Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2018, 15:01 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - United Kingdom

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 31 July 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - United Kingdom, 31 July 2012, available at: [accessed 17 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis 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.

Overview: The United Kingdom (UK) continued to play a leading role in countering global terrorism. The UK government released its updated counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST, on July 12. This update, the first under the coalition government, set out the UK's strategic framework for countering the terrorist threat at home and abroad for 2011-2015. CONTEST's alignment with the U.S. National Strategy for Counterterrorism will help facilitate continued close counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and the UK.

In 2011, there were no terrorist incidents in England, Scotland, or Wales. At the end of 2011, however, the UK rated the threat level to the UK from international terrorism as "substantial", indicating a strong possibility of a terrorist attack.

At the close of 2011, the UK rated the threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism within Northern Ireland as "severe," meaning an attack is highly likely.

2011 Terrorist Incidents: A number of terrorist incidents occurred in Northern Ireland. Dissident republican groups the Real IRA (RIRA), Continuity IRA (CIRA), and Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) remained actively opposed to the peace settlement in Northern Ireland. In June, the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) estimated approximately 650 active members of dissident republican groups remained at large.

Through October 31, PSNI reported one fatality in Northern Ireland due to security related violence. On April 2, an undercar bomb exploded, killing a police constable outside of his home near Omagh, Co Tyrone, in Northern Ireland. A dissident Republican group claiming ties to the RIRA claimed responsibility for the attack. In July, police arrested five men in connection with the killing as part of a raid that spanned three counties and involved over 200 officers. All five men were subsequently released.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: The UK Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPims) Bill 2010-2011 became law in December. The provisions of this bill are the result of the coalition government's January 2011 report "Review of Counterterrorism and Security Powers." The TPims replace the UK's widely debated control orders, set out in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which restricted movement and access to the internet by terrorism suspects. According to the UK Home Office, TPims are meant to be a "less intrusive system of terrorism prevention" that will "rebalance intrusive security powers and increase safeguards for civil liberties." Key changes under TPims are that they can only be enforced for a maximum of two years, and additional measures can only be imposed if the person has reengaged in terrorism. Judicial oversight of the system will broaden, with the high court having to grant permission to impose the measure. In November, the bill was amended to extend the transitional period from 28 to 42 days to give law enforcement more time to prepare to transition to TPims, as TPims will require additional human and technical surveillance measures.

As part of the UK's "Review of Counterterrorism and Security Powers," provided to the UK Parliament in January, the police will no longer be able to hold terrorism suspects for up to 28 days without charge; they will now be limited to 14 days.

On November 9, UK Home Secretary Theresa May proscribed Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), making membership in or support of the organization a criminal offence under the Terrorism Act 2000. May said that MAC is another name for organizations already proscribed: Al Ghurabaa, The Saved Sect, Al Muhajiroun, and Islam4UK.

The UK made several advances in border security. The UK implemented passenger biographic data collection for all modes of travel, to include rail and vessel. The UK is also collaborating on an intra-European Union (EU) Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreement that will allow collection of PNR data for intra-EU flights. The UK collects limited PNR data on non-EU arrivals. The UK also implemented biometric fingerprint collection for visa issuance at the majority of its foreign posts. The UK continued to check biometrics at its 31 major ports of entry.

In response to the November 2010 cargo bomb plot that originated in Yemen, the UK government suspended the transport of unaccompanied air freight from Yemen and Somalia. The government also worked with the aviation industry and with the European Commission to devise a security screening regime for cargo to better mitigate threats. Specifically, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) designed and continued to refine a risk-based approach that applies more robust checks for cargo from designated high-risk departure or transit points.

Arrests: The UK arrested and charged a number of individuals with a variety of terrorism offences, ranging from facilitation and fundraising to attack planning in new and pending cases. These included:

  • In March, Ezedden Khalid Ahmed Al Khaledi appeared in Glasgow Sheriff Court to face three charges under the Terrorism Act and five others under immigration laws and banking regulations, in relation to a failed suicide attack in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010. (The Stockholm bomber, Iraqi-born Taimour Abdulwahab had been living with his wife and children in the London suburb of Luton.) Al Khaledi is alleged to have funded al-Abdaly, who died in the bombing attempt and injured two other people.

  • Also in March, a UK court sentenced a former British Airways software engineer to 30 years for plotting to blow up a plane.

  • In August, police charged a Manchester area couple, Mohammed Sajid Khan and Shasta Khan, under the Terrorism Act. The two were accused of researching improvised explosive devices on the internet and buying household items that could be used to make them between 2010 and 2011. At the end of 2011 they both remained in custody pending trial.

  • In September, the West Midlands Police arrested seven men from Birmingham on terrorism charges. Police charged four of the men with preparing for an act of terrorism in the UK, two with failing to disclose information, and one with entering into a funding arrangement for the purpose of terrorism. In a related arrest in November, UK authorities charged four additional men from Birmingham with engaging in preparation of terrorist acts, contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006.

  • In Northern Ireland, PSNI reported 136 persons arrested and 30 persons charged between January 1 and October 31.

The trial of two men, Colin Duffy and Brian Shivers, accused of killing two soldiers and injuring four others at the Massereene Army barracks in 2009, began in November. The attacks, for which the RIRA claimed responsibility, marked the first British military fatalities in Northern Ireland since 1997.

In September, the Court of Appeal upheld the convictions of Paul McCaugherty and Dermot Declan Gregory for their parts in a dissident republican gun-smuggling plot. The pair was originally convicted in October 2010 following an MI5 sting operation. McCaugherty and Gregory were given 20 and four year sentences, respectively.

Cooperation between the United States and the UK on counterterrorism remained robust. Evidence provided by the United States was critical in securing the convictions in several of the cases described above. U.S. investigators similarly relied on cooperation from UK authorities in obtaining evidence relating to numerous counterterrorism investigations, including the investigation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who pled guilty in October, to the attempted Christmas Day (2009) bombing of a flight bound for Detroit.

At the end of 2011, six U.S. terrorism prosecutions were on hold, pending decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which has stayed the extradition from the UK of six terrorism suspects wanted for trial in the United States: Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan, Haroon Aswat, Adel Abdul Bary, and Khaled al-Fawwaz. UK courts have approved the extradition requests for all six suspects. The cases of Aswat, Ahmad, and Ahsad were filed with the ECHR in 2007; Hamza in 2008; and Bary and al-Fawwaz in 2009. The issues on appeal include whether the potential sentence of life imprisonment without parole and U.S. prison conditions would violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

Countering Terrorist Finance: The UK is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and an active participant in FATF-style regional bodies working to meet evolving money laundering and terrorism financing threats. The UK engages in efforts to freeze the assets of persons who commit terrorist acts, as required by the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR). In early 2011, the UK replaced temporary asset-freezing regulations implementing UNSCR 1373 with new legislation containing a higher standard of proof for freezing assets.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: The UK is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and co-chairs its Countering Violent Extremism working group. It cooperated with other nations and international organizations to counter terrorism, including the United Nations, EU, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Council of Europe, G-8, International Atomic Energy Agency, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and INTERPOL.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The UK launched its "Prevent" strategy in 2007 to counter radicalization. Prevent is part of the government's overall CONTEST counterterrorism strategy. In 2011, Prevent was revised to correct several perceived problems. There had been complaints from members of Muslim organizations that all UK government interaction with their communities was focused on security concerns. As a result, the UK divided the responsibilities for various strands of Prevent among different government organizations. The Department of Communities and Local Government took over responsibility for integration work, designed to ensure that Muslim communities were receiving all the government services to which they were entitled and that immigrants were given assistance to integrate into British society. The Home Office will now focus on countering the ideology of violent extremism, including the identification of at-risk-youth and their placement in de-radicalization pre-programs. The revised strategy called for a much more focused effort to target those most at risk of radicalization. Finally, the government has decided that organizations that hold extremist views, even those that are non-violent, will not be eligible to receive government funding or participate in Prevent programs.

In February, Westminster and the Northern Ireland Executive collectively awarded the PSNI an additional U.S. $385 million over a four year period to combat dissident republican terrorism. The PSNI Chief Constable said the funds will be spent on "investigation, on more detectives, on more equipment, transport, air support, in sustaining our street presence in neighborhoods."

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