UK CT & COIN Features – 22 April 2008

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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.

Muslims ‘raised terror concern’
BBC

The arrest of a Bristol student on suspicion of terrorism came from a tip-off within the Muslim community itself, it has emerged. Three controlled explosions have been carried out at the Westbury-on-Trym home of Andrew Ibrahim.

….

“He converted to a Muslim about three or four months ago,” said Josh Walker.

“Noticeably his dress changed, he grew a beard, that kind of thing. He stayed the same kind of person, it’s just his dress changed.

Another friend, Joe Groves, said: “Islam was a personal thing, to disconnect from an earlier stage of his life, I think, to find a new kind of direction.”

Think tank to counter extremism
BBC

Former radical Islamists are launching a think tank to counter the ideology they blame for violent extremism. The Quilliam Foundation says Muslims can discover a form of “Western Islam” by returning to the heart of the faith.

Its founding members are all reformed hardliners who say British Muslims should be pioneering a renewed vision free from foreign ideology. The foundation is backed by popular progressive scholars – and is supported by a string of non-Muslim thinkers.

The foundation is the brain child of two men who have begun a battle against the Islamist political movement they once belonged to, accusing it of being part of a conveyor belt towards terrorism.

The foundation’s director is Essex-born Maajid Nawaz who was jailed in Egypt with two other British men for belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical party which recruits young Muslims across the world. Ed Husain, the deputy director, has become a key influence on government thinking after writing a controversial expose of his life as an Islamist.

Be careful who you talk peace with, Britain tells Pakistan
Zahid Hussain, The Times

Britain has backed the new Pakistani Government’s decision to talk to militant Islamists but it has cautioned that reconciliation could be possible only with those who were willing to give up violence.

“We support reconciliation both in Pakistan and Afghanistan but it has to be done on a clear bottom line,” David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said at the end of a two-day visit to Islamabad.

Britain and the United States have opposed peace deals in the past with pro-Taleban militants in the lawless tribal regions. The deals allowed al-Qaeda to regroup in the region and to step up attacks on Nato forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Jury told of terror plot’s McDonald’s meeting
Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph

Surveillance images of two of the July 7 suicide bombers meeting a man suspected of helping them carry out the attacks were shown to a jury yesterday.

Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer are seen with Waheed Ali, who is one of three men accused of conspiring to cause explosions on the London transport system, in a McDonald’s car park on the A23 near Crawley, West Sussex. With them is a man called Ausman, who was being monitored by the security services and was described as a “committed terrorist” who had trained with Sidique Khan in Pakistan a year previously.

The pictures were screened at Kingston Crown Court in the trial of Mr Ali, 24, Sadeer Saleem, 27, and Mohammed Shakil, 31, all from Beeston, Leeds. They were said to have carried out a two-day reconnaissance mission in London for the suicide bombers but deny the charges.

Also:

7/7 bombers surveillance shownBBC

Suspect ‘checked air timetables’
BBC

The head of an alleged terrorist cell was seen looking up flight information shortly before being arrested, a court has heard.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali was watched by an undercover officer as he checked flight timetables in an internet cafe. Woolwich Crown Court heard he also talked “in hushed tones” on his mobile.

Mr Ali and seven other men are on trial accused of conspiring to explode home-made liquid bombs on passenger jets in August 2006, which they deny.

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