So, the Kenyan Police counter-terrorism spokesman has this to say:
“Kenya’s government arrested Michael Olemendis Ndemolajo. We handed him to British security agents in Kenya and he seems to have found his way to London and mutated to Michael Adebolajo,” a Kenyan counter-terrorism spokesman, Muthui Kariuki, told the Associated Press. He added: “The Kenyan government cannot be held responsible for what happened to him after we handed him to the British authorities.”
Assorted relatives and friends seem to think the question is more whether the British had any business asking him questions while he was under the control of the Kenyans, who are alleged to have brutalised him in various ways. Further, the security service’s approach to recruiting informers seems to involve following them around and repeatedly buttonholing them, openly, in the street.
It sounds like an out-take from Four Lions – secret intelligence with a GOLF SALE sign. Perhaps the aim was actually deliberately overt, public, in your face surveillance, rather than recruitment, as a deterrent or an example to others. Either way, I think we can all agree that the situation has not developed to our advantage.
Which reminded me of this classic Daniel Davies post:
young Muslim men are exactly the ones who are vulnerable to being drawn into violent extremist movements, and their parents have both much better information about this happening than we do, and a powerful interest in stopping their sons turning into suicide bombers. In actual fact, [the launch of the CONTEST strategy was] yet another god-damned own goal which had the effect of getting peoples’ backs even further up.
How could this have been sold better?
Well, it seems to me that if the action that you want to achieve is “hand your children over to us”, the very most obvious message that you need to add to that is “we promise that we will keep them safe”. However, since our government currently has as its policy that it wants to hold people for 90 days without trial, and to extradite them without hearings to the Americans, who in turn might subject them to extraordinary rendition and waterboarding, we are not currently in a position to make that promise. We need to get into a position to make that promise, and fast.
A policy recommendation – if an allied police force catches someone like this, treat it as a consular matter and fetch the guy back to the UK. Then it can be a police matter. Or the secret services could try to persuade him to inform…in secret. Just letting the Kenyans or whoever batter him is just as bad and fools nobody. It also makes the UK look duplicitous and underhand as well as ruthless.
I suspect this is better advice than any of the barrage of availability entrepreneurship spewing from the surveillance industry, Hazel Blears, Hitchens Minor 2.0, or the swarm of assorted grant-seeking missiles this sad event has released.