MP calls for ‘new measures’ in fight against extremism
Husbands of missing Bradford family meet with Keith Vaz
Britain’s chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz, says the time for ‘finger pointing’ has passed and action must now be taken to deter British nationals from fleeing the country to join extremists abroad.
The prominent MP made the announcement following a meeting on Monday with the husbands of two of the three Bradford sisters who are feared to have travelled to Syria with their children to join Islamic State.
It is believed that Khadija Dawood, 30, Sugra Dawood, 34, and Zohra Dawood, 33, boarded a plane with their children - aged between three and 15, to Istanbul, Turkey, on 9th June, where they are likely to have then travelled over the border into Syria to join IS forces.
Mr Vaz met with Sugra’s husband, Akhtar Iqbal, and Mohammad Shoaib, husband of Khadija, to discuss the case and how the UK can do more to prevent such events happening again.
Following the meeting on Monday, the Leicester MP said in a statement: “I met today with the fathers and their legal representatives for one and a quarter hours. They were clearly heartbroken, and want to be reunited with their wives and children as soon as possible.
“They expressed serious concerns about how the police have dealt with their wives over a number of months. I will be meeting with the Counter Terror Unit from the region tomorrow.”
Mr Vaz says there are a number of new measures and legislation that must be implemented to deter others from crossing over to join jihadist groups.
“Firstly, we need a hotline between the UK and Istanbul,” he continued. “Isis work on a 24/7 basis and our Consulate in Istanbul must also work continuously.
“We cannot continue to rely on emails. Rather like the Bethnal Green case (which saw three teenage girls run away to Turkey to join IS) , the system needs to cope better with these urgent cases.
“Secondly, the police need to meet with the fathers at a senior level urgently to clear the lines of communication.
“Thirdly, the prime minister is right that we must bring an end to the ‘finger pointing’. This is a fight for hearts and minds of British citizens being groomed by Isis. Our efforts need to be led by the families and communities.”
In a letter sent to Mr Vaz last week, lawyers from Khan Solicitors – representing the husbands, slammed the police’s handling of the case, alleging they were ‘complicit’ in the ‘grooming and radicalisation’ of the three sisters.
By ‘actively promoting’ contact from the sisters to a brother who was known to be fighting with Islamic State in Syria, the lawyers claim there was a disregard of the possible consequences.
“It would appear that there has been a reckless disregard as to the consequences of any such contact on the families of those whom we represent,” the lawyers wrote.
“Plainly, by the NECTU [North East Counter Terrorism Unit] allowing this contact they have been complicit in the grooming and radicalising of the women.
“If this contact between them had been prevented our clients would not now be facing such circumstances.”