UK terrorism document says strategy will target al-Qaida

UK says it will relentlessly pursue terrorists and disrupt their plots.

Bin Laden 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Bin Laden 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The British government will tackle the threat of terrorism through the relentless pursuit of terrorists and disruption of their plots, according to a document released by the Home office. The Home Office laid out a comprehensive strategy, under the name "CONTEST," "to reduce the risk to the UK and its interests overseas from international terrorism," in the report. The threat from al-Qaida, and Islamist groups and individuals that al-Qaida seeks to "bring together into a single global movement," represent the biggest current challenge to the UK, according to the document. "Working across government departments, CONTEST is one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging approaches to tackling terrorism anywhere in the world," Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said. "We set out here for the first time a detailed account of the history of the threat, how in recent years a new form of international terrorism has emerged, and the impact this has had on the UK." The strategy examines how the threat to Britain has evolved and cites a number of events that heralded the modern age of terrorism. These include the threats from "militant Palestinian groups" in the 1970s and the first intifada that began in 1987, which "reflected the growing influence of militant religious groups in the occupied territories." The 176-page document cites the attack by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's attack on an EL AL flight bound from Rome to Lod Airport in 1968 as the first modern international terrorism attack, as well as terrorism by the Iraqi, Syrian and Libyan governments. "Over the next 20 years other groups motivated by Palestinian issues and principally comprising of Palestinians, conducted a range of attacks in the UK and against UK interests as part of a wider pattern of operational activity," the report says. The document looks at ways of preventing terrorist attacks and stopping people from becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism. It also looks at how to prepare for attacks from chemical, biological, radiological, explosive and nuclear materials. The threat is different today, with a "wide-ranging religious and political agenda and religious justification" found to justify terrorist acts, it says. "Our response to the threat we face is based on stopping terrorist attacks, preventing people becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism, strengthening our protection against attack, and limiting the impact of any attacks that do occur. It is intended to address immediate threats and longer term causes," the document reads. "Obviously challenging al-Qaida needs to be the primary goal of this strategy, and that remains the case," said Mark Gardiner from CST, a charity that provides community security and represents British Jewry to police, government and media on anti-Semitism and security issues. "Nevertheless, we welcome what appears to be a greater determination to challenge the wider Islamist jihadi philosophy that underpins groups beyond al-Qaida itself." The CONTEST document also cites the Mandate period and attacks by "Zionist terrorists" when it looks at the background of international terrorism. "Terrorism in not new, in the immediate post-war period UK citizens and interests were targeted and attacked by Zionist terrorists in the British Mandate of Palestine and by nationalist terrorists in Cyprus," the document says.