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Newsblog: July 29-4 August

05/08/2011

New research released claims that the UK is the Western country most at risk from terrorist attacks. This ranking was, in large part, due to the increase in violence in North Ireland where 25 out of the 26 terrorist attacks occurred in the period between April 2010 and March 2011. While Islamic militants remain a threat to the UK, dissident Republican and Loyalist terrorist attacks remain a “strong possibility.”

A Republican Facebook page has been shut down following a bid for users to submit photos and information of officers who work with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Police Federation Chairman Terry Spence stated that the information was “likely to be used by terrorists” and was clearly an attempt to “target police officers for murder.” The administrators of the site claimed it was only to be used to report police harassment and wasn’t meant to endanger any lives. For more on this threat, see ICSR’s report ‘Return of the Militants’.

An internet blogger, who praised Roshonara Choudhry attempted murder of British Labour MP Stephen Timms, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. Bilal Zaheer Ahmad from Wolverhampton pleaded guilty to encouraging attacks on MPs who had supported the Iraq invasion in 2003. He was also charged with other terrorism related offenses – one count of intent to stir up religious hatred and three counts of collecting information likely to be of use to a terrorist. In the court, it was revealed that Ahmad had become radicalised as a teenage member of al-Muhajiroun and began to contribute to extremist websites.

The Far Right has been heavily examined in the period following the massacre in Norway and the UK has been showing a particular focus on groups accused killer Anders Breivik claimed association with, such as the English Defense League (EDL). A piece by the Guardian this week has offered a “snapshot analysis” of the current status of the Far Right in the UK, particularly what kind of political gains these groups seek, their use of intimidation and violence, as well as communities particularly affected by such groups.

Pressure on the UK government to deal with a growing Far Right concern has led for many to demand a ban on a planned EDL march through Tower Hamlets planned for September 3. Many see the march as a provocation that has the potential to spark violence. A group called United East End, which marched in order to counter the EDL marches in Tower Hamlets, are planning a large counter-demonstration the same day.

The EDL, which has attempted to remove any association of itself with Anders Breivik or political violence, faced further criticism this week as it was revealed that a former senior member of the EDL posted a controversial essay last year. Alan Lake, on his own personal website 4 Freedoms, posted an essay in which he discusses the execution and torture of political and religious leaders in June 2010. Lake also forewarned of “Islamic enclaves” in the UK where he urged his audience to also contribute names to the list of persons to be sent with figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury and David Cameron.