Security services 'too slow' to tackle far-right extremism, says Jeremy Corbyn

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the media outside New Zealand House, following Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, in London, Britain March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Security services have been “too slow” to tackle the threat of far-right extremism, according to Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour Party leader described the recent anti-Muslim massacre in New Zealand as the “most disgraceful far-right terrorist attack” during an appearance on Sky News.

Corbyn added that, around the world, security services have been too slow to investigate the deadly rise of far-right extremism.

Although he referenced the recent mosque shootings in Christchurch, he said the problem goes back as far as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

He also referred to the Finsbury Park van attack in his own constituency in north London in 2017.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Corbyn said “we’ve got to be far more aware of the dangers of the far right”.

A girl walk to lay flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday, March 17, 2019. New Zealand’s stricken residents reached out to Muslims in their neighborhoods and around the country on Saturday, in a fierce determination to show kindness to a community in pain as a 28-year-old white supremacist stood silently before a judge, accused in mass shootings at two mosques that left dozens of people dead. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

The opposition leader said steps such as immediately removing dangerous content, such as the videos uploaded by the alleged attacker in the Christchurch shootings, but said it also raises the question of regulation by social media platforms.

Corbyn used the Sky interview to agree with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson’s calls for social media firms to do more to tackle the problem.

He claimed that suspect Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old charged with murder after the shootings, was inhabiting “very dark places”, adding unless more is done with social media it “ends up with 50 wholly innocent people dead”.

Asked whether the rise of the far right was being taken seriously enough, he said: “I think many security services around the world have been, how shall I put it, slow to investigate far-right extremism, going right back to Timothy McVeigh in the USA and more recent attacks including an attack in my own constituency when Makram Ali was killed.”

Fifty people are now known to have been killed in the New Zealand mosque shootings as the bodies of victims begin to be returned to their families.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, appeared in court on Saturday charged with murder and was remanded until April 5. Police said further charges would follow.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said he would not be ruling out the possibility of further suspects “until we are absolutely convinced as to how many people were involved”.

Two people arrested after the attacks were not believed to have been involved, police said, with one released and another charged with a separate offence.

Another person was taken into custody “due to evidence collected during the investigation” but there was “no information to suggest” they were linked to the attacks, police added.

Tarrant appeared to have live-streamed the terror attack and outlined his anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto posted online.

The New Zealand prime minister’s office was one of more than 30 recipients of an emailed copy of the manifesto just nine minutes before guns were fired.

“It did not include location. It did not include specific details,” she said.

“Within two minutes of receipt it was conveyed directly to parliamentary security.

“Had it provided details that could have been acted on immediately it would have been, but unfortunately there were no such details in the email.”

Social media giants were criticised in the wake of the attack for not doing more to stop such content being posted on their platforms.

On Sunday, Facebook said it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack worldwide in the 24 hours after the shootings, 1.2 million of which were blocked at upload.

Mia Garlick, of Facebook New Zealand, said: “We continue to work around the clock to remove violating content using a combination of technology and people.

“Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we’re also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content.”