Human rights concerns kept MI5 from passing on information about Abdulmutallab

MI5 failed to alert US intelligence about the extremist links of the Detroit plane bomber because of concerns about breaching his human rights and privacy. The spy agency withheld its files on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from Washington until after the near-catastrophic Christmas Day attack because of guidance from its legal department.

Asked why the information had not been passed to the US, a Home Office official said the security service did not pass information to its allies about the thousands of Britons who were merely suspected of having radical Islamic views. It did so only after it classified individuals as progressing into the much smaller category of “violent extremists”, a term used by MI5 to define potential or actual terrorists.

MI5 blackmails British Muslims

Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants. The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas. None of the six men, who work with disadvantaged youths at the Kentish Town Community Organisation (KTCO), has ever been arrested for terrorism or a terrorism-related offence.

They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.

Intelligence gathered by informers is crucial to stopping further terror outrages, but the men’s allegations raise concerns about the coercion of young Muslim men by the Security Service and the damage this does to the gathering of information in the future.

Mumbai attacks: How young Britons are radicalised in Pakistan

Reports that some of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai were British has focused attention on the UK Muslims who receive military training at extremist madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this report, filed three years ago, Telegraph correspondents expose how young Britons travel to al-Qaeda camps to learn how to destroy the West: Deep inside an anonymous office building at the heart of the Pakistani Army’s sprawling Rawalpindi headquarters last week, a metal door swung open and two smartly dressed British officials stepped into a spartan, windowless room. Sitting before them at a bare table, clad in traditional attire of shalwar kamis, loose trousers and shirt, was a slight, bearded figure who was handcuffed and flanked by stern-faced armed guards. The visitors were members of MI5, Britain’s security service. Officers of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) assumed that their business suits, worn despite the sweltering heat, concealed pistols and recording devices.

One spoke fluent Urdu, the other was a veteran anti-terrorism specialist. They had flown into Pakistan’s main airport outside the capital, Islamabad, to interview two terror suspects who they believed could hold the key to preventing further deadly al-Qaeda attacks on London. The handcuffed man in front of them was Zeeshan Hyder Siddiqui, 25, who had been captured two months earlier in Peshawar, in the war-torn north-west Frontier Province. When interrogated by the ISI, he revealed that he had been involved in a failed plot to bomb pubs, restaurants and railway stations in London while he was living in Hounslow. Awaiting the MI5 officers in an adjoining questioning room was Naeem Noor Khan, alias Abu Talha, 26, who was arrested in Lahore a year ago. He had confessed to interrogators that his al-Qaeda cell had been planning to attack Heathrow and paralyse London by carrying out explosions across the Tube network. Although not a British citizen, he had visited the country several times, renting a flat in Reading in late 2003 beneath a main Heathrow flight path.

A note found in Siddiqui’s possession stated that one of his accomplices had been unwilling to proceed with the attack, which the terrorists had called Operation Wagon, and it had been called off. Now the MI5 officers were hoping Siddiqui might provide valuable information about the mission that probably replaced it: the dispatching of suicide bombers on to the streets of London that left 56 people dead on the morning of July 7, Almost all roads in the inquiry to track down the extended al-Qaeda network behind the 7/7 atrocities lead to Pakistan. The country has become, as one senior Pakistani intelligence official told The Sunday Telegraph last week, an “incubator where al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants continue to flourish and regroup”. Many of the young British-born Muslims who return to the land of their parents and grandparents come simply to visit relatives or to discover their roots. But some come to learn how to destroy the West. Toby Harnden and Massoud Ansari report.

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9/11 response ‘huge overreaction’ – ex-MI5 chief

She made it clear she abhorred “war on terror” rhetoric and the government’s abandoned plans to hold terrorism suspects for 42 days without charge. She also criticised politicians including Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, for trying to outbid each other in their opposition to terrorism and making national security a partisan issue. “National security has become much more of a political issue than it ever was in my day,” she said. “Parties are tending to use it as a way of trying to get at the other side. You know, ‘We’re more tough on terrorism than you are.’ I think that’s a bad move, quite frankly.” Rimington mentioned Guantánamo Bay, the practice of extraordinary rendition, and the invasion of Iraq – three issues which the majority in Britain’s security and intelligence establishment opposed privately at the time. She also challenged claims, notably made by Tony Blair, that the war in Iraq was not related to the radicalisation of Muslim youth in Britain. Asked what impact the war had on the terrorist threat, she replied: “Well, I think all one can do is look at what those people who’ve been arrested or have left suicide videos say about their motivation. And most of them, as far as I’m aware, say that the war in Iraq played a significant part in persuading them that this is the right course of action to take.

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Gitmo inmate wins right to see secret ‘torture’ evidence

A British resident facing the death penalty at Guantanamo Bay has won his case for the Government to disclose secret evidence that he says supports claims he was tortured into confessing to crimes he did not commit. Binyam Mohamed, 30, who was arrested in Pakistan six years ago, said the Americans flew him to a prison in Morocco where he was tortured before his transfer to a US detention centre in Afghanistan. In 2004, he was taken to the US Navy base in Cuba where he is awaiting a trial before a military commission on charges that he conspired with al-Qa’ida leaders to plan terror attacks on civilians. But the High Court in London this week said British authorities still held secret material that might help confirm Mr Mohamed’s whereabouts and the nature of his detention after 2002. The judges said his allegations of torture were at least “arguable” and that the Security Service, MI5, had information relating to him that was “not only necessary but essential for his defence”. In the ruling, the judges said the “conduct of the Security Service facilitated interviews by or on behalf of the US when Binyam Mohamed was being detained by the US incommunicado” in 2002 in Pakistan. Working with the Americans after the 9/11 terror attacks, the British authorities sent an officer from MI5 to interview him, the court said. The officer told him he could expect no help from Britain unless he fully co-operated with his US interrogators.

MI5 report challenges views on terrorism in Britain

Exclusive: Sophisticated analysis says there is no single pathway to violent extremism: MI5 has concluded that there is no easy way to identify those who become involved in terrorism in Britain, according to a classified internal research document on radicalisation seen by the Guardian. The sophisticated analysis, based on hundreds of case studies by the security service, says there is no single pathway to violent extremism. It concludes that it is not possible to draw up a typical profile of the “British terrorist” as most are “demographically unremarkable” and simply reflect the communities in which they live. The “restricted” MI5 report takes apart many of the common stereotypes about those involved in British terrorism. They are mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices. Nor, the analysis says, are they “mad and bad”. Alan Travis reports.

The making of an extremist: Study identifies those at risk of radicalisation, those who recruit them – and what can be done

The MI5 briefing note, Understanding Radicalisation and Violent Extremism in the UK, seen by the Guardian provides a unique insight into current thinking within the security service about how a modern-day British terrorist is made. The analysis, based on hundreds of case studies of those involved in or closely associated with terrorism, concludes that there is no single pathway to extremism. All had taken strikingly different journeys to violent extremist activity. However the security service does say that most individuals in the sample had some vulnerability in their background that made them receptive to extremist ideology. For most, radicalisation takes months or years with no one becoming a terrorist overnight, and it is always driven by contact with others. Exposure to extremist ideology, whether in the form of online communities, books, or DVDs, although crucial, is never enough on its own. Personal interaction is essential, in most cases, to draw individuals into violent extremist networks. Alan Travis reports.

MI5 targets four Met police officers ‘working as Al Qaeda spies’

Four police officers in Britain’s top force are reportedly under close secret service surveillance after being identified as Al Qaeda spies, it emerged today. MI5 are said to have homed in on the the “sleeper” agents passing secrets from Scotland Yard to the terror group only in recent weeks. The suspected spies are believed to have used methods similar to those employed by the IRA in the 1970s as they infiltrated the police and the Army in Northern Ireland. All four are understood to be Asians living in London and are feared to have links both with Islamic extremists in Britain and worldwide terror groups – including Al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. MI5 chiefs reportedly believe the suspected moles have been planted as sleepers – agents under deep cover – to keep Al Qaeda informed of anti-terror raids planned by London’s Metropolitan Police. They are said to fear the four could have already accessed sensitive information about secret operations to root out terror cells planning further attacks in the UK.

Top terror recruiter found guilty

Eight men have been convicted for their involvement in terrorism training camps in the UK – including those attended by the men responsible for the failed suicide bombings of 21 July 2005. The prosecution began after police and MI5 launched a major covert operation, including placing an undercover officer at the heart of the group they were investigating. But what were the camps, and where did they take place? Mohammed Hamid rganized camps around the country. He said these were bonding sessions to bring together Muslim men who felt vulnerable after 9/11. But police say he was trying to recruit and train young men for violent jihad. In May 2004 police officers took pictures of a large camp at Baysbrown Farm in the Lake District. The pictures included the four men who would later be responsible for the failed bomb attacks of 21 July 2005.

British Muslim’s control order quashed

A control order restricting the movements of a British convert to Islam has been quashed. MI5 alleged the order was still necessary because there was a “reasonable suspicion” that Cerie Bullivant, 25, planned to travel to Iraq or Afghanistan to engage in terrorist activity.But at London’s High Court, Mr Justice Collins quashed the order after ruling: “There is no reasonable suspicion that establishes that.” Lawyers for Bullivant, from Dagenham, Essex, had argued the accusations were “baseless”, and that he was the victim of an abuse of power. Bullivant said the order had taken him down to “the depths of despair”.