U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has put together a new anti-terror task force to crack down on religious extremists who incite violence.
The Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Task Force (TERFOR) will keep extremist “hate clerics” from using public platforms to speak and recruit students, prisoners and other followers.
The unit is part of a counter-terrorism overhaul after a drummer in the British Army, Lee Rigby, was beheaded in broad daylight on a busy London street in Woolrich by two men who claimed his death was to even the score for all the Muslims killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
TERFOR will be comprised of MI5, police, senior Ministers and moderate religious leaders. The task force will study radicalized young people, like Rigby’s killers, and force mosques to answer for leaders considered to be “hate preachers.”
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PM Cameron is also urging UK Muslims to be proactive in the fight against Islamic terrorism, asking “whistleblowers” to report clerics to police if they act as terrorism apologists.
“The PM is determined to challenge the poisonous narrative of extremist clerics and confront religious leaders who promote violence,” an unidentified senior Whitehall source told The Daily Mail.
Government insiders said Cameron was “aware of the important of avoiding a kneejerk reaction.”
“We are looking at the range of powers and current methods of dealing with extremism at its root, as opposed to just tackling criminal violent extremism,” the source said. “And we will look at ways of disrupting individuals who may be influential in fostering extremism. We cannot allow a situation to continue where extremist clerics go around this country inciting young people to commit terrorist acts … This new group will study the issue in great depth before acting. There is no question of restricting freedom of speech – this is about preventing people spreading the message of extremism and radicalization in a totally irresponsible and reckless way.”
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Cameron will reportedly ask security chiefs and police for more information on the number of young people they believe have been radicalized. “It is hard to measure the extent of radicalization,” one Daily Mail source said, “but we know there are many hundreds of individuals.”