from other attacks.
Basu added it echoed the rhetoric of Daesh (Islamic State) leaders in terms of methodology and attacking police and civilians, but at this stage there was no evidence that Masood had discussed this with others.
Daesh issued a brief statement calling Masood one of its soldiers, but offered no details to suggest that their leadership knew of his plans in advance. Masood was born Adrian Russell Ajao in Kent, but changed his name to several aliases.
DAC Basu added that there was no evidence that Masood was radicalised in prison in 2003, as had been suggested.
“Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or Al Qaeda, there is clearly an interest in Jihad. His last criminal offence was in 2003 and he was not a current subject of interest or part of the current domestic or international threat picture for either the security service or counter terrorism policing,” he added.
Basu appealed to the public to come forward with information which may shed light on the motive of Masood, a convert to Islam with a violent criminal past.
A European government source familiar with the investigation said Masood’s name had cropped up about five years ago on the margins of an MI5 counter-terrorism investigation but interest in him had swiftly dissipated.
At the time of the attack, British authorities had “no intelligence about how he got to this point,” the source said, adding that investigators were now rushing to piece together his background and contacts.
Police, meanwhile, erected new barriers around Windsor Castle on Tuesday (28), following a review of security. The new barriers were put in place ahead of the regular “Changing the Guard” ceremony on Wednesday (29), which is popular with tourists, with more than 1.3 million people visiting the castle every year.
Police said the new barriers in Windsor would be in addition to usual road closures. “While there is no intelligence to indicate a specific threat to Windsor, recent events in Westminster clearly highlight the need for extra security measures to be introduced,” said assistant chief constable Dave Hardcastle of Thames Valley Police.