UK CT & COIN Features – 25 June 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.

Blond, white schoolboy is al-Qa’eda extremist, say police
Richard Edwards, The Telegraph

A schoolboy aged 12 has been identified as an al-Qaeda inspired extremist after sending beheading videos to his classmates, police have disclosed. Anti-terrorism chiefs have said the example revealed how violent extremism is spreading “like a virus infecting young minds”.

The blonde, white schoolboy from West Yorkshire is among 120 people being dealt with by police in a new anti-terrorism scheme targeting al-Qa’eda inspired youths. He has been identified only by the initials BC and was reported by his school after he was found circulating video clips of terrorists beheading Westerners.

….

Sir Norman described him as an “angelic looking boy” whose police mugshot showed a fair-haired child so short that his head was barely in the frame of the camera.

“He is at risk of being a violent young man and a threat to society,” the chief constable said. “He is not a Muslim. He is not driven by ideology – he is too young to spell the word. But he is being influenced and intoxicated by the imagery and appeal of Jihadist and other internet violence.”

Britain’s Armed Forces ‘stretched beyond their capabilities’ by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan
James Kirkup, The Telegraph

Britain’s Armed Forces cannot go on running two major military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the head of the Armed Forces has admitted. The two wars have left the Forces “stretched beyond the capabilities we have,” Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said.

It is the first time the most senior officer in the British military has expressed such grave doubts about the struggle faced by troops fighting wars on two fronts.

….

Highlighting the pressures prolonged operations are putting on soldiers, sailors and airmen and their relatives, the Chief of the Defence Staff also called for services families to be given priority access to public services.

Ten British service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan in little over two weeks, fuelling fears that the UK has been sucked into a long and unwinnable struggle in the country.

Sir Jock admitted that Britain could faces decades more involvement in Afghanistan, which he called a “mediaeval” state lacking even basic government structures.

Also:

Defence chief’s warning on forces
Paul Adams, BBC

British soldier killed while trying to clear mine in Afghanistan
The Times

A British soldier was killed in an explosion while checking for mines in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said today.

The soldier, from 4th Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was killed as he dismounted his vehicle in the Upper Sangin Valley yesterday afternoon. No one else was injured and next of kin has been informed.

The MoD spokesman said: “It is with great sadness that the MoD must confirm the death of a British soldier yesterday.

“At approx 1500hrs the soldier from 4th Battalion the Parachute Regiment, attached to 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was dismounted from his vehicle checking for mines in the Upper Sangin Valley when he was killed by a suspected IED explosion. No one else was injured in the incident.”

Also:

Tenth British soldier to die in Afghanistan this month was mine-sweeping Paratrooper
James Kirkup, The Telegraph

British soldier killed in Afghanistan while searching for mines
Haroon Siddique, The Guardian

Man charged with INLA membership
BBC

A man arrested by gardaí investigating gangland feuds in Dublin has been charged with membership of the INLA [Irish National Liberation Army].

Declan Duffy,34, appeared at a special sitting of the Special Criminal Court in Dublin on Tuesday night.

After being cautioned, a Garda detective sergeant told the court Mr Duffy said: “I am not a member of any illegal organisation.”

Britain removes PMOI from terrorist list
UPI

British legislators Tuesday backed a court decision to remove the Iraqi dissident group People’s Mujahedin of Iran from their list of terrorist organizations.

A British court of appeals ruled in May the group, known variably as the PMOI or the MEK, should no longer be classified as a terrorist group. The decision allows the group to organize more freely and raise money in England, Alalam reported.

Several Western nations, including Canada and the United States, list the group as a terrorist organization and the European Union has blacklisted the entity, though it officially no longer lists it as a terrorist organization.

Several Iraqi leaders oppose the group’s presence in Iraq due to its strong anti-Iranian stance. They accuse the United States of holding a dual policy toward the group, as it both lists it as a terrorist entity and embraces it as a deterrent to Iranian influence in Iraq, Radio Netherlands Worldwide said.

Legal Opinion: Britain must obey the rule of law over Iraqis detained without trial
Phil Shiner, The Independent

In 2003, two Iraqis, Faisal al-Saadoon and Khalaf Mufdhi, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the killing of two British soldiers. Both men have since been held without charge or trial in clear breach of the right to due process protected by Article 5 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Further, the British government now intends to hand over the men to the Iraqi Higher Criminal Tribunal where they will face trial for “war crimes” in respect of these killings. If convicted, they face the death penalty. Where do the legal issues raised by this case fit within the broader context of the role of international law after 9/11?

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