Terrorism in the United Kingdom

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Terrorism in the United Kingdom, according to the Home Office, poses a significant threat to the state.[1] 1834 people were arrested in the United Kingdom from September 2001 to December 2009 in connection with terrorism, of which 422 were charged with terrorism-related offences and 237 were convicted.[2]

Banned organisations[edit]

The British government has designated 58 organisations as terrorist and banned them. 44 of these organisations were banned under the Terrorism Act of 2000. Two of these were also banned under the Terrorism Act of 2006 for "glorifying terrorism." Other than the far-right neo-Nazi National Action, the other fourteen organisations operate (for the most part) in Northern Ireland, and were banned under previous legislation.[1]

International organisations[edit]

International organisations the government has designated as terrorist and banned are:[1]

Irish Republican organisations[edit]

Irish organisations the British government has banned are:[1]

Loyalist organisations[edit]

Other British organisations[edit]


There have been many historically significant terrorist incidents within the United Kingdom, from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to the various attacks related to The Troubles of Northern Ireland. In recent history, the UK security services have focused on the threat posed by radical Islamic militant organisations within the UK, such as the cell responsible for the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

Profile of a British terrorist[edit]

A "restricted" 12 June 2008 MI5 analysis of "several hundred individuals known to be involved in, or closely associated with, violent extremist activity" concludes that British terrorists "are a diverse collection of individuals, fitting no single demographic profile, nor do they all follow a typical pathway to violent extremism".[3]

Around half were born in the United Kingdom, the majority are British nationals and the remainder, with a few exceptions, are in the country legally. Most UK terrorists are male, but women are sometimes aware of their husbands', brothers' or sons' activities. While the majority are in their early to mid-20s when they become radicalised, a small but not insignificant minority first become involved in violent extremism at over the age of 30. Those over 30 are just as likely to have a wife and children as to be loners with no ties. MI5 says this challenges the idea that terrorists are young Muslim men driven by sexual frustration and lured to "martyrdom" by the promise of beautiful virgins waiting for them in paradise.[3]

Those involved in British terrorism have educational achievement ranging from total lack of qualifications to degree-level education. However, they are almost all employed in low-grade jobs.[3]

Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could actually be regarded as religious novices. Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households, and there is a higher than average proportion of converts. Some are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes. The report claims a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation, while the influence of clerics in radicalising British terrorists has reduced in recent years.[3]


The Sun newspaper obtained a leaked memo from the British government, originally dating 17 January, in late January 2007 detailing a proposed plan to place X-ray cameras in lampposts to see through clothes and identify terrorists. The memo says Home Office officials believe "detection of weapons and explosives will become easier... The social acceptability of routine intrusive detection measures and the operational response required in the event of an alarm are likely to be limiting factors." The Home Office did not comment on the memo.[4] On 29 August 2014, the British government raised the terrorist threat level to "severe," as Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May warned a terrorist attack was "highly likely," following the coming to prominence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. May admitted that although the threat level had been hiked to the second-highest possible, there was no intelligence warning of an imminent attack. Despite, this Cameron said, the nation was facing a "deeper and greater threat to our security than we have known before."

State terrorism[edit]

The British state has been accused of involvement in state terrorism in Northern Ireland.[5][6][7][8]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]