By MICHAEL SETTLE and BILLY BRIGGS LORD Stevens, former chief of the Metropolitan Police, was last night accused of stirring up racial hatred after he claimed British Muslim extremists were “almost certainly” responsible for the London bombings. Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London, insisted the ex-police chief’s claims were unfounded and threw suspicion on all Muslims in the UK. “He has, without doubt, stirred up racial tensions at a time when we need unity.” Sir Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, added: “I cannot imagine what prompted him to make these comments. Up until recently he has been working in an organisation that is trying hard to improve race relations, then he says something as problematic and unhelpful as this. It simply amazes me.” Police said yesterday there had been some incidents of religious or racially motivated hate crime since the attacks and one report involving a serious injury, although they gave no further details. In a newspaper article, headlined: “Young, clever . . . and British,” Lord Stevens wrote that any hope the attackers came from abroad was “dangerous wishful thinking”. He argued: “I’m afraid there’s a sufficient number of people in this country willing to be Islamic terrorists that they don’t have to be drafted in from abroad. “We have already convicted two British shoe bombers, Richard Reid and Saajid Badat, and there were the two British suicide bombers, Asif Hanif and Omar Sharif, who killed themselves in Israel.” The bombers, suggested the ex-police chief, would be “apparently ordinary British citizens, young men conservatively and cleanly dressed and probably with some higher education. Highly computer literate, they will have used the internet to research explosives, chemicals and electronics. They are also willing to kill without mercy – and to take a long time in their planning. They are painstaking, cautious, clever, and very sophisticated.” Lord Stevens claimed up to 3000 British-born or British-based people passed through Osama bin Laden’s training camps over the years. “Plainly not all went on to become active Islamic terrorists back in the UK. But some have. And others have passed on their training to the next generation.” He forecast the bombings would “unleash a tidal wave” of information from the Muslim community. However, Mr Shadjareh said Lord Stevens’s report “suggests there is a network of conspiracy among us and that many of us knew what was going on, rather than the fact this was done by a few misguided individuals”. He added: “Lord Stevens’s past as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police adds an air of reality to what he says, but where is his evidence? All this article does is justify anti-Islamic attacks.” George Galloway, the anti-Iraq war MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, also dismissed the peer’s claims. “He had no idea who carried this atrocity out, whether they were home-grown or flew in that morning . . . he wasn’t the commissioner on the day the explosion occurred, he is a retired police officer. He has no idea who carried out that crime. I would rather listen to the existing commissioner,” said the former Glasgow back-bencher. Asked at a press conference about the former Met chief’s comments, Brian Paddick, deputy assistant commissioner, said: “We are aware of Lord Stevens’s comments. Clearly, we are not ruling out any possibility as to who these suspects are.” Later, a spokesman for the Church of England came to Lord Stevens’s defence, saying it respected his authority on terrorism and his views expressed in the newspaper. “Lord Stevens is quite clearly talking about extremists, not the bulk of the Muslim community. What he is saying is something no-one would challenge. These are extremists and they do not adhere to the beliefs that members of the faith do. He has a far greater experience than most people on the matter.” The Association of Chief Police Officers in England said community relations in Britain were “reassuringly calm” in the wake of the attacks. Incidents reported by individual police forces included arson attacks on mosques in Leeds, Belvedere, Telford and Birkenhead which caused little damage. In addition, there was evidence of some verbal abuse in the street, and some criminal damage to cars, businesses and homes.

Social Share Toolbar

Sources