UK CT & COIN Features – 13 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.

US troops to help ‘deluded’ British in southern Iraq
Damien McElroy, The Telegraph

American troops will be deployed to southern Iraq this summer with orders to adopt a more robust approach than the “self-delusional” British.

A senior US officer has told the Telegraph that Iraqi troops had not been ready to assume responsibility for Basra when British forces withdrew late last year.

He also said that US commanders in Iraq believe the Shia south is ready to copy the developments that transformed the western province of Anbar from being the main hotbed of insurgency into one of Iraq’s most peaceful regions. To foster this change, US troops are moving south for the first time since the 2003 war.

“There’s going to be a whole new approach when we send troops down there,” said the US officer.

Army suffering ‘critical weaknesses’ due to Iraq
Rosa Prince, The Telegraph

Nearly half of all armed forces units are suffering from “serious or critical weaknesses” as a result of their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Issuing its quarterly report on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence admitted it was running at well below strength and could not meet its Government-set targets as a result of the continuing pressure of operations in the war against terror.

In its latest assessment of the Government’s Public Service Agreements, the MoD admitted it was falling short of the “readiness” target, where forces are supposed to ensure that at least 73 per cent of units have no “serious or critical weaknesses”.

UK regiments already serviced 5 tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan
Islamic Republic News Agency

Two British regiments have so far served five tours of duty on Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Des Browne has revealed.

Units from another four regiments have also been deployed a total of four times in the two war theaters, while 38 have served so far served two tours of duties and 20 one each, Browne said in a written parliamentary reply published Tuesday.

The frequency of six-month tours underlines the extent of the overstretched armed forces at a time when Britain is taking on the extra commitment of sending a battalion of 600 troops to Kosovo this month to help maintain public order in the newly independent state.

“Whilst operations have been continuing in Iraq and Afghanistan, units will also have been covering endorsed standing Military tasks such as commitments in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Balkans and the Falkland Islands,” Brown also said.

Terror student freedom bid fails
BBC

A man found guilty of three terrorism offences has failed to convince a judge to free him. Mohammed Atif Siddique, 21, from Alva, Clackmannanshire, is trying to overturn the conviction which resulted in an eight-year jail sentence last October. He had hoped to be released on bail pending the outcome of his appeal.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Judge Lord Matthews turned down the request made by lawyers on his behalf to release the former student. A four-week trial last year heard Siddique described as a “wannabe suicide bomber” after he told fellow students at a Glasgow college that he sympathised with Al-Qaeda.

Siddique was found guilty of possessing suspicious terrorism-related items including CDs and videos of weapons use, guerrilla tactics and bomb-making.

BBC

Airline terror trial shown liquid bomb exploding
Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph

The destruction caused by an improvised liquid bomb exploding has been showed to a jury in the case of eight men accused of trying to blow up transatlantic airliners.

The device, made from an Oasis soft drink bottle, had to be put together with a remote controlled arm at a government laboratory because the mixture was so volatile, a jury heard.

Keith Ritchie, a senior case office at the Forensic Explosives Laboratory said: “If the mixture reacted unexpectedly with the detonator inside it would result in the death of anybody nearby.”

The defendants watched intently on screens around the court as the orange-coloured mixture exploded blacking out a miniature camera close to the device and shattering 12mm laminated glass in front of another camera.

Police recovered 7/7 bomb plans
BBC

Evidence of the planning and thoughts of the four 2005 London suicide bombers was recovered in the aftermath of their attacks, a jury has heard.

Kingston Crown Court saw documents recovered from the bomb factory and scenes of two of the attacks listing ingredients and to-do lists.

The material was shown in the trial of three men accused of helping the bombers with a reconnaissance trip. Waheed Ali, Sadeer Saleem and Mohammed Shakil all deny assisting the bombers.

BBC

Dissident Irish republicans blamed for bomb attack on police officer
David Sharrock, The Times

An Irish republican terrorist group was blamed today for attempting to murder an off-duty police officer by placing a booby-trap bomb device under his car.

The officer, a Catholic in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, was injured by the explosion in the Irish border village of Spamount, Co Tyrone, but his injuries were described as not life-threatening.

The organisation behind the attack is thought to be Oghlaigh na h’Eireann (Army of Ireland), a splinter group of the Provisional IRA which has some support in the immediate area of the attack.

The organisation, which is led by a local former Provisional IRA prisoner, was behind a series of bomb hoaxes in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, last weekend.
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Two other dissident groups, the Real IRA and Continuity IRA, also operate in the area. All three are opposed to the power-sharing government led by Sinn Fein, the Provisional IRA’s political wing, and the Democratic Unionist Party.

Dissidents blamed for bombing policeman in Northern Ireland
Tom Peterkin, The Telegraph

Dissident republicans are thought to be behind a booby-trap car bomb that injured an off-duty Catholic policeman in Northern Ireland.

The officer’s life is not thought to be in danger, but he suffered serious leg injuries in the attack in Spamount village near Castlederg in Co Tyrone.

He was rescued by a member of the public, who dragged him from the wreckage of the car following the explosion at 9.30 pm on Monday near the Irish border.

The police have warned that republicans, who are opposed to the peace process, are increasing their violent activities.

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