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Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections


This report profiles 124 individuals who committed suicide attacks or were convicted for Islamist related offences, which it refers to as ‘IRO’s, between 1999-2009. For the authors, this means individuals whose terrorist activity (as defined by the Terrorism Act 2000) must have been ‘motivated primarily by a belief in Islamism’.  The work is divided into two sections. Part I is ‘Islamist terrorism in the UK’, which includes Islamist terrorist convictions in the UK (both British and non-British citizens) and suicide attacks. Part II is “Islamist terrorism worldwide’, which includes British nationals convicted abroad, foreign nationals convicted abroad (but who had significant links with the UK), British combatants abroad and extraditions.

The profile of each individual is based on a combination of public data and court transcripts, accessed where possible. Unlike Klausen (2010) the report does present the data in full for each individual, which is extremely valuable for researchers. The report then summarises key findings in respect of important characteristics including age and gender, employment/education, nationality, links to proscribed organisations, attendance at terrorist training camps, and convictions. These findings include: two thirds of IROs were committee by individuals under the age of thirty; 42% (n=54) were perpetrated by individuals in employment or higher education; 48% (n=61) of IROs were committed by individuals living in London.  The majority (68%) of individuals had no direct link to any organisations proscribed by the UK government, and of those that did, al-Muhajiroon was the most prominent (15%).  The majority (69%) of those who committed IROs had not attended training camps – although seven of the eight major terrorist cells that operated in the UK contained members that had direct links to al Qaeda, and five involved members who had trained in Pakistan. However, it is important to note that the sample, as one would expect, contains a significant number of minor convictions. The most common sentence received (covering 32% of all sentences, n=39) was between 13 months and four years. Interestingly, only 60% of the convictions were secured under anti-terrorism legislation – three quarters of which were under the Terrorism Act 2000.

It does not contain any policy recommendations, and its primarily use is as source material for other researchers working in the field, serving as a very handy encyclopaedia for details on specific individuals.

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