Anti-Terror Bill is ‘Anti-Muslim’

An assessment published along with the Government’s revised Counter Terrorism Bill charged it as “anti-Muslim” yesterday as Prime Minister Gordon Brown pushes to controversially extend the detention period to 42-days without trial. Despite a torrent of criticism from opposition MPs and civil liberties groups including the possibility of a humiliating first Commons defeat for Brown, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith resorted to scaremongering in an attempt to bolster support by warning of “mass casualties” from a future terror attack. But the Home Office’s official assessment admitted that there existed “strong concerns” that the legislation is “anti-Muslim”. Although the Home Office was told to do more to win the “hearts and minds”, the consultation conceded that the bill risked alienating Muslims. “Muslim community representatives expressed a concern that this may lead to increased reluctance among their communities to provide vital co-operation and assistance to the police and security services,” the equality impact assessment on the Bill said. Hamza Bajwa reports.

Senior British Muslim Warns On Terror Laws

By MICHAEL McDONOUGH LONDON – A prominent British Muslim warned lawmakers Monday that proposals for tough new anti-terror laws could undermine the Muslim community’s willingness to cooperate in fighting terror. Abdurahman Jafar, a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain, expressed concern about the Terror Bill, which was drawn up in the wake of the July attacks on London’s transit system. The bill would extend the maximum 14-day detention for terror suspects without charge to three months, outlaw attending terrorist training camps and make it an offense to glorify or encourage terrorism. Addressing a meeting of Parliament’s joint committee on human rights, Jafar told lawmakers that he feared a “really horrific counter-productive effect” from the bill, partly because of the proposed glorification offense. He said the measure threatens to merge “the issue of illegitimate attacks against peaceful democracies, with legitimate acts of resistance against illegitimate regimes around the world.” Jafar, who is vice chairman of the legal affairs committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, also voiced concern about the plans to lengthen the detention period for terror suspects who haven’t been charged. He said the legislation risked weakening the wider Muslim community’s commitment to fight terrorism in the wake of the July 7 attacks, which killed 52 commuters and four suicide bombers, who were devout Muslims. The House of Commons voted last week to back the Terror Bill. But before the bill can become law, it faces further scrutiny by a committee of lawmakers, a further vote in the Commons, and votes in parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords.

Dutch Government Passes New Terror Bill

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dutch government passed a new terrorism bill Friday, granting law-enforcement authorities far-reaching powers of investigation and allowing them to hold suspects for up to two weeks without charges. Intelligence agents will be able to use currently banned techniques such as infiltrating terror cells for undercover operations and telephone taps, a Justice Ministry statement said. They will also be allowed to use entrapment tactics, such as bogus sales transactions. The law must be approved by parliament. “There also will be more possibilities to gather information, detain suspects and conduct preventive public searches,” it said. “The events in Amsterdam and The Hague have made clear that wider powers to prevent terrorism are desirable.” The ministry was referring to the Nov. 2 killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, whose throat was slit allegedly by a young Muslim radical who associated with a suspected terrorist cell. In The Hague a few days after the murder, terrorist suspects wounded several policemen during a botched arrest attempt. Two young men holed up in a residential neighborhood for a day before surrendering. The new law also lowers the level of proof needed to hold a suspect believed to be plotting terrorist activity, said Justice Ministry spokesman Wibbe Alkema. The problem in the past, Alkema said, has been insufficient grounds to detain someone who could be preparing an attack. If the law is passed, authorities will have more time – up to two weeks – to build a case and bring charges. “In the initial stage of custody, there will no longer need to be serious suspicion, but only a reasonable doubt,” he said. “That could be someone who is believed to be involved with a network that has been under observation for some time.” One such case is that of Samir Azzouz, an 18-year-old Dutch Muslim on trial for allegedly plotting bombings of prominent Dutch landmarks. Prosecutors will be able to approve the use of spot searches of people and cars in public places that could be potential targets, such as an airport or a sports stadium, if there is suspicion of an attack plot.