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Thread: UK Counter-Terrorism (merged thread)

  1. #61
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    David, frankly I don’t get it. I imagine that monitoring this store could have yield a treasure trove of useful information – why shut down a potential intelligence goldmine?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:43 AM. Reason: This post and nine others were in a stand alone thread, but merged into this main thread today
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  2. #62
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Ah, the delay to justice

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    David, so it took from February 2007 to October 2011 to get these people to court? Does any sane person believe the 'war on terror' can be won like this?
    Most UK CT prosecutions take a long time to get to court, although IIRC the prosecution must present within sixty days enough of a case to satisfy the court. Then the court, prosecution and defence set about their own way of doing things, for example how many days will a full hearing take? Finding a court slot for a three month-long trial takes time.

    In this case the police in 2007 and in 2010 found a mass of potential evidence, books and recordings. All need to be examined, maybe summarised and submitted for review by expert witnesses. Then there's full disclosure to the defence, who may challenge on various aspects, for example the qualifications of an expert witness, so another has to be appointed.

    In this case the defendant was at liberty for most of the time once charged in February 2010.

    Then there's the priority assigned to threats to life over incitement, so you can have a tiny team assigned to such a case as this.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:43 AM. Reason: This post and nine others were in a stand alone thread, but merged into this main thread today
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  3. #63
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A "goldmine"?

    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    David, frankly I don’t get it. I imagine that monitoring this store could have yield a treasure trove of useful information – why shut down a potential intelligence goldmine?
    This bookshop had a long history, with repeated raids, at least back to 1998 or 2000; it had a physical location till at least 2007 and then went on-line till 2011.

    Locally many in the Muslim community knew what it represented and wanted it gone. Frequently the issue of a 'goldmine' or "honey pot" was raised locally and I would suggest by 2007 it's value had diminished. Not to overlook the rumours that the bookshop was a "front" and IIRC the murky role of the initial landlord.

    One prominent name linked to the bookshop, a Moazzam Begg, moved on after being a co-founder, including a stint at Guantanamo Bay and became linked to other forms of campaigning:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moazzam_Begg
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:43 AM. Reason: This post and nine others were in a stand alone thread, but merged into this main thread today
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  4. #64
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Moderator at work

    Three threads merged and thread renamed UK Counter-Terrorism (merged thread).
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  5. #65
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default About time

    The annual report by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has been published and covered here, for example:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...-watchdog.html

    Bee stings kill as many people in Britain as terrorist attacks do, according to a report by a Government watchdog who claims the risk from extremists has fallen “markedly” in recent years.
    In view of a press report on a speech by the Director-General of the Security Service (MI5) on the threat, the reviewer said the threat is sometimes:
    exaggerated for political or commercial purposes
    Link to cited a report on the MI5 speech:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...spy-chief.html

    As the UK winds up for the Olympics in a month's time his remarks are noteworthy and I suspect not exactly endearing him to HMG. When taken alongside his earlier testimony to a parliamentary committee on HMG's proposal for closed courts in civil cases he is showing some mettle IMHO:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...e-strikes.html
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  6. #66
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Court of Appeal quashes the wrongful conviction of Ahmed Faraz

    Not yet reported by the BBC, but it is confirmed as accurate. This is from a website run by supporters of Faraz:
    In a damning judgement, the UK Court of Appeal rules that no causal link could be presented that publications produced by the Maktabah bookshop would inspire acts of political violence or terrorism. They said that it was incorrect of the trial judge to permit evidence that those who had carried out acts of terrorism had owned copies of the books or DVDs and that it was a short cut to a conviction.

    The judges further explained that when the extent of acts of political violence are considered, the percentage of those who might have read Maktabah publications was very small and so such a causal link was entirely onerous.
    Link:http://www.cageprisoners.com/our-wor...of-ahmed-faraz

    The ripples from long-running investigation will spread widely, although being the pre-Christmas rush may easily slip from public view.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:44 AM. Reason: This post and nine others were in a stand alone thread, but merged into this main thread today
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  7. #67
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    This is one of those cases that highlight the differences between the UK and the US. I'm not so sure the gov would even bring a case like that here, one that seems to me to criminalize unapproved thought. We'll get there eventually though.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:44 AM. Reason: This post and nine others were in a stand alone thread, but merged into this main thread today
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  8. #68
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A fuller explanation

    Thanks to an observer the recent Appeal Court decision is not as reported, by a very partial source. First a reminder:
    ...Faraz had been convicted of seven counts of dissemination of terrorist publications and four counts of possession of information likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism. Seven other similar charges would lie on file.
    From the BBC report upon conviction:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-16149299

    The observer:
    ...only the charges of disseminating terrorism literature were quashed. The possession conviction still stands and regardless of the below, he is still a convicted terrorist.
    The previously cited source didn't mention this.

    I await the post-Xmas reporting of this matter, if there is any. Perhaps even a statement by the police (WMCTU) or prosecution (CPS).
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:44 AM. Reason: This post and nine others were in a stand alone thread, but merged into this main thread today
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  9. #69
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Drip, drip

    After an unexplained delay the UK press yesterday reported the Court of Appeal decision; the two reports are similar:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...=feeds-newsxml and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...n-quashed.html

    The former refers to:
    The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed yesterday that it would not seek a retrial, according to a report in the Times (behind a Paywall).
    One of the expert witnesses, Matthew Tariq Wilkinson, did contribute an article after the initial conviction 'I was a witness in Ahmed Faraz's trial – this is the first time anyone involved has spoken about what really happened':http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...on?INTCMP=SRCH

    The defendant was interviewed by Caged Prisoners after his initial conviction, before being sentenced:http://www.cageprisoners.com/our-wor...blishing-books

    How the Court of Appeal's decision has been seen amongst the Muslim communities is unclear, some I expect will suspect it confirms that the British state "pulled out all the stops" to convict the bookseller and now the conviction has been partly overturned.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:45 AM. Reason: This post and nine others were in a stand alone thread, but merged into this main thread today
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  10. #70
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Analysis: Why a 'terror bookseller' won his appeal

    A reasoned commentary from the BBC, which opens with:
    Can someone be convicted of disseminating books which are arguably so extreme in nature they've played a role in encouraging terrorism and political violence?

    That was the question in the trial - and subsequent appeal - of a Birmingham bookseller who in 2011 was convicted of selling jihadist literature, the first substantial case of its kind.
    Nicely sums up the case:
    In short, the prosecution said Faraz was distributing material that was designed to prime people for terrorism, even if he was not involved in it himself.

    Ahmed Faraz's defence was that none of the publications encouraged terrorism; they were simply publications that encouraged intelligent discussions on religious and political theory - and that he also had a legitimate academic interest in some of the material.
    The Court of Appeal decision is linked, although it is far from clear to a layman, but the BBC helps:
    the Court of Appeal said that it was probable that some people who had read the books were already militant Islamists who might have been further encouraged. But they said that was not proof that any of the books had indeed encouraged acts of terrorism.

    Lord Justice Pitchford said: "The danger is that the jury would condemn the publication purely by reason of its association with known terrorists. The temptation to move to the conclusion that terrorists would not be in possession of a publication unless it encouraged them to acts to terrorism is a powerful one; but such a conclusion would, of course, be speculative, unfair and prejudicial."
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20940716
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:45 AM. Reason: This post and nine others were in a stand alone thread, but merged into this main thread today
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  11. #71
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK Jihadi CT: first firearm recovered, one charged

    For a long time non-Irish, Jihadi CT investigations in the UK have not found firearms, although some arrest operations have involved armed police, others not. Firearms have been found in several cases with an extreme nationalist / right wing aspect.

    In an investigation in London into travel to Syria in support of alleged terrorist activity, six men were arrested last week and four were released:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20976211 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21051656

    Today we learn that in the original searches a converted, blank-firing sub-machine gun (MAC-10) and live ammunition were found, leading to one person, from Edgware, North London being charged with firearms offences, not terrorism and the other man was released without charge:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21066597

    Having a blank-firing weapon is not uncommon in the UK alas.

    Not a good development - even with no terrorism charges.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2013 at 11:41 AM. Reason: Edited when merged here
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  12. #72
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default Not to belittle this development...

    Last edited by bourbon; 01-18-2013 at 12:12 AM.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  13. #73
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    A "lurker" reminded me that an aspiring Jihadi sought to buy weapons after 7/7, but it was a "sting" in 2005:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6206886.stm

    An aspiring Jihadi with a firearm and ammunition is not a good sign. I fully accept the defendant could have been an "ordinary decent criminal", having the firearm for other reasons.
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  14. #74
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    I think you need to look beyond just mere possession of a firearm.

    The "barrier to entry" for a UK sourced active shooter attack is significant. A successful active shooter style attack, be it by a group or a lone-wolf, requires at least:

    - some degree of training and familiarization with firearms;
    - multiple firearms;
    - ample supply of ammunition

    Procuring these things in the UK significantly raises the risk of exposure for any active shooter plot.

    I would also imagine the price of firearms on the UK black market is high - seeing as how the supply is low, and much of the demand would probably be from people in the narcotics trade who have the funds to pay a premium for weapons.

    Obviously I have made assumptions here - but I believe they are fair ones, and the impression I get is that a homegrown active shooter style plot sourced from within the UK has significant risk of exposure and financial costs.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  15. #75
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Bourbon I accept your points.

    My concern was not for an 'active shooter' attack, but the likely crossover between aspiring a Jihadi and "ordinary decent criminals" in the acquisition of a firearm and ammunition. There has been very little known crossover between the two; a matter of choice given the risks to both.

    The second is whether LE have to assume Jihadi suspects have access to firearms when mounting arrest operations when there is no actual intelligence they have weapons. It is a fact that invariably new items or indicators of criminal activity are only discovered in post-arrest searching - fraud is often found.
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  16. #76
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Bourbon I accept your points.

    My concern was not for an 'active shooter' attack, but the likely crossover between aspiring a Jihadi and "ordinary decent criminals" in the acquisition of a firearm and ammunition. There has been very little known crossover between the two; a matter of choice given the risks to both.

    The second is whether LE have to assume Jihadi suspects have access to firearms when mounting arrest operations when there is no actual intelligence they have weapons. It is a fact that invariably new items or indicators of criminal activity are only discovered in post-arrest searching - fraud is often found.
    Fair enough. But that has to do with the UK's legal system and culture - and it's near total prohibition of firearms; which frankly I won't even pretend to understand!

    I would ask what does it suggest, if such crossover as you described, is occurring in the UK?

    As to the question of assuming a terrorist suspect's access to firearms when mounting arrest operations; I would be disturbed to hear that this is not the default assumption - but again, see my comment about me not understanding the British.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  17. #77
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Road to 7/7

    A lengthy excerpt from a book due out in April 2013, which gives a good background to some of the factors behind Jihadist terrorism in the UK - with a focus on the impact of Kashmir and the appeal to those with an affinity or kith & kin links in the UK - by looking at one radicaliser Maulana Masood Azhar.

    It starts with:
    Kashmir has always played an interesting role in Britain’s jihad. From its earliest days, the presence in the UK of a substantial Kashmiri population meant issues in the Indian sub-continent were important in the UK as well. Most prominently, in 1984, a group of Kashmiris abducted and murdered Rhavindra Mhatre, a diplomat serving at the Indian Consulate in Birmingham. Their demands included the release of imprisoned Kashmiri leader Maqbool Butt, who was instead executed by the Indian government in retribution. In later years, as tensions slowly escalated, a growing number of young Britons were drawn to the fight, following the streams of money that had long filtered from the UK to Kashmiri jihadi groups. In time, this well-trodden path became a direct line to al Qaeda, culminating in the attacks of 7 July 2005.
    Link:http://www.hurstpublishers.com/maula...mber_207971092

    The book is 'We Love Death As You Love Life: Britain's Suburban Mujahedeen' by Raffaello Pantucci, see flyer:http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/...you-love-life/
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  18. #78
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    Default al Qaeda's New Strategy

    http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2013/0...est/?hpt=hp_t4

    UK trial reveals new al Qaeda strategy to hit West

    The trial of three Birmingham men convicted Thursday of plotting to launch a "catastrophic" suicide bombing attack in the United Kingdom revealed that al Qaeda has developed a new strategy to target the West.
    Not really new, but a lot of interesting detail coming out of this case.

    Pantucci says the pressures on al Qaeda have resulted in a shift toward a new model of "fire and forget."

    The March 2012 Toulouse terrorist shootings provided further evidence of looser control by al Qaeda of terrorist plots in the West. The perpetrator of the attack - Mohammed Merah - was encouraged by the group to return to France to launch an attack during a short stay in the tribal areas of Pakistan in September 2011 but planned every aspect of the operation himself, including which targets to strike.

  19. #79
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A new AQ strategy uses clowns

    I am slowly reading the various post-trial MSM reports on this case, which has some aspects that are troubling and others that portray the convicted men as bumbling idiots. Yes they seen, no heard to be angry, motivated and trained. Much of the evidence came from bugging their conversations, even this:
    MI5 on hearing via their home bug that these incompetent idiots were looking to buy a car for their gunpowder plot, managed to get them to buy a pre-bugged vehicle that they (MI5) had supplied.
    Source not id'd. so could be "spin".

    Troubling:
    The two Irfans were also in contact with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the extremist group behind... Mumbai in 2008.
    From:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...1-8505036.html

    If LeT were involved that is to my knowledge the first time this originally Kashmiri group has taken such an anti-UK step - training for an attack in the UK. LeT are known for sending well-trained cadres to Afghanistan to ISAF & Afghan forces.

    Bill cited Raffaello Pantucci, a now London-based analyst at RUSI, has a longer comment on:http://raffaellopantucci.com/2013/02...rrorism-today/

    This BBC report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21534048 has a key 'lesson' and weakness for Jihadists:
    One of them even conceded to police that if his two fellow plotters managed to find women who would have them, their anger with the world may have eventually gone away.
    The plotters also appear to have overlooked the reaction of the local community, when they used bogus street collection to raise funds and lose them:
    As for the cash, Naseer and his recruits went onto the streets of Birmingham during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, rattling collection buckets and wearing high-visibility tabards. They sought donations for a local madrassah project and a legitimate international development British charity, Muslim Aid. But the real plan was to con ordinary people. They collected some £13,000 from Muslims who regard it as a religious and moral duty to give to charity during Ramadan. Rahin Ahmed, another member of the cell, said he could make more money by investing it in online currency trading - he lost £9,000.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21414518

    There is another aspect of this plot which fits on another thread, the failure of those who knew others had gone to Pakistan for terror training failing to inform the authorities.
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  20. #80
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default

    Steve Coll adds a different, long term perspective and ends:
    Jihadist violence presents an enduring danger. Its proponents will rise and ebb; the amorphous threats that they pose will require adaptive security policies and, occasionally, military action. Yet the empirical case for a worldwide state of war against a corporeal thing called Al Qaeda looks increasingly threadbare. A war against a name is a war in name only.
    Link:http://www.newyorker.com/talk/commen...#ixzz2LuFQXBpA

    In discussions with analysts one conclusion was that a name change for AQ could make CT strategy difficult, which may explain why of late new names appear for what were suspected to be AQ affiliates.
    davidbfpo

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