In recent years, terrorism has become the greatest danger to all the countries on the international scale. Nowadays, it is equal to the most urgent concerns, such as war crimes and genocide. This serious issue threatens national security and peace of the whole world and keeps people in fear. The countries collaborate to prevent the spread of terrorism. The United Kingdom is one of the leaders in this long struggle because international terrorism here has a recorded history and currently affects greatly the security of the country.
To understand that terrorism poses a serious risk to the United Kingdom, it is essential to define what exactly it is. There are various definitions of this issue and plenty of arguments about them, but the one that was recognized worldwide is based on the linguistic survey of over 100 definitions. It provides:
Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct targets of violence are not the main targets.
The United Kingdom as the country that faces the acts of terrorism is the United States’ strongest ally in this fight as terrorism is not a new phenomenon for its nation. It dates back to the 17th century when the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 aimed to kill James I happened but, luckily, finished in defeat (Landman, 2007, p.77). Another example is the year 1883 which brought multiple explosions in London underground. Besides, in 1885, on Dynamite Saturday, there were some attacks on the Houses of Parliament and some other buildings in central London. 1894 also disturbed the life of British people. A French anarchist planted a bomb in the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The 20th century gave the brightest example of terrorism. The campaign for civil rights in Northern Ireland transformed into an absolute terror. Since that time to 2000s, there has hardly been a year without terrorist acts. Furthermore, some experts consider the United Kingdom to be the second highest priority target for Islamist groups after the United States (Jacobson, 2006, p.6). For example, the United Kingdom still faces the threat from Al-Qaeda. The most vivid examples are the 7 July London attack and the 2007 Glasgow International Airport Attack conducted by Islamist extremists. Besides, kidnapping for ransom has become widely spread. Counter-terrorism report (2014) informs that Islamist terrorist groups have kidnapped more than 150 foreigners since 2008. At least 13 of them were British.
Apart from this, the war in Iraq during which the United Kingdom supported the United States caused the interminable and severe terrorist attacks on Britain. For example, in November when President Bush arrived in London for a state visit, a number of bombs exploded near the headquarters of the Turkish bank. As a result, thirty people died and hundreds were wounded. Besides, the top British diplomat, Roger Short, in Istanbul Consul-General perished during a truck bombing. Moreover, there were attacks from Islamist groups on the British Consulate (Murphy, 2006, p.8).
The first Islamist successful attack in Britain was on July 7, 2005 when, according to the BBC sources, four suicide bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, Hasib Hussain, and Jermaine Lindsay hit the London transport system. 52 people lost their lives, and hundreds were hospitalized. The most shocking thing was that nobody had any information about this attack and the threat level in the country at that time was substantial. After the attacks, the public criticized Tony Blair for the war in Iraq and due to the Guardian poll people accused him and his policy for the terrorist acts in London.
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All these and other reasons forced the United Kingdom to start making radical steps towards the war on terror. For example, the initial step in the struggle was the adoption of the Terrorism Act 2000. This document embodied a full list of organizations that fell under suspicion of terrorism, both international and domestic. Besides, it enumerated the cases when the police could have detained the person or a group of men suspected of terrorism. Hewitt (2007) suggests that as it came into effect on the 19th of February 2001, 144 people were arrested and ten people were waiting for a trial for the offenses. The public greatly criticized this document for rigor actions from the government’s side and sometimes not equitable arrests.
In general, the policy of the United Kingdom against terrorism is strict and uncompromising. It tries to struggle against terrorism in various ways. For example, in November, the government established the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2011 and a month later it received Royal assent. Due to this fact, raids in London, the West Midlands, and Luton caused the arrest of eight people accused of contact with international terrorism. Moreover, Hewitt (2007) presents the information that Englishman, Richard Reid, was arrested and later sentenced to the custody for life after his attempt to demolish the American Airlines Flight 63 with the help of a bomb hidden in his shoe. Moreover, Hewitt (2007) mentions that 1,126 arrests happened under the Terrorism Act 2000 between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2006. 117 faced terrorism charges while 104 were charged with terrorism and criminal offenses. In addition, 186 were accused of other criminal actions while 74 were transferred to the immigration officials. 652 were released. Finally, only 40 were sentenced for terrorism while 180 were condemned for other crimes, and 98 were on trials or preparing for the trials.
Another precaution of the Home Office was the request for the airlines to record personal information about the people arriving and departing to keep everything under control and prevent possible acts of terror. Furthermore, the United Kingdom issued a circular by the Home Office authorizing police and other authorities to ask shipping and airline companies to provide ‘police intelligence’ on passengers. The police raids and check-outs were to detain suspected and prevent new terrorist attacks. Considering terrorism to be entirely a foreign notion, Blair implemented stricter border control and immigration restrictions (Hewitt, 2007, p.93). For example, due to the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, applicants had to pass an English test and know the aspects of British life. Moreover, immigration officers could seize or keep the documents for seven days without any reason. Apart from this, the Security Service, M15, of the United Kingdom strengthened. This security agency employed more people to analyze the information and prevent new acts of terrorism. In 2003, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center appeared in the United Kingdom that started to coordinate the work between the agencies and the police. After 7 July 2005 terrorist acts, the United Kingdom government decided they needed to obstruct the radicalization of British Muslims in the country as it was clear that the terrorism in the United Kingdom was home-grown (Murphy, 2006, p. 35). This attack confirmed the necessity to take stronger actions against terrorism both at home and overseas (Murphy, 2006, p. 34). As a result, British government started the policy for winning ‘hearts and minds’ of the Muslim community. The news team of the UK power informed that Communities Secretary, Ruth Kelly, proposed a new role for the charity commission in governing mosques to create a new standards base for imams and conduct citizenship lessons in Islamic schools. They also wanted to implement the peaceful version of Islam. In other words, the government tried to change Muslim minds, their culture and the way of life. However, this struggle proved to be long that requires intelligence, patience, and wisdom.
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Besides, this terrorist attacks encouraged Tony Blair, former Prime Minister, to make immediate expulsion and deportation of the suspects. Even the citizens of those countries that were known for tortures also had to face deportation. Moreover, the Blair government implemented new terrorism legislation to the House which made the police able to keep the suspects for ninety days under arrest without any charge. Later, the government accepted the period of 28 days. Nevertheless, Hewitt (2007) claims that after 9/11, Tony Blair’s reaction revealed a ‘reactive, short-term and politicized mentality’. The measures that were taken and the policy adopted by Tony Blair were inconsequent as he was thinking only about the concerns of the politics but not the security of the country. In 2006, another new document the Terrorism Act 2006 became the law. As a result, Home Secretary, John Reid, announced two British Islamic organizations, Al Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect, to be banned for ‘glorifying terrorism.’
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It is essential to point out that the United Kingdom is consistent in its struggle. The actions taken to monitor the information about possible attacks, provide the detention of those who seem suspicious, and implement strict immigration rules in the country are rather successful. The example of it is a big number of aborted attacks in recent years, such as Manchester Piccadilly bomber, Liverpool Ricin, and attempted 10 anniversary London 7/7 bomb plots. Finally, the United Kingdom must continue a struggle with a constant threat that may destroy the peaceful life and the optimistic future of the country. The policies to reach it will become a difficult road, but the country has the advantages to win this war on terrorism.
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