UK CT & COIN Features – 21 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.

July 7 plot accused tell of times with Taliban
Rachel Williams, The Guardian

A British Muslim accused of helping the July 7 bombers plot their attacks on London told a court yesterday how he and ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan spent time at a Taliban camp in Afghanistan as part of a jihad training trip.

Taking the stand for the first time, Waheed Ali, 25, denied participating in the attacks but admitted travelling with Khan on a “gallivant” in the summer of 2001, shortly before the September 11 attacks, and after attending a camp on the Kashmir border where they learned to shoot Kalashnikovs.

They hoped to go to the frontline near Bagram airbase where the Taliban were fighting the Northern Alliance, but were deemed too inexperienced to fight and stayed at a camp about a mile behind the frontline, where they became so ill with diarrhoea that they were put on drips for three or four days.

Khan recovered enough to visit the frontline a few times but Ali stayed behind helping the cooks by chopping onions.

July 7 ‘helper’ played cricket with Aldgate bomber
James Sturcke, The Guardian

A man charged with helping the July 7 bombers to plan their attacks told a court today of the last time he saw his childhood friend Shehzad Tanweer.

Waheed Ali said Tanweer, the Aldgate bomber who killed seven people, played cricket with him on the evening of July 6 2005, the night before the attacks on three London tube trains and a bus.

“On that day, he made a bit more of an effort, looking back,” he said.

The pair, who were once very close, had seen less and less of each other as Tanweer, whom he knew by his nickname, Kaki, spent more time with the July 7 ringleader, Mohammed Siddique Khan, Kingston crown court has heard.

Ali, 25, from Beeston, Leeds, told the jury his friend had given him no clue about what was being planned.

He said Tanweer told him they were “doing something for the brothers” and asked Ali to stay away from them.

Ali said he was happy his friend had come to talk to him on July 6, and thought things were getting back to normal.

“I thought they had finished what they were needed to do and we’d start chilling again,” he said.

Also:

Bombers ‘pushed 7/7 accused away’
BBC

How Wales leads the way in counter-terrorism
David James, Western Mail

WALES has defied London-based sceptics to develop an innovative response to the threat of terrorism, the nation’s departing counter-terrorism chief has revealed.

Assistant Chief Constable of South Wales Giles York spoke to the Western Mail as he prepared to leave his role as operational head of Wectu, the Wales extremism and counter-terrorism unit, to take up a new role in Sussex.

The 41-year-old senior police officer said the body brought together officers from all four Welsh forces and had emerged as the envy of Special Branch officers across Britain.

Created in the wake of the London bombings in July 2005, the body has been tested by incidents including the arrests of Tamil Tiger suspects in Powys last month, threats to Prince Charles and Royal visits to Wales.

“It was initially viewed with scepticism from London about Wales doing things their own way, but it is now viewed as a blueprint of how to deliver counter-terrorism policing across the country,” he said.

UK calls for war-torn state plan
Harvey Morris, The Financial Times

The UK on Tuesday launched an international initiative to salvage war-torn states and prevent them lapsing back into conflict.

David Miliband, UK foreign minister, chairing the United Nations Security Council for the day, said post-conflict states where stability had been re-established were the exception rather than the rule. “We are not doing enough and we are not doing it well enough.”

The initiative, timed to coincide with the UK’s one-month presidency of the council, comes at a time when unresolved conflicts are simmering in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere, and governments are under public pressure to take direct action to help cyclone victims in Burma.

Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, has made the reform of international institutions, including the UN and World Bank, a central plank of his foreign policy since he succeeded Tony Blair last year.

The UK’s proposal is that the international community should go beyond peacekeeping to help rebuild failed states by eradicating the root causes of conflict. That would involve UN agencies and donors doing more to bolster emerging national leaderships.

British Press-Freedom Case Involves Anti-Terrorism Law
Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post

A high-level British court will hear arguments this week in a press-freedom case in which police are attempting to use anti-terrorism laws to force a journalist to turn over notes and other source material.

Leading British journalists argue that the rare use of the laws in this way threatens the future of investigative journalism in Britain. Police maintain that they are simply following all leads as they investigate a man who has been involved in religious extremist activities.

The case centers around Hassan Butt, 28, a former high-profile Islamic extremist in Britain who has since publicly renounced violence and now says he works to de-radicalize British Muslim youth.

Although Butt’s renunciations and his work with Muslim youth have won praise from top British officials, including an offer of funding from British anti-terrorism officials, Manchester police arrested Butt this month and are detaining him under the Terrorism Act.

Malik fights police demand for notes
Leigh Holmwood, The Guardian

A freelance journalist ordered by the police to hand over confidential material connected to a potential terrorism case told the high court today that he fears for his safety if he is forced to do so.

Shiv Malik, 27, had been served a production order by Greater Manchester police to hand over material connected to a forthcoming book featuring former Islamist radical Hassan Butt.

However, at the judicial review of the decision at the high court in London today Malik argued that he should not have to hand over the material.

Malik’s QC, James Eadie, told the three judges on the review panel that the journalist feared for the safety of himself, his wife and his sources if he was forced to hand over his work.

Also:

Malik’s notes could have aided investigation, say police
The Guardian

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