‘Children not safe from extremism’
Families of Westminster victims say more must be done to prevent suspects from spreading extremism
CHILDREN are not being sufficiently protected from extremists, the families of the Westminster Bridge attack victims have said.
John Frade, the husband of 44-yearold Aysha Frade who was one of five people killed by Khalid Masood last March, said he was “completely horrified” when he discovered that Masood was able to teach children despite being known to security services.
His comments come as proposals have been submitted to Mark Lucraft QC, the chief coroner of England and Wales, on behalf of all the victims’ families suggesting that greater steps need to be taken to ensure children are not exposed to extremist ideologies.
The recommendation, which the coroner will take into account ahead of his Prevention of Future Deaths report due in November, follows evidence at the Westminster Bridge inquest which revealed Masood’s access to children.
Two years after being flagged as a subject of interest (SOI) by MI5, Masood was able to teach English to Somalian and Pakistani immigrant children at his local Birmingham mosque after moving to the area in June 2012, the inquest heard
He first came to the attention of MI5 in 2004, when his number was found in the phone of Waheed Mahmood, one of a group of terrorists who plotted to plant fertiliser bombs.
In 2010, he was made an SOI after he was found to be an associate of extremists trying to get to an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. However, his case was closed at the end of the year.
The families who lost their loved ones last March have now proposed that “measures should be introduced to regulate the teaching of children by persons with convictions for violence and extremist ideologies.”
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Frade said: “We absolutely need tougher regulations. We know Masood
was radicalised and went onto rub shoulders with extremist individuals – but could somehow still teach children.
“It’s just horrifying to know that the seeds of extremist ideologies are potentially being planted at such a young age and then these children grow into what they believe to be Islam with a very radicalised outlook.”
The Church of England requires an enhanced criminal record check on anyone who wants to “teach, train, instruct, care for, or supervise children”.
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a national body overlooking 500 UK mosques, said that they are a “very different organisation” from the Church.
The MCB added: “British mosques are voluntarily run, often on shoestring budgets. As a national body we run workshops on safeguarding and encouraging good practice.
“The MCB and its affiliates are firmly opposed to terrorism and take the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people as priority.”
A Home Office spokesman said it is the duty of local authorities to adhere to the Government’s Prevent programme to stop such interactions taking place, adding: “This requires them to consider the risk of radicalisation and put in place necessary measures.”