U.K: Project Champion and The “Three Lions” terror group

Jon MC

Back in 2010 in the U.K. there was the ill-fated “Project Champion” in Birmingham.

This “project” would have seen the installation and use of more than 200 CCTV cameras in the Sparkhill region of Birmingham which is a Muslim majority area.

When this was discovered an assortment of civil liberties groups along with local Muslims objected claiming that the plan unfairly targeted Muslims for surveillance. See here.

As a consequence, the cameras were never switched on and eventually they were taken down and either used elsewhere, sold on or destroyed. See here.

At a Public meeting (not recorded in the media, sadly) local Muslims objected strenuously and civil rights organisation “Liberty” also attacked the scheme.

Councillor Salma Yaqoob, then of the marvellously ironically named “Respect Party” of George Galloway fame, accused the authorities “of being deliberately ‘sneaky’” in installing the cameras.

Corinna Ferguson, legal officer of human rights group Liberty said: ‘Putting bags over cameras will not conceal the project’s true agenda, and Liberty will continue to pursue the protection of residents’ privacy under the Human Rights Act.

As ever the whiff of “Islamophobia” hung over the uproar.

All this resulted in the cameras not being turned on and the local Police force was castigated for “‘significant damage to community relations’ with one claim that it had ‘set relations back a decade’”.


Haven’t we all been told that there is a “rising tide of Islamophobia” in Western Countries and that Muslims are unfairly targeted for abuse and worse by all the “racists”, “fascists” and “Islamophobes” around them?

Back then in 2010 I thought: why then would Muslims object to CCTV in their areas? Surely that would make their streets safer. All those nasty “racists” and “fascists” driving into the area to target them could be tracked. In any attack made the perps would probably be identifiable from CCTV images. Wouldn’t the likelihood of CCTV identification leading to arrest, trial and conviction on hate crime charges thoroughly deter the evil “Islamophobes” from attacking the peaceful Muslims of Sparkhill?

Surely all the peaceful and much put-upon Muslims of the area facing the dreadful discrimination of Islamophobia would heave huge sighs of relief knowing that they were safe from Islamophobes at last.

So why the fuss?


Enter the “Three Lions”:

On 20th Feb. 2013 three men, Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27 were all convicted of a terror plot that could have rivalled 9/11 in its death-toll. The attack was planned for the U.K. See here.

(Curiously, for once, the British media largely abandoned its prior practice of calling such people “Asian”, instead it described them as “coming from first generation Pakistani and Bangladeshi families”, or similar.)

Fortunately, due to a mixture of their incompetence (Ashak Ali to his wife Salma in their bugged flat: “Oh, you think this is a flipping ‘Four Lions’. We’re one man short, there’s three of us.” – Four Lions was a British black comedy about four incompetent British-Muslim suicide bombers. It is, quite literally, horribly funny.) and good work by the Police and security services their attempt was thwarted.

These delightful fellows were residents of and arrested in guess which English City? Any takers?

Yes, Birmingham.

Would anyone care to guess where in Birmingham at least some of the arrests took place?

Here is a hint:

The ringleaders of a failed terror plot hatched in Sparkhill were convicted of planning a bombing campaign ” See here.

According to this report: “Naseer was found guilty of five counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist attacks, Khalid of four and Ali of three counts – all between Christmas Day 2010 and 19 September 2011.” when they were arrested.

Look at the dates here:

Project Champion was initiated in 2010 and Muslim and civil liberties groups got it shut down before it was operational by mid June 2010. See here.

The “three Lions” wannabe terror group were active between the end of 2010 and late 2011.

the fact that they were caught is evidence that a security operation, involving up to 400 people from the Police and security services, can thwart such attempted attacks.

But on the 23rd Feb 2013 this report states: “A [Muslim] Birmingham MP has called for the reinstatement of controversial [Project Champion] spy cameras in predominantly Muslim areas of Birmingham in the wake of a failed suicide bomb plot. Khalid Mahmood said the relaunch of the Project Champion scheme to monitor the movement of cars and people in Sparkhill, Ward End and Washwood Heath ‘could ensure the safety and security for people in Birmingham and the whole UK.’

So now, suddenly, project Champion isn’t about invading the privacy of Muslims nor is it driven by an “Islamophobic” agenda, it will “ensure the safety and security” of both Muslims and non-Muslims alike – just as I thought in 2010 when reportage of the objections was all over the media.

Mahmood further opined: “They (the cameras) would have helped the security services enormously, particularly in the suicide bomb plot we have been hearing about.” (ibid)

Thus the cameras are now not an “Islamophobic attack” on an “innocent Muslim community”, they could have “helped the security services enormously” in preventing “ suicide bomb plot(s)” and, presumably, saved some of the (massive and undisclosed) cost of tracking the wannabe terrorists.

According to the sources linked above, this is the same “innocent Muslim community” which did not pass information concerning these gents onto the authorities, though to be fair most of this information was, as far as is known to date (23.02.2013), held by other family members.

Let me clear here: I am not stating, inferring or implying in any way that all, most or even many Muslims do or would harbour terrorists, or that they would not pass relevant information to the authorities, or that there was a general “community cover-up” in this case.

But I am still left wondering, now that it has been admitted that Project Champion (or something similar) would be beneficial for the Muslim communities of Birmingham, just what all the fuss was originally about and in who’s interest was the failure of “Project Champion”.

(All links correct as of 23.01.2013)

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Update: 11.Apr.2013: The wife (Salma Kabal)  of one of the “Three Lions” (Ashik Ali) now on trial for not reporting hubby to the Police. Ali joked about the film “Four Lions” to Salma as recorded in the main article. Another two members of the terrorist cell, Bahader Ali, 29, and Mohammed Rizwan, 34 also on on trial for terrorism charges, charged with “conduct in preparation of terrorist acts”,  “entering into a funding arrangement for the purposes of terrorism” and “gathering information for terrorism“. Read more here.

Jon MC

Jon MC is a retired Chemist, Physicist and teacher (not necessarily in that order) who still has professional commitments. His interest in Islam was kindled when he met some "radical Muslims up close and personal" and he has studied the foundational texts of Islam ever since. He writes under a nomme de plume in order to keep his professional life and views separate.

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