UK CT & COIN Features – 2 May 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.

British troops to stay in Basra ‘for the long term’
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian

Britain will maintain a garrison of 4,000 troops at Basra airport for the forseeable future, whatever the pressures on the armed forces, defence officials said last night. They described the British garrison as being there “for the long term” after talks in London yesterday between General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, Des Browne, the defence secretary, and Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff.

It was said that the troops were needed to continue their task of training Iraqi forces and also to maintain what officials called “political credence” with the US.

After an hour’s meeting at Downing Street with Gordon Brown, Petraeus said British forces had been “invaluable” in providing intelligence, air and logistics support for Iraq troops engaged in the recent Charge of the Knights operation against Mahdi army militia elements supporting the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Asked how long the US wanted 4,000 British troops stationed outside Basra, Petraeus responded: “The answer right now is we don’t know … We need to work [it] out in the next month or two as we look at the so-called troop-to-task analysis.”

Matt Drudge: Windsor demands Prince Harry Afghanistan apology
Sarah Marcus, The Telegraph

The Mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead has formally called for an apology from US website the Drudge Report for breaking the news blackout on Prince Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan.

The call follows a motion proposed by Councillor James Evans, which was unanimously backed by the council of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

Cllr Evans said: “There was no public interest in exposing details of Prince Harry’s deployment, all it did was put the lives of British troops – many of whom are based in our town – at risk.”

‘Bomb materials’ in 7/7 plot flat
BBC

Explosive materials were found in a home used as a bomb factory by the 7 July bombers, the trial of three men accused of helping the attackers heard.

Chemical residues, wires and explosives were among items found at a Leeds flat, the jury at Kingston Crown Court heard.

Waheed Ali, 24, of Tower Hamlets, east London, Sadeer Saleem, 27, and Mohammed Shakil, 31, of Leeds, are accused of reconnaisance for the 2005 attacks.

The men deny on charge each of conspiring to cause explosions.

Jury at trial of three accused of July 7 link see blasts footage
James Orr, The Guardian

Footage of the moments two of the July 7 bombers detonated their devices on the London transport network was shown to a jury yesterday at the trial of three men accused of helping to plan the attacks.

Previously unreleased film showed clouds of smoke filling a platform at Liverpool Street station 40 seconds after Shezhad Tanweer detonated his bomb. The court also saw the chaos and horrified reaction of those near the No 30 bus in Tavistock Square after Hasib Hussain detonated explosives in his rucksack.

The jury at Kingston crown court was also shown photographs of the carnage caused aboard the tube trains and bus.

Waheed Ali, 24, from Tower Hamlets, east London, and Mohammed Shakil, 31, and Sadeer Saleem, 27, both from Beeston, Leeds, are accused of conspiring with the bombers to cause explosions between November 17 2004 and July 8 2005. All three are alleged to have carried out a previous two-day reconnaissance mission in Londn on December 16 and 17 2004 with two of the bombers, Hussain and Jermaine Lindsay. They deny the charge.

Preparing for terror, the 7/7 bombers on reconnaissance trip in London
David Brown, The Times

Security camera footage of three of the July 7 bombers visiting London on a reconnaissance trip nine days before they killed 52 people was shown in court yesterday. Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shezhad Tanweer and Jermaine Lindsay spent four hours visiting locations on the Underground network.

The moments that two of the bombers detonated their devices was also shown at Kingston Crown Court. A blinding flash and a cloud of dust mark the moment that Tanweer ripped apart a packed rush-hour Tube, killing seven passengers between Liverpool Street and Aldgate stations. Moments earlier commuters were seen hurrying on to the eastbound Circle Line train before a flash of light is seen in the tunnel. This is followed by clouds of dust that obscure the view of the camera.

A jury also watched the movements of Hasib Hussain who appeared to have suffered a technical hitch with his bomb. He is seen bending over his rucksack in King’s Cross station, then buying an item, believed to be a battery, from WH Smith. Wearing sunglasses, Hussain, 18, mingles with passers-by on the busy streets outside King’s Cross before he disappears from the camera’s view.

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