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Islamic school where teacher tried to raise army of jihadist children, was judged outstanding by Ofsted

Ofsted marked a fee-paying Islamic school as outstanding while one of its teachers was trying to raise “army” of jihadi children, it can be revealed.

Umar Haque, 25, has been convicted of plotting to attack iconic British landmarks such as Big Ben and Heathrow Airport.

But police have said he was also aiming to recruit children from the two schools and the mosque where he taught in East London to carry out future jihad in the UK.

Haque was employed as an administrator and Religious Education teacher at the private Lantern of Knowledge Secondary School in Leyton, east London, between September 2015 and September 2016.

During the period he was at the school it received glowing Ofsted reports, with inspectors praising its “strong sense of community, harmony and respect”.

Umar Haque, 25, who is facing jail for training an ‘army of children’ for terrorist attacks on 30 targets across London.

Met Police/PA

Haque also worked at the Ripple Road mosque in Barking – which was attended by London Bridge terrorist, Khurum Butt, as well as the Hafs Academy in Newham.

‘Army of children’

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “He abused his position at those venues.

“And he tried – and he did, we believe – radicalise vulnerable children from the ages of 11 to 14.

“His plan was to create an army of children to assist with multiple terrorist attacks throughout London.

“His plans, though ambitious, were aspirational. They were long term attack plans.”

Nobody at any of the institutions raised the alarm and Mr Haydon also suggested they had failed to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Haque came onto the police’s radar in April 2016, when he was stopped at Heathrow trying to board a plane to Turkey.

Despite having his passport revoked by the Home Office, he continued to work at the Lantern of Knowledge, until the September of that year.

On January 24 last year he was caught driving without insurance and police again began to look into his activities, at which point they discovered evidence pointing to his desire to radicalise youngsters.

Pupils ‘prepared for martyrdom’

It can now be revealed that Haque had access to 250 children aged between 11 and 14 and tried to radicalise more than 100 of them by showing extremist videos including beheadings.

Haque warned the children they would meet a similar fate if they told anyone about his plans as he prepared them for “martyrdom”.

He planned to teach the children to drive as they got older, Mr Haydon said, adding: “His intention was those children would help him carry out multiple attacks across London. It was a long term plan.”

Umar Haque’s address

Met Police/PA

A total of 35 children are now receiving long term safeguarding support from social services, supported by the police, local authorities and the Home Office.

Paralysed by fear

Mr Haydon said police had been met with a “wall of silence”, when they had attempted to investigate Haque’s activities.

He added: “We found no evidence, at the moment, that any individual raised concerns within the schools. It certainly wasn’t reported to police or authorities.

“Children were paralysed by fear. There was a wall of silence.”

Umar Haque’s room

Met Police/PA

Describing Haque’s plans, Mr Haydon said: “He tried to prepare the children for martyrdom, by making them role play terrorist acts.  So terrorist acts that had taken place in and around London. “

He added: “He told them he had significant connections into IS. He showed them pretty shocking videos of beheadings, involving serious injury, murder, mostly overseas.

“He threatened them that if they were to talk to teachers, parents or to allude to anybody outside of that classroom of what was going on, that they would meet a similar fate.

“It doesn’t appear that any of those children raised the alarm bell of what was going on.”

Mr Haydon said this presented “challenges” for the police in trying to understand what was going on in these institutions.

He went on: “It was apparent that he was in the early stages of this long term attack plan, that he intended would take place at multiple sites using multiple weapons, assisted by children that he had radicalised at those three locations.”

School given glowing reports

Ofsted and the local education authority were involved with the schools, while the mosque is subject to an ongoing Charities Commission investigation.

But an Ofsted inspection, which took place when Haque was working there, heaped praise on the Lantern of Knowledge, which charges fees of £3,000 a year.

The report stated: “Pupils speak with pride about their faith and are accepting and understanding of those with other beliefs and lifestyles, even when they are at odds with the central teachings of their own faith.”

But while the Ofsted report from the period Haque was teaching there was ‘Outstanding’, a subsequent emergency inspection that took place in December 2017, after he had been charged and was awaiting trial, described it needing improvement in every area.

‘He shouldn’t have been teaching’

Mr Haydon said: “He was a very dangerous man. It is a concern what he was doing. He is radicalising children. “He shouldn’t have been teaching – he’s not a qualified teacher, that’s a concern in the first place.”

A statement issued on behalf of the school’s board of trustees, said: “The Lantern of Knowledge Educational Trust treats the safety and welfare of its pupils with the upmost importance.

“It adheres to the Department for Education’s statutory guidance for the safe recruitment of staff.

“The Trust regularly reviews its policies and procedures around the recruitment of its staff to ensure they are robust and legally compliant.

“Those involved in the recruitment of staff also undergo training to ensure statutory requirements are adhered to.

“The Trust works closely with third party organisations to maintain the safety of our pupils and assists with any lawful enquiries made by relevant authorities.”

But Scotland Yard have raised concerns over the level of cooperation officers got from all the institutions Haque was involved with.

Mr Haydon said: “There were no reports from teachers or the children into the school that raised concerns about Haque himself.”

Referring to Lantern of Knowledge, he said: “We spoke to parents. As you can imagine, they were as concerned and probably horrified as we were.

“It is a fee paying school. Parents are paying a significant amount of money to send their children to a school where they would expect them to be safe.

“And be taught by fully qualified teachers.  In this case, they weren’t. As a result, that’s why we intervened as early as we could.”

Warped ideology

Ofsted’s Deputy Chief Inspector, Matthew Coffey said: “It is of deep regret that this individual was able to work within the independent school system and expose his warped ideology to children.

“Umar Haque engaged in highly sophisticated grooming of young, vulnerable children. We welcome the conviction and are fully supportive of the work taking place across Government to ensure people like Haque aren’t able to do this again.

“Ofsted is committed to protecting children from harm, including radicalisation. However, our ability to do so is hampered by limitations on our powers.

“We have no ability to inspect out-of-school settings, such as madrassas, and we believe greater powers in this area could help keep children safe in the future.

“We know the Government is keen to address these matters and welcome their commitment to closer working.”

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/02/islamic-school-teacher-tried-raise-army-jihadist-children-judged/

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