Batley duo arrested in anti-terror raids

Batley duo arrested in anti-terror raids

LOCAL authorities like Kirklees should be given control of anti-radicialisation strategies, according to a councillor.

Coun Shabir Pandor (Lab, Batley West) spoke out after a local man and woman were arrested on terror charges on Wednesday morning.

Later that night the man, 44, and the woman, 56, were released on bail pending further enquiries.

Coun Pandor wants councils to be handed full responsibility for running the Government’s Prevent strategy.

He flagged the age of the suspects and said: “At the moment the framework is very rigid and focused more on schools.

“The Government needs to look at the whole Prevent agenda again with a view to giving councils more control.

“The tactics of what you do in an area should be left to councils who know their communities and what needs to be done.”

Earlier this year Kirklees Council was given extra cash to pay for a Prevent strategy co-ordinator. Prevent is aimed at both stopping terrorist activity and countering the ways in which people can be radicalised.

Police raided an address on Burnsall Road, Batley, at dawn on Wednesday.

Two suspects were detained under Section 15 of the Terrorism Act, which relates to terrorist fundraising. At least one address in Dewsbury was also raided. Police said the arrests are linked to the conflict in Syria.

Neighbour Jane Smith was woken up at 6am by a loud bang coming from the back of her property and saw “about 30” police officers entering the back of her neighbours’ house.

Ms Smith, 46, said: “I’ve only been living here a month but I knew them quite well – as well as you can know someone in that time.

“The woman told me she was from Ireland and her name was Mary but she’d converted to Islam when she married her husband.

“She told me her converted name was Miriam and she said she’d met her husband in Turkey.”

Coun Pandor said: “Our community is reeling. People will be shocked and devastated. And I’m horrified that this could happen on our doorstep.

“But we must remember the positive things in our community and that it is a good place to live.

“What I would advise everybody in North Kirklees to do is not over-react – stay balanced and keep talking to one another.”

The arrests are the latest in a string of terror connections for the Heavy Woollen area this year.

Last week Batley Carr jihadi plotter Haroon Aswat was jailed for 20 years in the USA.

In June Talha Asmal, 17, of Savile Town, became a suicide bomber in Iraq for the terrorist group Islamic State. His friend Hassan Munshi is still missing.

MP Jo Cox (Lab, Batley and Spen) said she had been briefed by police about the arrests.

She added: “Batley is a great and proud town with wonderful people and a strong sense of community.

“There is no suggestion that anyone here was at risk in connection with this incident.”

Two men from Sheffield, aged 40 and 36, were arrested as part of the same police operation.

They are suspected of an offence under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act, which is preparing to commit an act of terrorism.

By Wednesday night the 36-year-old had been released on bail. The other man remained in custody.

Five properties were searched, with at least one in Batley plus others in Dewsbury and Sheffield.

All four suspects were quizzed at a police station in West Yorkshire in a probe led by the North East Counter Terrorism Unit (NECTU).

Coun Pandor condemned terrorism and said: “Blowing yourself up serves no purpose at all. And I don’t know of any religion that would condone that.”

Det Chief Supt Clive Wain, head of the NECTU, called on the public to stay calm.

He said: “We understand people may be concerned following the arrests. But there is no evidence to suggest communities are at risk.

“We would like to reassure communities that the activity is as a result of an on-going investigation which is intelligence led.

“If you have any concerns as a result of the activity then please contact local police on 101.”

Anyone with concerns about suspicious activity or someone’s behaviour can call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.

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