The British Secret Service – commonly called MI5 – is paying Muslims across the UK to spy on suspected terrorists. Secret Service is employing the help of individuals from the Muslim community for short-term spy missions in a bid to stop terror attacks by homegrown Islamist extremists.
This programme known as Pursue comes under the government's official post-9/11 counter-terrorism strategy. The purpose of this specific spy programme is to stop terrorist attacks in UK and against its interest overseas.
"It's been driven by the agencies, it's a network of human resources across the country engaged to effectively spy on specific targets. It's decent money," The Guardian newspaper reported. However, it is not known as to how many informants are on the MI5's payroll and what percentage of the security agency's budget is allocated for these spy missions.
Individuals from the Muslim community are being paid for short-term spy missions to acquire intelligence on specific targets such as mosques. These temporary assignments can pay an individual 2,000 pounds for spying on activities related to a mosque for a period of six-week.
However, senior figures in the Muslim community have warned that paying money to gather information is risky. They say money is involved tainted intelligence will arise.
"We want our national security protected but, as with everything, there needs to be due scrutiny and we need to ensure things are done properly. If there's money on the table, where's the scrutiny or the oversight to ensure whether someone has not just come up with some fabricated information? Money can corrupt," Salman Farsi, spokesman for the East London Mosque, the largest in the UK said.
Failure of Prevent
Following the 7 July bombings the government deployed a central counter-radicalisation programme called Prevent, which has failed to achieve its goals, after spending tens of millions of pounds, Farsi said. He said a fresh approach and a genuine community engagement is needed to achieve for this.
This revelation comes after the head of MI5 director general Andrew Parker called for more up-to-date surveillance powers. Parker said six attempts have been foiled in the past 12 months. Also, Home secretary, Theresa May is pushing for new surveillance bill.
According to a report, more than 3,000 homegrown Islamist extremists willing to carry out attacks in the UK are under surveillance. Last month, it was revealed by the Scotland Yard that arrests have been made at a rate of more than one a day while terrorism related arrests in the past year has overshadowed the previous peak following the 7 July bombings.