UK CT & COIN Features – 24 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.

Extremist Cleric in Britain Moves Closer to U.S. Trial
John F Burns, The New York Times

An Egyptian-born Muslim cleric fighting extradition to the United States on terrorism charges failed in his bid to take the case to Britain’s highest appeals court in the House of Lords on Wednesday. One of the country’s most senior judges ruled that there was “no point of law or general importance” that justified a further appeal.

The ruling moved the 51-year-old cleric, Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, a step closer to facing trial in the United States on charges that include taking part in a worldwide conspiracy to wage Islamic holy war against the United States. Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has signed an order approving his extradition, and officials have said they plan to fly the cleric out of Britain as soon as his last legal recourse has been exhausted.

But lawyers for the cleric, who goes by the pseudonym Abu Hamza al-Masri, have said they may try to take the case one step further, to the European Court of Human Rights, a move that could delay extradition by months.

Also:

Abu Hamza loses US extradition bid
Reuters / The Financial Times

Fertiliser bomb plotters lose appeal
Lee Glendinning, The Guardian

Five men who were jailed for life after plotting a series of fertiliser bomb attacks in the UK have today lost their appeal against their convictions.

Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmood and Jawad Akbar, from Crawley, West Sussex, Anthony Garcia, of Barkingside, east London, and Salahuddin Amin, of Luton, Bedfordshire, were found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life at the end of a lengthy trial at the Old Bailey last year.

Criticisms had been raised over the trial judge’s handling of their case in an appeal against their convictions.

Patrick O’Connor QC, representing Amin at appeal had said criticisms related to rulings made by Judge Sir Michael Astill and his “approach to various issues”.

But three appeal court judges in London today rejected the bids for their convictions to be overturned.

Also:

Fertiliser bomb plotters lose appeal
PA / The Independent

Judges reject appeal by fertiliser bomb plotter questioned by MI5
Ian Cobain, The Guardian

Counter terrorism: Police disrupt 13 terror networks in last year
Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph

No networks were disrupted between April and May this year, according to the report on Scotland Yard’s Counter-Terrorism Command. It says serious terrorist attacks may have been foiled as a result of some of the successes.

During the last financial year police responded to 181 calls to the scene of suspected terrorist incidents – one every other day – and have already responded to 29 in April and May this year.

The report says there would have been “significant variation in the impact” that disrupting the networks would have but added: “Some cases may result in the foiling of a planned major bombing campaign others may reduce the funding or resources available to mount such an attack.”

No networks were disrupted between April and May this year, according to the report on Scotland Yard’s Counter-Terrorism Command.

But the report added: “Given that the disruption of terrorist activity may lead to a reduction in the overall number of networks, a decrease as well as an increase in such disruptions may be an indicator of success.”

Chemists condemn ‘terrorist’ ban
Anthea Lipsett, The Guardian

A high court ruling that banned a “suspected terrorist” from studying chemistry and biology at AS-level has drawn fire from leading chemists.

Mr Justice Silber ruled that the Iraqi national, referred to as AE for legal reasons, had taken part in terrorist activities and knowledge from AS-level chemistry and biology could be used to make explosives.

AE argued he wanted to study the courses to continue his medical studies but the judge dismissed his appeal against the home secretary Jacqui Smith’s decision last September refusing him permission to take the courses in the 2008-09 academic year at a regional college.

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) said the ruling made a “scapegoat” of chemistry and linking it to terrorist activity would undo work to make more pupils take up the subject.

Britain accused of supporting Pakistan abductions
The Telegraph

Calling on Pakistan’s new government to reveal details about hundreds of missing people who are being held by security forces, the human rights group said Britain and the US had benefited from some of the detentions.

In a new report, Amnesty said partners in the US-led “war on terror”, including Britain, bore a responsibility for condoning or assisting in the “enforced disappearances”, in which Pakistan security forces apprehend and detain people in secret locations.

Amnesty said many people detained by Pakistani agents had been tortured.

Iraqi soldiers in Basra weapons find
MoD

Iraqi soldiers, supported by UK troops, have uncovered a large arms cache on the outskirts of Basra, further proof of their increasing capability to conduct operations in and around the city.

The haul, which included mortar shells, rocket propelled grenades and launchers, an anti-tank weapon and a large quantity of small arms ammunition, was discovered during a four-day joint search operation in a rural area north of Basra City.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers worked alongside members of the Iraqi Army’s 52 Brigade, part of 14 Division, to comb areas known to be used by militants to store weapons for attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces.

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