List of terrorist incidents in Great Britain

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The following is a list of terrorist incidents in Great Britain. It excludes incidents in Northern Ireland, for which see Timeline of the Northern Ireland Troubles. For a detailed list of incidents in London, see List of terrorist incidents in London.

There have been many motives behind terrorism in Great Britain.[1] During the 20th century, most attacks were carried out by various Irish Republican Army (IRA) groups and were linked to the Northern Ireland conflict (the Troubles). In the late 20th century there were also attacks by Middle Eastern terrorist groups, most of which were linked to the Arab–Israeli conflict. During the 21st century, most terrorist incidents in Britain have been linked to Islamic fundamentalism.[2] A perspective has been put forth that terrorist incidents in Britain may be growing due to Britain's role in the Iraq War and its subsequent role in the Syrian Civil War, however this has not always found support.[3][4][5][6] This theory is further called into question by the fact that most terrorist attacks occur outside of Europe, and in Muslim majority countries.[7]

Between 1971 and 2001, there were 430 terrorist-related deaths in Great Britain. Of these, 125 deaths were linked to the Northern Ireland conflict,[8] and 305 deaths were linked to other causes[9] – most of the latter deaths occurred in the Lockerbie bombing.[9] Since 2001, there have been almost 100 terrorist-related deaths in Great Britain, the vast majority linked to Islamic jihad and religious extremism.[needs update]

Attacks[edit]

1605 Gunpowder Plot[edit]

19th century[edit]

1939–1940[edit]

From January 1939 to March 1940, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a campaign of bombing and sabotage against the civil, economic, and military infrastructure of Britain. It was known as the S-Plan or Sabotage Campaign. During the campaign, the IRA carried out almost 300 attacks and acts of sabotage in Britain, killing seven people and injuring 96.[13] Most of the casualties occurred in the Coventry bombing on 25 August 1939.

1970s[edit]

1980s[edit]

1990s[edit]

  • 1990, 14 May: :The IRA bombed an army education centre in Eltham, London, injuring seven.
  • 1990, 16 May: The IRA bombed a minibus at an army recruitment centre in Wembley, London, killing one soldier and injuring four.
  • 1990, 1 June: A British soldier was killed and two wounded in an IRA gun attack at Lichfield City railway station, Staffordshire.
  • 1990, 9 June: Honourable Artillery Company bombing: The IRA detonated a bomb at the Honourable Artillery Company's barracks in London, injuring 19.
  • 1990, 26 June: Carlton Club bombing: The IRA bombed a London club for Conservative politicians, fatally wounding one and injuring 20.
  • 1990, 20 July: London Stock Exchange bombing: The IRA detonated a bomb at the London Stock Exchange causing damage to the building but no injuries.[34]
  • 1990, 30 July: Ian Gow, Conservative MP, was assassinated by the IRA when a booby trap bomb exploded under his car outside his home in East Sussex.[35]
  • 1991, 7 February: The IRA carried out a mortar attack of 10 Downing Street, in an attempt to assassinate Prime Minister John Major and his cabinet. One of the shells exploded in the back garden of 10 Downing Street but there were no deaths.
  • 1991, 18 February: An IRA bomb exploded at Victoria Station. One man killed and 38 people injured.
  • 1991, 15 November: An IRA bomb exploded in St Albans city centre. Two fatalities, both members of the provisional IRA (Patricia Black and Frankie Ryan), were the only casualties.
  • 1992, 28 February: An IRA bomb exploded at London Bridge station, injuring 29 people.
  • 1992, 10 April: Baltic Exchange bombing: A large IRA truck bomb exploded outside the Baltic Exchange building in the City of London, following a telephoned warning. It killed three people and caused £800 million worth of damage – more than the total damaged caused by the 10,000 explosions that had occurred during the Troubles in Northern Ireland up to that point.[36] A few hours later a bomb exploded in Staples Corner.
  • 1992, 7 June: Wanted IRA member Paul Magee opened fire on unarmed police officers Constable Sandy Kelly and Special Constable Glenn Goodman during a routine traffic stop in North Yorkshire. Kelly escaped injury when a single bullet ricocheted off his radio, but Goodman was hit four times, and later died in hospital.[37]
  • 1992, 25 August: The IRA planted three firebombs in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Bombs were placed in Shoplatch, The Charles Darwin Centre and Shrewsbury Castle, the latter causing the most damage as the castle housed the Shropshire Regimental Museum and many priceless historical artifacts were lost and damaged by fire and smoke. No fatalities or injuries were recorded.
  • 1992, 12 October: Sussex Arms bombing: A bomb exploded in the gents' toilet of a pub in Covent Garden, killing one person and injuring four others.
  • 1992, 16 November: IRA planted a bomb at the Canary Wharf, but was spotted by security guards. The bomb failed to detonate.
  • 1992, 3 December: The IRA detonated two car bombs in central Manchester, injuring 65 people.[38]
  • 1993, 28 January: 1993 Harrods bombing: Far-left Red Action members together with the IRA bombed Harrods in London, injuring four.
  • 1993, 27 February: Camden Town bombing: An IRA bomb exploded on Camden High Street in London, injuring 18.
  • 1993, 20 March: Warrington bomb attacks: Two small bombs exploded in litter bins outside shops in Warrington, Cheshire, killing a three-year-old boy injuring more than 50 people. A 12-year-old boy became the second fatality when he died in hospital from his injuries several days later. IRA members had sent a telephoned warning but it was inaccurate.
  • 1993, 24 April: Bishopsgate bombing: The IRA detonated a huge truck bomb in the City of London at Bishopsgate. Police had received a telephoned warning but were still evacuating the area at the time of the explosion. A journalist was killed, over 40 people were injured, and £350 million worth of damage was caused.[36]
  • 1994, March: Heathrow mortar attacks: The IRA launched a series of mortar attacks on Heathrow Airport near London. The attacks caused severe disruption but little damage.
  • 1994, 26–27 July: A group of Palestinians detonated two car bombs in London, one outside the Israeli embassy[31] and one outside Balfour House, home to a Jewish charity. The attacks injured twenty people.[31]
  • 1994, 13 August: 2.5 lbs of Semtex packed into a bicycle left outside Woolworths in Bognor Regis, exploded damaging 15 shops. A similar bomb found in nearby Brighton.[39]
  • 1995, 24 January: The editor of the Des Pardes, Tarsem Singh Purewal, was shot and killed near to the newspaper's Southall office.[40]
  • 1996, 9 February: London Docklands bombing: The IRA detonated a powerful truck bomb in the Canary Wharf financial district of London, following telephoned warnings. The blast caused severe damage and killed two people.
  • 1996, 18 February: Aldwych bus bombing: An improvised high explosive device detonated prematurely on a bus travelling along Aldwych in central London, killing Edward O'Brien, the IRA member transporting the device and injuring eight others.
  • 1996, 15 June: Manchester bombing: The IRA detonated a powerful truck bomb in central Manchester, following a telephoned warning. It was the biggest bomb detonated in Britain since the Second World War. It caused widespread damage and injured over 200 people, but there were no deaths.
  • 1999, 17 April, 24 April, 30 April: 1999 London nail bombings: David Copeland set off three nail bombs in London targeting the black, Bangladeshi and gay communities respectively, killing three people (including a pregnant woman) and injuring 129. Copeland, a far-right extremist, was convicted of murder on 30 June 2000.
Refer also to the list of IRA terrorist incidents presented to Parliament between 1980 and 1994, listed halfway down the page here

2000s[edit]

Memorial in London's Hyde Park to the victims of the 7 July bombings.

2010s[edit]

  • 2013, 29 April to 12 July: Pavlo Lapshyn, a Ukrainian student and right-wing extremist, fatally stabbed Birmingham resident Mohammed Saleem on 29 April. Lapshyn later detonated a home-made bomb outside a mosque in Walsall on 21 June.[45] On 28 June, Lapshyn detonated a second home-made bomb near a mosque in Wolverhampton, and attacked a mosque in Tipton with an improvised explosive device containing nails on 12 July. He later admitted to police that he wished to start a "race war"[46] and was sentenced to serve at least 40 years.[47][48][49]
  • 2013, 22 May: A British soldier, Lee Rigby, was murdered and decapitated in an attack in Woolwich by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, two Islamist extremists armed with a handgun, knives and a cleaver. Both men were sentenced to life imprisonment, with Adebolajo given a whole life order and Adebowale ordered to serve at least 45 years.[50]
  • 2014, 10-14 February: The New Irish Republican Army (NIRA) claims responsibility for a series of parcel bombs sent to army recruitment offices in Oxford, Brighton, Canterbury, Slough, Aldershot, Reading and Chatham.[51][52]
  • 2016, 16 June: Murder of Jo Cox – Thomas Mair, a 52-year-old white nationalist, shot and stabbed the MP Jo Cox outside a surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, and severely wounded a passerby who came to her aid. The attack was treated as an act of terrorism,[53] and in sentencing Mair the judge said "There is no doubt that this murder was done for the purpose of advancing a political, racial and ideological cause namely that of violent white supremacism and exclusive nationalism most associated with Nazism and its modern forms".[54]
  • 2017, 22 March: 2017 Westminster attack – Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old Islamist, drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four and injuring almost fifty. He ran into the grounds of the Palace of Westminster and fatally stabbed a police officer, before being shot dead by police. The attack was treated as an act of terrorism motivated by Islamic extremism.[55][56][57][58]
  • 2017, 22 May: Manchester Arena bombing – An Islamist suicide bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, blew himself up at Manchester Arena as people were leaving a concert, killing 22 and injuring 139. It became the deadliest terrorist attack in Britain since the 7/7 London bombings in 2005. Many of the victims were children or teenagers, the youngest being an eight-year-old girl.[59][60]
  • 2017, 3 June: 2017 London Bridge attack – Three Islamists drove a van into pedestrians on London bridge before stabbing people in and around pubs in nearby Borough Market. Eight people were killed and at least 48 wounded.[61][62][63] The attackers were shot dead by police eight minutes after the incident was reported. All three were wearing fake suicide bomb vests.
  • 2017, 19 June: Finsbury Park attack – Darren Osborne, a 47 year old British man, drove a van into Muslim worshippers near Finsbury Park Mosque, London. A man who had earlier collapsed and was receiving first aid died at the scene. The incident was investigated by counter-terrorism police as a terrorist attack.[64][65][66] On 23 June, Osborne was charged with terrorism-related murder and attempted murder.[67][68] In February 2018 at Woolwich Crown Court, he was found guilty on both counts[69] and was sentenced to life imprisonment.[70]

Prevented, failed or aborted attacks[edit]

These are known attacks which could have constituted a threat to life had they worked or been large enough. Does not include attacks that were merely at a talking stage and were not actually in operation.

  • 1981, January: the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a bomb in the Suvla barrack block at RAF Uxbridge. The device was discovered and the 35 RAF musicians and 15 airmen living there were evacuated before it exploded.
  • 1985: Police found 10 grenades, seven petrol bombs and two detonators at the home of former Group Development Director for the British National Party Tony Lecomber after he was injured by a nail bomb that he was carrying to the offices of the Workers' Revolutionary Party. Convicted under the Explosive Substances Act 1883.
  • 1993, 23 October: In Reading, Berkshire, an IRA bomb exploded at a signal post near the railway station, some hours after 5 lb (2 kg) of Semtex was found in the toilets of the station. The resulting closure of the railway line and evacuation of the station caused travel chaos for several hours, but no-one was injured.
  • 1996, 24 April: 1996 Hammersmith Bridge bomb attempt.
  • 2000, 1 June: Real IRA suspected of planting a high-explosive device attached to a girder under the south side of Hammersmith Bridge which detonated at 4:30 am.[71]
  • 2000, 17 November: Police arrested Moinul Abedin. His Birmingham house contained bomb-making instructions, equipment, and traces of the explosive HTMD. A nearby lock-up rented by Abedin contained 100 kg of the chemical components of HTMD.[72]
  • 2001, 3 November: The 2001 Birmingham bombing.
  • 2005, 21 July: The 21 July 2005 London bombings, also conducted by four would-be suicide bombers on the public transport, whose bombs failed to detonate.
  • 2006, 28 September: Talbot Street bomb-making haul.
  • 2007, 1 February: Plot to behead a British Muslim soldier.
  • 2007, 29 June: London car bombs.
  • 2007, 30 June: Glasgow International Airport attack perpetrated by Islamist extremists. Five people were injured and the only death was of one of the perpetrators, who later died in hospital from his injuries.
  • 2008, 27 February: British police thwarted a suspected plot to kill Abdullah of Saudi Arabia during a state visit to Britain in the year 2007 a senior officer said.
  • 2008, 22 May: Exeter attempted bombing in a café toilet by an Islamist extremist, injuring only the perpetrator.
  • 2009, 3 September : Manchester Piccadilly multiple suicide bomber plot.[73] In 2009 Pakistani national Abid Naseer, was one of 12 suspects arrested on suspicion of being part of a Manchester Terror cell, after arriving in the UK a year before. All were released on insufficient evidence, but ordered to be deported from the UK. Naseer's deportation to Pakistan was prevented on human rights grounds, as he was ruled 'likely to be mistreated'. In 2013, on further evidence from Al-Queda sources, including documents from the bin Laden Raid, he was extradited to the US, and on 4 March 2015 was found guilty of masterminding an Al-Qaeda directed plot to synchronize multiple suicide bombings around Manchesters Arndale Centre and Piccadilly Shopping centre in a coordinated attack involving other locations including the New York Subway with other cells.
  • 2012, June: Five extremists plotted to bomb an English Defence League rally in Dewsbury but arrived late and were arrested when returning to Birmingham. A sixth was also convicted.[74]
  • 2013, April: As part of Operation Pitsford 11 Muslim extremists are jailed for a plotting terror attack involving suicide Bombers.[75]
  • 2015, 12 Feb : Liverpool Ricin Plot:[76] Mohammed Ammar Ali, an IT worker who rented a flat in Liverpool as a base of operations, attempted to buy 500 mg of ricin, which could kill as many as 1,400 people, using the darkweb. He was instead delivered a white powder by the FBI. Evidence was also found of attempts to purchase rabbits or chinchillas to test the poison out on.
  • 2015, 7 July : Attempted anniversary London 7/7 bomb plot.[77] Mohammed Rehman and Sana Ahmed Khan were sentenced to life imprisonment for preparing an act of terrorism.[78] They had 10 kg of urea nitrate. Rehman called himself the 'silent bomber' and asked his Twitter followers to choose between the Westfield Shopping Centre or the London Underground for the planned suicide bomb.
  • 2017, 15 September: Parsons Green bombing – The London tube train was targeted and witnesses reported a flash and bang.[79] Thirty people were injured, mostly with flash burns and crush injuries, but there were no fatalities. The threat level was raised to its highest point of critical soon after.[80]
  • 2018, February : Ethan Stables, a white supremacist, was arrested plotting a machete attack in an LGBT parade.[81]

Given the nature of counter-terrorism, successes in preventing terrorist attacks in the UK will not always come to light, or not be as heavily promoted as intelligence failures. However, during the police advocacy of 90-day detention in relation to the Terrorism Act 2006 they produced documents listing all the cases about which they could not go into details.[82] Authorities often state, without going into details, numbers of attacks prevented, e.g. 12 attacks were reported in March 2017 to have been thwarted in the previous year, some only hours before they were to have been attempted.[83]

Arrests, detentions, and other incidents related to the Terrorism Acts[edit]

These are cases where either the Terrorism Acts were invoked, or which the authorities alleged were terrorist in nature at the time. This list includes both plots that were foiled at an early stage before any materials were actually assembled, and totally innocent suspects.

  • 1997, 11 April: Eight members of the Provisional IRA - including an Irish-American that served in the US Marine - were on trial after a July 1996 plot to blow up six electrical stations knocking out electricity in the London and South East England region, foiled by police and MI5.[84]
  • 2003, 5 January: Wood Green ricin plot, where police arrested six Algerian men accused of manufacturing ricin to use for a poison attack on the London underground. No poison was found,[85][86] and all men were acquitted of all terror charges, except for Kamel Bourgass who stabbed four police officers during his arrest in Manchester several days later. He was convicted of the murder of the officer he killed (the others he stabbed survived). He was also convicted of plotting to poison members of the public with ricin and other poisons. Two of the suspects in the plot were subsequently convicted of possessing false passports.[87]
  • 2003, October: Andrew Rowe arrested in Dover after being detained as he entered the Channel Tunnel in France.[88] Convicted as a "global terrorist" and sentenced to 15 years in prison on 23 September 2005 on the basis of traces of explosives on a pair of socks and a code translation book.[89]
  • 2004, 30 March: Seven men arrested in West Sussex in possession of 600 kg of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, as part of Operation Crevice.
  • 2004, 3 August: Fourteen men arrested, but only eight charged in relation to the 2004 Financial buildings plot following the leak of the identity of an Al-Qaeda double-agent. The men possessed detailed plans for attacking financial buildings in the US, but no actual bomb-making equipment. Their leader, Dhiren Barot, pleaded guilty at his trial on 12 October 2006, and was imprisoned for life.
  • 2004, 24 September: Four men arrested in the Holiday Inn in Brent Cross trying to buy red mercury, a mythical substance which could purportedly be used to construct a nuclear bomb, from a newspaper reporter.[90] One man was released three days later,[91] while the other three were cleared at their trial on 25 July 2006,[92] during which the jury was told that "whether red mercury does or does not exist is irrelevant".[93]
  • 2005, 22 July: The Metropolitan Police killed totally uninvolved Jean Charles de Menezes, shooting him in the head on a train over suspicions of an imminent terrorist attack, during counter-terrorism Operation Kratos.
  • 2005, 28 July: David Mery arrested at Southwark tube station on suspicion of terrorism for wearing a jacket "too warm for the season" and carrying a bulky rucksack. All charges were dropped on 31 August.[94] It took four more years for the police to apologise for the "unlawful arrest, detention and search of [his] home".[95]
  • 2005, 28 September: Walter Wolfgang, who had been ejected from the Labour Party Conference after shouting "Nonsense!", was briefly held under Terrorism Act 2000 powers when he attempted to go back in.
  • 2005, 22 December: Abu Bakr Mansha, described by his barrister as an "utter incompetent", was accused of planning to murder a British soldier who had served in the Iraq War, and convicted under the Terrorism Act for possessing a document that was "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". He was sentenced to six years' imprisonment.
  • 2006, 2 June: The 2 June 2006 Forest Gate raid (on a house in Forest Gate) saw the arrest of two suspects, one who was shot in the shoulder, on charges of conspiring to release a chemical weapon in the form of a suicide vest. The suspects were cleared of suspicion and released days later.
  • 2006, 10 August: The 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot to blow up 10 planes flying from Heathrow saw the arrest of 24 people from their homes in Britain, chaos at airports as security measures were put in place, and numerous high-level statements from US and UK officials. Eight people were put on trial, and three found guilty of conspiracy to murder. It was shown at their trial how bottles of liquid could be made into effective bombs. Following this incident, carriage of liquids in hand luggage on aircraft was restricted internationally to very small amounts. Rashid Rauf, suspected to have been the link between the UK plotters and Pakistan, escaped to Pakistan, where he was arrested, but escaped again on his way to an extradition hearing. It was reported that he was killed in a US airstrike in North Waziristan in November 2008.[96]
  • 2006, 23 August: The 2006 Cheetham Hill terrorism arrests, where four men were arrested in the Manchester vicinity over the course of a month, and charged with financing terrorism.
  • 2006, 1 September: The Jameah Islameah School in Sussex was cordoned off for over three weeks and searched by a hundred police officers. Twelve men were arrested as part of the operation as they ate in a Chinese restaurant in London.
  • 2007, 1 November: Police searching for indecent images of children arrested British People's Party local organiser Martyn Gilleard in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire under the Terrorism Act, over explosives found in his home. He was subsequently charged with possession of material for terrorist purposes and collection of information useful to a terrorist, and also pleaded guilty to possessing 39,000 indecent images. He was jailed for 16 years.[97][98][98][99][100]
  • 2008, 14 May: The Nottingham Two were arrested and detained for six days under the Terrorism Act 2000. A postgraduate student had downloaded a 140-page English translation of an Al-Qaeda document from the United States Department of Justice website for his PhD research on militant Islam. He sent it to a friend in the Modern Language department, for printing. Both were cleared of terrorism-related offences, but the friend was immediately re-arrested on immigration grounds.[101][102][103][104]
  • 2008, 14 September: Oxford graduate Stephen Clarke arrested after someone thought they saw him taking a photograph of a sealed man-hole cover outside the central public library in Manchester. He was arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, held for 36 hours while his house and computer were searched, and then released without charge. No photographs of man-hole covers were found.[105]
  • 2009, 13 February: Nine men arrested on the M65 motorway under section 40 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Six were kept hand-cuffed in the back of a van for seven hours. The remaining three were detained for six days. No one was charged. [7]
  • 2011, 19 September: West Midlands Police arrested a woman who lived in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham. Salma Kabal, 22, appeared in court on 16 November 2011 accused of failing to inform police that her husband, Ashik Ali, planned to kill himself. The official charge was that she "knew or believed might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of another person for an offence involving the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism".[106]
  • 2011, 15 November: West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit arrested four people at their homes who were from Sparkhill Birmingham, on suspicion of conducting terrorist offences. The four men appeared in court in Westminster on 19 November 2011 charged with terrorism offences. They were named as Khobaib Hussain, Ishaaq Hussain and Shahid Kasam Khan, all 19, and Naweed Mahmood Ali, 24. They were charged with fundraising for terrorist purposes and for travelling to Pakistan for terrorist training.[107]
  • 2012, 28 June: The two men, aged 18 and 32, were arrested at separate residential addresses in east London by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command, at 7 am on Thursday. It was believed the men were involved in a bomb plot concerning the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "At approximately 07:00 hrs today, Thursday June 28, officers from the counter-terrorism command arrested two men under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The men were arrested at separate residential addresses in east London. Both addresses are currently being searched under the Terrorism Act 2000".[108]
  • 2014, 20 August: Four men were arrested in Northern Ireland over a New IRA plot to send letter bombs to targets in England, including home secretary Theresa May.[109]
  • 2017, 5 September: Three men, including two serving British soldiers, were arrested and later charged with several offences relating to membership of the neo-Nazi National Action terrorist organisation and preparing for acts of terrorism.[110]
  • 2018, 18 April. A 26 year old male was arrested by Kent Police and the Counter Terrorism Police at his home address in Rochester, Kent[111]. On 1st May 2018, following a custody extension, he appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court where he was charged with planning terrorist attacks on London tourist attractions, namely Oxford Street and Madame Tussauds. He was also charged with attempting to join Daesh, otherwise known as Islamic State, in the Philippines. He was not granted bail, and was remanded in custody until he appears before the Central Criminal Court on 11th May 2018[112].

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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