Tobias Ellwood slams Dorset art exhibit featuring suicide bomb vests

Tory MP whose brother was killed in terror attack slams ‘tasteless and insensitive’ Dorset art exhibit featuring suicide bomb vests titled ‘Monuments to Immortality’

  • Tory ex-defence minister has slammed ‘tasteless’ suicide bomb vest art exhibit
  • The series of mounted vests are on display in a gallery in Bournemouth, Dorset  
  • Tobias Ellwood has called for the artwork to be ‘removed immediately’
  • His brother was among 202 killed in an Islamist terror attack in Bali in 2002
  • It also follows the killing of Sir David Amess by suspected terrorist in Essex

A Conservative former defence minister whose brother was killed in a terrorist attack has slammed a ‘tasteless and insensitive’ art exhibit with colourfully painted suicide bomb vests.  

The series of mounted bronze cast vests, which are on display in a gallery in Bournemouth, Dorset, are based on YouTube videos and internet images of suicide bombers.

Titled ‘Monuments to Immortality’, they have been described by curators as a ‘dialogue between death and beauty’.

But Tobias Ellwood, Tory chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, has called for the artwork to be ‘removed immediately’.

His 39-year-old brother Jonathan Ellwood was among the 202 people killed in an Islamist terror attack in a nightclub in Bali in 2002.

Jonathan was a history teacher who lived in Vietnam and had been visiting Bali for a conference.

Mr Ellwood was widely praised as a hero when he tried in vain to save PC Keith Palmer’s life during the 2017 Westminster terrorist attack, which killed six people and injured over 50.

It also follows the killing of MP Sir David Amess by a suspected terrorist at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea as he met with Southend West constituents earlier this month.


The series of mounted bronze cast vests, which are on display in a gallery in Bournemouth, Dorset, are based on YouTube videos and internet images of suicide bombers

Tobias Ellwood, Tory chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, has called for the artwork to be ‘removed immediately’

A display board with the suicide vests reveals the artwork, produced by British brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, was ‘informed by YouTube videos of suicide bombers and internet imagery’

An official review will call for major changes to the Government’s beleaguered anti-extremism programme, it has been claimed.

The report, commissioned by the Home Secretary, will suggest giving the Home Office more direct control of the Prevent scheme. The recommendation is expected to be contained in a review due out by the end of the year, the Times reported.

It comes amid concern some Prevent panels – run by local authorities – have involved Muslim groups which strongly oppose the entire programme and claim its very basis is Islamophobic.

The Prevent review – conducted by William Shawcross, ex-chairman of the Charity Commission – is also expected to say deradicalisation schemes should be funded for three years rather than one to give financial stability.

Under the main recommendation, the Home Office would appoint Prevent co-ordinators directly rather than leaving the decision to local authorities, it is thought.

It is also expected to recommend a change to the structure of the Prevent panels, to mirror the police’s 11 Counter-Terrorism Units nationally.

Fiyaz Mughal, of Faith Matters and Muslims Against Antisemitism, told the Times: ‘There is no point in bringing on deeply polarising groups who have no interest in seeing the positive in counter-extremism programmes on to Prevent steering groups. This is totally counterproductive and needs to change.’ 

Mr Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, said: ‘My brother was killed by a terrorist wearing one of these jackets. I strongly urge this insensitive exhibition to be removed immediately.

‘It is tasteless, offensive and irresponsible and I hope the exhibitors will act swiftly in taking it down. As the (recent) loss of a colleague in Parliament (Sir David Amess) illustrates, the threat of extremism is very real with individuals radicalised by what they read and see.’

The GIANT gallery, situated above a busy town centre department store in the seaside resort of Bournemouth, is open to shoppers and free to enter.

A display board with the suicide vests reveals the artwork, produced by British brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, was ‘informed by YouTube videos of suicide bombers and internet imagery’.

It reads: ‘This series of bronze-cast suicide vests is informed by YouTube clips of suicide bombers and internet imagery.

‘A dialogue with death and beauty ensues, in which the risk and danger of being an artist is pitched against the power of the artist’s conviction to fight for belief.’

The Chapman brothers are visual artists known for their shocking works and their previous artwork, including a crazy golf ornament of Hitler saluting, has attracted controversy.

In 2008 they painted hippie motifs on 13 water colours originally produced by the Fuhrer. 

Mr Ellwood previously called for a temporary suspension of public meetings between MPs and their constituents following the killing of Sir David by a suspected terrorist.

Speaking to Channel 4, he warned: ‘Ultimately we have to recognise that there could be a copycat-style attack. The police have already made that clear. 

‘So yes, absolutely, let’s stand up to the terrorists, let’s make sure that our lifestyles and the way we go about is not altered, that they do not win. But we need to do that in a cognitive way to make sure that MPs, staff and indeed the general public are kept safe.’

It comes amid criticism of Prevent, the Government’s flagship counter-terrorism programme, which its detractors insist has been hijacked by political correctness away from the threat of Islamism.   

The Henry Jackson Society has claimed that anti-terror resources are being diverted away from the principal terror threat to the UK of Islamist extremism.

Its executive director, Dr Alan Mendoza, said: ‘The Prevent scheme has been hamstrung by political correctness following a well-organised campaign by Islamist groups and the political Left of false allegations of ‘Islamophobia’ so that its work is skewed away from the gravest threat, that of radical Islam.

‘The reality is that the programme has struggled to cope with the increase in referrals to it over the years given increased extremism and the unremitting hostility of some leaders in the Muslim community and the political Left to its activity.’ 

Titled ‘Monuments to Immortality’, they have been described by curators as a ‘dialogue between death and beauty’

The series of mounted bronze cast vests, which are on display in a gallery in Bournemouth, Dorset, are based on YouTube videos and internet images of suicide bombers

A display board with the suicide vests reveals the artwork, produced by British brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, was ‘informed by YouTube videos of suicide bombers and internet imagery’

How does the Prevent scheme work?  

Under the Prevent programme, local authority staff and other professionals such as doctors, teachers and social workers have a duty to flag concerns about an individual being radicalised or drawn into a terrorism. 

This report is then be passed to a local official charged with deciding whether the tip-off merits a formal referral. Prevent referrals are handled by expert officers in the local police force. 

Cases are then categorised depending on the nature of the individual’s alleged beliefs – based on evidence ranging from comments they have been overheard saying to their social media history. 

People who are not viewed as either far-right or Islamist are categorised as having a ‘mixed, unstable or unclear’ ideology.

Less serious reports may be sent to council services, which could include parenting support for families whose children have been watching inappropriate videos online. 

Serious reports are forwarded on to Prevent’s Channel stage, at which a panel of local police, healthcare specialists and social workers meeting monthly will consider the case. 

At this stage, counter-terror police will be involved and will receive information from counsellors, social workers or theological mentors working with the individual concerned. 

The report said there is a ‘fundamental mismatch’ between the threat posed by Islamist terrorism and the attention given to it by Prevent.

Just 22 per cent of all referrals to Prevent relate to Islamist extremists, while 24 per cent are for neo-Nazi or other far Right extremists, official Home Office data shows.

And among cases actually taken up by the Prevent scheme in its ‘Channel’ programme – which mentors individuals to turn them away from terrorist causes – just 30 per cent relate to Islamists compared with 43 per cent which are far-Right.

This is despite the most recent report by the Government’s Independent Review of Terrorism Legislation, Jonathan Hall QC, saying that ‘Islamist terrorism remains the principal threat in Great Britain’.

There were also unconfirmed reports last year that the vast majority of suspects on MI5’s ‘watch list’ – 39,000 from a total 43,000 – are jihadists.

The British Muslim academic who compiled the report, Dr Rakib Ehsan, said: ‘The Prevent scheme’s central aim is to reduce the UK’s overall terror threat and maximise public safety. 

‘At the moment, it is failing to deliver on this front. There is an all too real prospect of Islamist extremists who present a significant security risk not being sufficiently monitored by the public authorities.’

The report called for a ‘forensic analysis’ of cases where an individual referred to Prevent leaves the scheme and goes on to be commit terrorism-related offences.  

A series of terrorists have gone on to commit atrocities despite being on Prevent’s books.

They include Reading knife attacker Khairi Saadallah, who killed three men in a Reading park in June last year, and Parsons Green bomber Ahmed Hassan, who plotted his attack on a Tube train in 2017 under the nose of his mentors.

Separately, another think-tank, Policy Exchange, published a commentary asking whether anti-terror schemes were making the correct balance between Islamist and other categories of terror threats.

Dr Paul Stott, its head of security and extremism, called on ministers to research whether ‘greater social acceptance within the public sector’ had led to staff concentrating on far-Right extremism rather than Islamists.

‘Has the vilification of Prevent by its opponents as racist or Islamophobic deterred some employees in the public sector from fulfilling their statutory duties,’ he asked.

Dr Stott also questioned the accountability of Security Service, MI5, and whether it was giving ‘value for money’.

He asked: ‘With the expansion of MI5 over the 20 years since 9/11, ministers need to ask whether we are we getting value for money from the domestic security service?

‘Is their sufficient oversight of how the resources pie is being cut up inside what one wag referred to as the ‘independent republic of Thames House’?’

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