Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 - United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, which has taken important political, financial, and law-enforcement steps to advance international counterterrorist efforts, remains one of the United States' staunchest allies. At its peak, the British contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom included more than 4,500 personnel as well as aircraft, ships, and submarines. In March, it deployed a 1,700-strong force to Afghanistan to combat al-Qaida and initially led the International Security Assistance Force. It also participated in Coalition counterterrorism operations outside Afghanistan, including maritime patrols in the Arabian Sea. London has unfrozen assets linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban totaling $100 million and made them available to the legitimate Afghan Government.

The United Kingdom is a party to all 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism and chairs the UN's Counter Terrorism Committee. The United Kingdom actively campaigned in the European Union, G-8, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and United Nations for coordinated counterterrorism efforts and routinely lobbied UN members to become parties to the 12 antiterrorism conventions and protocols.

The United Kingdom launched aggressive efforts to disrupt and prosecute terrorists. Since December 2001, the Government has detained 15 foreign nationals under its Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, which allows extended detention of non-British nationals suspected of being international terrorists but who cannot be removed from the country immediately. The Government defeated a legal challenge to the antiterrorism law on appeal after the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled the law discriminatory and unlawful. Several other terror suspects also have been arrested and charged with terrorism-related offenses. In February authorities arrested Shaykh Abdullah Ibrahim el-Faisal on charges of inciting racial hatred for remarks he made calling for the murder of nonbelievers, Jews, Americans, and Hindus. He was charged with crimes under the Public Order Act and the Offences Against the Person Act.

The United Kingdom froze the assets of more than 100 organizations and 200 individuals with links to terrorism. In October, the Government proscribed four terrorist groups associated with al-Qaida – Jemaah Islamiya, the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Asbat al-Ansar – bringing to 25 the total number of groups banned under the Terrorism Act of 2000. The United Kingdom has not frozen the assets belonging to political or humanitarian wings of terrorist groups HAMAS and Hizballah, owing to Britain's definition of terrorist organizations.

The United Kingdom was assisting in extraditing four individuals charged with terrorist acts in the United States or against US citizens, including an Algerian suspected of involvement in the 2000 "Millennium Conspiracy." The US request to extradite three men for their involvement in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in East Africa is pending an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. British courts denied one US extradition request – an Algerian pilot suspected of training the September 11 hijackers, citing insufficient evidence. In November, the Government introduced legislation to streamline the lengthy extradition process. The United States and United Kingdom are also in the process of negotiating a new extradition treaty.

Training and financial assistance have been in the forefront of the UK's bilateral counterterrorism relationships. The United Kingdom trained security personnel in bomb disposal and hostage-negotiating techniques, assisted law-enforcement and regulatory authorities in terrorist-finance investigations, and, through its capacity-building programs, helped countries draft counterterrorism legislation.

The United Kingdom's intelligence and security agencies significantly deepened their bilateral counterterrorist relationships. It established major counterterrorism-assistance programs in South and Southeast Asia and worked with Indonesia, Australia, and the United States to investigate the October bombings in Bali. The British Government in November introduced a new bill on international crime cooperation that would allow police from EU member states to operate independently in Britain under specific circumstances and permit British police to track suspicious individuals across most UK borders, except its border with Ireland. The British police have worked closely with the Greek police to investigate the assassination in June 2000 of the British military attache in Athens and in the wider hunt for members of the 17 November terrorist group.

The Government took steps against domestic terrorism as well. Security officials disrupted numerous planned terrorist attacks, although in August the Real IRA (RIRA) killed a construction worker at a British Army base. In October, RIRA threatened additional violence. The investigation into the 1998 Omagh bombing linked to the RIRA continues, and British authorities also prepared for the trial of two suspected RIRA members connected with a series of car bombings in England in 2001. Sectarian violence – in large part fueled by loyalist paramilitaries – continued throughout the year and served as the backdrop to the decision by the British Government to suspend the Northern Ireland Assembly in October.


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