A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.
‘Bomb-maker caught in the act’
Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph
A terrorist bomb-maker was caught with home-made explosives in soft drinks bottles and instructions in Arabic on how to mix them together, a court has heard.
Hassan Tabbakh, 38, was arrested a week before Christmas near his home in Small Heath, Birmingham and when police raided his flat nearby they found three bottles of the soft drink Tango containing a cocktail of chemicals.
Analysis revealed the bottles, which were stored in a hallway cupboard, contained a mixture of Growmore plant food, acetone and white spirit along with handwritten notes in Arabic which the prosecution claimed seemed to be instructions on how to construct the bombs.
According to the prosecution, the notes seemed to tell the user to mix the ingredients of the bottles with fertilizer and aluminium foil, transfer the mixture into tin cans and insert a detonator to make a bomb.
They allegedly added: “I have put everything separately for safety and quick transport. Don’t use the bottles in which I put the liquids because my fingerprints are on them. I pray that Allah would keep you safe and grant you success in the work for the sake of Allah.”
Another allegedly said: “Step back at the time of execution.”
Muslim youths taught citizenship to avoid extremism
Caroline Gammell, The Telegraph
Muslim youths will be taught how to be good British citizens as part of a strategy to stop them turning into extremists, the Government said.
The lessons will be held in mosque schools in several cities round the country from the beginning of the new term in September.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said the initiative was designed to show youngsters there was no conflict between their religion and being British.
It is one of a series of measures including the establishment of a new independent board of academic and theological experts and a group of community leaders to advise on local responses to tackling extremism.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that our young people are equipped with the skills they need to stand up to violent extremists,” said Miss Blears.
“This project will help them understand how their faith is compatible with wider shared values and that being a good Muslim is also compatible with being a good citizen in the UK. We need to encourage and create safe places for sensible debate around issues that extremists can seek to exploit and make sure that young British Muslims recognise that their faith teaches shared citizenship values.”
British citizenship lessons for young Muslims
Nico Hines, The Times
Major-General Arthur Denaro: Government ‘careless’ with the military
David Byers, The Times
A former senior Army officer today accused ministers of being “very careless” with the military and of having “lacked interest” in improving resources.
Major-General Arthur Denaro, who has now retired, said that the country had also failed to play its part in backing the under-resourced Armed Forces due to the unpopularity of the war in Iraq.
His comments come as General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, was set to claim in a speech tonight that soldiers were finding that they had to add civilian skills – from town hall administration to banking – to their traditional combat capabilities.
The Head of the Army will demand that soldiers are in future assisted by a new squad of “stabilisation specialists” who spend their careers assisting the military in working to rebuild countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Terrorism: Met ‘has not learned’ from Menezes death
Vikram Dodd, The Guardian
Scotland Yard still does not know the cause of catastrophic errors made three years ago by its officers which led to the killing of an innocent man who was mistaken for a terrorist, an official report reveals today.
The Metropolitan Police Authority report on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station, south London, brands parts of the force’s reaction to the disaster “disturbing” and others “complacent”, and accuses the Met of being overly defensive.
The findings by the force’s watchdog put added pressure on commissioner Sir Ian Blair because it says the Met has not learned or done enough since the death.
The MPA report focuses on changes made since July 22 2005, when Menezes was held down and repeatedly shot in the head by officers.
One recommendation will anger police – that the practice of officers writing up their notes together after a serious incident must end, and in the meantime all such meetings must be recorded.
Sir Ian Blair under renewed pressure over shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes
Richard Edwards, The Telegraph
Analysis: Why we should salute our forces
Michael Evans, The Times
Looking at some of the achievements of the Armed Forces in recent years it is not difficult to see why they should be treated as a special case and why Britain owes them a debt.
Regulars and reserves have, since 1982, liberated the Falkland Islands, contributed to a peaceful solution in Northern Ireland, helped to drive out the Iraqi occupation force from Kuwait, assisted in the restoration of the legitimate Government in Sierra Leone, relieved humanitarian disasters in the Balkans and Africa and played a pivotal role in response to flooding and a foot-and-mouth epidemic in Britain. Not to mention the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where, to date, a total of 120,000 have served in the former and about 30,000 in the latter.
The welfare of the Armed Forces has become a hot political issue, not least because slow decision-making, poor judgment and a battle for funding have made it look as if troops have been prepared inadequately for the rigours of war in extreme climatic conditions. War fatigue has also set in with the public. Iraq was never a popular war and many voters find it difficult to understand why we have nearly 8,000 troops in Afghanistan.