Community leaders from the area where two of the London Bridge terrorists lived have spoken out over their anger that authorities failed to heed warnings about the pair.
Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, and Rachid Redouane, 30, both from the east London borough of Barking, committed the atrocity on Saturday night, along with 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba.
Counter-terrorism chiefs and MI5 are already facing harsh criticism for their monitoring of Shazad Butt, who they had been warned about twice before Saturday’s terror attack that claimed eight lives.
But speaking exclusively to HuffPost UK, Muhammed Saleem, a member of the Al Madina mosque, one of the largest in Barking, said he was angry authorities didn’t take action over Butt, who also came to public attention in the Channel 4 documentary The Jihadi’s Next Door.
“They should have been charged then, with public order offences, because their actions were bordering on criminality,” Saleem said.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW UK
“To me as a Muslim, the way they were behaving, that’s not the proper way, a proper muslim should behave.”
Butt’s co-attacker Redouane worshipped at the nearby Dagenham Mosque. But its chairman Sunawar Ali, said that he was shocked to discover one of the terrorists attended his mosque.
Looking at a picture of Redouane on his mobile phone, Ali said he had “no clue why and how” he would have carried out the attacks.
“I feel very sad, as you said that, that he’s the attacker, but I don’t believe how this (could have) happened.... security should be updated, if this is the fact.”
But local MP Margaret Hodge, who is seeking re-election as the area’s Labour MP, decried the government’s focus on immigration numbers over integration.
“All we ever talk about, when we do talk about immigration is numbers but nobody ever talks about what we need to do to create that integration,” she told HuffPost UK.
“All I can tell you from talking to my local mosques, there hasn’t been a police presence, there hasn’t been a sufficient police presence.
“There hasn’t been sufficient cooperation and coordination with the police and that has got to get better, part of that lies in numbers but it also lies in the way the police choose to work.
“At the moment because of the pressure on their time, because of the lack of numbers, those chains of communication are not strong enough,” Hodge said.
She told HuffPost that their needed to be a fundamental change in the way Britain approached newcomers: “All we ever talk about, when we do talk about immigration is numbers but nobody ever talks about actually what we need to do to create that integration.
“I think change the focus and think about integration that’s really the challenge in British society.”
Mosque leader Saleem, who has lived with his family in the borough since 1989, added their needed to be better community engagement: “We need to send a clear message in every way we can, whether through law enforcement or community engagement or our prevent programme, to deal with this cancer in our community.
“We have after school classes for our youngsters, they come, they have religious teaching, then they have sporting facilities available for them.
“We try to, you know, talk to them and try to educate people about what’s the right and proper way to behave in a civilised, in a democratic society.”