A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.
Nazi sympathiser Martyn Gilleard kept nail bombs under young son’s bed
Paul Stokes, The Telegraph
A neo-Nazi planning attacks on Muslims, who hid home-made nail bombs under his five year old son’s bed, faces life in jail after being found guilty of terrorism offences.
Four nail bombs capable of causing an explosion similar to that of a hand grenade were discovered in the home of fork-lift truck driver Martyn Gilleard. Police also discovered an armoury of gun powder, fuses, live bullets, swords, axes, knives and a bayonet along with internet material on how to poison people and make bombs.
The search of the flat in Goole, East Yorkshire, also revealed notes, including one in which he wrote: “Be under no illusion, we are at war. And it is a war we are losing badly. Unless we the British right stop talking of racial war and take steps to make it happen, we will never get back that which has been stolen from us. I’m so sick and tired of hearing Nationalists talk of killing Muslims, of blowing up mosques, of fighting back. Only to see these acts of resistance fail to appear. The time has come to stop the talk and start to act.”
A student accused of not telling police of an alleged suicide-bomb plot has been released on conditional bail. Hashi Ahmed Omer, 18, a Somalian from Bristol, is charged with not disclosing information about the alleged plot of 19-year-old Andrew Ibrahim.
The bail conditions include a tag to enforce an overnight curfew, and £100 sureties from his family. Mr Omer is due to reappear at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London on 5 August.
A suspected airline bomb plotter’s wife has told a jury she gave police a false name and lied to protect her fugitive husband’s identity.
Zora Siddique said she had initially given her cousin’s name to officers and had failed to reveal Mohammed Gulzar’s identity because he was a wanted man.
Prosecutors allege that Mr Gulzar and others plotted to smuggle liquid bombs disguised as drinks on to planes. Eight men deny conspiring to murder and endanger aircraft leaving the UK.
It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a British soldier from 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment has been killed in southern Afghanistan today, Tuesday 24 June 2008.
The soldier was killed this morning during a firefight in Helmand province. He was on a deliberate operation against the Taliban in the Upper Sangin Valley when he was fatally wounded.
Jacqui Smith ‘must tighten terror planes loophole’
Christopher Hope, The Telegraph
Jacqui Smith is under pressure to tighten a loophole which could let terrorists use private jets and light aircraft packed with explosives as bombs to attack crowds and buildings in Britain.
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the Government’s anti-terror adviser, warned in his annual report that senior police officers had raised the spectre of light aircraft being use as “vehicle bombs against places of public aggregation”.
Such attacks would be “relatively simple” to orchestrate, Lord Carlile said, adding that there were real concerns because there is no formal vetting of who is taking off and landing at Britain’s 500 “landing sites”.
The warning prompted fears that Britain has been left open to a terrorist outrage similar to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
Afghan warlords stockpiling opium crop
Michael Evans, The Times
The Taleban is believed to be stockpiling vast quantities of opium after a bumper crop last year sent the price of the drug spiralling downwards.
The Taleban, which relies on sales of the drug for arms purchases, is hoping to hold onto its stock for long enough for the value to rise again, officials in Kabul said today. A Western counter-narcotics official said opium from the harvested poppy crops was currently valued “as low as $50 a kilo”.
One counter-narcotics official in Kabul said that poppy-planting in Helmand province, where the British troops are based, and also in neighbouring Kandahar, had been slightly down this year. But in other areas, especially in the north and east, there had been dramatic falls in poppy-planting. “Thirteen out of the 32 provinces in Afghanistan now don’t grow poppies,” the official said.
Film-maker Sean Langan kidnapped in Afghanistan is set free
Alexi Mostrous, The Times
An award-winning British documentary maker was on his way home last night after being held hostage by Islamic extremists for three months in the hostile border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Sean Langan, whose Channel 4 documentary Fighting the Taliban was short-listed for a Bafta this year, had been held in a dark basement and endured a number of mock executions.
He was kidnapped while filming in a tribal area on the border in March. Negotiations with the kidnappers, which began after Channel 4 discovered that he had been taken a few weeks later, were “extremely tense all the way through”, Afghan sources close to the talks told The Times. According to one source the kidnappers twice reneged on a promise to release Mr Langan.
“It was only down to some extremely skilled negotiations, conducted at great risk, that clinched the release,” the source said. “This wasn’t some bandit group. The kidnappers were well linked politically.”