Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 - United Kingdom
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism|
|Publication Date||30 April 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 - United Kingdom, 30 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48196cbbc.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
On June 29, three days after Prime Minister Gordon Brown took office, terrorists attempted attacks in London and, a day later, terrorists drove a vehicle into Glasgow airport, which caught fire. The terrorist plots were disrupted by the British police, the British public, and, in the London attempt, the failure of the explosive material to detonate. The first attempts took place in London, where the terrorists had left two cars filled with explosive materials outside popular nightclubs. A paramedic became suspicious of the contents of one of the vehicles, (the other had already been towed for parking illegally), which led to discovery of the plot. Neither vehicle detonated. The following day, two terror suspects, believed to have fled from London, attempted to drive a vehicle into an entrance of Glasgow airport. The vehicle caught fire and did limited damage to the building. One of the suspects did not survive the fire and a passer-by, who worked at the airport, apprehended the other suspect as he exited the burning vehicle.
A total of seven individuals were arrested in connection with the June attempted attacks. Among them were an Iraqi and other nationals from the Middle East, several of whom worked in the UK in health professions. These attempted attacks followed the pattern of a spike in attempted terror activity in the summer, beginning in 2005 with the July 7 and July 21 London subway and bus attacks (in which 52 civilians died) and the foiled transatlantic airline plot disrupted in August 2006, though there were no AQ core-inspired plots in 2007. Of the seven individuals arrested in connection with the June attempted attacks, one died, three were released without being charged, and three are awaiting trial.
Seventeen individuals were arrested and charged with various aspects of the airline plot disrupted in August 2006. This plot involved preparations for the detonation of explosives on aircraft traveling between the UK and the United States. One individual has been convicted, charges against one individual were dropped, and 15 are awaiting trial.
As to the attacks of July 7, 2005, four individuals have been arrested and are awaiting trial (four suicide bombers died). Regarding the failed attacks of July 21, 2005, on July 9 four of the would-be suicide bombers were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and received life sentences. One defendant was acquitted. An additional 16 suspects were arrested for aiding and abetting; two have been convicted and fourteen await trial.
In November, the head of the domestic Security Service told the press that the number of individuals residing in the UK whose support for terrorism posed a direct threat to national security and public safety was at least 2,000. This figure represented an increase of 400 individuals from 2006, an increase attributable to both the government's greater coverage of terrorist networks and the steady flow of recruits to the extremist cause. Deeply concerned about growing extremism, HMG sought through the "Prevent" portion of its Counterterrorism Strategy to prevent the radicalization of vulnerable populations by exerting influence on both extremists and their audiences, addressing structural problems that cause radicalization, and disrupting extremists' ability to gain access that means of communications such as websites, blogsites, and other forms of new media. HMG also made efforts to stimulate self-regulation from the mosques and imams.
The domestic Security Service official noted that over the course of the last five years, attack planning had derived from AQ leadership in Pakistan, often using young British citizens to mount the attacks. In 2007, the government's assessment of the threat against the UK never fell below "severe," which is defined as "an attack is highly likely." The threat level was raised briefly in June and early July, around the time of the London/Glasgow incidents, to "critical," defined as "an attack is expected imminently."
After the attempted attacks of June, which were carried out by resident foreigners working in the UK health field, the British government pledged to review how it vets foreign-born personnel working in the National Health Service (the main, state-run health care employer in the UK). In December, the British government announced it had allocated $14 million to secure and dispose of used radiological and other materials from British hospitals (that could be used as ingredients for a radiological weapon or "dirty bomb").
The British government reorganized its governmental structures to better address terrorism. Changes included creation of an office of security and counterterrorism to coordinate all intra-governmental counterterrorism efforts, and the establishment of a research, intelligence, and communication unit (RICU) to lead British efforts to develop coherent messaging for domestic and international audiences on terrorist issues. The number of people working on counterterrorism was increased in both the Home Office and the domestic Security Service. The government increased its efforts to engage local communities through the establishment of a new ministerial position. In addition, the government announced its intention to meld the immigration and border control agencies into a single agency, a move meant to increase the government's ability to track movements of individuals entering and exiting the country. In November, the government said it would improve physical security for key infrastructure, including major train and air transportation hubs. The government announced it will increase education campaigns to teach private sector businesses how to improve their security.
Individuals were prosecuted under UK terror legislation on charges of "incitement to terrorism." On November 8, a Muslim woman, known as the "Lyrical Terrorist," was convicted under the Terrorism Act in the UK. The woman, arrested in October 2006, had a "library" of material useful to terrorists in her apartment. She was found guilty of possessing records likely to be used for terrorism, but not guilty of the more serious charge of possessing an article for a terrorist purpose. On December 6, she was given a nine-month suspended sentence, ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work within the community, and will remain under supervision for 18 months. The government's prosecution on the grounds of "incitement to terrorism" were contested by some Muslim community organizations as amounting to "conviction for thought."
The UK provided assistance to U.S. extradition requests for three individuals charged with attacks of terrorism in the United States or against U.S. citizens. Khalid Al Fawwaz, Adel Mohammed Aboul Almagid Abdul Bary, and Ibrahim Hussein Abdelhidi Eidarous are wanted for alleged involvement in the bombing of American Embassies in East Africa. Two of the three await decisions by the Home Secretary as to whether to extradite them to the United States. They remained in custody. The Home Secretary declined to extradite one individual on humanitarian, medical-related grounds. Also in UK custody, where the Home Secretary is considering his extradition to the United States, is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, aka Abu Hamza, who was found extraditable in November. The Home Secretary subsequently concurred with this decision. Abu Hamza has been found guilty in the UK of offenses relating to incitement to commit terrorist acts, has been sentenced to seven years, and is wanted in the United States on a variety of charges including conspiring to take hostages in Yemen in 1998. In May, the UK extradited Syed Hashmi to the United States; Hashmi is wanted for conspiring to provide and providing material support to terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
The United States and the UK worked closely within the UN and the FATF to deny terrorists, and their supporters, access to the international financial system. The UK had strong legal provisions in place for freezing assets related to terrorist financing, including the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006, and to further restrict the flow of funds to anyone HM Treasury designates as involved in terrorism, the AQ and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006. The Brown government is currently proposing language in an upcoming Counterterrorism bill to authorize forfeiture of assets by anyone involved in any aspect of support for terrorism. Current law only allows forfeiture for those convicted of terrorist financing.
The UK has an arrangement with the United States for the exchange of screening information on known and suspected terrorists, pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive #6.
The UK has consistently supported the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and is currently the second largest troop contributor. The UK increased its contributions to more than 7,500 troops. The UK has also contributed approximately 4,000 troops to efforts in Iraq.
In October of 2006, representatives of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) announced their support for the Ireland/UK-brokered "St. Andrews Agreement," which was implemented in the spring. The St. Andrews Agreement restored power to the Northern Ireland Assembly (NIA) and envisioned a power-sharing arrangement between the unionists and republicans.
Elections for the Assembly were held in March. On May 8th, the Democratic Unionist Party's Ian Paisley assumed office as First Minister, and Martin McGuiness of Sinn Fein became the Deputy First Minister. Two key decisions underpinned the restoration of the NIA. First, at a party conference in January, Sinn Fein agreed to endorse policing. Next, the DUP contested the election in March, signaling that it would agree to share power with Sinn Fein. The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), a four-person body established by the Irish and British governments in 2004, regularly releases reports on paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The most recent publication, the Sixteenth IMC report released in September, praised the British government's "amazing progress" on its dismantling of Northern Ireland's military structure.
British commitments were on schedule: all security watchtowers have been dismantled, and all soldiers assigned to counterterrorism duties were removed from Northern Ireland. Special counterterrorism legislation was gradually being rescinded. The IMC Commissioners expressed concern over the still-armed loyalist Ulster Defense Association's (UDA) lack of progress towards a strictly political existence and debated how long the UDA should be given to make the transition from paramilitary activity. The IMC Commissioners also stated that the IRA "has abandoned terrorism and violence and does not pose any form of threat relevant to security normalization." They also found that loyalist paramilitaries did not present a "terrorist type threat to the security forces," and were not likely to be a threat in the future. Republican dissidents did not have the resources to mount a major sustained violent effort. Nevertheless, dissident Republicans admitted responsibility for shooting two police officers in November, and were still considered a threat by security services.