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Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - United Kingdom

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 May 2013
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - United Kingdom, 30 May 2013, available at: [accessed 22 October 2017]
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: In 2012, the UK continued to play a leading role in countering international terrorism. The UK government implemented its updated counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST, which was released in 2011. This update of CONTEST, 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. The foreword to the updated strategy by UK Home Secretary Theresa May states, "Greater effort will be focused on responding to the ideological challenge and the threat from those who promote it; we will also work harder to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support. 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."

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics ensured the world's attention was on the UK for much of the year and as a result, British security services mobilized forces and resources to successfully host both events. There were terrorist threats against UK interests in 2012, although extensive and collaborative work led to the disruption of known threats. In the lead up and throughout the summer, the UK services conducted arrests and worked to remove violent extremists and obstructionists from the streets.

On October 24, the British Security Service downgraded the threat to Great Britain from dissident Irish republicans from "substantial" to "moderate." The decrease shows the authorities regard an attack on London and other British cities from such groups as possible, but not likely. Previously it was deemed a strong possibility. The threat level in Northern Ireland has not changed. It remained "severe" with an attack still highly likely. On its website, MI5 said: "The threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism is separate from that for international terrorism. It is also set separately for Northern Ireland and Great Britain."

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In October 2011, the UK government published a Green Paper proposing legislation to protect sensitive information from public disclosure in judicial proceedings. The impetus for the Green Paper stems from the civil case brought by former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohammed, in which a UK court ruled in 2009 that U.S. intelligence cited in that case must be released into the public domain, over the objections of both the U.S. and UK governments. The Justice and Security bill was introduced to the House of Commons on November 28, 2012. At year's end it remained in the legislative process.

The Crime and Courts Bill creating the National Crime Agency was introduced on May 10, 2012 in the House of Lords.

A Draft Communications Data Bill proposed by Home Secretary May would require additional data collection and retention of user activity by internet service providers and mobile phone services, recording contact information for each user's webmail, voice calls, social media, internet gaming, and mobile phone contacts and store them for 12 months. Retention of email and telephone contact data for this time is already required.

2012 law enforcement actions included:

  • In January, Ryan Lavery, 27, of Ballymote Park, Downpatrick was arrested and accused of possessing or collecting documents that could have been of use to terrorists in Northern Ireland. Police said his computer had photos of vehicles coming in and out of the Ballykinler Army Base, County Down, Northern Ireland. Mr. Lavery also possessed a list of vehicle registration numbers.

  • April marked the first time a convicted UK terrorist entered into an agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service to give evidence in a trial against other alleged terrorists. Saajid Badat testified during the trial of Adis Medunjanin, a Bosnian-born U.S. citizen, who denied involvement in a suicide bomb plot on the New York subway in 2009. Zarein Ahmedzay and Najibullah Zazi were both jailed in 2010 after admitting their part in the foiled plot. The trial revealed details of young Western Muslims travelling to South Asia to receive training from al-Qa'ida.

  • On April 24, five men, aged between 21 and 35, were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism. They were arrested at separate addresses in Luton under the Terrorism Act 2000 by unarmed Metropolitan Police officers assisted by Bedfordshire Police in an intelligence-led operation.

  • On May 1, seven people were arrested on suspicion of funding overseas terrorism with money linked to smuggling of the stimulant khat. Six men and a woman were arrested in London, Coventry, and Cardiff in early morning raids by counterterrorism officers. The arrests were part of an international probe into alleged terrorist fundraising and money-laundering.

  • On May 15, more than 100 Cheltenham residents attended a meeting called by police after two local men were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offenses. The pair, aged 52 and 31, was initially held under the Explosive Substances Act after suspicious items were found in a garage. In a sign of a strong community-oriented policing program, representatives from the police, the fire service, and the Cheltenham Borough Council answered questions to reassure residents. The arrests came after police found suspicious items in a garage in Buttermere Close in the Up Hatherley area of the town. About 100 houses were evacuated but residents were allowed to return to their homes following controlled explosions carried out by a bomb disposal team.

  • On June 28, two men were arrested in London on suspicion of terrorist offenses. The men, aged 18 and 32, were held under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism. Officers searched both of the addresses where the suspects lived.

  • On June 29, Minh Quang Pham, who was wanted in the United States for terrorism-related offenses, was arrested in the UK, and was remanded in custody. An indictment released by the U.S. Department of Justice accused Pham of providing material support to al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula and receiving military-style training while he was in Yemen.

  • On June 30, following a routine traffic stop of a vehicle near Sheffield, South Yorkshire, three men from the West Midlands were arrested and charged with terrorist offenses after police found guns, knives, machetes, and a home-made explosive device. Jewel Uddin, 26, Omar Mohammed Khan, 27, and Mohammed Hasseen, 23, all from Sparkhill, Birmingham, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court accused of preparing for an act or acts of terrorism with the intention of committing such acts. They were accused of manufacturing an improvised explosive device, as well as acquiring firearms and other weapons, and vehicles connected with their alleged plans to attack the anti-Islamic group, English Defense League, who had held a rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, earlier that day.

  • On September 30, four men stabbed a visiting General from India, Lieutenant General Kuldeep Singh Brar. Lieutenant General Brar, who survived the stabbing, led the 1984 raid on Sikhism's holiest shrine. The stabbing is being treated as an attack by violent extremists and there have been at least 11 follow-up arrests in connection with the case.

  • On October 4, a brother and sister from Birmingham were arrested under the Terrorism Act, and were freed on police bail. West Midlands Police said the pair, aged 23 and 18, was suspected of possessing documents likely to be of use to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism. They were arrested at an address in the Small Heath district. Police added the arrests had been pre-planned and not made in response to any threat to public safety. Computers and other electronic devices were seized for forensic examination.

  • On October 5, Abu Hamza al Masri, Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary, and Khaled al-Fawwaz were extradited to the United States to face terrorism charges. Their extradition was upheld following a court decision that stated the prisoners did not show "new and compelling" reasons to stay in the UK. Their appeal came after the European Court of Human Rights backed successive UK courts in ruling for extradition.

  • On October 10, two people were arrested at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of committing terrorist offenses. Police said the man and woman were being questioned as part of an investigation into travel to Syria in support of alleged terrorist activity.

Countering Terrorist Finance: The UK has a wide range of anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) laws. It is a member of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and an active participant in FATF-style regional bodies to meet evolving AML/CFT threats. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: The UK is a leader in all regional and international fora that it belongs to. It cooperates with other nations and international organizations on counterterrorism, including in the UN and UNSC, EU, NATO, Council of Europe, G-8, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IMF, World Bank, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and Interpol. The UK is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and co-chairs its Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: In 2007, the UK launched its Prevent strategy 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 UK government interaction with their communities was focused solely 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 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 calls 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.

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