PENARTH residents have spoken of their outrage at the thought of Cosmeston Country Park being used as a meeting place for the controversial Al Qaeda splinter group ‘Isis’ after photos emerged of them hosting a barbecue at the local beauty spot.
Members of the group are seen waving flags and wearing t-shirts with the ‘Isis’ logo on them as they discuss their shocking views during a barbecue in a national newspaper.
The terror group, which has been linked with three young Welsh Jihadis fighting in Syria, were reportedly handing out recruitment leaflets during the barbecue at the end of May.
A spokesman from the Vale of Glamorgan Council, which is responsible for renting out the barbecues and has faced questions of why the group were allowed to use the tourist attraction, said that the council had investigated the incident and was currently liaising with the police.
Bob Guy, Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic Projects, claimed that the barbecue shown in the pictures was not hired from the council and said: "This is not an event that the Council was aware of and is certainly not one that would have been sanctioned had that been the case. We would not allow any activity likely to cause such serious offence to take place. Nor would our park rangers have allowed it to continue had they been made aware."
He added: "The Vale of Glamorgan Council would encourage any visitors to our parks to report any suspicious activity to the rangers on duty, or in their absence to the police.”
A spokesman from South Wales Police said they were unable to verify where the photos were taken but said that they were looking into the matter.
Penarth MP Stephen Doughty said that a number of constituents had raised concerns with him after seeing the photos and that he had notified both the police and Vale of Glamorgan Council about the event.
He said that he would be “greatly concerned” if the pictures were true and that, if so, all the relevant authorities should work together to tackle the “threat of extremism” in the area.
He added that in future the Vale Council should ensure that its community and leisure facilities “are resilient to any groups or organisations that might be trying to exploit them” and that the police and local government needed to show a “united front” and tackle the “threat of extremism in our local area”.
Former Penarth resident John Burnell, whose son unwittingly saw the event towards the end of May, said that he was shocked when he saw the pictures in the Mail on Sunday and instantly recognised them as from Cosmeston.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“They have hired a barbecue just 50 yards away from the children’s playground.
“I don’t want to go there and see that type of thing.
“Isis is a small group but the people are described as a part of Al Qaeda and they are holding meetings in Penarth.”
He added: “In my 30 years working in the prison service I have dealt with groups like the IRA and UDA and seen them all, but to see that in Cosmeston I couldn’t believe it.”
Mr Burnell added that questions needed to be asked about why the extremist group was allowed to rent the barbeque in the first place.
“To allow them to hand out leaflets is unbelievable, and if they are recruiting at Cosmeston where there are families and young children it is even worse.
“I’m so irate about it I can’t believe it. What would you do if you booked a barbeque next to these people?
“If it’s coming into Cosmeston and Penarth where else are they planning on going?
“I can’t believe its happening in this day and age.
“In America they would have arrested them and locked them up for anti-terrorism laws as they are preaching terrorism.”