Whilst the British government bends over backwards to assist Islamists in the Uk to remove their name off an terror list, at the same time the British government are refusing to remove the names of innocent people from the DNA databse.
One law for them, one law for us.
The Government is secretly supporting an attempt by UK-based Islamists to have their names removed from an international terror blacklist
By Patrick Sawer, in London, and Philip Sherwell, in New York
Published: 9:07AM GMT 17 Jan 2010
UK Government backs Islamists in battle to remove their names from terror blacklist
The remains of the train that exploded near Atocha train station in Madrid 11 March
2004 Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The seven men were placed on the United Nations list because they were suspected of having links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
As a result they have been barred from leaving Britain and their assets have been frozen by the Bank of England and HM Treasury.
Control orders were unlawful, says judge
Detroit bomber's mentor continues to spread hate
Mumbai attacks: Warning over danger posed by Pakistan-based terrorists
US to remove North Korea from terror list after nuclear deal
EU court ruling makes fighting terror more difficult
Victoria's secrets: the kindness of strangers
They include individuals who were:
* convicted of involvement in the 2003 Casablanca bombings and of possessing terrorist documents in the UK,
* accused of assisting the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa and of being an associate of Osama bin Laden,
* found guilty by a military court of plotting terror attacks.
But an attempt by the men to have their names removed from the UN list has now won the backing of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
The FCO has insisted that it is acting because it has reviewed the men's cases and does not think they are dangerous.
However, sources in Washington said the move by the British Government risked worsening relations between the US and UK at a time of heightened concern over security. The men are also named as suspected Islamist extremists on a US Treasury list barring them from travel to the United States.
The Obama administration is determined to tighten up the country's border controls in the wake of the failed attempt to blow up a transatlantic jet on its approach to Detroit airport by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who spent three years in Britain studying at University College London.
Washington is unlikely to relish the prospect of removing a number of men classed as terror suspects by the UN from its own watch lists, or of having to unblock any financial assets the men may have in the States, as a result of diplomatic pressure by Britain.
A US terrorism expert who has advised the American government said: "This action by the UK government will not go down well with the administration in Washington."
Robin Simcox, of the UK-based think tank, the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: "The FCO is attempting to go easier on convicted terrorists and other extremists at a time when the US are desperately trying to tighten up their own watch lists following the Detroit bomb plot. The special relationship is suffering at precisely the time the US and UK should be targeting greater co-operation."
The individuals were placed on the UN list as the result of requests by their countries of origin, who claim to have identified them on the basis of secret intelligence or as a result of criminal investigations. However the men, who regard themselves as political dissidents, deny having links to terror groups and claim they were named in an attempt to discredit their opposition activities.
The FCO confirmed that following its own investigations it has submitted a request with the United Nations's sanctions committee for the men to be removed from the list and no longer to be subject to Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 or the al-Qaeda and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006. The committee will have to agree unanimously for this to happen.
A spokesman for the FCO said: "We have applied for these men to be delisted. A review of their designation has concluded they do not meet the criteria and are not associates of al-Qaeda and the Taliban."
The spokesman added: "We've submitted a delisting request with the sanctions committee of the UN, where we will be presenting our evidence, including intelligence-based evidence, to show these men should no longer be regarded as dangerous or as associates of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. We hope that if they come off the UN list they will also be taken off the US's own list."
At the same time the men – who cannot be named for legal reasons –have taken HM Treasury to court in a bid to have the Terrorism Orders freezing their assets revoked.
In a number of cases currently before the UK Supreme Court the men are seeking to have the orders, issued by the Treasury on behalf of the UN, ruled unlawful on the grounds that they "restrict fundamental human rights without the express authorisation of Parliament".
Among the men backed by the Foreign Office is a doctor who fled to London in the 1990s and became involved with a group opposed to one of the regimes in the Middle East. He is accused by the US Treasury of providing assistance to the al-Qaeda bombers who destroyed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 230 people, and of being an associate of Osama bin Laden. Both his and his group's assets have since been frozen.
He denies the accusations and says his group is committed to peaceful means.
Another has been living in Britain since the mid-1990s after a court in his country of origin convicted him in his absence of planning terrorist attacks.
A number of individuals linked with a group opposed to the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, are also being supported by the FCO in their attempts to be removed from the UN list. The group is accused by the UN of links to al-Qaeda and involvement in the Casablanca bombings in 2003 and the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
They include one who was convicted by a Moroccan court of involvement in the Casablanca bombings, which killed over 40 people and injured another 100. He also pleaded guilty in a UK court to possessing documents likely to be useful in preparing an act of terrorism. Another was described by the US Treasury as key financier for the group.
However, one of the group on the UN list said: "The only reason we are on UN and US lists is because the Libyan government has wrongly alleged to the UN that we are terrorists. But we have never made any threat against either the UK or the US. We do not have any links with al-Qaeda."
The list also names a man in his 50s, wanted by Interpol after being accused of raising funds for terror groups linked to Osama bin Laden. The man's solicitor said he denied the accusations.
Critics of the system of Terrorism Orders have condemned the fact they were introduced by the Government through 'orders in council' rather than by legislation debated in Parliament.
Further, they claim the UN is forcing the UK authorities to impose draconian restrictions on individuals.
Eric Metcalfe, of the legal reform group Justice, said: "Of course it's right we take measures against people who finance or assist terrorists, but this should be done through prosecutions in the criminal courts. As it is individuals are being listed as associates of al-Qaeda or the Taliban on suspicion alone, with no opportunity to clear their name. In some cases the UK government doesn't even have access to the information used to justify their inclusion on the list."
But Mr Simcox said: "One of the men that the FCO is trying to defend is a convicted terrorist here in the UK and has been convicted abroad for his involvement in the slaughter of over 40 Moroccan civilians. Another is the former leader of a Jihad group which is now part of al-Qaeda, and who celebrated the 7/7 bombings. The UK should be concentrating on cracking down on all Jihadi outfits, rather than focusing its attention on defending convicted terrorists."
The row comes after a senior US official yesterday said that the UK had the greatest number of Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaeda of any western country. Washington officials say the UK government is failing to counter the threat of extremism among British Muslims.
The official said: "The level of a-Qaeda activity in Britain is becoming a major source of concern. The UK-based al-Qaeda network poses a threat not only to Britain but to the rest of the world."
The US government operates a master list of 550,000 names of individuals subject to "additional scrutiny" before being allowed to enter the United States. This list is not available for public viewing, though it is thought to contain the details of several individuals resident in the UK.
However, a separate list of individuals subject to sanctions and the freezing of assets, compiled by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control and based partly on the UN list, is published online under the heading Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. This list contains the names of those backed by the FCO.