A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.
UK troops to hand control of Helmand ‘hot spots’ to Afghan army
Jerome Starkey, The Independent
British troops in southern Afghanistan could hand control of key areas to Afghan forces within months, the commander of British forces said yesterday.
Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said he hoped the Afghan army would “deliver security” in the most dangerous parts of Helmand by the end of the year. He said the provincial governor was keen to see Afghan troops take over in three hotspot towns in “the heart of Helmand”, and it was his job to help that happen.
“We may see, by the end of this year, or beginning of next, areas where security is delivered by the Afghan army,” he said. “The priorities are Gereshk, Lashkar Gah and Sangin.”
Luck of the Irish saved Afghan patrol
Michael Evans, The Times
A foot patrol of British soldiers recounted the moment that they survived an attack by a suicide bomber only to run into an ambush by the Taleban as they picked themselves up after the blast.
“It’s the luck of the Irish,” said Sergeant Paul Harrison, 27, from Liverpool, who survived the attack along with the rest of his patrol from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment.
The incident took place on the outskirts of Sangin, the northern Helmand town where two years ago British paratroopers held out with a platoon of about 30 soldiers against a resurgent Taleban, which attacked its position in the district centre with small arms, mortar attacks and machinegun fire.
Today there are more than 200 soldiers defending an expanded base and going out on patrols.
Terror suspect who won court battle is named as a ‘top al-Qaeda agent’
Sean O’Neill, The Times
A suspected terrorist who scored a legal victory against the Government this week is a senior al-Qaeda operative living openly in London, security agencies say.
The man, who can be identified only as G, is one of five people who challenged the Treasury’s powers to freeze terrorist suspects’ bank accounts in a successful High Court action.
Yesterday security sources described him as “a key player” who acts as a conduit between British-based extremists and the al-Qaeda leadership hiding out in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Under the Government’s al-Qaeda Order, G was one of 58 people forced to apply to the Treasury for a licence to obtain £10 a week for basic expenses. His grocery receipts had to be sent to the Treasury for scrutiny and he was required to seek permission if he wanted to borrow a car, obtain an Oyster card or buy shoes.
High street chains will be the next victims of cyber terrorism, some of the world’s elite hackers have warned.
They claim it is only a “matter of time” before the likes of Tesco and Marks & Spencer are targeted.
Criminals could use the kind of tactics which crippled Estonia’s government and some firms last year, they warned.