Britain's embarrassing security negligence.
If a court case made public in Great Britain last week is anything to go by, the battle to prevent a terrorist attack at this summer’s Olympic Games in London may have been lost years ago thanks to the British legal system.
British newspapers revealed last week that a suspected Islamist terrorist, well-known to the security services and living under court-ordered restrictions, appeared in court last month charged with breaking the ban on going near the Olympic site where events are due to begin July 27. The 24-year-old man of Somali origin, identified in court only as CF, was apprehended at Stratford Station, the main transit point for the Olympic Park in East London, after he had crossed the Park on five occasions last April and May, defying a court order that specifically states he may not use this London Overground rail route. It is believed the man may have been carrying out a reconnaissance mission.
“Stratford Station is beside the Westfield shopping centre which people will go through to get into the Olympic Park, where most of the events are to be held,” reports the Telegraph, a British newspaper. “The area is heavily protected and regarded by security services and police as among the most significant targets for terrorists.”
The biggest surprise in this case, however, is not that the man was likely planning to stage a terrorist attack at the Olympic venue - after all, that is what terrorists do - but rather, with his record of terrorist activities, one is left dumbfounded he isn’t sitting in a jail cell somewhere, at least for the duration of the 2012 Games.
“The 24 year-old has previously tried to get to Afghanistan, allegedly for terrorist training, and is suspected of fighting for the Somali Islamist terrorist group al Shabaab… He is accused of trying to recruit Britons to the cause,” relates the Telegraph. The Daily Mail pads out CF’s terrorist resume, adding he “is linked to a group of six British nationals who received terror training from Saleh Nabhan, the al Qaeda leader killed in a raid by American Navy seals in 2009.”
CF has also likely received terrorist training in Somalia with al Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-allied group. Besides that disturbing piece of biographical information, court documents state “CF wanted to ‘re-engage in terrorism-related activities, either in the UK or Somalia’, and is ‘determined to continue to adhere to his Islamist agenda’.” In other words, CF is a life-time jihadist. Another terrorist suspect, identified in court as CC, is also involved in the Olympic Park case. CC was also in Somalia where he had planned “to attack Western interests in Somaliland” – a break-away state from Somalia.
But what probably disturbed the British public most about CF's terrorist past was the information contained in British Home Secretary documents. They stated that when CF attempted to travel to Afghanistan in 2008 to fight in the jihad, he intended "to take part in suicide operations." The British have already had an excruciating experience with demonic suicide bombers on its soil and know full well the horror involved. On July 7, 2005, four home-grown Islamist suicide bombers blew themselves up on three subway trains and a double-decker bus, killing 52 people and wounding 700. As a result, the fact that a known, potentially homicidal Islamic radical with an inclination for “suicide operations” was running around largely unsupervised in Great Britain, and near the Olympic site at that, must have been an incredible shock for many, to say the least.
The blame for this sorry state of affairs lays not so much with Britain’s security services as with the British legal system. Author Raphael Israeli writes in his book, The Spread of Islamikaze Terrorism in Europe, that the tough anti-terrorism laws the British government adopted after 9/11 were eventually struck down “in courts which feared the erosion of human rights.”
Israeli states that in December, 2001, in response to 9/11, the British adopted the Anti-Terrorism and Security Act, “which allows suspected foreign terrorists to be detained indefinitely” and required Britain to opt of the Human Rights Convention. However, while most British citizens viewed the new legislation as a strong, common sense measure needed to protect them from the homicidal vision of Islamist lunatics, Britain’s Law Lords saw it differently. In December 2004, they ruled that opting out of the Human Rights Convention was “unlawful” and “was ‘disproportionate to the terrorist threat and discriminated against foreigners’.” A legal decision CF and his friends would probably have celebrated.
In response to the Law Lords’ ruling, the British government introduced in 2005 a measure to restrict suspected terrorists’ movements. Called control orders, they were brought in under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and have been called a form of house arrest that includes electronic tagging. Both British and non-British citizens were subjected to that measure.
“In previous known cases, the legal (control) measures have been used to restrict extremists whom the Home Secretary has been unable to deport to their home countries due to human rights concerns,” states the Telegraph.
Earlier this year, Britain’s Conservative government passed in parliament its own version of control orders called the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPims). Eight people besides CF are currently subject to TPims. Nicknamed ‘control orders-lite’, TPims preserved most of the restrictions of the previous control orders, including the electronic tags. This was providential, since police were able to track CF’s movements through the electronic bracelet he was wearing and make his arrest at Stratford Station. But the cold, hard fact of the matter is that these restrictive, government-imposed rules were not enough to prevent a suspected terrorist like CF, with aspirations to die in a suicide operation, from making it to the Olympic Park in the first place.
CF’s defence for using the prohibited Olympic Park rail route was that he was visiting his lawyer’s office in Stratford. Nevertheless, he stands charged with breaching the TPim measures. And not surprisingly for the lenient British court system, the would-be terrorist was granted bail despite the prosecutor’s protest that the accused, when out on bail on a previous charge, had “re-engaged in Islamist extremist activities.”
But perhaps the court is right and CF will not take up Islamist pursuits when on bail this time. After all, he can spend his time more productively preparing the legal challenge he has launched against the British government regarding TPim’s legality. He and CC are also suing the government because they claim its “agents were complicit in torturing them in a Somali prison.”
As far as the Olympic Games are concerned, the British public can probably rest easy. The British legal system scheduled CF’s first court date on the breach of TPim’s charge for July 27, so visitors to the Games can at least enjoy the opening ceremonies without worry. Hopefully.
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