Police reach out to communities in bid to fight extremism

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POLICE and city leaders are working with communities amid fears more local young people want to travel overseas to fight for terror group Isil.

Work being done in Portsmouth to help educate and prevent more young people from becoming radicalised was outlined at an event held at Fratton Park.

It comes after a group of men from the city travelled to Syria to fight for Isil.

The government estimates approximately 500 people have travelled to Syria, with six of those being from Portsmouth.

Sgt David Knowles of the Prevent team at Hampshire Constabulary, which works to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism, said of the six men from Portsmouth: ‘It was unexpected that they should go, it [Portsmouth] was the last place in Hampshire, we thought.

‘Secondly the Portsmouth young men used the internet to tremendous effect to encourage others to travel from all 
over.’

He added: ‘In the community of Portsmouth we were all shocked. Families were shocked, the community I’m sure we’re extremely shocked. What’s more shocking is that some young people in Portsmouth still do want to go to Syria and join their friends who have travelled there.’

Highlighting work being done to educate and reassure local communities, Sgt Knowles said there have been more than 150 events held in the area since Easter to engage with and educate people.

This has included engaging with 3,500 young people in schools and at the University of Portsmouth, women’s groups, youth groups, council staff and others in a bid to prevent extremism.

Other measures include fun days, beat surgeries and a Syria fundraiser.

Sgt Knowles added: ‘We haven’t had or seen any more travel to Syria since last summer.’

The men travelled to fight for Isil using the nickname ‘Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys.

Muhammad Mehdi Hassan, 19, a former pupil at St John’s College in Southsea, became the fourth jihadi from Portsmouth to be killed fighting for Isil in Syria in the past year.

Mr Hassan, of Southsea, was killed fighting in Kobani on the border of Syria and Turkey.

Manunur Roshid, 24, of Buckland, was killed on October 17. Meanwhile Muhammad Rahman, a 25-year-old former Primark worker, died in 
August.

Ifthekar Jaman, 23, died in December.

Mr Jaman’s brothers Mustakin Jaman, 23, and Tuhim, Shahensha, 26, of Hudson Road, Southsea, were earlier this month remanded in custody.

Mustakin Jaman is charged with ‘having the intention of assisting others to commit acts of terrorism and of engaging in conduct in preparation for this cause.’

Shanesha is charged with preparing acts of terrorism.

Speakers at the community event also included Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt and Sharon Furtado from the city councils community safety 
team.

Supt Will Schofield, Portsmouth District Commander, who also spoke during counter-terrorism awareness week, said: ‘I’m proud of some of the stuff we have done.

‘What has made that possible is us engaging with our partners like the council and voluntary agencies as well and more than that, the community.

‘But I really am proud of us trying to work 
together.’

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