Queen’s honour for our Counter Terrorism cop
One of our Counter Terrorism officers has been honoured by the Queen for his tireless work with Birmingham’s mosques to divert vulnerable people from radicalisation.
Sergeant Mohammed Najib − or “Naj" as he’s affectionately known − has spent nine years with the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) including many on the Prevent programme.
Naj founded the Birmingham Council of Mosques which has a united commitment to sharing anti-radicalisation messaging in their communities.
The Council − which has almost 50 prominent city mosques signed up as members − has set up youth sports projects to engage young people and has a charitable arm that, during the CoVID-19 crisis, is helping struggling families with food parcels.
Sgt Najib has also personally worked with some young people considered in danger of being groomed by extremists. He’s helped steer them onto the right track and they are now no longer deemed a risk.
His efforts have now received royal recognition in the form of a Queen’s Police Medal in her Majesty’s Birthday Honours.
He said: “Mosques represented on the Council come from different schools of thoughts with different interpretations of Islam. They have come together, for the first time in the history of Birmingham, for the greater good and our messages are now reaching 100,000s of people in the city.
“The sports and social schemes run through the Council are really important to reach young people and promote a positive relationship with the police in Muslim communities.
“The Council took over 18 months to create. It was a lot of work getting the mosques on board, creating the website, writing the constitution, registering as a charity and continually trying to expand the membership.
“But I was working for several years before that with Imams and the wider community to build trust and confidence and lay the foundations for this project.
“It’s been well worth the effort, as we now have a thriving community that’s on board with one common goal: to protect people at risk or radicalisation in our city."
Sgt Najib joined West Midlands Police 15 years ago having previously worked in a variety of jobs including hospitality and as a bus driver.
He admits that life has been tough having left school with no formal qualifications but through hard work and determination he achieved his aim of joining the police.
“Twenty years ago people would have looked at me and said there was no chance I could be a police officer," admitted Naj. “But I’m proof that with determination anyone can achieve their ambitions and make an important contribution to their community.
“I was working night shifts and studying at college during the day to get the qualifications I missed out on as a child. It was tough but I had always harboured a passion to be a police officer and was determined to succeed.
“When I first heard about the Queen’s medal I thought it was a wind-up by colleagues at work! It wasn’t until the official letter came through from the Cabinet Office that I realised it was genuine.
“It’s a great honour and I feel very honoured."
Naj has also organised several Counter Terrorism events in Birmingham, including one aimed at deterring girls and young women travelling to the middle east to become ‘Jihadi Brides’ at the height of the Syrian crisis.