London: Scotland Yard is trying out a new scheme of recruiting convicted terrorists to counter Islamic State (IS) terror propaganda in the United Kingdom.
The Metropolitan Police wants to develop new "counter- narratives" to challenge Islamist ideology by using extremists who have returned after travelling to join conflicts abroad and are believed to have shunned that extremist ideology.
"We are more likely to have success, as we do, with those who have been radicalised here and those who have been to prison. We can not write off anyone convicted of a terrorist offence. We have got to try to work with them, engage with them, in prison if necessary, and try to turn them around," Commander Richard Walton, the Met's head of counter-terrorism, told 'Evening Standard.'
"They are the most powerful voices. We have a few, not many, but those we have are significant. It's not necessarily Syria, we have others back from Afghanistan, al Qaeda-related. We are desperate to find more," he said.
He said the recruitment of jihadis who had gone to Syria was difficult as "most don't come back" but added that repentant extremists in the UK offered a valuable alternative.
His comments follow earlier warnings by British police and the intelligence agencies about the heightened security risk posed by the Syria conflict and the continuing appeal of other terrorist organisations such as al Qaeda.
New figures released today show a total of 396 arrests and 186 terrorism-related charges in London alone over the past two years.
The Met has emphasised that any ex-extremist recruited to help counter radical narratives will be carefully vetted to ensure that they have genuinely abandoned extremist ideas.