As I watched the events in Paris unfold last week; along with my horror and fears for the innocent people caught up in this callous act, I relived, in my mind, the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008.
As I was entertaining guests in my suite at the Taj Hotel we came under attack and I along with my guests feared for our lives. We immediately barricaded ourselves in our room – moving furniture and anything heavy we could find to block the hotel room door from being opened. In the corridor outside heavily armed terrorists were walking around and indiscriminately firing their weapons.
These men did not fear jail or even death, they were intent on killing at any price – nothing would deter them. Just like Chérif and Said Kouachi in the attacks in Paris and Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale who brutally murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in 2013, or the attackers of the Army Public School and College in Peshawar last month.
I believe there is a “public demand for a full review of how we deal with these most dangerous and fanatical terrorists, (this could include the first major debate on capital punishment for 50 years). What the public see is ever increasing restrictions on the law abiding citizen, tighter checks at airports, stop and search in the street and more security alerts, but at the same time they see terrorists let out of prison onto the streets, the European Court of Human Rights telling us to give votes to terrorists while they are in prison and that our judges cannot lock them up for life even though that is the wish of our Parliament. If we fail to act – the public will turn to the right wing parties in their droves – something that troubles me dearly.
I was an early voice calling for confiscation of passports for radicalists returning from fighting in Iraq and Syria, these people are trained and battle hardened and I welcome government proposals for new powers to restrict travel and confiscate passports from known extremists.
I also welcome the placing of the PREVENT policy on a statutory footing, I have always been a strong voice for more help for communities in tackling extremism and radicalisation at root cause and for helping families at risk.
Unfortunately due to ill health I had to pull out of the debate at second reading of the government’s Counter-terrorism and Security Bill on Tuesday 13 January. If I had been able to attend the debate these are the points I would have raised.