Monday, 5 February 2007

Fear and Loathing in London

Recently the UK has been 'rocked' by news of the arrest of a bunch of Muslims who were allegedly planning to abduct and behead an ex-soldier who had served in Afghanistan. The whole issue of the Muslim threat at the heart of the nation continues to be stirred and stirred and stirred...

Now one would not want to ignore the fact that there are, undoubtedly, some people of Muslim persuasion who wish to do grevious harm to various people. And certainly the Police should, as it does, investigate wherever suspicions arise. Two questions, however, do come to mind.

Firstly, is there a need for special 'Anti-Terror' legislation? And secondly, just how extensive have the plots by Muslim 'terror' suspects been?

The first question has been, and is being, vigorously debated elsewhere. I was curious about the second question though. It seems as if every second week we hear about arrests and the breaking up of terrorist plots. How much substance is there to this?

Under the freedom of information act, Olly Kendall, who writes for the guardian came up with some interesting statistics which I shall attempt to summarize.

In 2005, 277 people were arrested (266 under the Terrorism Acts , 11 under other legislation as part of a Terrorism investigation). 30 were charged under the Terrorism Act and 8 were convicted.

In 2006 (up to October), 159 people were arrested (143 under the Terrorism Acts, 16 under other legislation). 52 were charged under the Terrorism Act and 4 were convicted.

Now of this total of 425, some were convicted on non-Terror related charges, some were deported, some are still awaiting the trials and 271 were released without any kind of charge. But the fact remains that in these two years 82 people were charged and so far only 12 convicted on Terror-related charges. When one also keeps in mind this includes things such as belonging to Kurdish groups that have been outlawed etc. (i.e. not all to do with 'Muslim Terror' plots) that doesn't leave a huge amount of people.

Now before I'm accused of turning a blind eye to terrorism, let me reiterate that I'm not trying to deny the existence radical extremists that wish to use violence. However, I do think these things might be kept in perspective. 12 convictions hardly seems to suggest a widespread Muslim conspiracy to strike at the heartland.


1 comment:

Joyce said...,,1997397,00.html

nicked via Neil Gaiman's blog post entitled "The War on Fame."