UK CT & COIN Features – 15 April 2008


A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.

NB: Updated since first posted. And again.

‘Bomb Materials’ Found in Woods

A trial into an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic planes was told how a suitcase with potential bomb-making material inside was found in woods.

The case, whose contents included plastic syringes, thermometers and a glass jar, was hidden in King’s Wood, Bucks, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Bin Laden Son Fights for Right to Live in Britain
Angela Balakrishnan, The Guardian

Osama bin Laden’s son is prepared to take his fight for a British visa to the highest legal authority in Europe, his wife said today in a television interview. Omar bin Laden, 26, met his wife at the pyramids in Egypt and is now determined to come to the UK to build a life with her.

Zaina al Sabah bin Laden, 52, who used to be known as Jane Felixe-Browne, has a home in Moulton, Cheshire. She told GMTV Omar had passed all the necessary immigration tests, but said she was “99%” sure his application would be rejected because his father was the boss of al-Qaida.

Journey Through Terror
Peter Taylor, BBC

I first became aware of the word “terrorism” in 1970 when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) blew up two aircraft at a remote airstrip in Jordan to try and secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli and other jails.

They let the passengers and crew off first. Al-Qaeda would have killed them. At the time I never imagined that I would spend most of the next four decades covering the bloody evolution of the Age of Terror.

Britain Caught Out in Afghan Ploy
Sharif Ghalib, Asia Times

President Hamid Karzai has blamed what he called an “extremely ethnic” report in the London Times for his decision to turn down the appointment of Lord Paddy Ashdown as the United Nations super envoy for Afghanistan.


In the meantime, to complement validation of the handling of Musa Qala, British media insensitively resorted to lashing out at Karzai and glorifying ethnic and demographic tendencies while referring to the overall situation. The trend grew to the point that even the ethnic configuration of the Karzai government came under scrutiny, raising alarm across the political spectrum in Kabul and beyond.

Emails Cite FBI Errors in London Probe
Evan Perez, Wall Street Journal [Subscription Required]

Missteps by Federal Bureau of Investigation officials caused delays in the investigation of a man initially linked to the 2005 London subway bombings, but bureau officials blamed the slowdown on restrictions to their subpoena power, according to email records.

UNHRC Criticizes UK For Detention Limit


In the report by the Human Rights Council reviewing Britain’s rights record, Algeria — which has had several nationals detained in Britain on terror charges — called on London to “harmonize its legislation with its human rights obligations … (and) curtail excessive pre-trial detention,” AFP reported.

The point was echoed by council member Switzerland which urged the British government “not to extend but to shorten the length of time of pre-trial detentions.”

Terror Plot ‘Planned to Teach West a Lesson’
Kim Sengupta, The Independent

The leader of a group of alleged Islamist terrorists accused of plotting to blow up passenger jets vowed to teach the West “a lesson they will never forget”, a court was told yesterday.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, made his declaration during a 16-minute “martyrdom” video played in Woolwich Crown Court, east London. In a black and white headscarf and in front of a black flag with Arabic writing, Ali said: “This is the opportunity to punish and humiliate the kuffar [unbelievers], to teach them a lesson they will never forget. It is to tell them we Muslim people have pride. Sheikh Osama warned you many times to leave our lands or you will be destroyed, and now the time has come for you to be destroyed.”

July 7 Bombers ‘Left Clues to Martyrdom’
Richard Edwards, The Telegraph

The July 7 terrorists left a trail of clues for police before setting off their bombs so that they would be instantly recognised as “martyrs”, a court heard on Monday. The bombers scattered identity and bank cards around the Tube carriages they targeted before placing their rucksacks on the floor and setting off the explosives inside them, jurors heard.

The details emerged for the first time as a forensics expert’s evidence was read at the trial of three men accused of helping to plan the atrocity. Jurors were told the “unique” bomb mixture was made up of black pepper and hydrogen peroxide, which was put into ordinary plastic bags alongside ice-packs to cool the volatile material.

Warning Over Jail Radicalisation

Officers are “insufficiently trained” to combat radicalisation at a major jail housing prisoners on terrorism offences, says the prisons watchdog. Chief prisons inspector Anne Owers said Muslim chaplains were doing “excellent work” at Belmarsh in south-east London but needed more support.

She warned prison officers may not fully understand the complexities of tackling terrorism recruitment. Efforts to counter extremism risked alienating Muslims prisoners, she said.

Policemen ‘Protected’ IRA Killer

Members of RUC Special Branch and other senior police officers have been accused of protecting an IRA gunman who killed an off-duty RUC officer. The claim has been made by the son of Constable John Larmour who was shot dead in Belfast in October 1988.



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