19 OCTOBER 2021
Sajda Mughal OBE was featured in the Tuesday 19th October print edition of the Daily Express, commenting on her longstanding concerns and criticisms of the Prevent strategy and how the Government has failed in preventing terrorist attacks.
THE entire country is still reeling from the events in Southend and the murder of Sir David Amess MP.
I was not surprised to see reports that the suspect had been referred to the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy, but was shocked to discover that he may have even been in the Channel programme.
If true, this means the suspect was referred to the authorities, assessed as a potential danger and sent for deradicalisation, but then released fairly quickly as a deradicalised individuals — with apparently devastating consequences.
As a survivor of 7/7 — from which I still suffer trauna to this day — I know first-hand the personal impact of terrorism. It's the reason I dedicated my life to fighting extremism.
Over 16 years of Prevent, the strategy has, indeed, not prevented attacks. One of the London Bridge attackers, the Parsons Green bomber, multiple Daesh recruits, the Reading stabbings perpetrator, and a Cambridge graduate arrested for producing far-right extremist content online were all known to Prevent — that we know of.
From my experience of working with Prevent and experiences as an "enemy" for criticising the strategy, I know that Prevent is a toxic echo chamber. Among civil servants and Prevent coordinators — those responsible for spending tax money on what they deem "worthy" projects — there is a culture of "us versus them".
So far, we have seen reports of questionable Prevent referrals because of personal prejudices of staff, autistic individuals being vulnerable to referral for their behaviour, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Anyone that dares speak out or express concerns about how the strategy is run is policed, has social media monitored, and may be subject to malicious and defamatory rumours — like I have suffered.
This is not the kind of work that we should be funding as taxpayers in a liberal society.
Ignorance is bliss is the only way I can describe the Government's response to the lack of scrutiny of Prevent.
Even when asking public bodies for information on how Prevent is being run, responses suggest that even the most basic of information is "not held" by local authorities or that releasing any information would threaten national security,
It is not right that our counter-terrorism strategy is so secretive and opaque.
We as citizens have a right to know what the Government is doing to keep us safe and how our tax money is being spent.
We deserve better.
7 JULY 2022