Muslim Contact Unit

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Part of a series on
Domestic Extremism
Muslim Contact Unit
Alias:
MCU
Parent Units:
Sub-Units:
none
Targets:
Dates:
2002 to 2016

A Metropolitan Police anti-terrorism unit set up in 2002 in the UK after the September 11 attacks to 'thwart extremist attempts to recruit young British Muslims to violent jihad, by working with Islamic communities.' The unit worked closely with the Muslim Safety Forum in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings of July 2005.[1] Similar units were subsequently established by other police forces. [2] In October 2008, the MCU it became part of Counter Terrorism Command and it was “merged into the community engagement team” in 2016.[3]

A pilot to work closely with Muslim communities to push out jihadi recruiters and prevent them from taking over the Finsbury Park and the Brixton Mosques, the Unit has been criticised for its choice of partners to reach this goal.

Furthermore, the MCU was set up by Bob Lambert, the former undercover officer and head of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). At least two other members of the Unit were former SDS as well. After the undercover scandal broke and Bob Lambert was exposed, the MCU's focus on building trust has been questioned - as to how much of it was in fact a sophisticated intelligence operation.

Most of what is known about the MCU is taken from the writings of its founder Bob Lambert, most notably his book Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership (2011).[4] As a result this profile may be one-sided at points. If you have additional material please get in touch (PGP key available if you wish).

Related pages:


Establishment of the Muslim Contact Unit

Detective Inspector Robert Lambert of the Metropolitan Police Muslim Contact Unit addressing conference organised by Danish intelligence agency PET in 2007.

In the immediate aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, Lambert began discussing what could be done to prevent similar attacks in the UK with “a close friend and colleague in MPSB.” Together they “conceived and implemented the Muslim Contact Unit,” which was formally established in January 2002 as a small team within the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.[5] Its prime mission was “establishing partnerships with Muslim community leaders both equipped and located to help tackle the spread of al-Qaida propaganda in London.”[5][6][7][8][9]

The MCU was modelled after the work of Special Branch E Squad, where Lambert had served from 1989 until 1993, in between his various deployments with the Special Demonstration Squad.[10] Lambert claims that in the 1980s E Squad had countered the threat of Sikh terrorism spreading to the UK through his engagement with the Sikh Community in Southall.[11][12] Lambert also made his first known connections with the Muslim community during this period, when he worked on the Salman Rushdie affair and liaised with “prominent figures” at the London Central Mosque in Regent's Park.[13][12]

The MCU headquarters was first set up in “an abandoned office on the second floor in a former police station in King's Cross Road” to the North of Central London, though it would change address several times.[14][15]

When working with Muslim communities, Lambert has always been open about his career of 27 years with Special Branch and the Counter Terrorism Command. What Lambert consistently failed to mention, was the fact that at least ten of those years had been with the SDS,[16] infiltrating activist groups and gathering intelligence about their political work. In hindsight, the fact that the MCU was set up by former undercover officers - Jim Boyling another former SDS officer was an early member - raises questions about the nature of the community engagement the Unit was involved in.

Merger and end of MCU

When Special Branch (SO12) was merged with Anti-Terrorism Branch (SO13) in October 2008 to form Counter Terrorism Command (SO15 / CTC), the MCU transferred to the control of CTC.[17] In this process, Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick (on behalf of new Met Commissioner Paul Stephenson) was tasked to bring together the Territorial Policing and Counter Terrorism Command activities undertaken by the Muslim Contact Unit, the Communities Together Strategic Engagement Team (CTSET) and Prevent officers.[18]

The Labour adminstration of 2005-2010 set up Prevent and Contest to deal with radicalisation, and the policies were revised during the 2010-2015 Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, which meant that the space the MCU had had for its largely autonomous work was significantly curtailed. The Office for Security and Counter Terrorism's co-ordination efforts grew stronger under the Conservative-led coalition government. The ‘Prevent’ counter-terrorism work stream was relaunched, and came with severe funding cuts to groups with which the MCU had worked closely which undercut the initiatives of the MCU. Furthermore, hostile media coverage reflected negatively on the Unit.[19][20]

The MCU then disappeared from public view and its fate is unclear. News stories from September 2016 regarding the resignation of officer Javaria Saeed the Muslim Contact Unit (see below) indicate that it has been wound down sometime between 2013 and 2015, and merged into the Community Engagement Team operating under Commander Mak Chishty in the Territorial Policing directorate.[3] On the other hand, when officer Abid Raja went to Australia in Februari 2016 to speak about the work of the unit, his conference biography had him down as 'police officer, Muslim Contact Unit.[21]

MCU Methodology

The Unit's initial modus operandi was a hybrid of traditional community engagement and intelligence-gathering models. Lambert observed this was “seemingly a long way from conventional counter-terrorism yet wholly familiar to experienced MPSB officers who had taken part in similar ventures in Brixton and Tottenham in the wake of the Brixton riots in 1981 and the Broadwater Farm riot in 1985.”[22] Its avowed strategy was to “set about identifying the Muslims they believed were best equipped to take on the so-called “hate preachers”.[23] Focus seemed to be on preachers such as Abdulla el-Faisal in Brixton and Abu Hamza al Masri at the Finsbury Park mosque.[24]

Prevailing counter-terrorism policing opinion advocated engaging with Muslim community leaders of the ‘ideal yes-saying’ kind, [25] and cautioned against ‘accommodating traditionalists and lumped salafis and Islamists togetehr as radical fundamentalists'.[26] Lambert took the opposing approach of seeking to work with those Muslims characterised as Islamist or Salafi.

In practice, Lambert's unit worked closely with two separate clusters of groups and individuals. In South London, they established a partnership with the Salafi Brixton Mosque through Abdul Haqq Baker and others, and in North London with various Muslim Brotherhood-linked organisations, principally through Anas Altikriti. By July 2005 it was being publicly mooted that this approach could be rolled out nationally, with “special squads, to be known as Muslim Contact Units and staffed by Special Branch officers, [to] be established in areas including Yorkshire, north-west England and parts of the Midlands.”[27] There is no evidence though that this happened.

MCU activities

Whilst the precise nature of MCU's mission is, by virtue of it being a Special Branch unit, somewhat opaque, it is possible to identify a number of areas in which it has been active since its inception in 2002.

Visiting mosques

Lambert notes in his book that in the very first days of the Muslim Contact Unit he set the “ambitious target of visiting every mosque, Islamic institution and Muslim organisation in London.”[28] At a round table discussion conference in 2011, he claimed to have visited more than three hundred mosques and Islamic associations across Britain.[29][30]

Isolating key figures

A core aim of the MCU was the identification and neutralisation of certain clerics or activists perceived as working in the interests of Al Qaida. In the early days of the Unit, this meant targeting Abdullah el Faisal, Abu Hamza al Masri, and Abu Qatada al Filistini.[31] The latter was active in North London, and detained in October 2002, under emergency terrorism laws that allowed indefinite detention without trial for years.[32]

On a practical level, the MCU worked with ‘street-credible’ local partners - notably the ‘Brixton Salafis’ around Abdul Haqq Baker, and the ‘North London Islamists’ around Anas Altikriti. In South London the Brixton group was seen as being successful in neutralising the appeal of el Faisal to (in particular) Black British converts, whilst in Finsbury Park the Altikriti group was able, in a highly coordinated operation watched over by Lambert's MCU, to physically take control of the mosque from Abu Hamza's acolytes in February 2005.[33][34][35] [36][37]

Efforts to immobilise Abu Qatada were less effective, with Lambert privately admitting that the MCU had been unable to drive a wedge between the Jordanian-born Salafi cleric,[38] and certain of his British supporters, such as CAGE.[39] Efforts to engage with CAGE (which began as a pressure group working for Guantanamo Bay detainees) in 2007 never led to a substantial cooperation.[40][41]

Building partnerships

Lambert details how he built up partnership with Muslim organisations through Abdul Haqq Baker and Anas Altikriti. Through Altikriti, he worked with the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned network within the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and the Muslim Welfare House.[4] And though Altikriti's influence in the MAB waned subsequently, the ‘North London Islamists’ would continue to manage Finsbury Park Mosque.

In South London, Lambert's engagement with the ‘Brixton Salafis’ began slowly (Lambert notes it took “almost a year...before police officers in the unit could embark in earnest on a trust-building project with the Brixton Salafi leadership”),[42] but grew even stronger, with Lambert even becoming a director of their youth outreach project STREET. When government funding to STREET dried up and it folded, Baker, would join academic centres where Lambert then held positions: first to the University of Exeter's European Muslim Research Centre from 2009 until 2010,[43] and then to St. Andrews at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence.[44])

Liaising between police and community

In addition to working bilaterally with partners in the community (as noted above), the MCU also worked as a liaison between the wider police service and interest groups within the Muslim community, notably through the Muslim Safety Forum.[45] The MSF was set up in late 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by the Met’s Diversity Directorate (formerly John Grieve’s Racial and Violent Crime Task Force) “to provide a platform for Muslim community representatives to voice their attitudes and concerns about crime, security, Islamophobia and violent extremism.”[46][47] It was to become “home to regular meetings between senior police officers and representatives of Islamic institutions and Muslim community organizations.”[48] Initially organised to facilitate dialogue between the Metropolitan Police and representatives of Muslim interest groups on an ad hoc basis, in time it became more autonomous, with constituent groups taking on more responsibility, rather than it being simply an adjunct of the Metropolitan Police. Lambert notes that two early prime movers were Zaki Badawi (a senior imam at London Central Mosque) and Sayed Yousif Al-Khoei.[49] Both had previously worked with the Metropolitan Police. While at E Squad, Lambert had worked with Badawi as early as 1989 during the Salman Rushdie affair.[13]

The then Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations David Veness (a strong supporter of the MSF and MCU) encouraged Lambert to use the Forum as much as possible. Following Veness' departure in 2005, Scotland Yard switched to sending community relations officers to the Forum rather than those from counter-terrorism.[50][51][52]

Outside of the Forum, MCU officers were also active in representing the Met at as events aimed at the Muslim community, both during Lambert's time and after it.

One less well known example of the MCU's approach to liaising between the police and the Muslim community can be seen in its support of the Met's Cultural and Communities Resource Unit (CCRU), which matched volunteer officers with culturally-specific knowledge to relevant operations or investigations. For instance, the MCU was able to assist the CCRU on the ground with an Arabic-speaking officer to help build rapport with the Algerian community in the Finsbury Park area.[53]

The MCU was similarly used as an ‘expert resource’ by local police commanders across London, though in the following example this was not successful.

Evidence gathered for the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest in 2007 indicated that concerns about the radicalisation of Hussein Osman - one of the failed 21/7 London bombers - had been brought to the attention of local police as early as 2003 and forwarded to the MCU at least a year before the attempted bombings of 2005.[54] Reports from the leadership of Stockwell Green Mosque had suggested that the increasingly radicalised Hussein and others were attempting to take control of the mosque similar to what had happened at Finsbury Park. These concerns were then passed by Lambeth’s borough commander, Chief Superintendent Richard Quinn,[55][56][57][58] to the MCU.[59][60] Though Special Branch could covertly surveille a group of more than twenty men (including Osman and four of his co-conspirators) taking part in a 'jihadist training camp’ in Cumbria in May 2004,[61][62] this did not lead to the uncovering of the 21/7 bomb plot.

Promoting the MCU model: Marrying community engagement to counter terrorism

A significant plank of the MCU model was the creation of a hybrid community engagement/counter terrorist intelligence gathering model. This was promoted by Lambert and later by Abid Raja. Trips about their work included a 2005 seminar in Oslo organised by Norway's Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), the Norwegian Police Academy and the Defence Research Establishment (FFI);[63] participation in the 2007 PET conference on radicalisation in Denmark,[64][65][66][67][68] and later that same year at the Australian National University in Canberra,[69][70][71] consultations in Stockholm in 2007,[72] and a 2016 conference in Australia.[21]

Lambert's own academic work, begun in 2005 whilst still running the Unit,[73] is a clear testament of his commitment to finessing the model.[74][75] Following his departure from the Metropolitan Police in December 2007, Lambert worked hard to evaluate the work of the Muslim Contact Unit; his experience of setting up and running the MCU forms the spine of the European Muslim Research Centre's London Case Study and UK Case Studies reports,[76][77][78] as well as his book,[4] and numerous journal articles.[79]

Others writing about the MCU in any detail (i.e. those who were granted access to the Unit) seem in the main to come from a relatively small pool of academics and practitioners with whom Lambert has worked closely, such as Basia Spalek (for whose 2008 research project Lambert acted as a consultant and research partner) and Abdul Haqq Baker (who was by then studying under Lambert at Exeter).[80]

The MCU post-Lambert

Since Lambert's departure in late 2007, it appears that the work of the MCU changed direction somewhat. In those years, references to the Unit place it more in the traditional community engagement role than the hybrid version of Lambert’s tenure. It seems likely that this is related to the revisions to the CONTEST strategy and Prevent work stream brought in by the government in mid-2011.[81] As Lambert himself has stated, the methodology of the Muslim Contact Unit “largely predate[d] the CONTEST strategy but anticipate[d] the concept, if not the method, of the prevent [sic] strand.”[82]

By 2012 the ‘convergence’ into Prevent appears to have been largely completed. A Prevent delivery plan for Wandsworth Council in South London (designated by the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism as a “priority Prevent borough”) defines a ‘partnership group’ of eleven standing members from various stakeholders, including four from the police - of which the MCU representative is but one, and seemingly the most junior. The plan also clearly subordinates any MCU activity to the Prevent programme.[83]

Commendation and Criticism

As part of Special Branch, the Unit's work was at first discreet, until it needed to develop a ‘street’ profile. Although Lambert had those who backed his approach within the police and amongst politicians, in his book he complains about lack of acknowledgement of the ideas of the MCU and that they were not taken seriously as a whole – particularly that they were never fully taken up by the Prevent policy.

Praise

In 2004, the work of the MCU was reviewed as promising in submission on counter radicalisation to a Home Affairs Select Committee. The Home Office paid tribute to its endeavours “[in] supporting the valuable work that these mosque leaders are already undertaking, and by providing a confidential avenue for the disclosure of information about individuals of concern, the Unit has been influential in protecting young Muslims from recruitment attempts.”[84][85] A memo submitted by the Association of Chief Police Officers (dated 16 September 2004) similarly commended the MCU as “a model of best practice in dealing with sensitive issues that concern Muslim communities”.[86] [87] A more guarded view of the Unit was offered by Khalid Sofi, representing the Muslim Council of Britain, in oral evidence to the committee in the same session:

It is a good initiative and it is welcome but we still need to assess its progress. There are issues about accountability, who will represent the community, and what background they have. So we need to really assess it further before we commit and say that it is the best model, but it is a good beginning.[88]

In 2005 a national newspaper article which appeared shortly after the 7/7 bombings in London,[89] suggested that police still intended to roll out the concept behind the Unit to other forces across the country;[27][85] Also in 2005 Lambert was praised by Chief Superintendent Martin Bridger, who had replaced Quinn as the Lambeth borough commander.[90][91][92] Bridger had put considerable work into developing community partners as providers of the ‘interventions’ that lie at the heart of the governments deradicalisation project Channel, and stated that:

Several of the projects were developed from the charismatic personalities at Brixton mosque, and were the flagship enterprises of a ‘Lambertist’ approach, developed under the aegis of Lambert’s new Muslim Contact Unit in Special Branch.[93]

Towards the end of 2006, think tank Demos released a report which praised the MCU for having “played a vital role in negotiating the relationship with Finsbury Park Mosque,” as well as “the trust that it has been able to build [which has been] attributed to the skills and qualities of the individuals working for the unit.” The report's authors even “recommend that the model of the Muslim Contact Unit should be replicated by other police forces that have significant Muslim populations”.[53] When on 18 October 2011 Alyas Karmani represented STREET at hearings before the Home Affairs Select Committee on the subject of radicalisation, he spoke warmly of his “very good relationship with the Muslim Contact Unit,” how that “was really important for us, I think, after 9/11,” and how the MCU provided an “intermediate structure...a safe space” where the views of “young people [who] have no confidence in police” could be heard. He pointedly noted how “we are seen as equal partners in that process and we are assertive in terms of challenging their ideas, their analysis, and they respect and value our point of view.” The partnerships formed by the MCU have persisted even a decade or more later. In 2012 Alyas Karmani from STREET commended the MCU for its work:

We had a very good relationship with the Muslim Contact Unit and that was really important for us, I think, after 9/11: that we had that relationship, that we had a line of communication, because on a lot of the at risk issues that we work with, our young people have no confidence in police and a range of statutory agencies, so there is a need for an intermediate structure. There is a need for an agency that you can go to where you can have a very safe space for discussion without being labelled, without being identified as involved in criminality, and for us the Muslim Contact Unit provided that framework. Certainly for me, I was very concerned after 9/11, who do I talk to about these issues, and the Muslim Contact Unit provided that kind of framework.”[94]

What Karmani did not mention either time was how that relationship had been initiated by Bob Lambert, who by then had been exposed as a former undercover officer, or that Lambert had been a director of STREET until November 2009 - five months before Karmani joined.[94]

In a 2014 radio programme, Anas Altikriti reflected positively on the partnership with the MCU, with Bob Lambert responding in kind:

When we went to [the Altikriti network] with the problems that Abu Hamza and his hardcore supporters were causing in that neighbourhood they were immediately receptive...I pay a glowing tribute to [these] groups which are clearly very closely associated to the [Muslim] Brotherhood.[95]

Indeed in the target constituencies of the MCU, the presence of Muslim officers within the Unit has been regarded positively, as one Brixton community interviewee, ‘CA’, noted to Lambert in research for his book in December 2006:

To find an experienced detective who was Muslim who understood street crime and extremism and most of all understood what we had been up against in the 1990s was tremendous...and it really helped cement a partnership approach with the MCU.[96]

Early criticism - choice of partners

The criticism on the Muslim Contact Unit started as a generalised scepticism about its operational effectiveness, and whether it was capable of delivering tangible results. Given that its role was neither to build criminal cases, nor to register informants, the nebulousness of its mission contributed to this type of questioning.[88]

More significantly, the Unit - and Lambert in particular - was accused of being naïve when dealing with Islamists and Salafis. Compounding this, Lambert attracted disapproval for supporting the proposed visit to the UK of a controversioal Qatori Islamist, Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi.[97] This was exposed in a leak of documents by the civil servant Derek Pasquill,[98] one of which contained a snippet of an MCU assessment of al Qaradawi which stated:

Sheikh Qaradawi has a positive Muslim community impact in the fight against Al Qaida propaganda in the UK. His support for Palestinian suicide bombers adds credibility to his condemnation of Al Qaida in those sections of the community most susceptible to the blandishments of Al Qaida terrorist propaganda.[99]

When in February 2008 Prime Minister Gordon Brown decided to block the Sheikh from entering Britain, Lambert - then retired - wrote to The Guardian to voice his concerns about this step.[100] This in turn led to more criticism of Lambert and the MCU.[101][102][103]

Atma Singh

The London Mayor's former Asian issues adviser Atma Singh has been at the centre of controversy over the Muslim Contact Unit. The Mayor's press office accused Singh of failing to cooperate with a request for assistance made by the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist unit in February 2005. [104]

According to journalist Martin Bright:[105]

Singh was being asked to cooperate with a member of the Metropolitan Police Muslim Contact Unit, who believed, like City Hall, that it was a good idea to form alliances with ideologues like al-Qaradawi, who believe terrorism in the name of Islam is a valid form a political dissent.
Singh was the Mayor's adviser on Asian affairs and, as such, he advised against having anything to do with such a figure. The Mayor, in his ignorance, chose to disregard him. Thus a man devoted to the cause of anti-discrimination was dispensed with in the interests of appeasing of the Islamic radical Right.

Singh was a key source for 'Court of Ken', Bright's January 2008 Dispatches documentary, which strongly criticised Ken Livingstone's record as London Mayor. [106]

Neocon attacks

The Muslim Contact Unit has been heavily criticised by neoconservatives because of its approach to engaging with Islamic communities.

Given such a challenge to official orthodoxy there has been opposition to the Muslim Contact Unit's approach in both the police and government - and reportedly pressure for it to be wound down or disbanded. Its work has been singled out for attack by Dean Godson, research director of Policy Exchange, the Tory-linked thinktank whose recent research on extremist literature in British mosques was found to have been based on faked material. The unit has, Godson argued, been suffering from "ideological Stockholm syndrome". [107]

Godson has identified the unit as part of "Whitehall’s laissez-faire attitude, which rightly earned the capital the sobriquet of 'Londonistan'":[108]

Members of the Met’s Muslim Contact Unit, one of the weirder parts of the force, extol the work of the Muslim Association of Britain and George Galloway in the East End.

The Harry's Place blog criticised the unit's approach:[109]

A policy premised upon handing over a section of the population to the pro-jihad theocratic far right will always fail, and should never have been countenanced in the first place.

So too did David Conway of the Centre for Social Cohesion:

Well, we all know that the endeavours of this unit to prevent young British Muslim from being recruited to Al Qaeda was far from being 100% successful. The unit relied on consulting with London mosque leaders. Not a few of these are the Muslim Brotherhood members and sympathisers who lead the organisations involved in last Saturday's vigil outside No 10. This is what makes me very worried that, until as recently as last week, the former head of this unit should have still been wishing to claim London’s safety resided with them. [110]

Criticism after the exposure of Lambert

From his earliest public response to his exposure as a former Special Demonstration Squad infiltrator, Lambert attempted to separate his past work as an undercover officer among animal rights activists from his more recent mission engaging with Salafi and Islamist ‘non-violent extremists’. Soon after the story broke, he wrote for The Guardian:

It is an unintended consequence of the Guardian's reporting that critics who object to the fact that I granted legitimacy and status to many politically active Muslim Londoners by working with them as partners should now claim I was spying on them – or, worse, that they were paid informants of mine. Let me be clear. I dispute the Policy Exchange argument that my Muslim partners were extreme or subversive, and fit only for the role of paid informants or to be secretly infiltrated. I did not recruit one Muslim Londoner as an informant nor did I spy on them. They were partners of police and many acted bravely in support of public safety.[111][112]

In the few public statements made immediately after this,[113][114][115] Lambert did not address to the obvious question about his work as an undercover intelligence gatherer in the 1980s and his promotion to runnin the unit in the 1990s, and whether he employed these skill sets whilst leading the MCU's efforts to engage with Salafis and Islamists in the 2000s. In a 2014 article for Critical Studies on Terrorism, Lambert claimed that the

allegations and insinuations that I continued to deploy deception when subsequently working overtly in partnership with Muslim groups are particularly hurtful, ill-considered and unsubstantiated.[116] In April, Lambert then appeared on a radio programme investigating the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain. He was questioned about the MCU's partnership with the Muslim Association of Britain and the Muslim Welfare House in their attempts to wrest Finsbury Park Mosque away from Abu Hamza. Reporter Peter Marshall questioned him whether the MCU had been deceived by the Brotherhood-aligned groups involved, or vice versa:
Marshall: Do you not think that people like the Muslim Brotherhood who worked with you will be looking again at communication they had with you and be thinking ‘well, was this what it seemed at the time?’
Lambert: No, I don’t think so, I think there was no sense of either they being hoodwinked by me, or me being hoodwinked by them.
Marshall: You weren’t undercover with them, of course?
Lambert: No, indeed.
Marshall: And they weren’t undercover with you, you believe?
Lambert: I believe.[95]

Staffing

From the outset, resources for the MCU were limited. Lambert has repeatedly stated that there were two founders of MCU, both from Special Branch.[117] (“Just two MPSB officers started work as the MCU in January 2002”).[28][118][119][120] In the words of an MCU officer, quoted by Bob Lambert in his book:

For the first two years we never operated with more than four officers and sometimes with only one. After the summer of 2004 we sometimes had as many as eight officers on the unit. But we often failed to recruit officers who wanted to join us who we thought would be good. Staffing the unit has never been seen as a priority by senior management. Other areas of counter-terrorism work warranted one officer on each of London's thirty two boroughs but we had to concentrate our efforts where we thought they would be most effective.[121]

This assessment is backed up by the Police Foundation's 2009 report, which describes the MCU as “only a very small London-based team of ostensibly eight officers covering the whole country”.[122] Academic Lorenzo Vidino, who interviewed Lambert several times, noted slightly more optimistically that the Muslim Contact Unit “comprised of a dozen highly trained Muslim and non-Muslim police officers whose task is to interact with London’s Muslim community.”[123]

In a 2009 book chapter, Lambert has described his MCU officers accordingly:

The MCU is comprised of experienced and specialist but middle and low ranking Muslim and non-Muslim police officers operating in largely uncharted border territory between well-marked paradigms of counter-terrorism and community policing. Indeed, it was precisely because they identified a deficiency in both traditional models that two police officers well versed in counter-terrorism policing took the unusual step of conceptualising, promoting and implementing the MCU - a brand new resource - in the aftermath of 9/11. Three Muslim MCU officers with unparalleled experience of the London Muslim street have also played a key role in bridging the gulf between counter-terrorism policing and Muslim communities. Moreover, occasions when Muslim MCU police officers have faced the double jeopardy of suspicion from within their parent organisation and criticism from within their home communities highlight the extent to which mediation between counter-terrorism policing and distrustful sections of the community has been exacerbated during the period under review (2002-2007).[124]

Echoing this last point, critics - notably Melanie Phillips - have sometimes made much of the presence of a Salafi officer within the MCU's own ranks.[125][67][68]

MCU officers

As a Special Branch unit, little is known about officers who have served in it. However, it is possible to construct a broad outline of its staff from the minimal information that is in the public domain. As noted above, the Unit comprised between one and eight officers at any one time, certainly up to Lambert's departure in December 2007. Of those officers, Lambert was a constant - and as Detective Inspector, its most senior - until his retirement. There were at least three Muslim officers during his time, of which at least one was from a Salafi (as opposed to Sufi) background.

Reflecting on his time at MCU, Lambert has claimed that - at least for him - the unit “was a graveyard in career terms,” and that he realised he would never rise above Detective Inspector.[126]

Jim Boyling

Early Muslim Contact Unit member Jim Boyling - a friend and confidant of Bob Lambert, going back to their days in the Special Demonstration Squad.

Andrew James Boyling was an early member of the MCU. Before that, from 1995 until 2000, he was an undercover officers with using the Special Demonstration Squad. Using the alias of ‘Jim Sutton’ he first infiltrated a hunt saboteur group and then Reclaim The Streets in London.

Boyling is believed to have been recruited into the Muslim Contact Unit very early on and may have been the Special Branch colleague with whom Lambert finessed the idea of the unit in the days following 9/11 until the formal establishment of MCU in January 2002.[127][113][128][129] [130]

Mohammed Afiz Khan

Detective Inspector Mohammed Afiz Khan of the Metropolitan Police Muslim Contact Unit on his way to court in August 2013.

Mohammed Afiz Khan, known as Alfie, identifies as Muslim and joined the Metropolitan Police around 1989. By October 2012 he was a Detective Inspector in Counter Terrorism Command,[131] where he headed up the Muslim Contact Unit.[132][133]

In July 2013 he faced two counts of misconduct in public office and four data protection charges,[134][135] and was suspended of duty.[136] The charges were of improperly obtaining CCTV footage, and the disclosure of restricted information, namely details of the impending arrest of 'Islamist activist' Anjem Choudary. In December 2013 he pleaded guilty to both misconduct charges,[132] and in July 2014 he was given a suspended six month custodial sentence.[137] He had been sacked by the Met a month previously on 13 June.[138][136][133][139][140]

Abid Raja

Muslim Contact Unit officer Abid Raja (left) talking to Bosnian-born Norwegian imam Senaid Kobilica at a seminar in Oslo, March 2005. Picture by Janne Møller-Hansen, originally published in Verdens Gang newspaper.

Abid Raja joined the Muslim Contact Unit in 2004 as a detective constable. Prior to his Met service The reason given for his being picked for the Unit is his “unique life experience” as “a devout practicing Muslim within the Sunni/Sufi Islamic practice, [with] family originating from Pakistan [and] living in London for over thirty-five years”. He also had a background in business.[141] Before joining the MCU, Raja had worked largely as a community officer in Notting Hill where, having “quickly established a well-acclaimed rapport with the local Arab and other minority communities”,[141] he set up “the first Islamic Cultural awareness training in this area”.[142]

He was the Religious Affairs spokesperson for the Association of Muslim Police (AMP) and a Fellow of the Research Institute for Human Security and Cooperation.[141][143]

While with the MCU,[144] Raja provided consultation on the subject of engaging with Muslim communities from a counter-terrorism perspective to “delegations from around the world, which have included analysts, academics, police and security personnel, as well as senior political figures such as ambassadors and government ministers”, lecturing “to a wide range of groups, from operational officers within the CT world in county Police forces to regular courses run by the agencies and the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT)” and addressing “various academic venues, including the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University, on the causes of extremism within Communities.”[142]

He has been interviewed for numerous academic research projects,[145][72] and travelled to conferences in Norway, Sweden and Australia as part of his work.[63][72][21] In 2007 Raja, alongside Lambert,[146] was one of a small number of ‘key stakeholders’ who were “consulted for strategic insights into the national landscape” for a European Commission-initiated study into the roots of violent radicalisation.[147][148]

Javaria Saeed

Muslim Contact Unit officer Sergeant Javaria Saeed addressing the March 2015 Muslim Youth Festival she helped organise.

A British Muslim woman, Saeed joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 2005, and was at some point recruited into the Muslim Contact Unit, where she remained until at least 2013. In that year, she initiated complaints against two fellow Muslim officers in the unit, which were handled by Detective Superintendent Jonathan Wilson, then “responsible for the MCU”[149][3][150]

In 2015, by then a sergeant, Saeed was part of the Community Engagement Team, run by the MPS's most senior Muslim officer Commander Mak Chishty, who had been “appointed by Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to lead the integration of community relations within policing operations, including counter-terrorism and public order”.[151][152][153] Saeed first organised a counter-radicalisation ‘Muslim Youth Festival’ in March 2015,[154][155][156] and then the ‘Muslim Youth Partnership Department’ outreach project in August 2015.[157][158]

In March 2016 Saeed resigned from the Metropolitan Police,[159] “after becoming disheartened by ‘political correctness’" and attacked the Met for failing to tackle extremist views among some of its Muslim officers for fear of being labelled “Islamophobic.”[3][160]

She said she had been subject to extremist abuse whilst serving as a police sergeant, and was told by some fellow Muslims that she was a “bad Muslim” for not wearing a hijab and was told she was “better off at home looking after [her] husband”.[3]

Other possible MCU officers

Lambert in his research work, mentions a few other officers involved in the MCU, several of whom were designated by a system of initials:

  • ‘PD’ - served in the Met from 1982 until 2007, Special Branch from 1986 until retirement, and in the MCU since 2003.[161]
  • ‘PE’ - a Muslim officer who joined the Met in 1991, and served until 2007, having joined the MCU in 2003. This officer appears not to have been in Special Branch.[162] though joined the MCU in 2003.[163]
  • ‘PG’ - a Metropoliton police officer who served 1985-2007, all bar the first four years being in Special Branch; joined the MCU in 2003.[164]

Further to these three, Lambert's book also refers to a number of other police participants who may or may not have worked in MCU at some point.[165] These are: ‘PA’,[166] ‘PB’,[167] ‘PC’,[168] ‘PF’,[169] ‘PH’ (who was certainly a Special Branch officer),[170] ‘PL’,[171] ‘PO’,[172] and ‘PP’ (also a Special Branch veteran).[173] References elsewhere in Lambert's book strongly imply that at least some of these were also Muslim Contact Unit officers - for example, officers ‘PA’, ‘PB’ and ‘PC’.[22][174]

Affiliations

Patrick Sookhdeo, founder of the Christian charity the Barnabas Fund, claims to have worked with Bob Lambert from the 1990s and in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, later acting as an unpaid adviser to the unit. According to Sookhdeo's personal website:

After 9/11, Special Branch approached Dr Sookhdeo again to look at how the Islamist movements had developed since the early 1990s, their current expressions in the UK, and their objectives. This work with Robert Lambert later developed into the Muslim Contact Unit of Special Branch. It was during this period, as unpaid adviser to Special Branch, that Dr Sookhdeo wrote his book Understanding Islamic Terrorism, which was one of the first of its kind. [175]

Notes

  1. Muslim Directory: Muslim Safety Forum - Community Update 08/07/05, accessed 24 February 2008.
  2. Special Branch to track Muslims across UK, by Vikram Dodd, The Guardian, 20 July 2005.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Richard Kerbaj, ‘‘Met ignored extremism among my fellow Muslim officers’’, Sunday Times, 11 September 2011 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p35.
  6. Robert Lambert & Jonathan Githens-Mazer, Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies 2010 - An introduction to a ten year Europe-wide research project (first edition), European Muslim Research Centre/University of Exeter, November 2010 (accessed via counterextremism.org 11 June 2014), p224.
  7. ‘Dr Robert Lambert - Lecturer in Terrorism Studies’, University of St. Andrews website (accessed 15 March 2014).
  8. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police, Faber & Faber/Guardian Books, 2013, p57
  9. Lambert's account in both his book and CSTPV profile is that MCU was founded by himself and one other colleague; the Evans/Lewis book claims Lambert “and two other former SDS spies were given the resources to set up the Muslim Contact Unit.” The accounts all agree that MCU was established in the aftermath of 9/11 in January 2002. A private source has added to the author that the actual foundation of MCU came “following discussions in October-November 2001”. It has been speculated that Lambert's cohort in creating MCU was Jim Boyling (e.g. merrick, ‘bob lambert: still spying?’, Bristling Badger blog, 23 February 2012), who elsewhere has been acknowledged as involved in the unit (e.g. Paul Lewis & Rob Evans, ‘Police spy tricked lover with activist 'cover story'’, The Guardian, 23 October 2011; Paul Lewis, Rob Evans & Rowenna Davis, ‘Ex-wife of police spy tells how she fell in love and had children with him’, The Guardian, 19 January 2011; and Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, p194).
  10. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, p55.
  11. Dr Bob Lambert, ‘Partnering with the Muslim Community as an Effective Counter-Terrorist Strategy’ (transcript of talk), Chatham House, 20 September 2011 (accessed 9 February 2016).
  12. 12.0 12.1 Dr Bob Lambert & Professor Rosemary Hollis, ‘Partnering with the Muslim Community as an Effective Counter-Terrorist Strategy’ (transcript of Q&A), Chatham House, 20 September 2011 (accessed 17 April 2014). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "AMD004" defined multiple times with different content
  13. 13.0 13.1 Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p81.
  14. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p57.
  15. Dr Bob Lambert, ‘Partnering with the Muslim Community as an Effective Counter-Terrorist Strategy’ (transcript of talk), Chatham House, 20 September 2011 (accessed 9 February 2016), p4.
  16. To be clear, he served in the Special Demonstration Squad from no later than September 1983 until sometime in 1989, and then from November 1993 until late 1998. See Lambert's police career timeline for details and references.
  17. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p60.
  18. Assistant Commissioner Robert Quick, ‘Delivery of Prevent’, Metropolitan Police Authority website, 29 January 2009 (accessed 27 June 2016).
  19. Duncan Gardham, ‘Counter-terrorism projects worth £1.2m face axe as part of end to multiculturalism’, Daily Telegraph, 11 February 2011 (accessed 17 April 2015).
  20. Communities and Local Government Committee, Preventing Violent Extremism: Sixth Report of Session 2009-20, HMSO, 16 March 2010 (accessed 22 April 2015).
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 ‘Addressing the New Landscape of Terrorism’ (conference programme), Deakin University, 2016 (accessed 2 April 2016).
  22. 22.0 22.1 Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p127.
  23. Ultimately - or rather, in the wake of the UK government's Prevent work stream of the CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy gaining primacy in Whitehall - the MCU's methodology came to be distilled down to engagement with ‘non-violent extremists’. Whilst this terminology is not generally seen in Lambert's pre-retirement work, he has taken it up subsequently, in the same way he has occasionally taken to describing his work with the pejorative descriptor used by his detractors, ‘Lambertism’. For example, see: Dominic Casciani, Qaeda’], BBC News website, 9 September 2011 (accessed 3 February 2015).
  24. Paul Sims, ‘Crossing the line?’, Rationalist Association website, 4 November 2011 (accessed 15 April 2014)
  25. Who, in Lambert's words, “lack credibility in their communities and have no knowledge of radicalism.” See: Lorenzo Vidino, Countering Radicalization in America: Lessons from Europe, United States Institute of Peace, November 2010 (accessed 18 November 2014), p7.
  26. Cheryl Benard, Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies, RAND Corporation, 2003 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  27. 27.0 27.1 Vikram Dodd, ‘Special Branch to track Muslims across UK’, The Guardian, 20 July 2005 (accessed 9 March 2015).
  28. 28.0 28.1 Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p79.
  29. David Miller, ‘Public meeting: From 9/11 to the Arab Spring, The Norway killings and the English riots: What have we learned about political violence and terrorism?’, A Decade of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (blog), 28 August 2011 (accessed 8 February 2016).
  30. Mancha Productions, ‘Bob Lambert, Plenary: Muslim Partners or Muslim Extremists?’, via Vimeo, filmed 8 September 2011 (accessed 9 February 2016).
  31. Robert Lambert, ‘Community Intervention as an Engagement Strategy - al-Qaeda in London’. I. William Zartman & Guy Olivier Faure (ed.), Engaging Extremists: Trade-offs, Timing and Diplomacy, United States Institute of Peace, 2011, pp83-88.
  32. Robert Booth, Abu Qatada: spiritual leader for deadly Islamist groups?, The Guardian, 7 February 2012, (accessed November 2016)
  33. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p126.
  34. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, pp79-154.
  35. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, pp142-143.
  36. Dominic Casciani & Sharif Sakr, ‘The battle for the mosque’, BBC News website, 7 February 2006 (accessed 16 May 2016).
  37. ‘NORTH LONDON CENTRAL MOSQUE TRUST’, Charity Commission, 2016 (accessed 16 May 2016).
  38. Abu Qatada was deported from Britain in 2013. See: Various Wikipedia contributors, ‘Abu Qatada’, Wikipedia, 2016 (accessed 22 June 2016).
  39. Private information supplied to author, 2011.
  40. Centre for the Study of Radicalisation & Contemporary Political Violence, ‘The Politics Of Radicalisation: Reframing The Debate And Reclaiming The Language’ (event leaflet), University of Wales Aberystwyth, 2007 (accessed 17 March 2016).
  41. ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission 2007: A Decade of Fighting Injustice’, Innovative Minds website, November 2007 (accessed 3 February 2015).
  42. Robert Lambert, ‘Community Intervention as an Engagement Strategy - al-Qaeda in London’. I. William Zartman & Guy Olivier Faure (ed.), Engaging Extremists: Trade-offs, Timing and Diplomacy, United States Institute of Peace, 2011, pp91-92.
  43. Jonathan Githens-Mazer, Robert Lambert, Abdul-Haqq Baker, Safiyah Cohen-Baker & Zacharias Pieri, Muslim Communities: Perspectives on Radicalisation in Leicester, UK, Centre for Studies in Islamism and Radicalisation, March 2010 (accessed 5 January 2016).
  44. ‘Dr A H Baker’, Abdul Haqq Baker PhD website, 2015 (accessed 7 February 2016).
  45. Robert Lambert, ‘The Muslim Safety Forum: Senior Police and Muslim Community Engagement during the War on Terror’. P. Daniel Silke, Basia Spalek & Mary O’Rawe (ed.), Preventing Ideological Violence: Communities, Police and Case Studies of “Success”], Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p71.
  46. Policing Terrorism: A Review of the Evidence, The Police Foundation, February 2009 (accessed 7 October 2015).
  47. John Upton, ‘In the Streets of Londonistan’, London Review of Books, 22 January 2004 (accessed 14 April 2016).
  48. Robert Lambert, ‘The Muslim Safety Forum: Senior Police and Muslim Community Engagement during the War on Terror’. P. Daniel Silke, Basia Spalek & Mary O’Rawe (ed.), Preventing Ideological Violence: Communities, Police and Case Studies of “Success”, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p67.
  49. Robert Lambert, ‘The Muslim Safety Forum: Senior Police and Muslim Community Engagement during the War on Terror’. P. Daniel Silke, Basia Spalek & Mary O’Rawe (ed.), Preventing Ideological Violence: Communities, Police and Case Studies of “Success”, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p70.
  50. Robert Lambert, ‘The Muslim Safety Forum: Senior Police and Muslim Community Engagement during the War on Terror’. P. Daniel Silke, Basia Spalek & Mary O’Rawe (ed.), Preventing Ideological Violence: Communities, Police and Case Studies of “Success”, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp70-71.
  51. It is perhaps worth mentioning that Lambert writes approvingly here of how Veness “took a keen interest in the MSF, committed time and energy to it, and shared the view of his colleague John Grieve that police benefited from engaging with stern community critics rather than ‘nodding dogs’, that is to say, overly compliant community representatives.” (Robert Lambert, ‘The Muslim Safety Forum: Senior Police and Muslim Community Engagement during the War on Terror’. P. Daniel Silke, Basia Spalek & Mary O’Rawe (ed.), Preventing Ideological Violence: Communities, Police and Case Studies of “Success”, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p71.) Grieve, of course, founded the school of criminology at London Metropolitan University which bore his name and at which Lambert taught from Autumn 2012 until the end of 2015.
  52. For more on the MSF, see section on Lambert and the Forum.
  53. 53.0 53.1 Rachel Briggs, Catherine Fieschi & Hannah Lownsbrough, Bringing it Home: Community-based approaches to counter-terrorism, Demos, December 2006 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  54. The evidence was collected by solicitor Harriet Wistrich for barrister Michael Mansfield in preparation for the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest in 2007; armed police fatally mistook de Menezes for Hussein Osman on 22 July 2005 -‘Mosque warned police about bomb suspect 2 years ago’, The Scotsman, 6 August 2005 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  55. ‘Raids by 200 officers in Brixton’, BBC News website website, 17 June 2004 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  56. Polly Toynbee, ‘A scary night in Brixton’, The Guardian, 8 October 2004 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  57. ‘COMMUNITY-POLICE CONSULTATIVE GROUP For LAMBETH - MINUTES OF THE MEETING’, Lambeth Community-Police Consultative Group website, 5 October 2004 (accessed 5 August 2016).
  58. ‘Female officer to head Ealing Police ’, NeighbourNet website, 24 November 2004 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  59. Michael Mansfield, Memoirs Of A Radical Lawyer, Bloomsbury, 2010, pp397-398.
  60. In his memoir Mansfield describes “a unit within Special Branch at New Scotland Yard entitled Muslim Liaison”.
  61. Lucy Manning, ‘Tracing the 21/7 bombers’, Channel 4 News website, 9 July 2007 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  62. Sandra Laville, ‘Four who turned on home that gave them refuge’, The Guardian, 10 July 2007 (accessed 11 September 2016)
  63. 63.0 63.1 Kadafi Zaman, ‘Den ene er politimann. Den andre imam. Hvem er hvem?’, Verdens Gang, 2 March 2005 (accessed 12 September 2016).
  64. Politiets Efterretningstjeneste (Danish Security and Intelligence Service), Annual Report 2006-2007, PET website, 2008 (accessed 4 May 2015), p70.
  65. Getty Images, ‘Robert Lambert, from the Muslim Contact...’, Getty Images, 26 April 2006 (accessed 4 May 2015).
  66. Mediafax Foto, ‘DENMARK-ANTI-TERRORISM-CONFERENCE’, Mediafax Foto, 26 April 2006 (accessed 4 May 2015).
  67. 67.0 67.1 Jesper Termansen & Elisabeth Arnsdorf Haslund, ‘Londons politi opfordrer til samarbejde med islamiske ekstremister’, Tidende Berlingske, 27 April 2007 (accessed 19 February 2016).
  68. 68.0 68.1 Jesper Termansen & Elisabeth Arnsdorf Haslund, ‘PEP vil finde terrorens rødder’, Tidende Berlingske, 26 April 2007 (accessed 19 February 2016).
  69. RegNet, ‘Community Policing in Three Dimensions’, Australian National University website, 2007 (accessed via Archive.org 30 March 2016).
  70. Bob Lambert, ‘Community Policing in Three Dimensions Paper Abstract - Bob Lambert’, Australian National University website, 2007 (accessed via Archive.org 30 March 2016).
  71. Note that Lambert's abstract describes him both as a serving Met officer and a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter, and includes an official University of Exeter email address.
  72. 72.0 72.1 72.2 Shira Fishman, Community-Level Indicators of Radicalization: A Data and Methods Task Force, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 16 February 2010 (reporting on workshops which took place 15-16 October 2009) (accessed 2 April 2016).
  73. Bob Lambert, ‘Reflections on Counter-Terrorism Partnerships in Britain’, Arches, issue number 5, January-February 2007 (accessed 22 November 2014).
  74. ‘Lambertism’ originated as a pejorative. See: Amjad Khan, ‘A Dummy’s Guide to Lambertism’, Harry's Place, 22 October 2010 (accessed 22 June 2016).
  75. For more on Lambert's academic work, see the other Lambert pages, including those covering both his writing and speaking, and Bob Lambert and the Academic Community.
  76. Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer & Dr Robert Lambert MBE, Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: A London Case Study (research project), European Muslim Research Centre/University of Exeter, January 2010 (accessed via counterextremism.org 16 April 2014).
  77. Robert Lambert & Jonathan Githens-Mazer, Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies 2010 - An introduction to a ten year Europe-wide research project (first edition) (research project) European Muslim Research Centre/University of Exeter, November 2010 (accessed via counterextremism.org 11 June 2014).
  78. Robert Lambert & Jonathan Githens-Mazer, Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies 2010 - An introduction to a ten year Europe-wide research project (second edition) (research project), European Muslim Research Centre/University of Exeter, January 2011 (accessed via archive.org 11 June 2014).
  79. See section on Lambert's writings for more detail.
  80. There are several somewhat curious references by Spalek to an unpublished 2009 manuscript on the MCU authored by ‘X’. Basia Spalek, ‘Community Policing within a Counter-Terrorism Context: the role of trust when working with Muslim communities to prevent terror crime’ (unpublished draft), September 2009 (accessed 7 October 2015).
  81. Home Office, Prevent Strategy, The Stationery Office, June 2011 (accessed 27 June 2016).
  82. Robert Lambert, ‘Community Intervention as an Engagement Strategy - al-Qaeda in London’. I. William Zartman & Guy Olivier Faure (ed.), Engaging Extremists: Trade-offs, Timing and Diplomacy, United States Institute of Peace, 2011, pp81-82.
  83. Plan ‘Protected: PREVENT Delivery Plan 2012-14’, Wandsworth Borough Council, 2012 (accessed via WhatDoTheyKnow.com 16 June 2014).
  84. ‘Memorandum submitted by the Home Office’, written evidence to Home Affairs Committee on Anti-Terrorism Powers, June 2004, revised version 16 September 2004 (accessed 20 May 2016).
  85. 85.0 85.1 Home Affairs Select Committee, Terrorism and Community Relations - Written evidence: Volume II (HC 165-II), The Stationery Office, 7 January 2005 (accessed 28 June 2016), Ev 49.
  86. Home Affairs Select Committee, Terrorism and Community Relations - Written evidence: Volume II (HC 165-II), The Stationery Office, 7 January 2005 (accessed 28 June 2016), Ev 3.
  87. A third memorandum, from the Met's Diversity Directorate (dated 14 September 2004) also very briefly mentions the MCU, insofar as it was “a clear move by the MPS to link in with the Islamic communities” post-9/11.Home Affairs Select Committee, Terrorism and Community Relations - Written evidence: Volume II (HC 165-II), The Stationery Office, 7 January 2005 (accessed 28 June 2016), Ev 60.
  88. 88.0 88.1 Home Affairs Select Committee, Terrorism and Community Relations - Sixth Report of Session 2004-05: Volume III Oral and additional written evidence (HC 165-III), The Stationery Office, 6 April 2005 (accessed 28 June 2016), Ev 29.
  89. Various Wikipedia contributors, ‘7 July 2005 London bombings’, Wikipedia, 2016 (accessed 9 June 2016).
  90. Alison Freeman, ‘Brixton faces drugs policy U-turn’, BBC News website, 30 November 2005 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  91. ‘MARTIN BRIDGER QPM’, BGS website, 6 July 2016 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  92. ‘Martin Bridger, Former Senior Investigator, Operation Tempura (London): speaker biography’, Offshore Alert Conference website, 2014 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  93. Gwen Griffith-Dickson, Andrew Dickson & Robert Ivermee, ‘Counter-extremism and De-radicalisation in the UK: a Contemporary Overview’, Journal for Deradicalization, Winter 2014/2015 (accessed 11 September 2016).
  94. 94.0 94.1 Home Affairs Select Committee, Roots of violent radicalisation, The Stationery Office Limited, 31 January 2012 (accessed 1 December 2014), Ev28. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "AEV076ev28" defined multiple times with different content
  95. 95.0 95.1 Peter Marshall, ‘The Muslim Brotherhood in Britain’, The Report, Radio 4, 24 April 2014 (accessed 16 June 2014).
  96. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, pp193-194.
  97. Martin Bright, ‘I now believe Ken is a disgrace to his office’, Evening Standard, 1 January 2008 (accessed 27 June 2016).
  98. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda In London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, C Hurst & Co, 2011, p31 plus notes 2-5, p308.
  99. Martin Bright, When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries: The British state's flirtation with radical Islamism, Policy Exchange, July 2006 (accessed 17 April 2014), p57. Bright's booklet was based on documents leaked by Foreign Office civil servant Derek Pasquill, (see Lambert's book p31 plus notes 2-5 and p308)
  100. Seumas Milne, ‘We need to listen to the man from special branch’, The Guardian, 14 February 2008 (accessed 3 February 2015).
  101. Martin Bright, ‘How a humble policeman backed Islamism’, Jewish Chronicle, 14 April 2011 (accessed 30 March 2016).
  102. Martin Bright, ‘Livingstone's Islamist guru was an undercover cop’, Jewish Chronicle, 27 October 2011 (accessed 30 March 2016).
  103. Martin Bright, ‘Ken thinks he was never wrong. I beg to differ’, Jewish Chronicle, 3 November 2011 (accessed 30 March 2016).
  104. The Greater London Authority and Mr Atma Singh, Greater London Authority press release, 20 January 2008.
  105. I now Believe Ken is a disgrace to his office, by Martin Bright, Evening Standard, 21 January 2008.
  106. Bright defends Livingstone doc after ‘hatchet job’ claim, Rachael Gallagher, Press Gazette, January 2008.
  107. We need to listen to the man from special branch, by Seamus Milne, The Guardian, 14 February 2008.
  108. Already hooked on poison, By Dean Godson, The Times, 8 February 2006.
  109. Bob Lambert, Harry's Place, 14 February 2008, accessed 24 February 2008.
  110. In Whose Hands Does London’s Safety Now Rest According to Counter-Terrorism Chief?, by David Conway, Centre for Social Cohesion, 19 February 2008, accessed 24 February 2008.
  111. Robert Lambert, ‘Police, counter-subversion and extremism’, The Guardian, 20 October 2011 (accessed 22 November 2014).
  112. This ‘denial’ is worded in a very specific way. Lambert says that he did not ‘recruit’ ‘one’ ‘Muslim’ ‘Londoner’ ‘as an informant’. This would, of course, preclude any activity he chooses not to characterise as ‘recruitment’, such as recruitment of non-Londoners (Muslim or otherwise); recruitment for the purposes of something characterised as anything other than ‘informing’; and so on.
  113. 113.0 113.1 Paul Lewis & Rob Evans, ‘Police spy tricked lover with activist 'cover story'’, The Guardian, 23 October 2011 (accessed 16 November 2014). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ASL505" defined multiple times with different content
  114. Robert Lambert, ‘Bob Lambert replies to Spinwatch’, SpinWatch.org, 23 October 2011 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  115. Robert Lambert, Rebuilding Trust and Credibility: A preliminary commentary reflecting my personal perspective, Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence profile page, February 2012 (accessed via Scribd 16 April 2014).
  116. Robert Lambert, ‘Researching counterterrorism: a personal perspective from a former undercover police officer’. Critical Studies on Terrorism Volume 7 Number 1, pp165-181 (2014).
  117. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p241.
  118. Robert Lambert, Staff profile page, Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St. Andrews website, 2012 (accessed 19 April 2014).
  119. A private source has also stated to the author that the unit came into being in January 2002 “following discussions in October-November 2001”. Email correspondence and supporting material, 15 April 2014.
  120. However, Evans & Lewis in their book baldly state that following 9/11 Lambert “and two other former SDS spies were given the resources to set up the Muslim Contact Unit” [author's emphasis]. See: Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, p57. It is understood from correspondence with Rob Evans that this was a simple production error.
  121. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p73.
  122. Darren Thiel, Policing Terrorism: A Review of the Evidence, The Police Foundation, February 2009 (accessed 7 October 2015), 40.
  123. Lorenzo Vidino, ‘Europe’s New Security Dilemma ’, The Washington Quarterly , October 2009 (accessed 27 April 2015), p68.
  124. Robert Lambert, ‘Police and Muslim Communities in London: Countering Al-Qaida Influence and Islamophobia’. Thomas M Pick, Anne Speckhard & Beatrice Jacuch (ed.), Home-Grown Terrorism: Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Radicalisation among Groups with an Immigrant Heritage in Europe, IOS Press, 2009, p65.
  125. Melanie Phillips, Londonistan: How Britain Has Created A Terror State Within, Gibson Square, 2008 (eleventh revised edition), pxi.
  126. Private information to author, based on notes from September 2011.
  127. However, the Evans/Lewis book implies that Boyling was not a founder member, by virtue of him joining an already established unit: “Some time after coming off his undercover deployment, [Boyling] was transferred to the Muslim Contact Unit, which was run by his old SDS boss, Bob Lambert”. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, p194.
  128. Paul Lewis, Rob Evans & Rowenna Davis, ‘Ex-wife of police spy tells how she fell in love and had children with him’, The Guardian, 19 January 2011 (accessed 16 November 2014).
  129. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, p194.
  130. For example, see merrick, ‘bob lambert: still spying?’, Bristling Badger blog, 23 February 2012.
  131. Neil Sears, ‘Terror officer slept with my aide in my house, says Galloway: Controversial Respect MP claims he feels 'violated'’, Daily Mail, 18 October 2012 (accessed 22 June 2016).
  132. 132.0 132.1 Metropolitan Police Service Press Bureau, ‘Officer pleads guilty to misconduct in public office’, MPS website, 19 December 2013 (accessed 23 April 2014).
  133. 133.0 133.1 Sam Rkaina, ‘Jealous copper spied on George Galloway's assistant claiming it was part of 'anti terror investigation'’, Daily Mirror, 31 July 2014 (accessed 27 April 2015).
  134. Mike Wright, ‘Watford-based Metropolitan Police Officer Detective Inspector Afiz Khan charged with data protection offences’, Watford Observer, 29 July 2013 (accessed 22 June 2016).
  135. Kerry McDermott, ‘Policeman charged with leaking plans to arrest Anjem Choudary to his wife who worked for George Galloway’, Mail Online, 14 August 2013 (accessed 27 April 2015).
  136. 136.0 136.1 Press Association, ‘George Galloway's ex-secretary gets conditional discharge for data breaches’, The Guardian, 31 July 2014 (accessed 8 November 2014).
  137. Josh Halliday, ‘Ex-aide to George Galloway pleads guilty over emails breach’, The Guardian, 23 June 2014 (accessed 27 April 2015).
  138. ‘Detective dismissed from the MPS’, Crime & Justice website, 13 June 2014 (accessed 13 June 2014).
  139. Josh Halliday, ‘Ex-aide to George Galloway pleads guilty over emails breach’, The Guardian, 23 June 2014 (accessed 8 November 2014).
  140. Afiz Khan disclosed the information to his de facto wife Aisha Ali-Khan. According to statements made in court, whilst Khan was still legally married to another woman, in 2009 he and Ali-Khan were wed in a religious ceremony in Pakistan. (See: Leon Watson, ‘Former aide to George Galloway jailed for her possession of 'explicit' photos of her policeman lover and his estranged wife’, Daily Mail, 1 April 2014 (accessed 22 June 2016)). Ali-Khan pleaded guilty to her own charges. Ali-Khan had been an assistant to George Galloway MP, the leader of the Respect Party, and Khan had been accused of having “obtained personal data relating to various members of the Respect party”, namely a 300 name membership list for the Bradford branch of the Respect Party - though this was not put to him in court. In June 2016 Galloway issued an apology and paid damages to Ali-Khan in respect of defamatory claims that “she helped her former police officer husband run a dirty tricks operation against him and his Respect party.” For Khan, Ali-Khan and the Bradford branch of the Respect Party - plus the interconnections between Lambert and some of the players in this drama - see: BristleKRS, ‘On cop-spies and paid betrayers (1.4): A tangled web of burglaries, shady emails, Respect, Gorgeous George, the MCU, Doctor Bob and all’, Bristle's Blog From The BunKRS, 20 October 2012 (accessed 18 April 2015).
  141. 141.0 141.1 141.2 ‘Abid Raja (profile)’, Research Institute for Human Security and Cooperation website, 2016 (accessed 2 April 2016).
  142. 142.0 142.1 ‘Addressing the New Landscape of Terrorism’ (conference programme), Deakin University, 2016 (accessed 2 April 2016), pp43-44.
  143. Councillor Tony Newman, ‘Cabinet Member Bulletin’, Croydon Council, October 2015 (accessed 30 March 2016).
  144. Seth D. Rosen, Pathway to Prevention? Evaluating the United Kingdom's Approach to Counter-Radicalization (Masters thesis), Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Georgetown University, 12 April 2010 (accessed 2 April 2016).
  145. The Change Institute, Studies into violent radicalisation: The beliefs ideologies and narratives, European Commission website, February 2008 (accessed 20 June 2016), p163.
  146. The Change Institute, Studies into violent radicalisation: The beliefs ideologies and narratives, European Commission website, February 2008 (accessed 20 June 2016), p11.
  147. Curiously, other stakeholders for the UK study included one of Lambert's nemeses, Conservative politician Michael Gove; as well as Guardian journalist Vikram Dodd, who later would (alongside Rob Evans and Paul Lewis) produce some of the most incisive reports on the emerging police infiltrator scandal; and Dodds' colleague Kevin Toolis, who previously had written about the Animal Liberation Front's incendiary campaign against fur trading department stores.
  148. Given that previous known heads of the MCU - namely Bob Lambert and Alfie Khan - were only at the rank of Inspector, and that by this time MCU was by no means a well-championed team within MPS, it seems likely that Wilson himself was not part of MCU, but rather its line manager above it. Wilson has a background in borough policing.
  149. ‘SAFEGUARDING LONDON'S CHILDREN: Speaker profiles - plenaries’, London Safeguarding Children Board website, 2007 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  150. Dele Rotimi, ‘Commander Mak Chishty and Sergeant Javaria Saeed visit’, The Urswick School website 10 July 2015 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  151. RUSI Whitehall, ‘Terrorism Starts and Finishes in Our Neighbourhoods: Commander Mak Chishty on Security, Securitisation and Community Engagement’, RUSI website 15 April 2016 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  152. Note that by January 2016 Chisty's Community Engagement portfolio was operating in Territorial Policing under Assistant Commissioner Helen King and DAC Mark Simmons; if MCU was merged into Community Engagement, then this was a significant step down from being under the purview of Specialist Operations. See: ‘Executive Structure: January 2016’, Metropolitan Police Service website, January 2016 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  153. Gareth Vipers, ‘London Muslims gather for festival aimed at tackling youth extremism’, Evening Standard, 28 March 2015 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  154. ‘Hundreds expected at capital's first Muslim Youth Festival’, ITV website, 28 March 2015 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  155. ‘Hundreds turn out to support Muslim Youth Festival’, BBC News website, 28 March 2015 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  156. ‘What is the MYPD?’, MYPD website, 2015 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  157. Martin Beckford, ‘Criminal! Met Police blow £80,000 on US hoaxer to perform gun cop's VERY PC rap to help turn Muslim teenagers away from extremism’, Mail On Sunday, 19 December 2015 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  158. Commander Mak Chishty, ‘Dear MYPD members’, via Twitter.com, 23 March 2016 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  159. Since Saeed left, the Community Engagement Team's MYPD project appears to be in the hands of PC Imran Choudhury. See: mypdadmin, ‘Scotland Yard Officers and Nightingale Academy…RUNNING MAN CHALLENGE!’, MYPD website, 13 June 2016 (accessed 16 September 2016).
  160. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p316 n101.
  161. Something which Abid Raja has shown was possible.
  162. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p316 n107.
  163. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p316 n105.
  164. This list does not include other ‘P’ cryptonym officers who are positively excluded from having been MCU officers, e.g. by virtue of having been Islington Borough officers.
  165. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p319 n52.
  166. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p316 n106.
  167. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p324 n77.
  168. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p317 n149.
  169. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p317 n128.
  170. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p325 n116.
  171. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p344 n3.
  172. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p343 n94.
  173. Robert Lambert, Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership, Hurst & Company, 2011, p192.
  174. Patrick Sookhdeo, Biography, personal website, dated October 2011, acc 24 June 2013