THE people of Portsmouth have every right to be concerned about the threat of terrorism – and we must rally together to stop it spreading.
That is the stark message from foreign secretary Philip Hammond as fears over the rise of Islamic State (Isil) and the terror group’s barbaric actions grow.
It comes after British graduate Mohamed Emwazi was last week revealed as ‘Jihadi John’, the Isil fighter shown beheading Western hostages.
The spotlight has been on Portsmouth since four young men from the city died in Syria in the past year after becoming Jihadi fighters for Isil, including Ifthekar Jaman.
Speaking to The News during a visit to Portsmouth yesterday, Mr Hammond said: ‘It is right locally that people are concerned. It would be wrong to say Portsmouth has any more of a particular problem than other cities, but it is one of a number of areas where we have identified fighters have left to go to Syria and Iraq.
‘Change has to start in the communities; mosques, schools, colleges and parents must highlight this behaviour and be confident enough to bring that to the attention of the authorities, so we can detect people who are vulnerable.’
It is right locally that people are concerned. It would be wrong to say Portsmouth has any more of a particular problem than other cities, but it is one of a number of areas where we have identified fighters have left to go to Syria and Iraq.Foreign secretary Philip Hammond
Mr Hammond added: ‘The government is funding and delivering much of that intervention in the community.
‘The message we want to get across is, there are people you can go to that will deal sensitively with the issue.
‘The right thing to do is to get the authorities involved as early as possible.’
And Mr Hammond insisted terrorists would be ‘punished’ and not treated lightly if they ventured back to the UK.
‘Where people have committed crimes when going to places like Syria and engaged in terrorist activity, they must be punished,’ he said.
Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery recently revealed he is helping prepare a counter-terrorism bill giving the government extra powers to track extremists.
It includes electronically terminating the passports of known terrorists and putting restrictions on where suspected terrorists should live.
Mr Hammond spoke during a tour of Airbus Defence and Space, where he met apprentices and learned more about the company’s plans for the future, including the building of another satellite after being awarded a commercial contract.