Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2018, 08:18 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - United Kingdom

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 18 August 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - United Kingdom, 18 August 2011, available at: [accessed 22 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 UK continued to play a leading role in global counterterrorism efforts. The new coalition government established a National Security Council; appointed a National Security Adviser; completed a Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR); and published a new National Security Strategy (NSS). The SDSR and NSS reviewed threats to the UK's national security and set out new measures to counter terrorism.

The British government began a review of counterterrorism legislation, measures, and programs with an aim toward balancing liberty and security. In January, the United Kingdom (UK) raised its national threat level to the UK from international terrorism from substantial to severe, meaning that a terrorist attack was highly likely. In September, the UK published for the first time its threat levels from Irish-related terrorism: severe in Northern Ireland, substantial in mainland Britain.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: Throughout the year, dissident republican groups operating in Northern Ireland stepped up their campaigns of terrorism. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) reported that between January and November, there were two deaths related to Northern Ireland's security situation, 79 shooting incidents, 87 bombing incidents, 54 casualties resulting from paramilitary-style assaults, and 36 casualties resulting from paramilitary-style shootings. The PSNI estimated a rise of more than 80 percent in bombing incidents in Northern Ireland between January and November compared with 2009. Examples of incidents included:

On October 29, UK police and security services intercepted an explosive device concealed in a computer printer toner cartridge aboard a cargo aircraft at East Midlands Airport in Leicestershire bound for Chicago, believed to have originated in Yemen. The investigation into the "cargo bomb plot" was ongoing through the end of the year, but Home Secretary Theresa May indicated to Parliament in November that the UK government believed al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula was responsible.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: In April in NI, policing and justice powers were fully transferred from the UK government in London to NI. In November, the Independent Monitoring Commission, a four-commissioner team established by the British and Irish governments in 2004 to support devolution by reporting on paramilitary activity and security, indicated in its annual report that dissidents in Northern Ireland had "steadily increased the number of improvised explosive devises they deployed and the proportion of those that detonated."

In June, Home Secretary Theresa May extended for six months the government's power to hold terrorist suspects for 28 days in pre-charge detention. The provision must be renewed annually or it expires, and May indicated that the government believed the provision should only be temporary. The following month, May announced a broad review of the government's counterterrorism legislation, measures, and programs, and indicated that the pre-charge detention provision would be part of that review. The review also considered the utility of the UK's heavily-debated "control orders." The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 empowers the Home Secretary to issue control orders "impos[ing] obligations on [an individual] for purposes connected with protecting members of the public from a risk of terrorism." In practice, control orders have been used to impose near-house arrest and restrict movement and access to the Internet by terrorism suspects who cannot be prosecuted or deported. In undertaking the review, the government cited the need to balance security and civil liberties.

In July, the European Court of Human Rights issued a preliminary ruling blocking the extradition from the UK to the United States of British terrorism suspects Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad, Seyla Talha Ahsan, and Haroon Rashid Aswat over concerns that the sentences and prison conditions the men could face if convicted in the United States could violate the European Convention on Human Rights. The court asked the UK government to submit further information on these cases. In November, Abu Hamza successfully appealed the government's attempts to strip him of his UK passport.

In July, three men were sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in a 2006 plot to detonate homemade liquid explosives on transatlantic flights. Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan, and Waheed Zaman, who had previously been cleared of involvement in the plot, were found guilty at a retrial of conspiracy to murder. The men were told by the judge that they would serve minimum terms of 20 years.

In response to a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, which found that the UK's police use of stop-and-search powers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 were drawn too broadly and failed to protect civil liberties, the Home Secretary announced in July that police would need to rely on Section 43 of the Act, which requires officers to "reasonably suspect [the person] to be a terrorist" before subjecting them to a search. Police retained the authority to search vehicles under Section 44, provided they had reasonable suspicion of terrorist activity.

In October, High Court Judge Lady Justice Hallett opened an inquest into the July 2005 terrorist attacks on London's transport network that left 52 people dead. The inquest will investigate, among other things, whether the security services could have prevented the 2005 attacks. The inquest continued at year's end.

In November, in response to the cargo bomb plot, the government announced a review of airfreight security, imposed temporary restrictions on the transport of large printer cartridges by air, and suspended the transport of unaccompanied airfreight from Yemen and Somalia. The move followed a January decision by the government to suspend all direct flights between the UK and Yemen as part of increased security measures after the attempted Christmas Day 2009 terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253. After the cargo bomb plot was discovered, the government began working closely with the aviation industry to devise a long-term security screening regime for cargo to mitigate the threats the plot revealed. On December 20, UK police indicated that 12 men between the ages of 17 and 28 were detained on suspicion of the commission, preparation, or instigation of an act of terrorism in the UK. On December 27, nine of the 12 men arrested were charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and preparing acts of terrorism against targets in the UK, allegedly including the U.S. Embassy.

London's Metropolitan Police Service launched an "If You Suspect It, Report It" awareness campaign in December to enlist public support in identifying suspicious activity related to acts of terrorism.

Countering Terrorist Finance: The UK has a comprehensive range of laws aimed at anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF). It is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and an active participant in FATF-style regional bodies to meet evolving anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing threats. The UK engages in efforts to freeze the assets of persons who commit terrorist acts, as required by the UN, including through implementation of UNSCRs 1267 and 1373. In January, the UK Supreme Court held that the government had earlier exceeded its authority by imposing asset-freezing orders that went beyond the requirements of UNSCR 1373. The Supreme Court reinstated temporary asset-freezing regulations as an interim measure following the judgment. In December, the UK replaced the temporary provisions with a new legislative framework that contained a higher standard of proof for freezing assets; "reasonable belief" rather than "reasonable suspicion." The legislation was awaiting Royal Assent to enact it at year's end.

To further improve and update Bermuda's anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regulations, in August, Bermuda's Parliament enacted the Proceeds of Crime Regulations (Supervision and Enforcement) Amendment Act that would require the Bermuda Bar Association and the Chartered Accountants in Bermuda to establish jointly a board to regulate law and accountancy firms in order to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

Regional and International Cooperation: The UK cooperates with other nations and international organizations to counter terrorism, including in the UN, UNSC, EU, Commonwealth, NATO, Council of Europe, G8, International Atomic Energy Agency, IMF-World Bank, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and Interpol. In January, the UK hosted a conference on Afghanistan that brought over 75 nations and multilateral organizations together to pledge international support for Afghan-led reintegration of former insurgents and transition of full security responsibility to the Afghan leadership. In January, the UK hosted a Friends of Yemen conference in London, which brought together representatives from the Gulf Cooperation Council, G8, UN, EU, Arab League, IMF, World Bank, and other European nations to coordinate international engagement and support for Yemen's efforts to deliver unity, security, and stability. The UK signed the Beijing Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to International Civil Aviation and the Protocol to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft at the conclusion of an International Civil Aviation Organization diplomatic conference in September.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The UK's "Prevent" strategy, launched in 2007 to counter radicalization, outlined a number of objectives, such as support to mainstream voices and increasing community resilience, and involved a range of government actors, particularly the Home Office, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department of Communities and Local Government, local authorities, and the police. Many of the programs have been run by community organizations, supported by government funding. Examples of Prevent programs include interfaith activities, diversionary programs for youth, professional development for mainstream community and faith leaders, speaking tours by mainstream Islamic scholars, imam training programs, and projects to equip young people with arguments to counter violent extremism. The Research, Information, Communications Unit (RICU), which is physically located in the Home Office, has been responsible for managing counterterrorism communications, including those related to Prevent. The Coalition government has initiated a review of the strategy "to more clearly separate work on preventing violent extremism from work to promote integration," which will determine the future direction of counter-radicalization programs in the UK.

[1] The Diyanet provides services only to the Hanafi Sunni community of Turkey. However, within Turkey's 70 million Muslims there are also 15 to 20 million Alevi (classified as a branch of Shia Islam) and hundreds of thousands of Caferi Shia Muslims.

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