UK CT & COIN Features – 4 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.

24-hour bail curfew for terrorist suspect linked to Bin Laden
Ian Cobain, The Guardian

The hiding place of a leading terror suspect was inadvertently released by Justice Ministry officials last night after he was freed from jail under unprecedented bail conditions. The man, who can be identified only as U, was released from Long Lartin, Worcestershire, after the appeal court ruled there was no reason to hold him indefinitely as he could not be deported to his native Algeria.

The media has been prohibited from publishing his address, or even identifying the town where he is to reside. When the Ministry of Justice supplied journalists with copies of his bail conditions, however, the document included his exact address in the south-east of England.

A spokesman for the ministry’s Tribunals Service said: “The bail conditions were released to the media with the agreement of the judge in this case. Although the individual’s address details were deleted they could still be viewed within this document due to a technical error.”

U settled in Britain in 1994 and moved to Afghanistan two years later, where he is said to have forged links with Osama bin Laden. He is accused of presiding over a pre-9/11 al-Qaida network of north African terrorists who trained in Afghanistan in the mid-90s, and has links with men convicted of offences in this country and abroad. Ahmed Ressam, convicted of a plot to blow up Los Angeles International airport on New Year’s Eve 1999, was carrying U’s telephone number when he was arrested with 60kg (130lb) of explosives on the Canadian-US border.

Attempts to extradite U to the US collapsed when Ressam refused to give evidence against him. Prosecutors in France and Germany said telephone intercept evidence indicated U was the driving force behind a plot to bomb a Christmas market in Strasbourg the following year. Fourteen men were jailed for their roles in that conspiracy.

Also:

Man ‘linked to Bin Laden’ bailed
Sadie Gray, The Independent

UK aid doubles for border region of Pakistan
James Blitz, The Financial Times

The UK announced on Thursday that it would be doubling financial assistance to Pakistan to £480m ($952m) by 2011, a move that makes Islamabad the second largest recipient of British aid. Britain said it would be increasing assistance in this way over the next three years because it wants to channel more cash into areas on the Afghan border that are plagued by Islamist militancy.

Officials at the Department for International Development said there were a number of places in the province of Baluchistan on the Afghan border where the UK is doing work to improve education and healthcare.

“There will now be an additional emphasis on assistance to the border areas as well as on education, with more than £250m being made available to bring 5m children into school,” DFID said in a statement.

A DFID official said: “This kind of development work can help in the battle against extremism. There is huge illiteracy and maternal deaths. We are working with the Pakistan government to improve the situation.”

Also:

Britain gives Pakistan £1bn to fight extremism
Zahid Hussain, The Times

The enemy within? Fear of Islam: Britain’s new disease
Peter Oborne, The Independent

Three years ago, four young suicide bombers caused carnage in London. Their aim was not just to kill and maim. There was also a long-term strategic purpose: to sow suspicion and divide Britain between Muslims and the rest. They are succeeding.

In Britain today, there is a deepening distrust between mainstream society and ever more isolated Muslim communities. A culture of contempt and violence is emerging on our streets.

Sarfraz Sarwar is a pillar of the Muslim community in Basildon, Essex. He is constantly abused and attacked, and the prayer centre he used has been burnt to the ground.

Mr Sarwar, who has six children and whose wife is matron of an old people’s home, is a patently decent man. His only crime is his religious faith. He and his fellow worshippers now meet in secret to evade detection, and the attacks that would follow.

Also:

British Muslims ‘feel like the Jews of Europe’
Murray Wardrop, The Telegraph

Human rights body condemns counter-terrorism bill
PA / The Guardian

Government plans to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days are “unnecessary, disproportionate and counter-productive” and should be rejected when they come before the House of Lords next week, an international human rights group said today.

Human Rights Watch said that the 28-day detention period introduced by former prime minister Tony Blair is already “excessive” and violates Britain’s obligations under European and global conventions.

And the report warned that other features of the counter-terrorism bill – such as post-charge questioning and secret inquests – are incompatible with the UK’s duties under international human rights law.

Gordon Brown needed the support of the nine Democratic Unionist MPs to get the bill through the Commons and faces further difficulties in the Lords, where it has its second reading on Tuesday – a day after the third anniversary of the July 7 bombings in London.

Human Rights Watch’s western Europe researcher Judith Sunderland urged peers to reject key parts of the bill, including 42-day detention.

“The third anniversary of the 2005 bombings in London reminds us that Britain faces a real terror threat,” she said. “But locking people up without charge for six weeks will not make the country safer. The Lords should take a principled stand against this dangerous and unnecessary proposal.”

Also:

Is the state taking liberties?
Ros Taylor, The Guardian

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