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Police, Counter Terrorism and Terror Threats in Britain

Reader comment on item: Britain's New Export: Islamist Carnage
in response to reader comment: UK jihadi networks

Submitted by Musa Khan Jalalzai (United Kingdom), May 14, 2012 at 14:11

Updated on May 14, 2012 by Musa Khan Jalalzai

Police,Counter Terrorism and Terror Threats in Britain.

Every terrorist attack serves many tactical goals and the purpose of terror attacks can be both internal and external. The underground links of the UK terror groups across the border and their nature of activities can be judged from the recent arrest of some extremist elements in their revelations. The networks of al Qaeda inspired home grown terrorist groups remain a critical threat to the national security of the country. Britain's most talented security agencies, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are running behind these networks and monitoring communication around them.

Last week, police arrested four Northern Ireland suspected dissidents while three men and a woman were also detained in Toome county Antrim and Pomeroy and other places and questioned in a local police station. Dissidents in Northern Ireland have re-emerged with new terror tactics. On April 6, 2012, Belfast Telegraph reported army bomb disposal experts defused a small bomb in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and the citizens in this province vote for election and enjoy the same rights like citizens of other provinces.

On 28 April 2012, Guardian reported police patrol discovered 27kg bomb inside Van in border town of Newry. Moreover, Sky news reported this potentially lethal car bomb was aimed at killing police officers. Before these incidents, on 9 April, 2012, police arrested six men after they threatened to kill more policemen and soldiers.

In April 2011, Real IRA had already claimed the murder of PC Ronan Kerr. The newly formed Real IRA soon replaced the continuity IRA as the home for dissidents. The conflict in Northern Ireland is ultimately sectarian because since 1969, the conflict has been a religious war and religion has been the point of contention. The Province is now in peace as Ireland and England have worked closely to stem terrorism and political conflict in Northern Ireland and throughout the British Isles.

We have numerous news reports about the British extremist elements convicted in several terror acts as Britain based terror groups have strong presence in Africa, Central, South and Southeast Asia. Their training facilities and recruitment of their members is a bigger threat to peace and stability in Europe. There are thousands suspected al Qaeda linked extremists who fought in Asia and African from 1994 to 2011. The strategy they adopted in Europe is different from the strategy of their countries of origin. They are more violent here compared to their home countries as they enjoy religious and political freedom. They are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Pakistan's civil wars.

This misunderstood way of religious practice badly affected the reputation of Islam and its true followers. From 1999 to 2011, more than one hundred extremists who committed terror related crime were convicted in the United Kingdom. At present, Police is operating in a difficult environment and the recent pressure on UK Border Agency in airports has further exuberated in their frustration.

The 9th May 2012 demonstration in London by police was a culmination of more than a year of increasing tension between the government and the police over the recent reforms. Police officers are angry over the issue of cuts and other benefits. According to the police federation more than 30,000 of its members participated in protest. Home office figure shows that more than 6,000 police officers have been spared. The past experience of police low quality performance and some flaws in immigration system compelled home office to bring some changes in the policing strategies.

The depth and breadth of the terrorist threat in the country have now become a hot topic of debates. The police department experience frustration, job loss and public criticism. Their relation with the present government and bureaucracy are not friendlier. Their complaints of salaries, hours-long duty and frustration need considerable attention. Criticizing the police force and their tactical mistakes is not the solution. We must bear in mind that under the UK counter terrorism strategy, police forces contribute to twenty one key work-streams and forty two key actions.

Metropolitan Police Service's Counter Terrorism command (SO15) is playing vital role in countering terror and extremist threats while special branch has a brilliant history of tackling these issues. According to the Police Foundation (2009) report: "The growing notoriety of al Qaeda coupled with the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, increased numbers of recruits and encouraged various other violent Islamist groups and individuals to adopt al Qaeda philosophy." Experts understand that violent extremist groups in UK follow the same philosophy.

As we understand intelligence is vital for effective counterterrorism because it stops and undermines planned attacks. The UK Counter Terrorism Command or SO15 is a specialist operation branch within the police department. Though this force is still young but gained a lot of experience in countering terror threats. Another most competent intelligence organization is Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JIAC) which counters and analyzes terrorism within the United Kingdom. National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) advises the government on its counter terrorism strategy.

To effectively counter the threat of violent extremism in the country, another police organization (NETCU) has been tackling the issue intelligently. In Britain, there are innumerable policing agencies in the field but their way of intelligence gathering, surveillance and infiltration is different.

Having retrieved vital proof about the terror threat, the technique of information process is very important thing. As we know intelligence is information or classified information, but processing information is a difficult task. Anyhow, as the Olympic and Paralympics approaches, police needs to keep in contact with communities and concentrate on the issue of law and order in the country. As in the past, we again say The United Kingdom will face more terror threats, incidents and violence in near future.

The writer is author of Policing in Multicultural Britain, can be reached at: zai.musakhan222@gmail.com

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