A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.
Police launch terror raids in Stoke-on-Trent
Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph
Police have raided a number of addresses in Stoke-on-Trent as part of an investigation into Islamic extremists accused of preying on “vulnerable community members.”
Officers are using their powers under the Terrorism Act to search four properties in the Staffordshire town and have recently left a fifth.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said the searches were part of “an ongoing investigation into the activities of a small group of people suspected of being involved in promoting violent extremist views and radicalising vulnerable community members.”
He said they had been “prompted by concerns about the activities of a small number of people in the local community” and added: “Staffordshire Police has acted upon those concerns and today’s operation is the latest stage of the force’s investigation to resolve them and help establish the facts.”
No arrests have been made and police said the operation posed “no direct risk to public safety.”
Stoke has recently become one of the largest strongholds for the far-right BNP, with nine representatives on the local council, and police were yesterday keen to prevent any tension building up.
Five homes raided under Terror Act
Katie Dawson and Danielle Dwyer, PA / The Independent
‘Radical convert, Nicholas Roddis, planted hoax bomb on a bus’
Andrew Norfolk, The Times
A young white man who adopted a radical Islamic creed planted a hoax bomb on a bus after becoming excited by graphic images of terrorist violence, a court was told yesterday.
Nicholas Roddis, 22, is alleged to have worn a false black beard to board a packed bus before leaving behind a carrier bag packed with nails, wire and a working clock. Inside the bag was a message, purporting to be from the al-Qaeda leadership in Iraq, that proclaimed that there was “no god but Allahu”, adding: “Britain must be punished.”
When police raided Mr Roddis’s flat in Bramley, near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, they found bombmaking ingredients, including chemicals, nails and detonators, Edward Brown, QC, for the prosecution told the jury at Leeds Crown Court. A search of his telephone and computer uncovered videos and messages “celebrating terrible atrocities” carried out by jihadist extremists.
Mr Brown said: “Not long after he had got on, he left the bus, leaving one bag behind. When a passenger checked inside, he saw three packages with nails, wire, a working clock and a piece of paper with foreign writing on it.”
White man who wanted to convert to Islam planned to plant fake nail bomb on bus
Paul Stokes, The Telegraph
An aircraft suicide bomb plot suspect has told jurors that a video threatening martyrdom that he helped to make had been a “silly” mistake.
Waheed Zaman, 24, of Walthamstow, east London, admitted recording a video threatening violence against the West. But he told Woolwich Crown Court it was part of a film intended to publicise injustices against Muslims worldwide.
Mr Zaman and seven other men on trial all deny plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic passenger jets. Mr Zaman claimed he was ignorant of wider plans to explode improvised bombs constructed from hydrogen peroxide and soft drink bottles.
Asked by his barrister if he had any involvement in the act of “gross barbarism” of planning to explode bombs on passenger jets, Mr Zaman replied: “That is absolutely untrue.”
Speaking about his video, the former student Islamic Society president said: “It was a mistake. It was something silly, I realised that now. At the time I saw it somewhat differently. I made a mistake but I don’t think I should be punished for something I was not going to do.”
Britain facing terrorist threat for another three decades, Lord Stevens warns
Christopher Hope and Graham Tibbetts, The Telegraph
Britain will be vulnerable to terrorist attacks for another three decades, according to a major report. The study, commissioned by David Cameron, warns that Britain’s borders are insufficiently protected and that militants can enter the country undetected.
“There is no doubt more attacks will be attempted against the UK and those involved are again likely to travel abroad for preparation. Others may travel to the UK for the sole purpose of carrying out attacks,” said the author of the report, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens.
There is “no indication that the [terrorist] threat level will reduce significantly” for “at least 20 to 30 years,” he added.
Terrorism: Cargo planes are security risk, says former Met police chief
Nicholas Watt, The Guardian
Cargo planes present a major threat to Britain’s security, according to the former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Stevens, who warns today that terrorists could use them to transport hazardous materials or simply blow them up.
In a report on Britain’s borders, in which he accuses the government of failing to draw up a clear border security strategy, Stevens says the world’s air cargo system is now vulnerable to terrorists.
Stevens will unveil his report at London City airport with David Cameron, saying: “The air cargo system is vulnerable to security threats including plots to place explosives aboard aircraft; illegal shipments of hazardous materials; criminal activities such as smuggling and theft; and potential hijackings and sabotage by persons with access to aircraft.” Last week Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws, said private jets and light aircraft could be used to launch attacks on crowds and buildings.
Stevens says Britain could face terrorist threats for another 30 years and adds: “The growth in air travel means that it is now easier to enter the UK’s airspace by light aircraft and there are many small airfields within easy flying distance of continental Europe, thereby facilitating the movement of people or illicit goods.”
Tories propose border protection service
Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian
Sombre mood as Scottish regiment learns of comrade’s death
Magnus Linklater, The Times
The mood at Camp Bastion in central Helmand was sombre last night, as the troops in this vast, sprawling encampment absorbed the news that the Royal Regiment of Scotland serving in Afghanistan had lost its first soldier of the campaign.
Lance Corporal James Johnson, 31, of B Company, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland was killed on Saturday by a so-called “legacy” mine – one left behind by the Russians during their occupation – while on patrol in Lashkar Gah. The impact of his death has only just begun to register among the hundreds of Scottish troops based here.
All over Camp Bastion, Scottish flags fluttered at half-mast. Several soldiers from 5 Scots itself – the word Argylls defiantly stamped on the back of their T-shirts – talked about the effect of losing a colleague.
Captain Philip Morgan, 28, was among them. “It’s very upsetting when there’s a death in the regiment. A lot of our soldiers and officers swap around between our battalions so a lot of our colleagues know each other.”