Tower Hamlets has been singled out as a borough where “partisan community politics” provide fertile ground for the recruitment of Islamic extremism, according to a leaked report.
The Sunday Telegraph claims to have seen a leak of a draft Home Office document outlining a range of measures to close down opportunities radicalisation.
These include banning radical Islamists from working with unsupervised children and being “more assertive” with those who challenge “British values”.
The document was seen by journalist Andrew Gilligan, who recently appeared in the High Court giving evidence of alleged voter fraud in the borough in the case against Mayor Lutfur Rahman brought by four election petitioners.
The newspaper says the report names Tower Hamlets as a place where “widespread allegations of extremism, homophobia and anti-Semitism have been allowed to fester without proper challenge”.
The council’s “abuse of taxpayers’ money” and “culture of cronyism” have been reflected in “partisan community politics that was to the detriment of integration and community cohesion”.
The charges of cronyism and abuse of money were reflected in the BBC Panorama programme which led to Communities Secretary imposing three commissioners on the Town Hall to monitor council procedure.
Tower Hamlets said last week it was issuing a “guidance brochure” advising parents on how to keep their children safe from the risks of radicalisation. Advice includes keeping up to date with their online activities and locking away their passports.
'They kept us in the dark'
The move follows the decision by three east London schoolgirls to go to Syria, apparently to join the terrorist group Islamic State.
Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, all pupils at the highly-regarded Bethnal Green Academy left their homes last month sparking an international police operation.
It emerged this weekend that the parents were not only unaware of their daughters’ vulnerability to radicalisation but also unaware that the police had made contact with three after a friend went missing in December.
The girls were among seven spoken to by police as potential witnesses. They were given letters asking for permission for counter-terrorism detectives to quiz them on the girl’s lifestyle and beliefs. But Kadiza, Amira and Shamima never gave the letters to their parents.
Meanwhile, the deputy head of the school had contacted the families with news of the friend’s disappearance but failed to mention the girl was believed to be in Syria.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said on Saturday: “With the benefit of hindsight, we acknowledge that the letters could have been delivered direct to the parents.
“All the teenagers were all being co-operative, they were all being treated as potential witnesses and there was nothing whatsoever to indicate that they themselves were planning to travel to Syria.”
The families said that any form of warning would have given them the chance to intervene.
Kadiza’s cousin, Fahmida Aziz, said: “It’s absolutely crazy for an authority like a school or the police not to inform the parents. They kept us in the dark.”
Halima Khanon, Kadiza’s sister, added: “If we had known what was going on, we would have definitely looked into this.”