A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.
Government anti-terror proposals will alienate ethnic minority communities, the former speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly has warned. The Counter Terrorism Bill includes powers to increase the time suspects can be held without charge to 42 days. Lord Alderdice said the measure would be seen as “unjust and unfair”, just as internment did during the Troubles….
Lord Alderdice, who played a significant part in the Northern Ireland peace process, said the government’s proposals would lead to a breakdown of trust between the authorities and those communities most affected by it. This is what happened in Northern Ireland where terrorist suspects were detained without charge between 1971 and 1975, he said.
Smith invites moderate imams into UK to help Muslim communities fight extremism
Alan Travis, The Guardian
Moderate imams are to be invited to Britain from south Asia by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, to help Muslim communities counter the threat of violent extremism, following talks she held in Pakistan and Bangladesh last week.
The move appears to represent a shift in thinking as the Home Office has voiced concerns about imported imams and tried to encourage the recruitment of homegrown clerics more in touch with British Muslim youth. A spokesman last night insisted that this was not a contradiction but complemented work already underway to ensure imams are firmly rooted in the communities they serve.
In a speech to police divisional commanders in London yesterday, Smith said the idea was part of a move to build a new international network that tackled the “propagandists for violent extremism who sit offshore” and the ideology that can inspire “the small minority” in Britain from overseas. Other “opinion formers” from faith and cultural organisations will also be invited to the UK.
The move is part of a wide-ranging, £90m-a-year plan to prevent the spread of violent extremism in Britain agreed by the cabinet on Tuesday. It follows Smith’s weekend confirmation that the police and security services are monitoring more than 200 groups or networks involving around 2,000 individuals. The package to be set out in detail next month also includes extra funding and support for imams working in prisons, as well as training for prison staff to tackle the problem of convicted terrorists radicalising other inmates. This follows a warning earlier this week by Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons, that inadequate efforts to tackle extremism in prisons were alienating Muslim inmates.
Preachers from overseas ‘may bring problems’
Riazat Butt, The Guardian
There was a mixed response to Jacqui Smith’s new counter-terrorism proposals. Khurshid Ahmed, who chairs the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab), said he supported measures to help tackle the “menace of extremism”, provided they did not infringe on civil liberties and were “proportionate”.
He was more cautious, however, about her idea of importing moderate imams from south Asia as support.
“We’ve had problems in the past with certain types of preacher from different parts of the world not being familiar with the liberal, British, democratic mindset and bringing more literal interpretations of various aspects of Islam which do not reflect the mindset of British Muslims.”
Muslim preacher Abu Izzadeen found guilty of inciting terrorism
Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph
A Muslim preacher who barracked former Home Secretary John Reid faces life in jail after he was found guilty of calling on his followers to train to be terrorists and telling them to kill non-believers to get to heaven.
Abu Izzadeen, whose real name is Trevor Brooks, 32, led a group of Islamic radicals who stormed the moderate Regents Park Mosque in central London and then forced back police who tried to evict them. Izzadeen was found guilty of incitement to terrorism abroad along with three of his associates, Abdul Rehman Saleem, also known as Abu Yahya, the convert Simon Keeler, also known as Suliman Keeler, and Ibrahim Abdullah Hassan.
A man who heckled then Home Secretary John Reid during a speech has been convicted of terrorist fundraising and inciting terrorism overseas. Muslim preacher Abu Izzadeen was among six men convicted of supporting terrorism in London speeches in 2004.
The court heard that Izzadeen, of Leytonstone, east London, told his audience at the mosque: “Allah gave mujahideen chance to kill the American.”
But the 32-year-old, tried under the name Omar Brooks, argued in court that he and other British Muslims had “no other weapon than our tongue” to fight against what they saw as a “massacre” by British and American forces in the city.
Archbishop of Canterbury: Christians victims of UK and US foreign policy
Tom Peterkin, The Telegraph
Against a backdrop of rising Islam extremism, Dr Rowan Williams said Christian groups were increasingly seen as a “foreign and aggressive presence” as a result of Western policies.
The head of the Church of England warned there was a risk that the Middle East could become a “monochrome” area dominated by an “unfriendly” form of Islam. But he also blamed Western governments when he made his remarks at the Christian Presence conference organised by BibleLands, a charity supporting Christian-led projects in the Middle East.
“The indigenous Christian community throughout the region has suffered from being associated with the American global project, and indeed the British global project as part of the American global project,” Dr Williams said.
A trial into an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic planes has seen CCTV footage showing alleged gang members buying potential bomb-making materials.
Filmed evidence played in Woolwich Crown Court showed Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Tanvir Hussain and Arafat Waheed Khan buying goods at shops across London.