UK CT & COIN Features – 3 July 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.

Terrorist ‘linked to Osama bin Laden’ released on bail
Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph

A man allegedly connected to Osama bin Laden who was once one of the world’s most wanted terrorists has been freed on bail. Although his name has been widely used in the past he can only be referred to as “U” under a court order which also bans any reference to the date he was released or the town where he was bailed to.

The order was put in place by Mr Justice Mitting, chairman of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission which has granted his release pending a House of Lords case in October. The judge has also banned the release of the man’s bail conditions, which are likely to involve a strict curfew similar to that of the preacher abu Qatada, released last month.

U is appealing against deportation back to his native Algeria.

He was implicated in separate plots to blow up Los Angeles airport and the Christmas market in Strasbourg and is said to have “direct links to Osama bin Laden and other senior al-Qa’eda figures.” The Home Office claim he was a “leading organiser and facilitator of terrorist activity.”

Also:

2nd Terror Suspect Released in Britain
John F. Burns, The New York Times

Terror suspect out on bail seven years after arrest
Richard Ford, The Times

‘Bin Laden’ terror suspect is freed on bail
PA / The Independent

Plan to include Hizbollah in UK list condemned
Ferry Biedermann, The Financial Times

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hizbollah movement, on Wednesday condemned the British government for placing his group’s armed branch on the UK terror list.

The Hizbollah leader mentioned the role of Great Britain in the founding of Israel and the current deployment of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The wrongdoer’s decision is thus a medal of honour to us,” he said in a speech via video link that focused on the details of an impending prisoner exchange with Israel.

The UK Home Office had earlier on Wednesday announced that it would ask parliament to place the Islamist group’s armed wing on the list of banned terrorist organisations.

Hizbollah, the Shia group backed by Syria and Iran, is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the US but has so far escaped that label in most of Europe. In most of the Arab and Muslim world Hizbollah is seen as a legitimate resistance movement against Israel.

Richard Dannatt: a loyal soldier who deserves to be promoted
Allan Mallinson, The Times

Churchill sacked two Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff before he found the man that he wanted, Sir Alan Brooke. What he respected most in Brooke, whose statue stands outside the Ministry of Defence with the words “Master of Strategy” on the plinth, was his moral courage: “I bang the table at him, and what does Brooke do? He bangs it even harder!”

Rumours that the Chief of General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, will not be the next Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) because of his outspokenness may prove premature, but they are dismaying nevertheless. Gordon Brown may be irked by the way that the media have seized on Dannatt’s words, but the CGS has served the Government’s security strategy more faithfully than he would have if he had kept his mouth firmly and self-servingly shut.

By calling for public shows of support for returning troops he has decoupled the issue of casualties and respect from the unpopularity of the Iraq war (and doubts about Afghanistan), taking much heat off the Prime Minister. His remarks soon after he was appointed two years ago – that we must not lose focus on handing over to the Iraqis, and quit the country as soon as possible – were at first construed as a policy attack.

In fact they were a reminder to other agencies what the policy actually was, for there was lethargy in parts of Whitehall. Dannatt saw with a clarity that is only now being admitted elsewhere in the MoD that there were not the resources to continue in Iraq and at the same time face the growing Taleban counter-offensive in Afghanistan.

Building goodwill in Gereshk – Part Two
Barry Shaw, MoD

Captain Brian O’Neill, 28, of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), is one of approximately 30 plus UK troops working in and around the Helmand province town of Gereshk. As the Officer Commanding the Operations Coordination Centre-District (OCCD), Capt O’Neill has been in Gereshk since mid-March. In fact in that time he hasn’t even left the town.

MoD

His job is challenging but he’s enjoying it. Although he is a member of 16 Air Assault Brigade for this deployment, in Gereshk he is also part of a Danish Battlegroup. In addition he works alongside soldiers from the 1 Royal Irish Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team as well as the 2 SCOTS Force Protection team who provide close protection to the reconstruction teams working in the town. As if that were not enough, Capt O’Neill also has a platoon (60 odd) of US Marines working for him. Oh, and he’s responsible for mentoring and training 200 Afghan police officers.

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