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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Yemeni ink cartridge bombs: What can Britain do?

Yemeni ink cartridge bombs: What can Britain do?

November 1, 2010

Yemeni ink cartridge bombs: What can Britain do?
Centre for Social Cohesion comment, 1 November 2010

Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism remains Britain's biggest national security threat and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group reportedly behind the failed ink cartridge bombs this weekend, are becoming an increasingly powerful force.

Two recent Centre for Social Cohesion reports, Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections and Control Orders: Strengthening National Security, provide unique evidence-based analysis and recommend the following:

1. Allocate surveillance resources appropriately

The Security Services have previously said they cannot monitor every threat and must make difficult decisions. Two key factors should influence their decision:

* On the basis of previous Islamism-inspired offences in the UK, who is most likely to commit acts of terrorism?
* How are al-Qaeda and its affiliates altering their tactics to circumvent traditional surveillance?

Islamist Terrorism documents the 127 Islamism-inspired terrorist convictions and attacks in the UK between 1999 and 2009. The report shows that the average individual convicted of Islamism-related terrorism offences is:

* A British national (69%)
* Of South-central Asian heritage (46%)
* Male (94%)
* 20-29 years old (59%)
* Based in London (48%) – most likely North East London (36%)
* Not linked to a proscribed organisation (68%)
* And has not attended a terrorist training camp (69%)

The threat is evolving, however, and attempts at profiling will not work every time. Through its recent English language magazine, Inspire, AQAP encourages ‘lone wolf' terrorist attacks. AQAP states, individuals with a ‘clean skin' should ‘stay clean [and] perform operations in the West' . Potential terrorists do not need to be involved with other ‘jihadi minded individuals', attend foreign training camps or speak Arabic to receive instruction. The Security Services should prepare for more frequent smaller scale attacks perpetrated by individuals or small groups with no direct links to al-Qaeda.

2. Retain control orders

Control orders are the best mechanism the government has to monitor suspected terrorists in the UK. Control orders are only used when criminal convictions are not possible because the evidence cannot be used in a criminal court, or when the suspect cannot be deported on human rights grounds. Among those currently under control order is an individual who intelligence sources have described as ‘the most dangerous and important Al Qaeda operative in Britain'.

Current disagreement within the government has delayed the announcement on the future of control orders until December. Abandoning the system would strengthen al-Qaeda but weaken the UK's national security and make us, and our allies abroad, more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Note to editors:
1.) The authors will be presenting the reports' findings at a public event at the House of Commons on Thursday 4th November. More information here.
2.) For more information on Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the spiritual leader of AQAP, see the CSC's report on his role in the UK here.

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