UK CT & COIN Features – 14 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.

‘To-do list’ reveals detailed plans for 7/7 bomb attacks
David Brown, The Times

A chilling list of preparations for the July 7 attack on London was found at the gang’s bomb factory, a court was told yesterday.

The “to-do” list included obtaining wiring and shrapnel for the explosive devices that killed 52 people on London’s transport system in 2005. It also contained items such as “car (booking)”, “memorise duas [prayers]” and “house clearance”, a jury at Kingston Crown Court was told.

Shezhad Tanweer, who killed seven people on a Circle Line train at Aldgate, had scribbled: “Back-up plan, actual plan, roles for the day, families, wills, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, blinds for the car and shrapnel.”

Hasib Hussain, who killed 13 people on a bus in Tavistock Square, had written at the top of the page: “Plan for the day. If confronted, deal with it.”

Airport ‘terror’ arrest man held
BBC

Police are continuing to question a man on suspicion of terror offences after arresting him at Manchester Airport on Friday afternoon.

Greater Manchester Police have said the man is aged 28, not 31 as initially reported by officers.

Under anti-terror legislation officers have until Friday to release, charge, or apply to hold him for longer.

Following his arrest police searched three properties, one of which was in Bury and another in north Manchester.

Council used terror law to spy on fishermen
Steven Morris, The Guardian

A council that used controversial powers to spy on a family to check whether they were living in the correct school catchment area has done the same to keep an eye on local fishermen, it emerged yesterday.

Poole borough council is using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) – a law brought in to combat terrorism and cyber crime – to scrutinise people gathering shellfish.

The Dorset harbour has valuable populations of cockles, oysters, mussels and clams. Officials used the controversial law to make sure stocks were not being harmed or taken from banned areas.

Human rights campaigners said the revelations, which the council released under the Freedom of Information Act, illustrated why the Ripa law should be reformed.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “You do not use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. You can care about serious crime and terrorism without throwing away our personal privacy.

“The law must be reformed to require ‘sign-off’ by judges, not self-authorisation by over-zealous bureaucrats.”

Longer terror limit ‘unnecessary’
BBC

Extending the pre-charge detention limit for terrorism suspects to 42 days is “wholly unnecessary”, a cross-party group of MPs and peers has said.

The Joint Select Committee on Human Rights has proposed a series of reforms which it says are a viable alternative to increasing the current 28-day limit.

They include ending the ban on granting bail in terror cases, and allowing post-charge questioning of suspects.

MoD launches inquiry into Iraqi’s death in army custody
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian

The Ministry of Defence has announced a public inquiry into one of the most notorious episodes involving British soldiers in Iraq: the death of Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist, and the abuse of other civilians in Basra in September 2003.

The unexpected move was announced in a written statement to the Commons this afternoon by Bob Ainsworth, the armed forces minister.

After months of bitter argument in the courts and a court martial that failed to get close to the full story of what happened, the government has decided the issue will not go away and was persuaded that an open inquiry was the best answer.

“Someone died, we must find out what happened and in what circumstances,” a well-placed official told the Guardian.

Mousa, 26, died while being held for a weekend in a British detention centre. He had 93 identifiable injuries on his body and had suffered asphyxiation. Eight other Iraqis were inhumanely treated.

The Guardian

Also:

British Army faces public inquiry over Baha Mousa death
The Telegraph

Stressed soldiers exacted own form of justice
The Times

Bobby Sands film risks Cannes controversy
Anita Singh, The Telegraph

Channel 4 is risking fresh controversy over a film that portrays Bobby Sands, the IRA hunger striker, in a sympathetic light.

Hunger premieres at the Cannes Film Festival today and is directed by Steve McQueen, the Turner Prize-winning artist. It recounts the 1981 IRA hunger strike inside Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison which Sands led for 66 days until his death.

Jan Younghusband, the Channel 4 commissioning boss, said: “I feel it is the right moment to be revisiting and reconsidering the ideals of these young men who put themselves and others through a great deal for their belief that they could make their world better.”

UK troops make explosives safe in Basra operation
UK MoD

UK military personnel from the Joint (UK) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Group who are currently working in southern Iraq have helped to make more than six tonnes of unexploded ordnance safe during an operation in Basra City.

The operation, at the former Shatt al-Arab Hotel in the north of Basra, resulted in the destruction of around six tonnes of unexploded ordnance which had been collected from the grounds of the former hotel.

….

UK troops have been working extremely closely with the Iraqi Army in recent weeks, mentoring and training the soldiers as they continue to develop their capabilities and take more responsibility for security in southern Iraq. The UK military spokesman in Basra, Major Tom Holloway speaking two weeks ago, expressed optimism for the progress bening made in the region:

“The Iraqi Army now controls large parts of the city and continues operations against criminal militias within Basra. The situation has come a very long way in the five weeks since Operation Charge of the Knights began.”

UK MoD

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