The two extremist groups – UK-based Minbar Ansar Deen and Nigeria-based Boko Haram – are to be proscribed in the UK under terrorism laws, making membership and support for them a criminal offence. Home Secretary Theresa May is to lay an order which, if approved by Parliament, will ban both of the radical Islamist organisations from operating in the UK from midnight on Friday morning. Minbar Ansar Deen – also known as Ansar al-Sharia UK – promotes terrorism by distributing content through its online forum, which encourages individuals to travel overseas to engage in extremist activity, specifically fighting, the Home Office said. The Government said banning Boko Haram, which aspires to establish Islamic law in Nigeria, will prevent the group from operating in the UK and give the police powers to tackle any UK-based support for the group. Decisions to proscribe the organisations are understood to be unrelated to the murder of soldier Drummer Lee Rigby near Woolwich barracks in south-east London in May. The penalties for proscription offences can be a maximum of 10 years in prison or a £5,000 fine. Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Home Secretary can proscribe an organisation if it is believed to be concerned in terrorism. If approved by Parliament, it will be a criminal offence to belong to or back Minbar Ansar Deen or Boko Haram, as well arrange meetings or wear clothing in support of them. Other proscribed groups include al-Qa’ida, Al Shabaab and Islam4UK, which before it was banned was led by Anjem Choudary.
Two of the people behind a campaign against the building of the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York have been barred from entering Britain to speak at an English Defence League rally in London this weekend, it has been announced. The Home Secretary Theresa May has told Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, both of the anti-Islamic group Stop Islamization of America, that their presence in the UK would “not be conducive to the public good”. The decision, which they cannot appeal, will stand for between three and five years.
Ms Geller said: “In a striking blow against freedom, the British government has banned us from entering the country. In not allowing us into the country solely because of our true and accurate statements about Islam, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state. The nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead.”
Mr Spencer echoed her comments, and added: “This decision is a victory for the campaign of smears and defamation that has been waged against us in the UK since we announced we were going. In reality, our work is dedicated to the defence of the freedom of speech and equality of rights for all. If that is too hot for the U.K. now, then Britain faces a grim future.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that Pamela Geller is subject to an exclusion decision. The Home Secretary will seek to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good. We condemn all those whose behaviours and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.” EDL co-founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – aka Tommy Robinson – did not respond to a request for comment.
The Home Secretary is understood to be considering a request to ban two of the people behind a campaign against New York’s “Ground Zero Mosque” from entering the UK. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who are among America’s most notorious anti-Muslim campaigners, have been invited to speak at an English Defence League rally in Woolwich to mark Armed Forces Day and the death of Drummer Lee Rigby. But the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz has written to Ms May expressing his concern and labelling them “incendiary speakers”. In his letter, Mr Vaz wrote: “These individuals are infamous in America for inciting racial hatred, including sponsoring discriminatory advertisements placed on public transport. “It is clear that the location, motivation and attendees at this march will incite hatred. Adding incendiary speakers such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer just fuels the fire.”
Mr Vaz said: “I am alarmed that the EDL is planning this type of march in Woolwich. Before we have to pay the costs for the extra policing required for this demonstration the Home Secretary should consider using her discretion to ban these two speakers from entering the country. A ban should be enforced properly and physically stop people entering our borders.” Scotland Yard said that it was aware of the march and would have an appropriate policing plan in place.
A government source indicated that the Home Secretary was looking into the proposal to ban the pair. However, a spokesman refused to confirm this, saying that it would not be appropriate to discuss individual cases.
EDL co-founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – who also goes by the name ‘Tommy Robinson’ – said: “It is ridiculous. We want other extremists to be banned from entering the country. These two people have never been arrested, they are well-respected in America. It is fascism, to me.”
Neither Ms Geller nor Mr Spencer responded to requests for comment.
The Home Office’s long legal duel with the radical cleric Abu Qatada has cost taxpayers £1,716,306, Theresa May has told MPs. The figure includes £647,658 in legal aid for the terror suspect and more than £1m in government costs, the home secretary disclosed in a letter to the all-party Commons home affairs committee. But the overall bill would have been nearer £2m if more than £200,000 had not been used from Abu Qatada’s frozen assets, according to officials. The bill, run up since 2005, was revealed as the formalities were being finalised for a legal treaty with Jordan which would allow Abu Qatada’s deportation. Ministers are hoping this can be ratified at Westminster by next Friday and the cleric put on a plane as soon as possible afterwards. Home secretaries have been trying for years to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he was convicted in his absence in 1999 of terror charges related to bomb attacks. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission previously heard that a USB stick understood to belong to Abu Qatada’s eldest son contained “jihadist files” made by the “media wing of al-Qaida”.
The Jordanian parliament has approved a treaty with the UK designed to trigger the removal of radical cleric Abu Qatada, the Home Office has said. The agreement, unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May in April, aims to allay fears that evidence extracted through torture will be used against the terror suspect at a retrial. The agreement has been approved by both houses of the Jordanian parliament but must still be signed off by the country’s King Abdullah. The UK Government expects the treaty to be ratified in Britain by June 21.
26 May 2013
A 22 year old man was arrested in north London on Sunday in connection to the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on Wednesday. Witnesses say that five plainclothes police officers arrested the man while he was riding a bike on St Paul’s Road near Highbury Corner Sunday afternoon. A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said, “A 22-year-old man was arrested by officers from the MPS counter-terrorism command investigating the murder of Lee Rigby. The man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder by detectives supported by specialist firearms officers.”
Sunday’s arrest brings the total number of individuals arrested in connection to the attack, characterized by the Home Secretary as a lone wolf event, to nine. The two suspects, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, were shot and detained by police shortly after the attack on Drummer Rigby and are still in hospital. Three other men, aged 21, 24, and 28, were arrested yesterday in south-east London and Greenwich on suspicion of conspiracy to murder. Another man, aged 29, was arrested and released on bail Saturday evening, and two women were arrested in connection to the attack on Thursday but were released without charges.
The murder of Drummer Rigby has escalated racial and religious tensions in the UK, and police across the country have made a number of arrests for alleged racial and bigoted posts on social media sites. Faith Matters, an interfaith organization, said that approximately 150 racial or religiously motivated incidents have been reported since the attack on Wednesday, up from a daily average of eight incidents prior to the attack. Some of the incidents include violent attacks and vandalizing of mosques and have led to a number of arrests.
26 May 2013
UK Home Secretary Theresa May has called for new counter-terror measures to combat extremism in the wake of the Woolwich murder. Though working under the assumption that the Woolwich murder was a lone wolf incident, Mrs. May warned that potentially thousands of people across the UK are at risk of becoming radicalized.
Among the proposals suggested by the Home Secretary was a closer monitoring of radicalization materials available through the internet. A bill currently in parliament, the so called “snoopers’ charter” would expand the government’s ability to use court orders to block sites containing radicalization materials. Said Mrs. May, “There has been discussion of a greater use of court orders to block some sites, but it will be difficult to decide whether responsibility will lie with the Home Office or internet service providers.” Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has voiced his objections to the scope of the bill and said that he will only allow small measures to be passed. Similarly, Yvette Cooper, the Labour Party shadow home secretary, has agreed in principle that government security apparatuses may need more authority, but that changes should be limited.
The Home Secretary also confirmed that Prevent, the government’s counter-terror strategy, will be reviewed in light of recent events. It is thought that the new review will redirect counter-terror efforts to countering radicalization on university campuses, reversing a trend concerned with protecting free speech. For its part, the Muslim Council of Britain supports granting security services the authority to combat extremism and prevent future acts of violence, but urged the government to consult with Muslim groups to ensure that the new measures don’t prove detrimental to the Muslim community. A statement released by the council read in part, “We must be vigilant and ensure we do not inadvertently give into the demands of all extremists: making our society less free, divided and suspicious of each other.”
If the Home Secretary wins her battle to deport Abu Qatada, it will be based on the assumption that he will not be abused. In Amman, Enjoli Liston hears from those who have strong reasons to doubt it. Abdullah Mahhaden was arrested around four hours after he managed to escape from a police crackdown on an anti-government protest in Amman on 31 March 2012. The demonstration had been calling for the release of seven activists. The 25 year-old accountant-turned-activists had wanted to make his voice heard. He ended up at the city’s main police station, where he says he was beaten by as many as 20 police officers. “I was the last one to get caught that night,” Mahhaden told The Independent. “The police started asking me, ‘Why were you demonstrating? How did you know about the demonstration? Who organised it?’ I said, ‘I forget’, so they beat me. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said this week the Government had signed a mutual assistance treaty with Jordan, complete with new assurances on fair trials, to ensure Abu Qatada can be deported even if the Government’s latest appeal to the Supreme Court is blocked. Hossam al-Kaid, from Aleppo, who studied law in Syria, also works in Amman and agrees: “In Jordan, there is a fear of people like Abu Qatada.” He says he would rather the radical cleric stay in the UK, but if he were to be sent back to Jordan, he believes he would receive a fair trial. Human rights advocates continue to claim otherwise. “Jordanian law already proscribes torture and the use of confessions obtained under duress, yet judges routinely accept these confessions,” says Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch. The organisation has in the past both praised the Jordanian government for its openness towards investigating human rights abuses in prisons, and criticised its insistence on paying little attention to the results of the investigations. Many Jordanians believe Abu Qatada should remain in the UK. “If England gives back Abu Qatada, it is like a gift for the Jordanian government,” he says. “It is like the English government sending a message to the world that it has ensured that there is no torture in Jordan. And that is not the truth.”
April 4 2013
New research from the Dutch National Bank indicates that migrants send at least 8 billion euros a year to their countries of origin, mostly Turkey, Morocco, the Antillean Islands, Indonesia and Germany. The figure does not include transfers made via informal channels such as cash withdrawals from local banks during holidays.
27 March 2013
The annual United Kingdom counter-terrorism strategy report (CONTEST) released this month reveals that hundreds of Europeans are fighting in Syria and warns of the domestic threat posed by the UK nationals taking part in the conflict. Charles Farr, a former MI6 officer, claimed that an estimate of between 70-100 UK nationals fighting in Syria is not unrealistic and that many of these individuals are fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, a group associated with al-Qaeda. Mr. Farr’s comments come amid a growing concern that fighters returning to the UK may employ their skills to commit acts of domestic terrorism.
19 April 2012
A Muslim cleric, Abu Qatada, who is accused of having links to al-Qaida has caused a stir in UK politics. Successive UK governments have become entangled in a long legal battle to deport the “extremist Islamist cleric” to Jordan; however they failed thanks to Jordan’s poor human rights record. It was the ECtHR that had been stopping the UK government from deporting Abu Qatada, hence along with a few other similar high profile cases, the case prompted British politicians to question Britain’s commitment to the ECHR as the final decision maker on domestic issues. The debate went so far as to call the UK government to withdraw from the ECHR and stipulate sterner laws to crack down on “Islamic extremism”.
Last week the UK government got very close to scoring a significant victory when they managed to get Abu Qatada rearrested by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. The court that deals with national security deportations revoked Abu Qatada’s bail, which gave Home Secretary Theresa May an opportunity to swiftly deport him. While the Home Office was gearing up to deport the cleric it became apparent that Abu Qatada’s lawyers had appealed to the ECtHR before the deadline which resulted in further delays in the cleric’s deportation process and a major embarrassment for the UK government as they failed yet again to deport the “radical Islamist”.