Home Office admits mistakes in respond to 7/7

Home Office Security Minister Tony McNulty has admitted the government made mistakes in response to the 7 July 2005 bomb attacks in London. McNulty told the meeting in Bournemouth: “I think we have made mistakes since 7/7.” He said one of these mistakes was Blair’s argument that people must be ready to accept reductions in their civil liberties in the fight against terror.http://themuslimweekly.com/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=C9B8E91A9B09284DD63F14E9&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Muslim Students ‘More Tolerant’

Muslim pupils are more liberal and tolerant than non-Muslim pupils, a Home Office-funded study has found. The research, involving 400 15-year-olds, was carried out by Lancaster University in a two-year project after the 2001 Burnley riots. It found that nearly a third of non-Muslim pupils thought one race was superior, compared to a tenth of teenagers in a mainly Muslim school.

July 7 Attacks Could Happen Again, Warns Banned Group’s Spokesman

By Philip Johnston LONDON – A leading figure in a militant Islamic group banned by the Government yesterday warned of further attacks like the July 7 bombings in London last year. Anjem Choudary said Al-Ghurabaa (AG) was a purely ”political organisation” campaigning against British foreign policy. Along with a group called the Saved Sect, it was proscribed under new laws against glorifying terrorism. Both are off-shoots of Al Muhajiroun, the organisation founded by Omar Bakri Mohamed, the exiled extremist now in Lebanon. Mr Choudary, who describes himself as a spokesman for AG, accused the Home Office of militarising Muslims and driving them underground. “If it reaches a situation when the life and the wealth of the people is violated then what happened on 7/7 could very well reoccur,” he said. “People like us are trying to prevent another 7/7, but it seems to me the Government are fuelling more of a frenzy within the Muslim community. Ultimately they are fermenting more of the same of what took place on 7/7. There is no evidence to suggest we are anything other than an ideological and political movement.” It will be a criminal offence for a person to belong to or encourage support for the two banned groups, to arrange meetings in their support or to wear clothes or carry articles in public indicating support or membership. Their financial assets can be frozen or seized. Al-Muhajiroun was wound up two years ago but spawned the two banned groups whose members were involved in protests earlier this year against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. They brandished placards with slogans including “butcher those who mock Islam”, “massacre those who insult Islam” and “behead the one who insults the Prophet”. Six people were later arrested and charged with offences including soliciting to murder, inciting racial hatred, disorderly behaviour and organising a procession without notifying police. The Home Office said that AG “courts publicity and makes deliberately provocative and controversial statements expressing extremist views”. The Saved Sect website “disseminates extremist material which it is considered falls within section 21 of the Terrorism Act 2006”. It added: ”It is believed that SS and AG websites are working in tandem to disseminate an Islamist message under the umbrella of Ahl Us-Sunnah Wal-Jammaa’ah, described as a sect within Islam.” However, this umbrella group has not been proscribed. The Government has also added two foreign extremist groups, the Baluchistan Liberation Army and Teyrebaz Azadiye Kurdistan, to the list of banned organisations.

France, Uk To Beef Up Muslim Recruitment

Senior officials and experts from Britain and France agreed Thursday to recruit more Muslims to help fight the spread of radical Islam in their countries. Some of the officials, who met at the British embassy in Paris, told journalists that the governments were not aiming at imposing quotas but rather “recruitment objectives”. The need to have Muslims in the police and other administrations was made clear in the investigation into the July attacks on London’s transport system, which found that the bombers came from Britain’s Muslim community. One official, Mark Carroll, head of the Cohesion, Faith and Equalities unit of Britain’s Home Office, said that “the public services can only effectively serve the communities if they include representatives from those communities.” Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said that Britain and France had to find ways to channel the anger often nurtured in their respective Muslim communities into legal avenues, and that part of the anger stemmed from a feeling of being misunderstood by authorities. Hiring more Muslims to communicate with those communities would be one way of attenuating that feeling of alienation, she said.

Uk Reveals Anti-Terror Laws As ‘Suspects’ Seized

By Madeline Chambers and Matthew Jones British police said they would deport seven Algerians seized as national security threats, hours before the Government unveiled plans to hold terror suspects without charge for up to three months. A Home Office source said the men were former defendants, accused but never convicted, of involvement in a 2002 plot to manufacture the deadly ricin poison. The dawn arrests were the latest to follow four July 7 suicide bombings in London which killed 52 people and wounded 700 and prompted a Government crackdown on Islamist militants. Home Secretary Charles Clarke said they would not be deported to any place they would face torture. Human rights group Amnesty said the detainees must be allowed to challenge the deportation. One Algerian was convicted of charges relating to the ricin case in April but four others were acquitted and cases against the other three were dropped. The seven will be deported because their presence in Britain is “not conducive to the public good for reasons of national security,” a Home Office official said. Most controversial among the latest proposals is an extension of the time police have to detain terrorism suspects without charge to up to three months, from 14 days. “I want to do my best to protect the country and here are the police saying we need to extend the period of detention, well okay as long as there is judicial oversight,” Prime Minister Tony Blair said at a United Nations summit in New York. Police have long argued they need more than 14 days to cope with the volume of cases, the need to trawl through electronic evidence and work with overseas agencies. Clarke, however, raised concerns about his own plans in a letter to opposition parties, saying that there was “room for debate as to whether we should go as far as three months”. The Government is expected to push the plans into law this year. “The facts are that the modern world of terrorism requires a long time to ensure particular cases are looked at properly,” Clarke said. “I’m saying let’s extend 14 days. We are working on the basis that up to three months is the right time.” But civil rights campaigners say three months would be draconian. “These measures, coupled with faulty British intelligence, will increase the witchhunt against Muslims,” said Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission. The Government has already had to back down from a policy of detaining foreign suspects indefinitely without trial after it was ruled illegal last year by Britain’s highest court. Rights group Liberty said the plans would affect attempts to engage with ethnic communities. The Government also plans to outlaw the indirect incitement of terrorism and to ban organisations which glorify terrorism. Critics Say Such Measures Could Pose Definition Problems Despite resistance from security services, ways are being explored to allow the use of phone-tap evidence in court, bringing Britain in line with other European countries. The announcement came with the disclosure that scientists withheld vital evidence in the “ricin plot’ case that was used by Blair to justify the war with Iraq. Tests demonstrating that was no ricin found at a London flat linked to the case were not disclosed to police and Government ministers. The “plot” was cited by Blair and former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in the weeks leading up to the decision to go to war with Iraq. A breakdown in communication was blamed for the failure to pass the information on to Government. On February 3, 2000, Blair told MPs in the House of Commons that the “ricin terror plot” was “powerful evidence of the continuing terrorist threat”. Two days later Powell used the case to warn about the spread of terrorism to western countries. Tough Security Proposals – The ability to hold suspects for three months without charge. – A new offence of “glorifying” terrorism attacks in Britain and abroad, which will carry a five-year jail sentence. – It will not be an offence to glorify any events which happened more than 20 years ago, except those specified. The draft bill also creates an offence relating to the “dissemination of terrorist publications”, which is seen as a crackdown on Islamist literature.

Muslims face increased stop and search

By Vikram Dodd and Alan Travis Hazel Blears, the minister responsible for counter-terrorism, said yesterday that Muslims will have to accept as a “reality” that they will be stopped and searched by the police more often than the rest of the public. Ms Blears told MPs that “there was no getting away from it”, because the terrorist threat came from people “falsely hiding behind Islam”. Her comments, on the day when leading British Muslim groups met to hammer out a strategy on maximising the Islamic vote for the election, provoked immediate condemnation from Islamic leaders. Massoud Shadjareh, chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: “She is demonising and alienating our community. It is a legitimisation for a backlash and for racists to have an onslaught on our community.” The Home Office minister’s comments come at an awkward time for the Labour government. It is struggling to pass anti-terrorism legislation through parliament and preparing for a general election where the traditionally loyal Muslim vote is threatening to desert the party. Ms Blears was speaking at the Commons home affairs committee inquiry into the impact of anti-terrorist measures on community relations. “If a threat is from a particular place then our action is going to be targeted at that area,” she said, adding: “It means that some of our counter-terrorism powers will be disproportionately experienced by the Muslim community.” Statistics showed that of the 17 people found guilty of terrorist acts since 9/11 in the UK, only four of the 12 whose ethnic backgrounds were known were Muslim, Mr Shadjareh said. The Muslim Council of Britain was in discussions with the Home Office about what the minister had meant. Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the MCB, said he feared they legitimised anti-Muslim sentiment and warned the minister against scaremongering to drum up support for the new terror laws: “The remarks are thoroughly unhelpful as we’ve seen a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK. “It is wholly unacceptable if a government minister is using her office to scaremonger at the expense of our community to ease the passage of legislation designed to curb our civil liberties.” Ms Blears’ comments come after Monday night’s vote over controversial new anti-terrorism powers that could see suspects subject to house arrest. The measures provoked a rebellion that saw the government’s majority reduced to 14, and yesterday the bill reached the House of Lords. Ms Blears also cited new Home Office stop and search figures showing that the rise in the number of Asian people stopped under the Terrorism Act was no longer as sharp as those involving white or black people. Counter-terror stop and searches rose from 21,500 in 2002-03 to nearly 30,000 in 2003-04. Those involving white people rose by 43% from 14,429 to 20,637; those involving black people rose by 55% from 1,745 to 2,704 over the same period; and those involving Asian people rose 22% from 2,989 to 3,668. Ms Blears said the figures may reassure the Muslim community they were not being unfairly targeted but she said it was important for the government to develop a broader conversation with the Islamic community than just talking about the terrorist threat.