Duncan Gardham, London Telegraph, July 5, 2010
Most terrorism in Britain is homegrown, according to the most comprehensive survey of those convicted of offences over the last 10 years.
The Centre for Social Cohesion has compiled profiles of 124 individuals convicted of Islamic terrorism offences since 1999.
It found that 69 per cent of offences were perpetrated by individuals holding British nationality.
Robin Simcox, co-author of the report, said their aim was to “focus the government’s counter-terrorism efforts.”
“There are clear trends emerging with those involving themselves in terrorist activity in the UK,” he added. “It is crucial that this is recognised and then acted upon by the relevant authorities.”
His comments follow private remarks by Assistant Commissioner John Yates, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, that the country faces “eye-watering cuts” in counter-terrorism funding that could hand an advantage to al-Qaeda.
Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “The report proves how great a threat violent Islamism poses to the world–and the fact that Britain is at the centre of this global struggle.”
The Social Cohesion report outlines the links individuals had to terrorist groups, their nationality and ethnic origin, their age, hometown, occupation and education, which other radical Islamists they were connected to and what legislation the government used to jail them.
The report also shows how Britain’s links to violent Islamism are almost two decades old by profiling almost 100 other offences committed abroad since 1993 that are connected to Britain, including terrorist convictions, terrorist training, suicide attacks, and extraditions.
The survey found almost half (46 per cent) of offenders had their origins in south Asia including 28 per cent who had Pakistani heritage–of whom at least 80 per cent were British nationals.
Six of the eight major plots in Britain, 75 per cent, contained individual members who had trained in Pakistan and four of the leaders of those plots were directly linked to one or more Pakistani based terrorist groups.
The next most common origin for offenders was Somalia, accounting for 6 per cent, demonstrating a growing threat from East Africa.
The analysis found that 16 per cent were from families originally from East Africa and 12.5 per cent from North Africa.
A total of 5.5 per cent were from the Caribbean and 4 per cent from the Middle East.
Of those that committed offences, 32 per cent had a direct link to one or more proscribed organisations, most prominently al-Qaeda and the British group al-Muhajiroun.
Seven out of Britain’s eight major bomb plot cells contained individual members with direct links to al-Qaeda.
The survey found those of Pakistani origin and Bangladeshi origin were most likely to be associated with proscribed organisations.
Just under half (48 per cent) of offences were committed by those living in London, largely in the North East of the city, and outside London the next most common regions were the West Midlands (13 per cent) and Yorkshire (9 per cent).
Nearly a third (31 per cent) had attended university and 10 per cent were still students when they were arrested.
However 35 per cent were unemployed and living on benefits.