BBC News, July 17, 2006
Two UK-based Islamist groups are to become the first to be banned under laws outlawing the glorification of terrorism, the home secretary has said.
John Reid said he was taking action against Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect.
Under an order put down in Parliament, it will be an offence to belong to the groups, encourage support for them or wear clothes suggesting support.
Mr Reid said the move sent a signal that the UK would not tolerate people who supported terrorism.
The groups are both thought to be offshoots of Al Muhajiroun, which was founded by controversial cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed.
Mr Reid is also banning two foreign groups, the Baluchistan Liberation Army and Teyrebaz Azadiye Kurdistan.
And Kongra Gele Kurdistan and KADEK are also being added to the banned list because they are two alternative names for the Kurdish terrorist group PKK, which is already outlawed.
Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect were named earlier this year as the organisers of the protests outside the Danish Embassy in London against cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.
Some protesters held placards with slogans such as “massacre those who insult Islam”.
Speaking on BBC News 24, Anjem Choudary, spokesman for Al-Ghurabaa, was asked whether his organisation would defend a suicide attack on British soil.
“We’ve always been on record as saying that we have a covenant of security in Britain,” he said.
“We are not allowed to target anyone in this country because we live with them. Our life and wealth is protected.
“But I feel that with these new laws which are now being introduced, if you are going to ban ideological and political movements like Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect, than that situation, I think, is going to be affected.”
More to come?
Tony Blair said last August that Al-Muhajiroun itself – or its successor group – and the Hizb ut Tahrir organisation would be banned.
Al-Muhajiroun has disbanded but Hizb ut Tahrir is not on the Home Office’s list of proscribed groups.
A spokesman said decisions about whether to ban other groups were still pending.
Asked about Hizb ut Tahrir, the spokesman added: “This does remain a group about which we have real concerns and we are keeping the situation under review.”
The laws outlawing glorification against terrorism were only passed after a prolonged stalemate between the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Critics of the measure said it threatened to restrict freedom of speech and legitimate debate.
But as he announced the bans, Mr Reid said the laws meant the government could make it even more difficult for terrorists to operate.
“I am determined to act against those who, while not directly involved in committing acts of terrorism, provide support for and make statements that glorify, celebrate and exalt the atrocities of terrorist groups,” he said.
“I am also committed to ensuring that those organisations that change their name do not avoid the consequences of proscription.”