24/05/2013 Newsnight


With Gavin Esler. Efforts to prevent the radicalisation of potentially violent young men, the BBC's £100m failed IT project and director Stephen Soderbergh.

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Tonight the week that shocked us all, after the horrific murder of


Drummer Lee Rigby, what can any Government do to prevent the


radicalisation of potentially violent young men. We have an


exclusive interview of one of the childhood friends that we have just


recorded. The authorities say they are


increasingly worried about a small number of extremists. There are a


handful of people inspired by these two guys we will have a big problem


that we have to deal with, and it can't be dealt with Security


Services and police alone. Good evening, we have an


extraordinary interview tonight of a childhood friend of one of the


men arrested for the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. He tells us the


background of the man and why he converted to Islam, and he tells us


something of what might have made him become radicalised. Give us a


bit of the background to this. Dramatic events tonight. We have


spent the last two hours trying to secure an interview with a


childhood friend of one of the men accused of the murder. We arranged


for that interview. He came into the BBC. We conducted the interview.


Immediately after the interview I'm told three people from Special


Branch were in the BBC premises, they arrested the man. And so you


know very dramatic events tonight. In the interview itself it shows an


interesting portrait of the interviewee, and also the suspect,


Michael Adebolajo. I started by asking him about his early


childhood. How long have you known Michael Adebolajo? We met roughly


about early 2002. Where did you meet? We met at Romford, Essex.


what the circumstances of you meeting, was it a social contact,


was he a friend? I used to go down there to chill out with some of my


friends, basically. And during the course of going down there we, one


day we bumped into each other. It was a strange thing, we didn't see


a lot of black guys down there, it was like how are you. We exchanged


number and from there the relationship built up.


At that time were you both non- Muslims, I understand you are both


reverts to Islam? I wasn't in Islam. I came to Islam 2004, late 2004


basically. He came in about four months after me. It is well known,


it is established on the record that he was known and he knew the


group Al-Muhajiroun, did you know him in those circles? He used to


attend some of those events there, he was an independent guy, he


wasn't stuck to one particular group. He would go to various


circles and listen to various people. He wasn't stuck only with


Anjem Choudary and others. He would float about, basically. But he knew


them? He was aware of them. He had attended one or two events. I have


interviewed Anjem Choudary and others on many occasions, one of


the core beliefs and things that they aspire to is Sharia Law for


example, in the UK, was that position your position and his


position? I had that position myself which changed at a different


time. Michael never took that position, he thought it was more


sensible for Muslims to live in Muslim lands and live by the Sharia


in Muslim lands, he thought that made more sense that living in the


west and trying to implement the Sharia here. Did he consider


emigrating to a Muslim land? He did, many times, I remember he wanted to


do some qualifications in relation to teaching. He wanted to do a


qualification in relation to fitness training, which he


eventually did. He wanted to use that to go abroad and live in a


Muslim country. That's some of the background to the suspect, Michael


Adebolajo. But did he give us any clues as to what actually turned a


switch in this man's head and made him into this violent person,


potentially? He did. He said that about six months ago he had a


conversation with him in London and he says that Adebolajo told him,


the interviewee, that he had a very bad experience in Kenya. We don't


have any way of independently confirming this. This is the


account he gave us. He said he had travelled to Kenya, he was arrested


and picked up by the Kenyan authorities. He alleges he was


tortured and abused. He says that he noticed that it fundamentally


changed his mind set after that experience. You describe Michael


Adebolajo as a gentle man, the way you are decribing him. The contrast


with someone who is capable of murdering on British streets is


very, very stark indeed. How do you understand that? Yeah, I mean I


believe certain event that happened to him recently kind of had an


impact in shaping that change. Although that change wasn't


necessarily one that became overt, aggressive or anything like that,


he just became more kind of reclined and less talkive and so


forth, like he wasn't his bubbly self, basically. The recent events


were about six months ago he turned up one day, just out of the blue,


no number or anything, he said basically what happened was he went


to study in Kenya. When he got to Kenya in a particular village they


were rounded up Kenyan troops and taken to a prison cell. They were


interrogated one by one, when his turn came he didn't speak to him.


Generally here he said no comment, he wouldn't speak to them. He said


that basically the officer said you are not in the UK, basically you


know taking his private parts he said I will "F" you if you wouldn't


speak. They beat him badly and his comment was, he said he wasn't like,


by oath, by good, that he feel shy to describe to you what they did to


him. These were his exact words. He felt shy to describe what they did


to him, basically. Did he tell you he was physically and sexually


asaulted He told me he was physically assaulted and sexually


threatened. He indicated from what I know of him, and when he said he


was ashamed to tell you what had happened to him, as far as I


understand it is actual abuse. There was nothing he would feel shy


to tell me about except that. did he tell you that? This is


roughly about six months ago, that is an estimate. Did you have any


doubt that he was telling the truth at that time? No. If you looked at


his face, you know, and he was holding tears back when he was


mentioning it. My impression, when I heard it is I wanted to hug him.


He's a close friend of mine. I wanted to hug him like a brother to


say it's OK. It's fine, don't worry about it. So your judgment is that


he had quite a profound change of personality after that? Definitely.


He just became you know, he would be dour, you would be like we need


to invite people to join Islam and he would say, yeah. His mind was


somewhere else but he was present. Did he give any indication to you


that he was capable of such horrific violence? No, when I saw


the photos initially of him, I thought it was a joke. I thought


are you serious, it can't be him. There is no way it can be him.


Because it didn't make sense because his whole concept you know


was he just wanted to go and live in the Muslim land and get away


from all the problems and all the troubles, basically. At that time


he was being harassed by MI5. This is something that he specifically


mentioned to me. He said MI5 had come to him. On his return back he


had been stopped and subsequently after that he was followed up by


MI5. He said they came to his house. They were knocking on his door. He


pretended that he wasn't there. But they were knocking so much he


thought he needed to come and show his face. He came out, he spoke to


the MI5 agent and they were saying they just wanted a chat with him,


they just wanted to speak with him. When did he tell you this? Roughly


about six months ago. What was his reaction to being approached by the


Security Service and MI5? situation was that his wording was,


you know, they are bugging him, they won't leave him alone.


they explain what they wanted? mentioned initially they want to


ask him did he know certain individuals. After him saying he


didn't know the individuals, what he said is they asked him whether


he would be interested in working for them. Did you think he did end


up doing any work for them or not? No, he was explicit in that, he


refused to work for them. He did confirm that he didn't know the


individuals that they asked him whether he knew. There is a lot of


allegations there. We will come to them in a second. On the MI5 point


a lot of people will be thinking that is MI5 doing their job?


Absolutely, we have no way of verifying this, of course. What I


would say, in general terms, is that Security Services will of


course approach people to provide information or even act as covert


sources. This is part of the work they do more generally. I don't


think we can expect them to comment on this case specifically. In


general terms, it is not out of the ordinary to expect the Security


Services approach people for information. What we heard about


Kenya. Kenya for some people is a tourist destination, for others it


is a route into Somalia and to joining Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda


affiliate, and Kenya itself has a severe terrorist problem?


certainly is. On this man's account we hear he was picked up by the


Kenyan authorities. We have no way of substantiating this at the


moment. It is plausible as a story. One could say that. We will have to


wait and see whether we can actually get other coroborating


evidence to back it up. In terms of your interviewee, Abu Nusaybah,


what was his reaction to these horrific events a couple of days


ago. If he knew, would he have done anything to stop something like


this? He was quite clear in the interview. He is quite open about


having been influenced by Al- Muhajiroun, this Islamist group in


the past and its leaders in the past. He was clear tonight that if


he had been told, which he wasn't, about any plans for these horrific


violent attacks, he would have done his best to dissuade this young man


from carrying those out. He says it is not justified. His reaction to


what he saw was horror that everybody else had? He tells me he


was horrified by it. He couldn't believe it when he saw the images.


He couldn't believe this was the young man he used to hang around


with in 2003, he was very, very shocked, so he says.


Thank you very much. For some more perspective on this we have been


looking at some of the ways in which the Government and


communities shrb trying to take on -- have been trying to take on


radical Islamists in communities. East London, one of the areas the


Government believes is most likely to be a breeding ground for


extremism. Up a narrow flight of stairs beside a mosque is a project


the state has invested in as part of its key counter terrorism plan,


the Prevent Strategy. It is a youth club. The Active Change Foundation,


games and other activities are a tool to draw mostly disaffected,


mainly Muslim people in off the streets, listen to their problems


and engage them in discussion. the last period of ten years we


have built up such a relationship within the community and the young


people, we are recognised, if you like, the middle people between the


authorities and the young people. The young people have learned to


trust us in the past years. Prevent Strategy was set up after


the 2005 London bombings to try to tack the radicalisation of Muslim


youth, by integration and argument. But for place like this, Muslim


workers say, there would be far more extremists than those


suspected of the murder in Woolich. If people are angered by the


foreign policy, one thing is they might see on the internet or on the


news a situation someone has taken things into their own hands and


gone and do this. We say that is wrong. If you are against foreign


policy this is not the way to deal with it. This is not the way to


tackle it. But state funding for this project and others was cut


back when the coalition Government came to power. That followed


criticism that Prevent was unfocused and it sometimes even


subsidised the very extremist organisations it should have been


confronting. That's not stopped youth workers


here getting on their bikes every day. Even in the rain to engage


with young people in parks and on street corners and to find out what


they are thinking. They didn't want us to follow them, because of


course it is bad for their credibility to be seen with outside


authority figures. That points up one of the difficulties of the


whole programme, it is about integration but also intelligence


gathering. Some people think that is not a very comfortable


combination. Prevent has to avoid being seen as


a form of state snooping. But on the other hand, to be an effective


counter terrorism policy, it has to help identify potentially dangerous


extremists. You are listening and if you hear,


or any of the outreach workers hear things that worry them. Yep.


terms of inclination towards terrorism and extremism, do you


report that, and to who? We don't need to report that. We bring those


young people into our sent, -- centre, we talk to them, we have


workshops, depending on the issue out on the street with the young


person. We have developed a relationship with our young people.


They do trust us. So when they are angry and upset about something


they do voice it out to us, they might not do it with anybody else.


Isn't it your duty to report that as part of the strategy? Report


what, what are we supposed to be reporting, when someone's life is


in danger. Report that someone might have an inclination towards


terrorism? Absolutely right. But when we talk to young people out


there, they are angry and upset, they have a right to be an and


upset about that, they are not telling me they will do something


bad. What will I try to report, what are you asking me. In practice


they do sometimes exchange information with the authorities.


Of course the most dangerous people may be off the radar of projects


like this. In the wake of the Woolich killing, the project's head,


has rushed back early from a trip to Pakistan. He's afraid some


extremists will now try to copy Wednesday's atrocity. He can't


confront them because the Government is nervous about letting


organisations like his tackle the most incendiary preachers in debate.


It has become very risk adverse. This is a risky business. We as an


organisation have set our up tole challenge the problem. We know the


-- to challenge the problem. We know there are risks in this but we


have to challenge the people head on. Has the Prevent project failed,


because the scope has been too narrow. Prevent was lacking in


ambition, it only concerned itself with violent extremism and looked


at intervening at that point. They should have been going much further


downstream and looking at people who espouse extremist views. As we


have seen in Woolich, people who hold extremist views then go on to


commit terrorist attacks. We need to be doing into that sub culture


of extremism, which preaches separation and confrontation with


British society and with our values and working on people at that stage.


Once they go operational it is too late. Community engagment like this


may have prevented some attacks. But it hasn't solved the problem of


radicalisation. As we have seen this week, the price of getting it


wrong is very high. I'm joined now to discuss this by


the CEO of the Active Change Foundation, you saw that in the


film. We have the research and policy director for a think-tank


helping to advise the Government on tackling on-line extremism. You


heard our discussion with Richard Watson earlier and the interview. I


wondered if that pattern seemed familiar to you? The pattern of


somebody who seemed to fit in at one point to British society, and


then didn't? Yeah, if you look back at some of the cases that we have


uncovered in the past, the airline plot, some of the guys in the 7/7


bombings, a similar pattern. Very involved in mainstream, and all of


a sudden they have excluded themselves from society.


Guardian has pretty much on the same theme, a crackdown on the


preachers of hate as soldier families grieve. How do you do


that? Crack down on the preachers of hate if so far under British law


they are not committing any offence? It is difficult. They are


not committing any offence, if we look back and the amount of times


that Anjem Choudary and his like have been associated to terrorist


plots and violent extremist individuals, there comes a point


when you have to say what do we do with these guy. First of all the


communities they operate within, I will give you an example in Waltham


Forest, or in Birmingham, you have a number of mosques preaching Islam


on a daily basis, why does a third party, someone unknown and not a


legitimate scholar coming into the area and preaching a warped version


of Islam. But you don't have to leave your house to see this stuff.


The Government would say the communications data Bill, at least


the Conservatives in the Government would say that is a way forward,


but it isn't going forward? Internet is playing a larger role


in more and more cases. We have to take it seriously and something the


Governments right across Europe and North America are looking at. There


is two different elements to this, one around the negative measures


you can take. Getting stuff offline that is on-line, the filtering, the


take-down approach. When you think about the fact that extremists are


now moving towards social media member site, and there are five


billion new pieces of data uploaded to Facebook, and the same to


YouTube, there is extreme limitations to that approach. Much


more focus needs to be put on how you can get the 99% of us who are


the good guys more active on-line, challenging, disrupting and how you


can use creative approaches to drown out the noise that the 1% are


making. That is interesting that implies that there is a bat of


ideas, but one side is really -- a battle of ideas but one side is


fighting it and the other side aren't? 99% are good guys and 1%


aren't, but they shout the loudest and have the clearest message. We


need to rouse that 99%. Of course people will concentrate on those


who will be violent or they think may be prone to violence, but it


may be the people who won't do anything violent who are just as


dangerous, if not more, because they incite it? This is why I think


community outreach and engagment programmes are important. Talking


about issues, contentious issues like Afghanistan and other things,


things that are angering our young people. We need to have engagment


in the hope we come across extremist views. It does arouse


those individuals to speak about it and those who are silent. It is our


job to filter out who we need to work more with and who we don't.


This is a horrific crime, but is this a watershed moment? I don't


think it is a watershed, we have seen examples like this over the


last five or so years in the terrorism domain. This isn't a new


thing. We have seen things like this in other European countries. I


think we are definitely going to be seeing a shift to these kinds of


low tech attacks more often. small groups? Partly because our


police and Intelligence Services have been effective at tackling


more sophisticated plots. What is different here, I beg beg to differ,


is these guys have set a precedent. They have apologised to the women


and children and females, they have stragically attacked a military


target. And what that has done is given them legitimacy. So other


people who have got similar views and similar sentiments now see that


as they have done right. They haven't attacked any innocent


person, in their view they have attacked a person with a military


background. That's worrying. will leave it there, thank you both


very much. Big change of gear, and the hot tip


for the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend is a


black comedy about the private life about lib a mucy, the director won


at -- Liberace, Stephen Sodenberg said this film will be his last


because Hollywood wouldn't back his story, apparently it is too gay for


the cinema audience. It will be released on cable in the United


States and will appear in UK cinemas next month. We have been to


the south of France for an exclusive interview with the


director. You may have heard reports from the Cannes Film


Festival that a lot of the bling has gone missing, but hello, I


don't think so. I know someone in the audience who preerts this!


Michael Douglas's performance as the spaingled virto sow, Liberace,


has been the talk of France. When I was working saloons in Milwaukee,


they called them saloons, that is how old I am. I'm from Wisconsin


too. No, you are, well this must be fate.


Newsnight met the director, Stephen Sodeberg, at his arduous Riviera


billet. Thank you for inviting us to this summer house you have going


here. It is a tough job and somebody has to do it! It is brutal


but I soldier on. I suppose we are old enough to remember Liberace in


his prime, watching your film it came back to me how extraordinary


that was. He really was the sort of you know, the Godfather of bling.


Absolutely. He really singlehandedly created the idea of


bling, and the idea that a performer could sort of be so


extravagant. When he was alive, and the world and its laws were rather


different, the story about Liberace was that he just hadn't met the


right girl! In fact, it wasn't only the ief rees he tickled. The new


film -- ivories he tickled, the new film is based on the memoirs of his


lover, Scott. Jack I want to talk about doing surgery on Scott here.


Fine, what would you like me to do with Scott? I want you to make


Scott look like this! This won't be shown in American cinemas, is it


too gay for conservative Hollywood. Oh I see, yes I think I can do what


you want. You're going to need a nose job. It was more frustrating


than anything else. I understood the, I understood the economic


issue that they were concerned that there wasn't an audience for the


film beyond a gay audience. I didn't share that belief, but


that's certainly how they felt. But it was more frustrating, I just


thought we didn't need, we had financed the movie almost entirely


out of foreign. We only needed add small amount, and I thought we had


a great script and we had Michael and Matt. I was surprised. You have


Hollywood full of gay stars who don't wish to appear as gay and you


are casting well known straight actors in these parts? I don't know,


I'm hoping that some day all these discussions will become irrelevant,


you know. And that people won't care in the same way that


ultimately even after the story broke of Scott and L i in the


tabloids nobody cared. I have never been in casting session everywhere


somebody's personal sexual preference was ever discussed as a


topic. I think, hmmm, black piano, black tuxedo, who is going to see


me in this giant clam shell! Well I ask you, can you see me now?


unimprovably titled, Behind The Candelabra arrives smack in the


middle of the gay marriage debate. The fact that it will arrive at a


key inflex in the whole discussion point is interesting. I'm not a big


believer in the idea that movies really influence that kind of


decision making for people. I'm glad right now that the movey will


be viewed through that lens of what is happening socially with this


issue. Why don't you let me tape you? Doing what? Talking. About


what? The director won at Cannes with his debut feeture, Sex Lies


and Videotape, a benchmark in independent cinema. Now he says


he's turning in his bullhorn and Darren Jolly purrs. -- jolpurs. Has


Hollywood got in the way of making movies? That is one of a handful of


things that got me thinking about five years ago that I would like to


have an exit strategy. My own feeling that I would like to stop,


destroy everything I have done and see if I can rebuild and come out


from a completely different angle and become primitive again. I don't


know if that is possible, I don't know if you can consciously do that,


but I'm going to try. You are tweeting a novel, is this true?


trying to take advantage of its I'm not sure how but there is a


muscle being exercised in this experiment that I know is connected


to me trying to figure out the next version of me as a film maker.


don't wake up in the night frightened that they won't let you


back into this fabulous sweet shop. This fabulous dream factory and


they will say sorry, you turned your back on movies, good luck with


that Twitter thing, but the door is closed, my friend. I would be fine


with that. I never imagined that all of this would happen to me,


that I would have gone this far, been able to make as many films as


I have and be able to control them. That's, I have had plenty of fun.


Aren't you sweet! Not bad for an old bag, huh?


A quick look at two of the front That's it for Newsnight, we are


back on Tuesday, enjoy the bank back on Tuesday, enjoy the bank


Good evening, it's a bank holiday weekend, and for once it looks like


the weather want to play along, at least forea while. For Saturday


much dryer and brighter for England and Wales on Friday. Much warmer as


well and with a much lighter wind. Another pretty decent day across


the majority of Scotland and Northern Ireland as well. A really


big contrast for England and Wales after the cold wind and rain on


Friday. Some fairly recent sunshine and highs of 15, 16 and 17 on


Saturday. Just a little cooler along the east coast with the winds


feeding off the North Sea. For Scotland and Northern Ireland,


plenty of sunshine on the whole. Particularly around the Moray firth,


highs of 17, 18. Cloud in the west, we could see rain on and off the


likes of the Western Isles from time to time. Sunday still looks


like a pretty reasonable day. Particularly by bank holiday


weekend standards, for the bulk of the UK. A bit more cloud sitting


towards the North West. Perhaps not that much sunshine to be found


during the day across Scotland and Northern Ireland. Any rain here


should be fairly light and patchy. For England and Wales, the best of


the sunshine towards the west, highs of 20 degrees, a bit more


Efforts to prevent the radicalisation of potentially violent young men, the BBC's £100m failed IT project and director Stephen Soderbergh. In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Gavin Esler.

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