Theresa May considers ‘second-tier’ banning orders

Ministers are “actively considering” a second-tier banning order that would outlaw groups that are not outright terrorist organisations but promote extremism and hatred on the streets, the home secretary, Theresa May, has confirmed. Ministers continue to be concerned about pockets of activity by Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is believed to have several thousand members in Britain, and is particularly active in radicalising young British Muslims on university campuses.

 

Theresa May urges action on ‘jihad tourism’

Mounting evidence of a growing number of Britons joining jihadist rebels in Syria has prompted negotiations between the UK and a number of other European countries, amid fears that veterans could return to mount terrorist attacks in Europe. Experts are warning that Ramadan, which begins on Tuesday, will spark an increase in Muslims going to fight in Syria’s brutal civil war, creating a new generation of trained extremists.

 

Police and intelligence agencies have long been aware of a steady flow of young Muslims travelling to places such as Somalia, Nigeria, Mali and Pakistan to fight. However there is growing alarm at the numbers now travelling to Syria, and a British-led European initiative is being launched to counter the threat. Measures being considered include making it illegal to travel to take part in jihad, banning specific organisations, freezing bank accounts, deporting Muslim preachers, and even taking away “social benefits”.

 

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, is leading discussions between a group of European Union member states, understood to include France, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and Ireland, to look at ways of combating the threat posed by so-called “jihad tourism”.

 

There have been a number of UK arrests in the past year of people going to or from Syria. At least two young Britons have been killed fighting with the rebels – part of a global death toll that includes people from 29 different countries. Yet it is those who survive and return who are causing the greatest concern.

 

The Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi said the UK had gathered “credible evidence that up to 100 young British people, or people connected to the United Kingdom, are out there fighting” – although experts claim the real figure is higher.

 

Islamic scholars throughout the Middle East last month called on Muslims to go on jihad in Syria. Aaron Zelin, the Richard Borow fellow at the Washington Institute, said: “I think it is getting worse, because of the calls for jihad by mainstream clerics.” There will be many appeals made about Syria during Ramadan, something that could result in a “large number of individuals in the Arab world as well as in western Europe and in Britain, leaving for Syria after Ramadan.”

 

Abu Qatada extradition battle has cost taxpayers £1.7m, says Theresa May

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.

 

Woolwich murder aftermath: Theresa May praises British-based Islamic group

Home Secretary Theresa May has condemned “all forms of extremism” as she praised a British-based Islamic group for its commitment to peaceful co-existence and charitable works. Mrs May said there had been an increase in attacks directed against Muslim communities since the “horrendous” murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last month. Mrs May was speaking at an event in the House of Commons marking the centenary of the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK. The branch of Islam was founded in the late 19th century in India, but its leader has been based in Britain since 1984 as a result of persecution in Pakistan, where they are officially declared non-Muslims. Mrs May said the Ahmadiyya were subjected to persecution in Pakistan and threats in the UK.

After Woolwich, don’t ban hate speech, counter it. Hate it, too

Facing Islamist violence, the British home secretary, like her counterparts in Europe, wrongly reaches for censorship The home secretary, Theresa May. ‘What May proposes is impractical, illiberal, short-sighted and counter-productive.’

 

In response to the vile murder of a British soldier by two Islamist extremists armed with meat cleavers, the home secretary, Theresa May, has suggested a broadcasting ban on people who hold “disgusting views” and the pre-censorship of online hate speech. We face a real threat of violence here, as do other European countries. Another Islamist extremist was arrested in France and has admitted to stabbing a French soldier. But this is not the way to reduce that threat. What May proposes is impractical, illiberal, short-sighted and counter-productive. It would curb a vital freedom without enhancing our security. Her suggestion should be consigned to the dustbin of hysteria.

 

The home secretary will reply that she wants to place the blocking duty not with her own bureaucratic enforcers but with Ofcom, the public regulator of broadcasting. But now a state regulator is to pre-censor editorial content, at the bidding of an interior minister, in the name of defending public security and fighting terrorism?

 

May’s proposed ban is impractical. If it didn’t work in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher tried to stop Sinn Féin/IRA spokespeople breathing the “oxygen of publicity” on terrestrial television, how much less will it work today – when publicity-hungry Islamist provocateurs like Anjem Choudary can just go off and post their videos on YouTube. So, says our knee-jerk home secretary, we should consider getting Google and YouTube, as well as the broadcasters, to block such footage in advance. Now not everything that Google does is good, whether on tax, competition or privacy, but to impose on it the editorial obligation to pre-screen everything going up on YouTube would destroy something incredibly valuable: an unprecedented ability to speak directly to one another, across oceans and continents.

No, the way to fight these preachers of violent extremism is not to ban them but to take them on, in every medium. Editorial judgments must be made – by editors, not by interior ministers.

 

UK Home Secretary Plans Renewed Crackdown on Extremists

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.”

 

Abu Qatada: Theresa May says the Jordanian government can be trusted not to torture its prisoners but these activists disagree

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.”

Abu Qatada could face prosecution in UK, says Theresa May

In this piece The Guardian the home secretary, Theresa May, has said police are examining evidence seized over the recent arrest of Islamic cleric Abu Qatada to see if he can be prosecuted in UK courts. Judges at the court of appeal have repeatedly blocked the preacher’s deportation, amid fears he would face an unfair trial based on evidence obtained by torture in his native Jordan. On Thursday she refused to set a timetable on when he would be deported. May has negotiated with the Jordanian authorities to secure assurances about the evidence that would be used in his trial. She is due to launch a UK Supreme Court appeal against her latest rebuff.

 

Muslim Against Crusades Banned Ahead of Planned Protest

10./ 11.11.2011

The UK Home Office has banned the controversial Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) ahead of its planned protest (Hell for Heroes) at Armisticie Day Ceremonies (as reported). The decision to ban the group was made by Home Secretary Theresa May, who said that MAC was “simply another name for an organisation already proscribed under a number of names” (e.g. Islam4UK). The group was originally set up by extremist preacher Omar Bakri, who fled the UK six years ago, and was now led by Anjem Choudary. The ban of the group makes it a criminal offence to be a member of or fundraise for MAC. Following the ban of the group, Anjem Choudary had his house searched by the police. Choudary dismissed this search as a “fishing expedition”. While the MAC’s Remembrance Day protests were cancelled following the ban, Choudary announced, however, that it will not stop him from propagating what he believes in.

March by English Defence League Banned

26.08.2011

Home Secretary Theresa May has banned a march through Tower Hamlets, one of the UK’s biggest Muslim communities, planned by the English Defence League (EDL) for September 3rd. The Guardian reports that May has effectively outlawed ‘any marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighbouring boroughs – whether by the EDL or any other group – for the next 30 days, having “balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected”’. The ban was requested by the Metropolitan police due to concern over serious public disorder, violence, and damage. In the past, members of the EDL, which purports to oppose Islamic extremism but insists to not be a racist group, have been seen to be extremely provocative during their marches, which were mainly aimed at Muslim communities.