Terrorism Threat

MQT on 2015-01-21
Session date: 
January 21, 2015
Question By: 
Tony Arbour
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The Security Services have estimated that at least 250 individuals, who have travelled to Iraq and Syria in order to join ISIS, have returned back to the UK. How confident are you that the Metropolitan Police Service has the tools at its disposal in order to monitor their activities and help protect Londoners?


Answer for Terrorism Threat

Answer for Terrorism Threat

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Thank you, James.  Tony [Arbour] is absolutely right and you are right in thinking that there is an extra threat posed by the returnees from the ISIS area.  We do think that they constitute a particular risk.  The MPS is determined to monitor them as closely as we can and obviously we need proper funding to ensure that that is the case.  We are currently engaged in a conversation with the Home Office and with the Government about the £130 million for counterterrorism that has been made available and to make sure that London gets a proper share of that funding.  I am sure all Assembly Members will want to see the MPS, which is on the front line dealing with these potential suspects, is properly funded. 


James Cleverly AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Clearly, individuals who travel overseas and then return are a potential cause for concern, but we covered some of this in the questions at the start of the session.  One of the things I would like to concentrate on is the preventative agenda and what can be done to prevent the radicalisation of typically young men so that, rather than them going overseas and then coming back, they actually do not feel the desire to go overseas in the first place.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As you know, there is a massive amount of work that goes on with the whole preventative agenda like the Channel programme that you will be familiar with.  There is a huge amount of outreach work and engagement that goes on, particularly in the Muslim community.  Yes, the mosques have a role, but it is not just a question of the mosques.  We have to accept that a lot of radicalisation is now happening over the web.  There are all sorts of ways we need to be reaching these kids. 


In many cases but not all cases, it will be a function of some of the things that we have been talking about earlier.  The same sorts of young men who may be attracted to this nightmarish terrorism and making a disastrous mess of taking their lives will be the types of kids who will be attracted to drug crime or to gangs or to any type of criminality.  The best way to deal with them is to have a tough law-and-order approach, but also to have pathways for them to get jobs, to get apprenticeships and to make something of their lives.  Very often people who get dragged into this kind of stuff are people who feel that they are not succeeding in the world, that the world is against them, that they are never going to make it and that the world is conspiring against them.  I do not believe that is true in London.  This is a city of amazing opportunity, but you have to help people and you have to show them a way up and a way through.  The work that we are trying to do with apprenticeships and with young people generally is very, very much to the point. 


Clearly, there is a lot of specific work that needs to be done on countering the odious and destructive messages of radical preachers on the web and elsewhere and a lot of that good work has to be done particularly by leaders in the Muslim community.  Actually, if I listened to the language that was used by Muslim leaders in London after the attacks in the last couple of weeks, it was right on the point.  They said completely the right things. 


James Cleverly AM:  Andrew Parker, who is the Chief of the Security Service, MI5, has expressed a concern that the domestic intelligence agencies are finding increasingly that there are parts of the internet that they just cannot monitor.  I know you have expressed some views on this already, but could you just expand on what you think can practically be done in London, which is a technology hub and unfortunately is often the originating place for some of these young people who have been radicalised?  What can we do in London to help alleviate that problem? 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I would go back to what I was saying to Jenny [Jones AM].  If there is radicalisation taking place over the web in a way that people cannot monitor, then it should be monitored and I have no problem with that at all. 


James Cleverly AM:  OK.  Thank you, Mr Mayor.