HJS Report Launch: “Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offences and Attacks in the UK”

TIME: 10:00-11:00, 7th March 2017

VENUE: Committee Room 14, House of Commons
Palace of Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA


Hannah Stuart
Author, Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offences and Attacks in the UK
Senior Research Fellow, Henry Jackson Society

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC
Home Secretary, 1993-1997; Leader of the Conservative Party, 2003-2005

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:

Well good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to this very special and rather important meeting of the Henry Jackson Society, at which the society launches its very substantial work – which we are going to hear about in some detail – on Islamist terrorism. We were to be joined this morning by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of the Metropolitan Police, he can’t be with us this morning, but he has sent a written statement which I shall read from him:

‘This report provides a factual, impartial and highly useful resource for many working in counter terrorism and counter radicalisation. Fifteen years of terrorist prosecutions provide a valuable tool, but we must also be alive to the constant changes in terrorist methodology that we are seeing. This week the police published more information and insight about the terror threat so that the public are better informed and aware of how they can help us confront it. Today’s report helps expand that understanding even further and I welcome its publication.’

Well, I think we all welcome its publication and we are delighted to have Hannah Stuart – the author of the report – with us. Hannah is a senior research fellow of the Henry Jackson Society, has made a very long and special study of Islamist terrorism and has broadcast and written very widely on the subject. So without further ado, I’m going to ask Hannah to introduce the report, she will then take questions and I’m hoping to wind up at about ten to eleven, because I’m afraid the House of Lords is sitting at 11 0’ Clock this morning – it has some rather controversial business to discuss as you may be aware and I want to take my seat for that. So Hannah, the floor is yours.

Hannah Stuart:

Thank you Michael and thank you everyone for coming. David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, was kind enough to write the foreword for this report and he said in order to defeat terrorism we must understand it. And this report attempts to do just that. It identifies and profiles all Islamism inspired terrorism convictions and suicide attacks in the UK between 1998 and 2015 and it provides data on the changing nature of the threat to British national security. So in order to be included individuals must have A) been convicted of terrorism offences in a British court or have committed suicide attacks in the UK and B) they must have demonstrated inspiration drawn at least in part from an adherence to Islamism. We had a number of ways in which we determined that, but among the most common were a suicide video or a letter or demonstrated by membership of a terrorist organisation or possession of jihadist material.

So in total we found 264 convictions as a result of arrests between 1998 and 2015 and five suicides as a result of two attacks on British soil. So the data relates to a total of 269 individual offences. Statistical analysis includes offenders’ background information, the types of offences, their roles, the targets, as well as the prevalence of links to terrorist networks, wider extremist individuals, travel for terrorist purposes, training and combat experience.

Also, given the changing nature of the terrorism landscape – which is one of the reasons that we decided to update this report – we compare the data from arrests from 1998-2010 with later arrests between 2011 and 2015. We did that in part because of the changes brought about in 2011 by the death of Bin Laden and the beginning of the Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria and I think it’s a useful point at which to look for changes.

There were two areas of key findings. Firstly, sociodemographic information about the offender as well as data on the activities that they engaged in prior to their offending. This shows that a breadth of individuals were involved in this type of terrorism. Secondly, the offence-specific data shows the way in which the threat has manifested and developed in the UK in the last 20 years. And I thought this morning I would go through both those areas and then we can open it up to discussion.

So in terms of gender, as you can see the overwhelming majority of offences were committed by men, but women’s involvement has increased in five years – almost trebling from 4% between 1998 and 2010 offences to 11% between 2011 and 2015. The numbers though are small. I saw eighteen women being convicted for of a variety of terrorism offences but interestingly more than half of the female cases involved behaviour that was somehow supportive of men involved in terrorist activity with whom they have a family or personal relationship, or their role in the plot was subordinate to a man in their cell.

In terms of age, offenders were aged between 14 and 52 years at the date of arrest or attack – a range of 39 years. The mean age was 26.8 years and the modal age was 22.  Most of the women were also 22. The most common age ranges were between 21–24 and 25–29 and almost half of offences committed by individuals in their twenties. Overall, you can see the offenders are getting slightly younger and when we isolated the most serious offences -the attack related offences planned for indiscriminate civilian deaths or targeted deaths – those offences were more commonly carried out by younger individuals as well. In terms of nationality seventy-two per cent of offences were committed by UK nationals or individuals holding dual British nationality and there was very little difference in that data between the earlier and later time periods. Also British nationals’ involvement was greater in the most serious offences than all other offences.

In terms of Ancestry, offences were committed by individuals of a diverse background, including family ties to countries in South Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Just over half were committed by individuals of Southern Asian ancestry, predominantly British Pakistanis and British Bangladeshis, but that figure actually is lower, however, than the proportion of Muslims of Southern Asian ancestry at national level.

One of the interesting and controversial findings if you read the Birmingham Mail was about offenders’ place of residence. And that shows – if you look at the map – that there is no region in the UK that is unaffected by Islamism-inspired terrorism. But despite that London and Birmingham are the hotspots. London-based offenders accounted for almost half of offences, while a fifth were from the West Midlands. Together with the North West, these accounted for three-quarters of the cases. Interestingly, across the time periods we see some difference between London and Birmingham. London saw a 13 percentage point decrease in the proportion of offenders– dropping from 49% to 36%. Although East London remained home to half of the London-based offenders, and most commonly in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest. The West Midlands saw an eight percentage point increase between the time periods. And you can see from this map compared to the previous London one that the Birmingham residences were much more concentrated in a smaller number of wards and constituencies than they were in London. The constituencies of Hall Green and Hodge Hill in particular contained almost three-quarters of the Birmingham cases.

We also mapped our residency data against data collected by the Office for National Statistics on relative deprivation. And I think these are among some of the more striking findings. So you can see more than three-quarters of offences were committed by individuals whose neighbourhood were above average deprived neighbourhoods, while only 3% were committed by individuals whose neighbourhoods were among the 50% least deprived. And when you look at the top two bands which is what the Government refers to has highly deprived, we see that almost half of offences were committed by individuals living in those neighbourhoods.

Residency data mapped against religious identity data from the 2011 census also shows that individuals who committed offences were more likely than the national Muslim average to be living in Muslim-majority neighbourhoods. And you can see this most clearly at either side of the graph – so almost a quarter of offences were committed by individuals who lived in a neighbourhood where the Muslim proportion of the population is 60% Muslim or above, and that’s compared to a national average of 14%. Inversely, 38% of offences were committed by individuals whose neighbourhoods were under 20% Muslim – while nearly all of Muslims in England live in such neighbourhoods.

In terms of the education level, a quarter of offenders had some form of higher education, although that proportion decreased across the time periods. And thirty-eight per cent of offenders were unemployed – that’s the single largest category. A third were in employment and a further 12% were full-time students – meaning that almost half of offences were carried out by somebody in employment or education at the time of their arrest and that proportion increased by five percentage points across the time periods. In terms of people’s family and living circumstances, more than half of offences were committed by people who lived with their family meaning a partner and/or children, or living at their family home. And in the later offences there was an increase in people living at their family home – which possibly reflects the fact that offenders were also getting younger. Interestingly, one in five offences was committed by somebody whose living and family circumstances were additionally connected to terrorism – They were living with somebody who was involved in their offence, or somebody who had a previous terrorism conviction or was arrested alongside them. And female offenders were more than twice as likely as male offenders to be living with a relative, partner or individual who was also involved in terrorism.

Overall, the sociodemographic findings show that the threat to the UK remains from “home-grown” terrorism, and that it’s heavily youth and male-oriented – although there’s a growing female involvement. The residence data shows a higher than average relative deprivation and segregation and there appears to be little correlation between involvement in terrorism and educational achievement and employment. I think these findings challenge common stereotypes about terrorists as well-educated and middle-class or as isolated loners and I think that the deprivation findings also raise questions for us about how extremism can take root in deprived communities, many of which have high levels of segregation and limited access to services. As well as sociodemographic findings, I think it’s also useful to look at the kinds of behaviour that offenders engaged in prior to their offending.  So 16% of offences were committed by converts and that’s four times higher than the estimated proportion of converts among the Muslim population at national level. And almost a third were connected to al-Muhajiroun – the UK-based proscribed terrorist organisation – and that’s higher than the proportion overall which was a quarter and that supports the suggestion that Anjem Choudary’s group deliberately targets converts.

In terms of extremist or instructional terrorist material, two-thirds of offences were committed by individuals who had sought that out – most commonly on the internet but it can include books, CDs, DVDs – and in the last five years the popularity of extremist material rose. And a smaller proportion were known to have accessed instructional terrorist material, mostly bomb-making guides. Most commonly really that we found was Inspire Magazine, al-Qaeda’s English-language magazine and also very common were extremist videos showing insurgent attacks on local or coalition forces, or beheadings of civilian hostages in jihadist conflict zones. It struck me that one in ten offences was committed by someone who had been known to have watched beheading videos.


We also looked at whether people had any sort of prior contact with the authorities through a variety of points of contact and this was pretty striking: three quarters of people were known through some sort of route and almost half of those were committed by people who were known to the Security Services, but worryingly in last the five years that proportion halved from 61% to 29%. 38% of offences were committed by individuals who were already known to the police, and a quarter had a previous criminal conviction. That was for a variety of offences and about a third pf those offences were what we could call extremism-related or terrorism. In terms of making links to proscribed terrorist organisations, almost half of individuals had known or suspected links to a proscribed terrorist organisation. And as I said Al-Muhajiroun was the most common, linked to a quarter of offences. That was followed by al-Qaeda, linked to one in ten offences, and strikingly given its recent emergence in comparison to the 18 years that this report covers Islamic State came next at 5%.


A fifth of offenders were known to have or suspected of having attended terrorist training camps– the overwhelming majority of which were abroad. Afghanistan and Pakistan were common locations, as was Syria among the later offences. A much smaller proportion –about 7% overall – of offences were committed by people who had combat experience abroad, most commonly in Afghanistan or Syria. But taken together (and excluding the UK-based terrorist training camps) –one-fifth of offences were committed by individuals who had prior terrorist training or combat experience abroad. These offenders were almost twice as likely to be involved in the more serious attack-related offending as all other offences. In a quarter of offences other people demonstrated or claimed to have had prior awareness of offenders’ increased engagement with extremism. And this was claimed by a variety of sources, but most commonly by local mosque representatives or by members of the offender’s own family.


So analysis of the pre-offence activities shows that there is no one profile for engagement with Islamism-inspired terrorism, but it does suggest that some trends can be identified. So offenders commonly consumed extremist material. Much of that promoted a vehement ‘us’ narrative, it dehumanised the enemy, it promoted attitudes that justify offending – these are all factors that the government has identified in its vulnerability assessment framework that it uses in its de-radicalisation programme to describe an individual’s intent to cause harm which is the next stage up from engaging with ideas. Accessing instructional material demonstrates the next step which is individuals seeking to develop their capability to cause harm, which is another dimension to the framework. And I think that establishing direct links to proscribed terrorist organisations as well as travelling abroad to seek training or combat experience, also demonstrated both intent and capability. And these are behaviours are more commonly seen amongst those responsible for the most serious offences.


So finally, the offence-specific data – that shows us the way in which the threat from terrorism has manifested and developed over the last 20 years.


The 269 offences come from 135 distinct terrorist cases – that ranges from solo convictions to very large cells. So this line graph shows us the number of individual offences and the number of actual cases over time. So in the middle of the decade where the lines are most far apart, that’s when we are seeing a lot of people involved for fewer cases and demonstrates the prevalence of larger cells in the middle of the last decade. Whereas, more recently, when the lines come together, that suggests smaller cells and more individualistic offending.


The most serious offences also doubled between the time periods covered and the serious cases also featured typically fewer offenders. A wide variety of offences were successfully prosecuted. The most common were preparation for acts of terrorism and possession of material useful for terrorism. Also common were fundraising, dissemination of terrorist publications and conspiracy to murder as well as conspiracy to cause explosions and assisting offenders. Two offences in particular increased significantly between the two time periods and they are both found under the Terrorism Act 2006. Preparation for terrorist acts nearly tripled and dissemination of terrorist publications more than tripled.


So in terms of the proscribed terrorist organisations and how they can impact offences in the UK, it varied in how closely offences were related to proscribed groups. In descending order, that ranges from the offence being directed by a foreign group, then to individuals providing material support for a group, then the next step down the offender being linked to a group but acting alone in their offending, and to the offence being specifically inspired, and then to there being no particular affiliation. And the graph shows the changes between the early and the later offences – and most noticeable I think is the lack of an attack that was linked and directed to a proscribed group among the later offences – the 2011-2015 offences. And the other striking finding is that proportionally, the inspiration offences have more than doubled.


In terms of the diversity of the threat, we categorised our offences as attack-related (including attempted or planned attacks), facilitation – so that’s fundraising, supplying goods, inciting terrorism. The next aspirational offences, meaning those that were either not that advanced or were limited in scope, and finally travel-related. Across the two time periods, attack-related convictions have become less common (we can see that clearly dropping from 46% to 24%), while aspirational offences have increased by half, and strikingly travel offences increased four-fold and now account for one fifth of offences.


Among the attack related offences there were a variety of methods of attack. Bombing was the most commonly featured type, both overall and in both time periods. Proportionally, however, offences involving beheadings and stabbings increased eleven-fold proportionally between the time periods. We also looked at the targets of attack. More than half of the offences were assessed as including a target for attack, and we split that also into four categories. Targeted civilians are those chosen for a particular characteristic, so for example their religion or their involvement in a public role such as a politician. Critical infrastructure targets usually meant transportation or the banking and finance sector. Soft urban targets typically featured indiscriminate civilian attacks in public spaces – the security services’ nightmare scenario. And then finally military targets.


What’s most striking is the decrease in critical infrastructure targets, which I think again reflects the focus of al-Qaeda-directed cells on attacking transport and financial buildings in the middle of the last decade. All other targets in recent years have increased – worryingly again, the soft urban targets by the largest margin. Almost a third of offences resulted in the offender being convicted alone, while the rest of the offences involved multiple convictions as part of one terrorism investigation or terrorism trial. But, in the majority of the solo conviction cases, the offender was also known to be part of a wider network – they belonged to a proscribed terrorist organisation or they were a known extremist group or they were in contact with known extremists online. So only one in ten offences was carried out by someone who acted entirely alone and had no extremist connections. Instead, offenders were predominantly part of networks, and those were formed in person and online, with friends and families. So “lone wolf” offences however are increasing, and they accounted for 16% of later offences compared to 6% of earlier ones.


I also looked at the role of public-sector institutions. So the British education sector and local authorities featured in many of the cases, in a variety of ways. Either the role the institution played in the offender’s radicalisation or the facilitation of offending. Or it was the site where concerns were raised about the offender’s behaviour, or the fact that offenders were known to the local authorities to have engaged in public extremism-related activism (so typically al-Muhajiroun protests and stalls). In a small minority of offences the offender was known after their conviction to have engaged in radicalising and extremism-related activities while in prison. I think it’s about 16 individuals. So taken together, the education sector, local authorities and prisons were a feature in half of offences.


And a third were connected to charities or mosques. That again is owing to the role that those institutions played in the offenders’ engagement or in the facilitation of offending, or the fact that concerns had been raised among these organisations. So it includes organisations that knowingly facilitated offending, but also instances where premises or charitable names were abused and targeted by the offenders. The role played by charities and mosques declined among the later offences (dropping from 47% to 25%).


Finally the Internet. In over a third of offences the internet was cited as a major site for the offender’s engagement with extremism or their inspiration. The data on the internet doesn’t include operational usage – so people communicating by the internet – it’s where the internet was cited as the predominant source of radicalisation. And that’s increasing – it was a feature in half of the later cases, compared to 22% of the earlier cases.


So overall, the picture is of an evolving threat and while proscribed terrorist organisations are increasingly able to inspire individuals to attempt low-tech and violent attacks, the type and the level of threat remains complex, and sophisticated bombings still remain the most popular method of attack. Increased convictions for preparation of terrorist acts I think is owed primarily to Syria-related travel, but also people are still attempting to travel to Pakistan -for terrorist training that would be – and the rise in dissemination of terrorist publications again reflects the increasing role of the internet in jihadist propaganda. The findings also suggest an increase in disruptive policing – which I know is something that Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley would have spoken about could he have been here – in terms of the police are increasingly able to utilise less serious terrorism offences to disrupt plans earlier and also use other criminal offences to do so such as fraud. The Analysis of common sites of inspiration and facilitation also appear to corroborate the current government policy priorities; of restricting extremist material on the internet, of supporting at-risk sectors and empowering families to safeguard people against extremism. So that is this in twenty minutes and I think it’s probably wise that I stop there and we can engage in questions and discussion.


The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:

Well thank you very much Hannah for such a lucid introduction to what is a very, very formidable report. Right, questions. When you get up to ask your question could you please tell us who you are and what organisation if any you represent, the lady whose hand is up.

Question One:

My name is ? [Inaudible] and I don’t represent any organisation but I have been involved in education. I’d like you to clarify if your data tells us what sort of schools convicts originally attended. Because I remember before there was data on whether they had been to state schools, faith schools and basically schools promoting multi-cultural education which is supposed to be counter-active. The other point I wanted to know is whether you had any evidence on the involvement of these people with mainstream political parties like Labour, the Tories, Liberal Dems, because I understand that you’re looking at connections with extremist ones but it also interests me whether they had connections with mainstream political parties. And thank you for a fantastic presentation.

Hannah Stuart:

Thank you, you’ve raised two issues that have made me think I need to go back and do more data fields which is what happened last time with the report. I didn’t do any data in affiliation with political parties and I would have mentioned it if it had come up in the notes. I don’t think there was anybody but I couldn’t swear to that. In terms of schools, in the education field we give the information we could find about what level the offender achieved and all the various intuition they went to. I didn’t then run any data in terms of was that was public, private, faith etc. but – and this would be a guestimate now – it did seem predominantly state schools, very few private schools really and very few faith schools. So I think when you raise that issue about multiculturalism and the types of schools, I think probably the data there to look at would be the deprivation and the segregation data because for the most part I believe that the offenders were just going to their local state schools like most of us do and if you’re living in a deprived or highly segregated area then the problem can often be that schools tend to reflect that and I think we see that in places like Bradford and Oldham. The Council even twenty years ago cited that as a potential cause for social harm, so I think you raise a valuable point.

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:

Sorry there are a lot of people who want to ask questions, Lord Harris.

Question two: Lord Harris

Toby Harris, House of Lords and involved in counter-terrorism issues for a number of years. Can I say it’s a very interesting, useful and helpful analysis and I’ve got a number of questions that may well be in the thousand pages you didn’t actually cover in the presentation.

The first was I think in one of the charts you talked about those whose offences were travel related and it’s up until that moment assumed you’d excluded those people whose offences were about committing terrorist acts abroad. But if you were including them was there any indication in your data that the demographics or location of these people was different if they were envisaging attacks abroad?

On a similar note, clearly you talked about the individuals who were acting alone – again it would be useful to know if there was any indication whether lone actors as opposed to group actors had different demographics or different locations.

On that point, specifically the finding that the proportion of those known to the police has declined, is that correlated with the increase in the number of individuals acting on their own?

One final point, you didn’t mention whether you had any data which indicated whether there were people with mental health problems and what was the distribution of that?

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:

Four questions Hannah

Hannah Stuart:

Right, let me see if I can remember those. So the travel related offending, it’s because there’s no one –when we think about the Syria conflict and other previous Jihadist conflicts- there’s no offence of travelling to join a jihadist conflict abroad, so the police have had to use a variety of offences if they feel the person needs to be prosecuted. And in terms of Syria, the most common one is preparation for acts of terrorism. So meaning that they are preparing to engage in acts of terrorism either in Syria or Iraq – that’s the recent offences, but included in that were also offenders who were attempting to travel to Pakistan to train there and then engage in acts of terrorism against coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The common case that people remember for that is that of high profile convert, Richard Dart, who was a member of al-Muhajiroun and lived in East London. His brother did a documentary on him called ‘My Brother the Islamist’ following him. That’s what he was prosecuted for, Preparation of Acts of Terrorism and those acts were going to happen in Pakistan and Afghanistan. That offence was introduced by the 2006 Act, so those are really the locations that we see it occurring in – it’s not retrospective, so we wouldn’t have ever prosecuted people previously for travelling to Afghanistan, say in the 90s or the early 2000s.

In terms of the lone actors, one of the things that struck me – I mean the number itself, it was actually quite small – the genuine lone actors – so once you get down to that small number you’ve got to be careful not to try and extrapolate too many trends. So it was actually only 28 offences that I found but one I think is striking is that half of those were aspirational. So usually those aspirational offences are things like possession of terrorist material or dissemination of terrorist publications and that is something – it is very easy to do that by yourself, you just upload it to the internet, post links on social media.

In terms of the police, it’s slightly different. The security services was one category and being known to the police was a separate one. So being known to the security services –and that was almost always being under surveillance or being on the periphery of some sort of investigation and that’s the number that halved – that went from 60% to 29%, but interestingly being known to the police – that included having a criminal conviction but also being subject to an investigation or being arrested or charged – that remained pretty similar across the time periods, I think it was something like 36% and 38%. So that was fairly constant, the difference was in being known to the security services – being under surveillance – which I think reflects a number of changes. So many of the big cell plots of the last decade – the security services were able to let them run, they were able to install things in their cars and houses, monitor them for a long time as they were buying and acquiring ingredients to make bombs, watch them until the point when they had enough evidence to make a case in law to convict them – that’s harder these days with an increase in knife attacks. The intelligence and security services said after the Lee Rigby attack that one of the things they had to be careful of was when you buy a knife – I think it was the day before, Adebolajo and Adebowale the men that murdered Lee Rigby bought their knifes the day before their attack – and if you think about that compared to months of acquiring bomb making material, that’s a real difference.

And finally you also mentioned mental health. When I talked about being known to the authorities, it was through a variety of routes including the security services and the police but one of them was also to have known mental health issues, that were known to the authorities prior to engagement with offending. That was actually fairly low – I think it was about 4 or 5% of cases that involved someone whose mental health status was previously known.

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:

John Butcher

Third Question, John Butcher

I’m not affiliated to anything. I wanted to ask Hannah if she could confirm to us that the great majority of cases that have been foiled by the police – where no actual harm arises – do lead on to prosecutions and therefore will be covered by your statistics to the extent that convictions arise, or if not, why that omission is part of the study done.

The other aspect is to what extent where you able to ascertain whether there was an increase in the proliferation of potential offences or actual offences by members of the community from which this problem emerges. Because if of course that is not occurring, that would mean there is still a major problem in this country [inaudible]… the problems emerging from that community.

Hannah Stuart:

So, in terms of the proportion of the plots foiled and then whether they’re in this report, I mean I guess the big difficulty there is that the security services are engaged in work every day that they don’t tell us about, so there’s going to be any number of – to butcher a phrase – unknown unknowns, I’m not going to know what happened to them so I couldn’t say for definite. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said recently 13 plots had been foiled since 2013. I think of those 13 I’ve probably got one or two in here. For two reasons; first of all it takes a long time from surveillance, to arrest, to actual conviction – the data suggested the cases can take on average a year to 18 months – but also the security services’ main aim is to stop something happening, stop the harm by any way they can do so and particularly with the lower tech attacks, they’re not able to follow people as much and build as much of cases that can then be taken to court, so they’ll do anything they can to disrupt the activity and prioritise that over prosecutions in order to keep the public safe.

So that’s good for us in terms of our safety but it’s difficult because convictions really are the gold standard in this and that’s what we should aim for and you could see that most visibly in a case – I don’t know if you remember in 2009 there was a senior police officer at the time was filmed by TV cameras going into Number 10 with a list ‘to do, go and arrest these people’ and the media had it before they’d arrested them. They hadn’t at that point built a case that they could take to court. I think it was about 10 or 15 students from up North but most of them were on visas from Pakistan and they were deported. At the time there was a huge media focus on that and a huge furore about the security services sending innocent Muslim students home, but two years later we went into Bin Laden’s compound and found documents linking that attack directly to al-Qaeda. I think that was an interesting moment for people to reflect that actually the security services usually do know what they are doing if not all of the offences then result actually in prosecutions. Sorry, could you remind me what the second part of your question was?

John Butcher:

The extent to which the people who have been convicted have been shopped by their own communities.

Hannah Stuart:

Well, the recent campaign, again launched by Mark Rowley yesterday, is about encouraging exactly that because it’s really important for the police and the security services to build trust and confidence with communities and relationships particularly with – I would say my data suggests they need to build relationships with family members, trust really with family members, because they’re the people who increasingly have prior concerns about offenders’ engagement with extremism. Also the Prevent focus on sectors at the moment in terms of people who come across these individuals on a daily basis – so people working in schools, my data also suggests that they can have a role in identifying offender’s behaviour. In terms of it coming from within communities, the most famous example was Isa Ibrahim the individual in Bristol back In I think 2008 who was within days away of committing a suicide attack on a shopping centre in Bristol and it was members of Bristol’s local Muslim communities who reported him to the police. He had been building homemade bombs and practising them in his flat and his hands were burned and he’d gone to the hospital and he’d gone to his mosque and the Iman and the authorities there were concerned about the behaviour that he’d been exhibiting in recent months and then these marks on his hands and they informed the local police and that’s how that plot was stopped. I mean if you think there’s very few successful plots in the UK and had that one gone ahead that would have been very serious.

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:

May I enter a plea that not everyone who stands up need feel obliged to ask more than one question. Yes.

Fourth Question: Dr Philip Strand, Cornerstone GRG:

Hello, I’m Doctor Philip Strand from a security consultancy where we analyse Government and Commercial risks from terrorism. So when I look at the types of attacks I find it very interesting that small arms are not listed – we have bombings, beheadings and stabbing and vehicular attacks – but what we saw in Paris represented an enduring shift especially on the continent. We’ve seen the damage that small arms attacks (pistols and rifles) can do in nightclubs and various other public places. So I find it hard to believe that that aspect’s been overlooked by terrorists in the UK. How that sort of data is reflected – what percentage might include small arms fire?

Hannah Stuart:

Of the top of my head I don’t think I’m going to be able to tell you, but it is in there. In terms of the –as you said what we saw on the continent and in particular the marauding gun attack, that particularly nightmare scenario – there were a couple of instances of people attempting or planning that – and the numbers were so very low that you couldn’t really detect whether there had been an increase or not. There were a few attempts in the last part of the decade and a suspected attempt in recent years, but again – I can probably tell you the figure – but it was low, it was low enough not to feature among the most popular attacks which were the bombings first, then the knife attacks and the vehicular attacks.

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:


Fifth Question, Michael Thompson, Student:

Hi there, my name’s Michael Thompson, I’m a student. I just wanted to ask about the statistical significance of your results because you did mention that – I mean just for an example a quarter of all the terrorists convicted in Birmingham came from two particular boroughs, but that was a total of ten people, so I’d be interested in the way you validated your results statistically and following on from that what your opinion is on the selection bias for your results because obviously you have a certain profile for the people that were convicted , how might that look from the people that were not convicted.

Hannah Stuart:

Yeah I mean that’s one of the major limitations, everything that you’ve just raised are the major limitations with doing any form of statistical analysis when the total numbers are so small. So that’s just something that we have to accept and we are fortunate that the numbers are small. So in terms of the Birmingham cases, one of the things that I point out is that those numbers can be changed by the fact that there are – If you’ve got a couple of large cells, convicted from a particular area who all know one another – that can potentially skew information when the data is so small. Now we saw that both in Birmingham and London, so all that this report attempts to do is say very dispassionately these are the people that were involved in this type of terrorism, this is their story, and this is the data and let’s have a discussion about that and let’s see what that can tell us within the very real limitations of such data. What can that tell us? What conversations can it start? And just acknowledge that. That’s all I have attempted to do.

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:

Yes, the lady over there.

Sixth Question: Kate Nelson, Daily Star:

Hi, Kate Nelson from the Daily Star. In terms of the number of women increasing, can you tell me a bit more about what category they are falling into in terms of attack-related aspirational and any other observations you noticed over that period of time, in terms of perhaps it becoming more serious in terms of women’s involvement?

Hannah Stuart:

Well I think the women’s involvement question actually relates to the gentleman’s question here which is just that overall it was only 18 cases so I think it wouldn’t be right really to say this definitely means one thing or another. But of those 18 cases there were a variety, so you did have – Roshonara Choudhry for example was a young woman who attempted to stab her local MP so an attack related offence and she was acting alone. Sorry attempting to kill, she did stab. But then from women who were involved in planning bomb attacks and then also to women who were acting in much more supportive roles. And as I said in the presentation that was most common but I would hesitate to draw too much from such a small sample. When I spoke to Mark Rowley about the data before this event, he said that what I was seeing in terms of the proportion of women and the increase matched very much with their data on arrests and also people suspected of travelling to Syria. So I think what we can say most probably is that the data shows there’s an increased role of women, but I don’t think we can say exactly in what capacity.

Seventh Question: Name inaudible.

-? Head Researcher for the Government Backed Terrorism Insurance Company. To put that into perspective we insure over two trillion pounds worth of commercial properties in the UK. There’s a treasure trove of information here and I thank you for your findings. My one question is we look very much at threats to and threats from. This clearly gives place of residence, does your document research what targets they were looking at.

Hannah Stuart:

Yes, there’s a whole section on targets that I briefly went through. So the later offences were predominantly the critical infrastructure targets. The sorts of things we associate with the al-Qaeda directed bombings, so transportation and banking and finance buildings. And we also identified the soft urban targets – the indiscriminate civilian targets – as compared to targeted civilians, so people targeted for a specific characteristic. And then also military targets and all of those rose – the military, the soft urban targets and targeted civilians rose in comparison to the critical infrastructure targets.

Head Researcher Government Backed Terrorism Insurance Company:

So my question really is there a correlation to where they lived – they don’t attack in their own home town or outside their place of residence?

Hannah Stuart:

So I didn’t drill down to that level. So the place of residence is where they were living at the time of their offending. But for the most part, the intended targets were reasonably close – so say most of the targeted offences, not all offences had a target, but of the targeted offences – say for example the Birmingham cases, you’ve got some attempted mass suicide bombing attacks from Birmingham based offenders on Birmingham transport, but at the same time you’ve got a large Birmingham cell that travelled to Dewsbury to attack an EDL rally. So it doesn’t always correlate.

The Rt Hon. The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC:

I’m afraid I’m now going to leave you but we have the room for longer than an hour so we can carry on and I’m going to leave you in very good hands.

Alan Mendoza:

Right, let’s move on, second row over here.

Eight Question: Name and organisation inaudible:

I’ve been attending these conferences and meetings for I think 15 years. It reminds me of a horror movie…. [Inaudible]. Now I’m involved with the Muslim communities not only in London but in many countries around the world. Now Muslims are confused and Muslims really don’t know what they are. We hope that our billion and a half Muslims… {inaudible 51.05-10] so what sort of treatment do we have for the good Muslims.

Alan Mendoza:

Could we get to a question please?

Eighth Questioner:

Yeah but what I’m saying is we need to do something now we’ve created the new Jewish schools. We have to teach different methodology. It’s a thought war so we have to fight thought with thought. Hitting them by bombs and imprisoning them doesn’t do anything…

Alan Mendoza:

We need to get to a question…

Eighth Questioner:

There’s no question, just a general point.

Alan Mendoza:

Okay just a general point, okay, fine.

Eight Questioner:

We can listen to these facts and figures but what I’m saying here is we need to do something about it… this is diagnosed, so we need the treatments and these treatments have to come from the Muslim community.

Alan Mendoza:

Absolutely right, Hannah a quick comment on that.

Hannah Stuart:

Yeah I think what you said that struck me then was the idea of fighting thought with though and I think one of the things that the data shows us is that individuals who are engaged in this form of extremism are accessing extremist material, they are seeking out extremist material, jihadist propaganda, videos, justifying violence, so I guess ideas do matter, thoughts do matter, and we need to respond, and I would support one of the ways the government is doing through education; the idea of developing critical thinking among our young people. Because actually, if you’re saying that this is a twisted interpretation of Islam I don’t think the right thing is to say to people, okay, I’m going to tell you what good Islam is. Actually you need to say to people, let’s give you the skills to critique things, to come to your own conclusions, to challenge ideas when you hear them, rather than – I don’t want to reprogram people, I want to give people the skills to challenge extremism themselves. So I agree with you, let’s fight thought with thought.

Alan Mendoza:

Okay I’m going to take a round of 3 questions, just to move things along, I see one over here, one at the back there and we’ll go right to the back in a moment but I’ll take one here first and then we will go to you at the back. Start with you.

Ninth Question: Barrister, Criminal Law:

So on the same point, ideology, I’m a barrister in criminal law, would you agree with Dr Tom Holland who said that the Koran is ISIS’s handbook. Would you agree that there are verses in the Koran which inspire Islamist terrorism?

Alan Mendoza:

Okay thank you, a question at the back there. Gentleman in the light tie.

Tenth Question:

I think I’m just about to repeat the prior question. It would just to say, do you see a connection between Islamic theology and the offenders. It may be a dark thing to ask and the answer may be obvious because its Islamist terrorism but did you notice that in the actual offenders, were they citing Islamic theology as their motivating thing.

Alan Mendoza:

Can we take your name and affiliation please

Tenth questioner:

Sorry my name is Chris Jones [?], I’m just a member of the Henry Jackson Society.

Alan Mendoza:

Fine, and there was a question over here, who was it? Yes over here.

Eleventh Question: Journalist. Danish Newspaper.

Hello my names Max [?] I’m a journalist from a Danish newspaper. I would like to ask why is it that it seems to be relatively more likely for Muslims to engage in terrorism who live among fellow Muslims.

Hannah Stuart:

I think – I mean I’m not an Islamic scholar or a theologian. I think that for the overwhelming majority of Muslims globally, the Koran is something that they hold dear and follow in their daily lives. That it not to say there aren’t some very troubling verses in them. You can isolate verses in the Koran that would support the activities of ISIS. Equally you can isolate lines in the Koran that completely demolish ISIS’s argument. You can find – like any religious book, you could do that with the Bible – so I don’t think that’s from my perspective particularly helpful.

In actual fact a lot of the individuals – moving onto the second question – a lot of the individuals who engaged in this form of terrorism, didn’t really appear to be particularly theologically equipped or skilled or versed in their religion. I think there are a lot of people – reports of them prior to their offending was actually that they weren’t particularly practising at all and they didn’t really know very much about their religion. That’s one of the things we saw most strikingly with the guys who went out to Syria recently with the Islam for Dummies in their luggage. So, it’s not so much that individuals were citing theology or lines from the Koran. The inspiration that we saw overwhelmingly was actually the jihadist propaganda – the videos that they were watching, and the online magazines are particularly powerful. So al-Qaeda and ISIS have promoted online magazines and they will ground that in theology but the majority of the world’s Muslims will tell you that that’s not what they follow.

And I’m sorry there was a third question. Yes, again one of the limitations to a report like this is that it will tell me the facts but it won’t tell me why. So, we can see that there is a correlation between people living in very heavily Muslim areas and potential involvement in this sort of terrorism – but it’s just a correlation it’s not necessarily causality. But I do think it’s something that we should look at in terms of are there problems within very isolated communities? Are there ways in which issues can develop and not be exposed? For example, in Birmingham, the Trojan Horse affair was where individuals were trying to take over and Islamise schools and make the children to adhere to their particular form of – which is a very narrow version of – Islam. And that’s the sort of thing that can happen within heavily segregated communities especially when the authorities who should be stopping this are kind of taking a hands-off approach. That could be one factor to it.

Alan Mendoza:

Very good, right we are going to go all the way to the back. There was a lady, yes right there, and then there is a hand in front of you, anyone else from the back section, let’s start with the lady, yes.

Twelfth Question: Aisha Gani

Hi, I’M Aisha Gani from Buzz Feed News. I’m just wanted you to clarify where the data is from because it’s not actually cited in the booklet?

Alan Mendoza:

Then in front of me there was another hand up.

Thirteenth Question: Name Inaudible. Student KCL.

I was wondering about religious converts who you mentioned were over-represented compared to the estimated population among the general Muslim population? Did you find any interesting candidates or where they generally very similar to the non-converts?

Alan Mendoza:

Okay anyone else from the back, no, so we we’ll go a bit further forward, yes the person right at the back in this middle section.

Fourteenth Question: Max Traegar, Wake Up Europe:

I was just wondering because it doesn’t say so much in the report is there much comparison to the rest of Europe’s offences and attacks in relation to the same time period and if so does Britain stands out in any particular measure?

Alan Mendoza:

Okay thank you.

Hannah Stuart:

So in terms of the data, the data is all in here. So every single offence that I identified we do a profile where there are 30 different profile fields and then there are notes to accompany those data fields to describe the case in a narrative form. And then all of the data fields were coded and put into a spreadsheet to create a data set from which the data you’ve got in the handout was drawn.

In terms of religious converts. You ask if there were similar patterns – if we found similar patterns in them or whether they were similar to all others. I guess what this showed me really is that there is no single one typical profile of an offender and there’s a variety of roots into this form of offending. And that was common among all offences and it was also common among converts. So converts came from a whole range of backgrounds, predominantly Christianity but a number of other religions, Hinduism and also people with no religious background. And also – and this I was interested by – where possible we looked at how long the individual had been a convert before they offended. And there was such a wide range – it ranged from about 4-5 months which was Brusthom Ziamani the individual picked up a couple of years ago in London with a knife in his bag attempting to find a soldier, and he was an example of someone who had bypassed conversion to Islam as a religion and gone straight to conversion essentially to al-Muhajiroun within a few months. On the flipside we had individuals – I think the longest was 14 years of being a convert. So really, the one pattern we saw in converts –like all other offences – was that there was no one pattern.

In terms of the comparison to Europe, I guess the most obvious comparison is that we, so far in the UK have been lucky that we haven’t yet had the mass marauding gun ISIS-inspired attacks or the very regular low tech attacks that we’ve sadly seen across Europe in the last couple of years. We haven’t seen that here and I think that’s testament to the security services and the police. But in terms of other connections, two of my colleagues did a study earlier this year on terrorist connections in Europe and compared that to the earlier European al-Qaeda networks and a lot of their findings chime very much with my findings, particularly the prevalence of people with previous convictions. So this idea of their being – there’s a lot of talk at the moment of the sort of new ISIS criminal terrorism nexus but actually that’s been happening for year and the data here shows that. And also my colleagues’ work on the European networks looked at the importance of friendship and family network and that’s borne out also in my data.

Alan Mendoza:

Okay I’m going to take one final round. Let’s start with Simon up there.

Fifteenth Question: Simon [Inaudible, 1:03:20], chairman of Barnabas an organisation that monitors the persecution of Christians around the world:

My question is a futuristic question. The type of attack, I noticed that drones are not being mentioned and yet Daesh are dropping bombs from drones onto the turrets of some of the tanks in the Mosul area. So, in your opinion are we prepared for a drone attack?

Alan Mendoza:

From the front row here.

Sixteenth Question: Muslim Brotherhood?? [Inaudible, 1:04:05]

Alan Mendoza:

One more at the front here and the last one will be over here.

Seventeenth Question:

We hear a lot about radicalisation in prison, but that doesn’t seem to have come out very strongly in the report, I was wondering whether Hannah had something to say on that.

Alan Mendoza:

Great, thank you very much everyone, over to Hannah for a final round of answers.

Hannah Stuart:

So in terms of the future of a drone attack, I hope we are, the security services I know when you think of the types of attacks that are becoming increasingly prevalent, they’re the types of attacks that are being prepared. We’ve seen very recently a number of dummy runs of how the UK would respond to marauding gun attacks. So where potential attacks are deemed likely the security services and the police and the emergency services as part of the CONSTEST strategy do drill and prepare for them. I couldn’t tell you specifically about drone attacks though.

In terms of offenders associating with the Muslim Brotherhood, that’s not something that we specifically isolated in this study, we looked at proscribed groups and when I said known extremist networks, I meant groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir that featured, actually didn’t feature that proximately, but we didn’t go to the level of the Muslim Brotherhood. That would’ve I guess involved looking really at the institutions the individuals were affiliated to and whether there were long-standing connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. It would be a very interesting study, it would certainly be controversial and it would be difficult just because of the nature in Western countries the diffuse nature of the Muslim Brotherhood and how it’s associated with institutions, there’s so many places where one person will say “this is Brotherhood” and other people would say “no its not”. So that would have been a whole new study in itself.

Finally the radicalisation in prions. Actually I think that the data shows that there is a significant role for prisons, because for two reasons; the prevalence of the prior criminal conviction, the fact that we had a quarter of all offenders had been in prison, if not for terrorism they had certainly come up against the justice system in some way and in some cases that was extremism related even if it wasn’t a terrorism offence. For example there’s a lot of al-Muhajiroun members convicted early of vandalism like spray-painting burqas on pictures of bikinis on bus shelters, that sort of thing. These are the sorts of offences that magistrates, if in conjuncture with lawyers and the police, they could work with programmes like Channel to refer someone like that to see whether they were potentially vulnerable to radicalisation and associating with groups like al-Muhajiroun. But the more striking the in terms of people within prisons is the number of people convicted who were then engaged in radicalisation within prisons and I think the number was about 16 people, that ranges from lower level offences and to really serious leaders of bomb plots. Dhiren Baro, the leader of the 2004 dirty bomb plot that was attempting to blow up gas canisters under buildings in London, he has been linked to a variety of people being converted and radicalised within prisons and there are a number of offenders, one of the leaders of the trans-Atlantic bomb plot, so attempting to blow up multiple airliners between the UK and the US in 2006. One of the ring leaders there has been segregated because of his negative impact on vulnerable prisoners. So, I think there’s a lot of work to be done in prisons, because these are individuals, this is recently this guy was segregated, so we are talking 10 years now he’s been in prison continually doing that. That’s a big problem.

Alan Mendoza:

Wonderful, thank you. I’m sure you’ll all agree that Hannah has taken us through 1000 pages in remarkable clarity and with a sense of understanding of the key points you need to know. Now if you do want to get more information you can find various snapshots on our website, and of course the full book, here it is in all its glory, the full book is available to purchase as well through that. But I would like to pay a tribute to Hannah, who has spent well over a year working on this project, who has lived it, breathed it. Spent literally her entire life, well almost her entire life, on this particular project and I think its quality is set in the fact that the Assistant Commissioner has called it factual, impartial demonstrates the hard work she has done, it has not been wasted at all. I hope it will be useful to all of you and indeed everyone who wishes to understand this phenomenon more, it’s worth bearing in mind this is not an interpretive product, this is pure facts as a result it is absolutely impartial. There was no attempt to interpret the figures, it’s just the figures. So I hope you all join with me in thanking Hannah for her efforts and giving her a round of applause.



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