Islamist Terrorism Conviction: Madihah Taheer

Mirza-Madihah-Taheer

Madihah Taheer, a 21 year-old woman who was married to Islamist Ummar Mazra was convicted on the 26th October at Woolwich Crown Court for plotting acts of terrorism that would have occurred in Birmingham. Mazra had earlier pleaded guilty to the offence and Taheer were arrested in march 2017, shortly after the Westminster bridge terrorist attack (the two incidents are not linked). Although Taheer denied the offence saying she was manipulated by Mazra and did not believe Mazra would carry out the attack, evidence presented by the prosecution at her trial revealed the opposite and that she was deeply imbued with the Islamist narrative of the group Islamic State.

West Mids CTU logoMI5 logo

Following an MI5 operation tracking Mizra, he was arrested by the West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit  along with his sister for the offence. From Whats App conversations between Mizra and Taheer evidence revealed how there was little doubt that she was influenced by the violence in Islamic Sate’s narrative. For the UK 2017 has been a year where there have been five terrorist attacks, four influenced by Islamism, one allegedly by the extreme far right, but operations like this show how the UK’s security services and police are working on preventing further attacks from happening and the work they put into keeping the UK safe. We can all support them by reporting an suspicious activity to the Anti-Terrorism Hotline 0800 789 321

 

Should British Islamic State Fighters Be Killed?

rory stewart

The UK Government Minister of State for International Development, Rory Stewart has said that the only way to deal with British IS fighters is to kill them.

An Islamist fighter, identified as Abu Muthanna al-Yemeni from Britain, speaks in the Isis video

In his assessment that British IS fighters have moved away from any kind of allegiance towards the British Government, he states they believe in IS’ extremely hateful doctrine and in using violence to create an eighth century state they consequently pose a serious danger. As they have executed people, held women and children hostage, tortured and murdered people to impose their will, Rory Stewart concludes that in almost every case British IS fighters should be killed.

Old BailyOld Baily 1

I can understand where Rory Stewart is coming from and I am certainly no apologist for IS or any form of Radical Islamist groups. They are an evil that needs to be eradicated as groups like IS have committed genocide in addition to all the other forms of excessive violent criminal activity. However, I see it as preferable for any British IS fighter who wants to return to the UK to be allowed to do so, but in doing so they should be arrested on their arrival to the UK and let due process of a criminal arrest/trial take its course. There may be the odd person who travelled to Syria to join IS through naively believing IS’ propaganda who may have been trapped in the region, who on their return, following arrest, where it is established they pose no immediate risk be rehabilitated. For those dedicated to IS’ cause who remain in the Syria/Iraq region to fight, then they should expect the consequences and be prepared to be killed, including as a result of targeted UK or US drone attacks.

It is understandable politicians like Rory Stewart have come out and expressed their frustration with foreign fighters who join the likes of IS, but as a government minister it is disappointing such views are expressed publically. That said, due process via criminal trials are the way forward as the likes of trial by jury is what differentiates liberal democratic values from totalitarian extremism like that espoused by IS.

bbc news logo

I will be discussing these issues with Huw Edwards on BBC News Channel’s , News at Five (17.00 BST)

13% Increase in Recorded Crime in England & Wales is not Due to, ‘…spread of radical Islamic Terror’

english police 1996

The recorded crime statistics for England & Wales released on the 19th October 2017 showed an overall increase of 13%. This included a 19% increase in sexual offences and a 26% in knife/violent crime, as well as an increase in reported harassment/stalking crime. In separate data there has been a 31% in recorded hate crime.

Part of this increase is explained by improved reporting procedures by the police and for offences like sexual offences, harassment (and race hate) victims are showing confidence in the police and feel comfortable in reporting it.. Out of these crime statistics the worry is the increase in knife/violent offence (where over half have been attributed to the London area).

donald trump

US president, Donald Trump’s irresponsible and ill-informed tweet that the increase in recorded crime is due to the ‘spread of Radical Islamic terror’ is incorrect and way of the mark. It is time that Donald Trump kept his nose out of UK affairs and looked into his own country and the US murder and violent crime statistics involving firearms, like the recent shooting in Las Vegas where there is no connection to Islamist terror group action or radicalisation.

LBC logo

I will be discussing this with Andrew Pierce on LBC Radio around 8.45 pm (BST) this evening.

Australian Extreme Far Right Group Antipodean Resistance: Should it be Proscribed Like National Action in the UK?

antipodean resistance

The rise in prominence in nationalist politics has created an environment allowing extreme far right groups to feel more confident and able to express publically their views and beliefs. In Australia One Nation is a right wing nationalist political party that has a number of elected politicians in both state governments and in Australia’s federal government, including its founder and leader, Pauline Hanson. In essence One Nation is an anti-immigration and anti-Islam party, exemplified by Pauline Hanson’s recent theatrics in the Senate when she attended a session dressed in a burqa as part of a protest against Islamic women wearing the garment. Some of the most prominent Australian far right groups includes Aryan Nation, Combat 18, National Democratic Party for Australia, Soldiers of Odin and United Patriots Front. Formed in late 2016 and one of the more recent extreme far right groups to emerge in Australia is Antipodean Resistance. The group is clearly influenced by the national socialist ideology and appears to be inspired by the UK group National Action (who is now a proscribed group in the UK). Looking at their website, to date most of their activity appears rather innocuous as they have been involved in is placing stickers and posters at various locations such as universities, churches and other public buildings. While many groups are clearly anti-immigration or anti-Islam, Antipodean Resistance make it clear that are also anti-sematic, homophobic, racist, anti-multiculturalism and have no time for liberal democratic principles. The articles and news items on their website make this very clear, as seen in an article ‘Being White is Not Enough’ posted in July 2017 that says:

‘There are many, many poor quality or degenerate evil whites in the world. White people can be race traitors, selfish capitalists/communists, rapists, paedophiles and faggots … White men have dropped the ball. We’ve let Jews, non-whites, feminists and degenerates run our nations to the ground.’

antipodean resistance 1

In their latest news bulletin on their website, Antipodean Resistance have attacked the latest journalists’ reporting of their activities and politicians who have equated Antipodean resistance to Islamist based terrorism saying:

‘All reasonable people reading through their nonsense should be able to see the ham fisted attempt at equating any form of legitimate nationalism as terrorism … The problems we as a society face won’t go away with MORE liberalism, MORE state oppression or MORE non-whites. Our society will only start to become healthy with a strong dose of FACISM and nothing else.’

Antipodean Resistance are very open as to the conditions one must meet to join the group. An applicant must be white and living in Australia with ‘blacks, Asians, Jews or mixed abominations’ prohibited along with white people who are in a relationship with a non-white as ‘racial treason cannot be tolerated’. As they brand themselves as the 21st century Hitler Youth, an Antipodean Resistance applicant must be in their teens or twenties, free from serious physical or mental disabilities and must not be a homosexual.

antipodean resistance poster 1antipodean resistance poster

There are calls for Antipodean Resistance to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation. While to date the group have only posted stickers and posters, Antipodean Resistance claim to radicalise their followers at radicalisation camps where they also deliver combat and survival training to its followers. Federal Labour MP, Anne Aly, who worked in counter-terrorism and radicalisation prior to her election, would like to see Antipodean Resistance and similar groups be proscribed as terrorist and violent groups. She says by Australia focusing on the jihadist threat it is missing a very real threat as Antipodean Resistance is about violence and hatred, not about expressing opinions in a civil debate. As the group’s ideology is about killing people, it only takes one person for a terrorist attack to succeed.

The Link between the UK’s National Action and Australia’s Antipodean Resistance

National Action 2
Formed in 2013, National Action see themselves as political radicals not extremists. They promoted themselves as a non-violent organisation, yet actions by their members and those influenced by their narrative suggests otherwise. National Action openly admit to being national socialists, following a contemporary version of the Nazi ideology and actively encourage young people to join them. In their statement of what they represent, regarding the use of violence National Action state they:

‘…only advocate legal violence, i.e. through the Law. Our ultimate aim of a white Britain can only ever be achieved through state power and the complicity of state institutions; Police force, Army, Intelligence Services, etc.’

national action 5

However actions by the group’s members contradicts this position and is one of the key reasons why in December 2016 the UK government proscribed them as a terrorist organisation. Prior to their proscription National Action’s early activity was similar to that seen with Antipodean Resistance that included posting stickers and posters at various locations, including universities in an attempt to recruit members from the student population. What appears as an innocent activity belied the vitriolic intolerance of others and the violence contained in their ideology. This was seen in National Action’s website (that has been taken down since their proscription) that contained phrases such as ‘gas all traitors’ and ‘fight for your country’, which some of its members took literally. Evidence of the latter can be seen in the professionally produced National Action videos that were posted on their website and on YouTube where one consistently hears comments by National Action spokesmen inciting and glorifying violence. An example is the video National Action produced in January 2016 filmed in Newcastle and posted on YouTube where the National Action speaker says, ‘A war is brewing. … And we fight’ and a couple of members then attack a black man who was playing a saxophone.

zak davies

How this self-professed non-violent group’s ideology is influencing its members to commit violence is exemplified with the conviction of one of its members, Zack Davies who in June 2015 was convicted of the attempted murder of a Sikh, Dr Bhambra. This was an unprovoked attack on Dr Bhambra who was shopping at a supermarket when Davies attempted to decapitate him. During the attack Davies shouted racist remarks and had with him a National Action flag. When asked by the police why he carried out the attack, Davies said it was because Dr Bhambra was an Asian. In January 2017 a 17 year-old teenager from Bradford who was a member of National Action was arrested prior to National Action being proscribed and convicted of making a pipe bomb, but not of the offence of preparing an act of terrorism. During his trial it was revealed that he idolised Hitler and saw Thomas Mair, who killed UK Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, as a hero, posting on Facebook, ‘There is one less race traitor in Britain thanks to this man.’
Impact of Proscription on Extremist Groups

Impact of Proscription on Extremist Groups

Since National Action became proscribed as a terrorist organisation the impact this has had on investigations into the group’s activities has already had some impact as there have been a number of arrests made in the UK under the Terrorism Act 2000. In two separate investigations, one led to four members of the British Army being arrested on the 5th September 2017 under section 11 Terrorism Act 2000, being a member of a proscribed organisations, the second led to eleven people being arrested under section 11, five of whom are suspected of funding terrorism and six suspected of preparing acts of terrorism against individuals.

ns131

Recognising that proscription of far right groups can result in them going underground as they become increasingly covert in how they carry out their activities. It is also recognised that proscription will not stop a group from carrying out attacks as seen currently with Islamist groups and nationalist groups such as the New IRA in the UK. That said, proscription allows the security services and the police to investigate them under the wider powers provided by terrorism legislation. With groups like the far right, their organisers can try to avoid coming under terrorism legislation by breaking up and morphing into new groups as National Action have done with the names Scottish Dawn and NS131 (National Socialism Anti-Capitalist Action). Once found they too can be proscribed which, having laid an Order in September 2017, the UK government is currently in the process of doing.

Returning to Australia, while its far fight group activity has been relatively minor from holding protests to posting stickers and posters at public buildings, especially where a group espouses the national socialist narrative like Antipodean Resistance, the Australian government should seriously consider taking a hard legislative line. They only have to look at the UK where in its formative years National Action carried out similar action. As they have based themselves on National Action, Antipodean Resistance’s rise in activities can be nipped in the bud by proscribing the group.

 

 

 

Mubashir Jamil from Luton Convicted for Preparing Acts of Terrorism

Mubashir jamil

Mubashir from Luton, Bedfordshire, has been convicted today (19th Oct) at London’s Central Criminal Court (Old Baily) for preparing acts of terrorism after chatting to a covert police officer.

He intended to join Islamic state and was arrested a few days before he planned to fly out to Turkey. He also considered carrying outa suicide bomb attack. Commander Hayden, head of SO15 (Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit), said Jamil had been inspired by the terrorist attacks in France and Belgium.

Detective Superintendent Channer said how important it is to identify and weed out individuals with extreme views of any kind. In doing so he mentioned Luton, acknowledging that it is a ‘fantastic town’ with great diversity but there is suspected in some quarters that this comment was derogatory towards Luton. This may be harsh and D/Supt Channer is right, all forms of extremism must be weeded out.

I will be discussing these issues along with extremism/radicalisation on BBC Three Counties Radio just after 7am (BST) tomorrow (20th Oct)

UK’s MI5 Director Warns UK is Facing Intense Terror Threat

andrew parkerMI5 logo

 

 

MI5’s Director, Andrew Parker has warned the UK’s security services are facing an intense challenge from terrorism. He said the tempo of counter-terrorism operations was the highest he has seen in his service with MI5, currently running at 500 live operations involving 3,000 individuals. Even though seven major attacks have been prevented in the last seven months in 2017, the UK has suffered five attacks, four in London, one in Manchester with four inspired the Islamist narrative, one allegedly by the far right narrative.

IS in RaqqaIS flag

 

 

 

 

 

The threat comes from individuals who have returned to the UK after having fought with Islamic State (IS) in Syria/Iraq and IS’ use of electronic communications and propaganda to recruit/inspire individuals to carry out attacks (mainly low level using vehicles and sharply bladed instruments). Following the loss of control of Raqqa this week, although IS no longer controls major/important geographical locations, their narrative is still alive and influencing individuals. Due to the overwhelming forces fighting them, it is likely IS could see they would lose the territory they controlled and have made preparations to carry out their fight by use of guerrilla warfare in Syria/Iraq, placed sleeper cells in western states containing individuals who have fought and been trained in Syria/Iraq and continue to use their effective communications system to recruit/influence new followers. This in itself will pose a threat to many states’ national security in the next few years.

national action logo1national action at Liverpool

 

Regarding the UK, Andrew parker did not mention the terrorist threat the UK faces from the extreme far right. Since the group National Action were proscribed as a terrorist group in December 2016 there have been a number of arrests linked to the group. This includes the arrests on the 27th September 2017 where eleven suspected members of National Action were arrested with six of them suspected of preparing acts of terrorism.

severe threat level

 

This explains why the UK’s threat level is still at severe (an attack is highly likely). Questions will continue to be asked as to how attacks still occur, but as Andrew Parker said, seven serious attacks were prevented in 2017 alone. The UK’s counter-terrorism model of security where the security services work alongside the police supported by units like the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) is still effective. Those assessed as a risk will be investigated, but those who are not on any intelligence system or who is perceived as a peripheral figure still pose a threat. It is impossible to mount 24 hour, seven days a week surveillance on all those in the intelligence systems. It is logical that resources are focused on the greatest risk and as such I see the UK’s threat level remaining at sever for the near future.

 

I discussed this on BBC Radio Scotland at 6.50am this morning and will be again for BBC Radio WM between 9.05-9.20am (BST) today.

 

Death of Sally-Ann Jones (White Widow)

 

sally ann jonesI’ll be on BBC Radio Scotland just after 12 noon (BST) today discussing the reported death of Sally-Ann Jones (the white widow) in a US drone attack in Syria and issues around radicalisation http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b096smkk

Commentary on the reported death of Sally-Ann Jones

The reported death of Sally-Ann Jones, who had been nicknamed the ‘white widow’, following a US drone attack in June 2017 in Syria is significant. Raised in Kent, UK as a Roman Catholic, she converted to Islam and married her husband Junaid Hussain where they travelled to Syria in 2013 to join Islamic State (IS). There Hussain was a jihadi fighter with IS who also had a major IS role as he was also employed  as a computer hacker. Jones was used by IS to recruit people to join the group, mainly western women. She also posted on social media threatening messages to Christians in the UK.

During my BBC radio interviews that I gave on the 12th October I was asked if Jones’ death was significant, if it was a surprise that a white middle class woman could be radicalised to IS and questions on the effectiveness of the UK’s Prevent policy. (BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat 5 minutes 32 seconds in, BBC Radio Scotland 15 minutes 38 seconds in and BBC Radio Kent, 1 hour 4 minutes 50 seconds in).

I do see it as significant as it has placed a dent in IS’ propaganda machine, especially in having a blonde haired white woman from the UK who converted to Islam and who was a committed IS follower. Having such an asset not only helped IS in recruiting other western women, IS used her to enhance the acceptance of a global Islamic community, especially using the fact that Jones spurned her western life as she embraced the IS narrative and life in the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate. While not being significant in a military sense, Jones did encourage UK citizens in carrying out IS inspired attacks in Britain and being as influential as she was IS have lost this asset in Jones too.

Corbyn’s Reluctance to Support Drone Attacks on Terrorists

The leader of HM Opposition in the UK’s Parliamentary Houser of Commons, the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn agrees that if correct Jones’ death is significant. In a veiled condemnation of the fact she was killed in a drone attack, he added that it would have been preferable if she had been arrested and put on trial. I agree that in an ideal world all terrorists should face a criminal trial, but when you are dealing with groups like IS, this is a difficult task. When a targeted IS member is in IS held territory in the current conditions in Syria with its on-going civil war, where communication is difficult to establish and to have assets on the ground, this is virtually impossible. In relation as to whether Corbyn would order a drone attack, in essence he stated he would not do so adding one would have carefully look at the effects such a strike would have on a civilian population. He is right of course, this is an important factor and it is one the RAF and other western air forces do consider. prior to carrying out a bombing sortie. In giving this response Corbyn tried to avoid the issue and in my mind showed his reluctance and naivety on this issue. The former US President, Barak Obama certainly had many liberal credentials and he acknowledged that targeted strikes were not a ‘cure all’, where he was haunted by the civilians who were unintentionally killed. While committed to capturing terrorist suspects, in difficult circumstances where this was not possible Obama saw drone attacks as saving lives. It is a not an acceptable state of affairs, but in areas like Syria where individuals who influence others to carry out attacks on a wider civilian population, drone attacks are a necessity.