The threat of far-right terrorism was illustrated by the recent Finsbury Park attack, in which a van was driven into a group of worshippers outside a Mosque. And as the BBC has reported, “Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, who will retire from the Met Police next month, said four extreme-right terror plots were disrupted last year”.
In his speech at Policy Exchange, he went on to name names: “While they have not been involved directly in terrorism, he singled out Tommy Robinson, who founded the English Defence League (EDL), and Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, as voices from the far right who stir up tensions”. This has not gone down well.
Indeed, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, has not only contested AC Rowley’s analysis, but threatened him directly, although his first reaction was the usual calling of “liar” on anyone disagreeing with him: “Stop telling the truth shall I? Lie like all the other journalists shall I”. Everyone’s out of step bar him.
Then he sold the pass. “I’m gonna find Mark Rowley”. Threatening a serving Police officer. That’ll go down well with the Met. Or maybe not. And when the BBC’s Daniel Sandford merely observed that threat, he was off again: “I would say I’ll find you too Daniel but no need as my live stream already exposed your sorry arse”.
From there, the excuse generation was ramped up. “So counter terror chief can't see difference between a democrat who denounces political violence & someone who promotes it as God's will? That failure encourages political violence” he claimed.
“Do you think Mark Rowley or his Muslim replacement [!] will denounce the war crimes and terrorism perpetrated by the founder of Islam (the source of Islamic terrorism)?” Eh? And more: “Across the UK we have 2,000 mosques with people following a book that preaches hatred & violence. Are there 20,000 clubs in the UK where people meet daily to preach hatred against Muslims?” Plus it wasn’t fair to pick on him.
“This is an unbelievable & unfair attack on me by a leading police officer, equating me with anjem choudry. anjem choudry calls for the murder & enslavement of people . I simply oppose it”. The reaction of some of Lennon’s followers suggests this this opposition does not always inspire peaceful feelings elsewhere.
Nor does Lennon’s ignorance of operational policing inspire confidence in the reliability of his testimony: “PC [!] Mark Rowley (Head of Counter-Terrorism) was responsible for Westminster police being unarmed at the gates of Parliament. Too scary for the tourists to see machine guns. PC Palmer was stabbed to death by a Jihadi because of that policy … Why wasn't Rowley sacked?”. Defamation lawyers may find that one interesting.
The fact of this particular matter is that AC Rowley has come to his conclusion on the basis of the evidence before him. Stephen Lennon being abusive, defamatory and threatening towards him merely reinforces his case. Nor will it profit his cause.
The Police are concerned about far-right terrorism. Fact. End of story.