Daesh-inspired attacks by inmates prompt UK prison terror review

The British government has launched a review into the way terrorists are handled inside jails amid concerns that prison officers are at risk from Daesh-inspired terror attacks. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 19 October 2020

Daesh-inspired attacks by inmates prompt UK prison terror review

  • Prisoners accessed Daesh propaganda ahead of a knife attack on a prison officer
  • Experts warn that lives are at risk if the government does not change its strategy on terrorism in prison

 

LONDON: The British government has launched a review into the way terrorists are handled inside jails amid concerns that prison officers are at risk from Daesh-inspired terror attacks, according to The Independent.

The review comes after two inmates were jailed earlier this month for the attempted murder in January of a prison officer using improvised weapons and fake suicide vests — the latest of four terror attacks carried out by incarcerated or recently released prisoners in the past year.

The two men behind the January attacks accessed Daesh propaganda in jail. One assailant — Brusthom Ziamani — was known to be a terrorism risk after originally being jailed for plotting to behead a soldier.

His accomplice, Baz Hockton, was radicalized inside prison, where he was jailed for a series of random knife attacks.

The Ministry of Justice said it has safeguards in place to prevent and monitor extremism, but neither convict had raised concerns and Ziamani was about to be given a “certificate of achievement” for complying with a deradicalization program for eight months.

There are currently a record number of people in British prisons for terror offences, and three-quarters of those are categorized as Islamist extremists, 19 percent are far-right, with six percent categorized elsewhere.

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READ MORE: Jailed terrorists fake UK deradicalization schemes to gain early release: Report

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Experts have warned that the planned review must lead to urgent action, or else risk the death of a prison officer at the hands of extremists.

Ian Acheson, a former prison governor who carried out the government’s 2016 review of Islamist extremism in jails, said he feared that a prison officer could be taken hostage and executed.

“I’m not at all satisfied from the evidence that we’ve seen that the prison service is on top of this problem,” he told The Independent. “We’ve come within millimeters of a prison officer being murdered by a terrorist in prison.

“Terrorism Act prisoners are very small in number but the harm they can cause to society is huge, and after countless failures of intelligence and security inside prisons we ought to have got on top of this now.

“There is something very wrong at the moment inside our high-security prisons and it would be deluded to suggest otherwise.”

A prison officer working in a high-security prison previously told The Independent that jails were being “run on chaos” and that staff did not have the capacity to monitor and tackle radicalization.

He said there was “no control” over extremist inmates in prison, adding: “I don’t see any end to the attacks whatsoever, those ones that come in with an extremist view leave with a stronger one.”


Hong Kong leader: National security law has been ‘effective’

Updated 6 min 36 sec ago

Hong Kong leader: National security law has been ‘effective’

  • Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June
  • ‘One of our urgent priorities is to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order and political system from chaos’
HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Wednesday that the city’s new national security law has been “remarkably effective in restoring stability” after months of political unrest, and that bringing normalcy back to the political system is an urgent priority.
Lam made the comments in her annual policy address, more than a month after it was postponed so that she could seek Beijing’s support for various economic measures aimed at reviving the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s economy.
Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June, aiming to crack down on dissent following months of anti-government protests in the city that at times descended into violence. Last year’s protests were triggered by a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to the mainland. The proposal was eventually scrapped.
“Advocacies of Hong Kong independence and collusions with external forces have progressively subsided, some of the prominent figures have kept a low profile, radical organizations have ceased operations or dissolved,” Lam said in her address.
“After a year of social unrest with fear for personal safety, Hong Kong people can once again enjoy their basic rights and freedoms, according to the law,” she said.
Lam also criticized foreign governments for interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, saying it had jeopardized national security.
Beijing has in recent months taken a tougher stance on dissent in Hong Kong, sparking concerns over the possible end of the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong has been operating since it was handed over to China by Britain in 1997.
Earlier this month, China passed a resolution disqualifying four pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers after they were accused of violating their oaths of office. The move prompted all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy legislators to resign en masse as a show of solidarity.
Lam said that Hong Kong has experienced one of its most severe political challenges over the past year.
“One of our urgent priorities is to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order and political system from chaos,” she said.
She said the government would introduce a bill by the end of this year to amend local laws related to oath-taking, to “deal with those who have engaged in conduct that breaches the oath of the swearing-in.”