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Hive Talking - Parrett on Home Grown Terror

07 March 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970

Islamist Terrorism an Analysis of Offences and Attacks in the UK (1998-2015) is a new research project from The Henry Jackson Society - the right-wing, pro-democracy via military strength organisation

Authored by Katie Parrett, it presents her view of the threat from Islamism-inspired terrorism in the United Kingdom. Below are the edited highlights of the Executive Summary.


Executive Summary

Islamist terrorism remains the principal terrorism threat to both the UK and British interests overseas. At the start of 2017, terrorism directed, approved or inspired by Islamic State posed the predominant threat to national security, while al-Qaeda and affiliate groups continue to aspire to attack Western interests.

For more than two decades, militant Islamist groups have successfully recruited UK-based individuals for terrorist facilitation and training overseas, as well as directed or inspired involvement in terrorism at home.

The report identifies and profiles all Islamism-inspired terrorism convictions and suicide attacks in the UK between 1998 and 2015 in order to provide detailed information and statistical analysis on the manifestation and development of the threat to British national security.

Statistics include offenders’ background information, types of offences, roles and targets as well as the prevalence of links to terrorist networks and travel for terrorist purposes, including training and combat experience.


Diversity of threat and type of attack

Four categories reflect the type of terrorist-related activities engaged in, the immediacy of the threat and the intent of the individual. Among these offences (some of which included multiple types of attack), bombing was the most common.

Proportionally, offences involving beheadings or stabbings (planned or otherwise) increased eleven-fold across the time periods, from 4% to 44%.



There have been 264 convictions for Islamism-inspired terrorism offences as a result of arrests from 1998 onwards involving 253 British or foreign nationals. Nine of these individuals have been convicted of offences on two separate occasions and one has been convicted on three separate occasions.

There have been two suicide attacks on British soil – the 7/7 attacks in London and the 2007 Glasgow airport car bombing – in which five offenders were killed.

All convictions (as well as those killed in suicide attacks) are collectively referred to as Islamism-related offences (IROs). Reflecting the shifts in global Islamism-inspired terrorism following both the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and the uprisings known as the Arab Spring, particularly the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq which began that year, data is also shown comparing convictions resulting from arrests between 1998 and 2010 with those resulting from arrests between 2011 and 2015. IROs which may be considered serious attack-related offences have been further compared with all other offences across key points of data.

The rate of offending has increased in the five-year period between 2011 and 2015 compared to the 13-year period between 1998 and 2010. The three years between 2005 and 2007 accounted for one-third (33%) of all IROs, while a similar peak occurred between 2011 and 2014, accounting for 38% of all IROs.

All 269 IROs comprise 135 distinct terrorism cases. The average number of individuals per terrorism case in any year ranges from a 1:1 ratio – indicating, in recent years, a prevalence of individual actors – to an average of four individuals per year between 2004 and 2005 – indicating a prevalence of larger cells.

IROs have almost doubled, increasing by 92% from 12 to 23 per year, while distinct terrorism cases have almost tripled, increasing by 180% from an average of five per year last decade to 14 per year between 2011 and 2015.


Age and gender

While IROs are primarily committed by young men, women’s involvement in terrorism has increased; overall, offenders are getting younger. Eighteen women have been convicted of a terrorism offences ranging from supportive offences such as assisting an offender to serious attack-related offences such as attempted murder.

Forty-six per cent of 2011–2015 offences were committed by individuals aged under 25.


Nationality, ancestry and place of birth

The majority of the Islamism-inspired threat to UK remains from home-grown terrorism. Seventy-two per cent of IROs were committed by UK nationals or individuals holding dual British nationality. IROs were committed by individuals of diverse ancestry, including those with family ties to countries in South Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. More than half (52%) of IROs were committed by individuals of Southern Asian ancestry, most commonly by British-Pakistanis (25%) and British-Bangladeshis (8%). IRO analysis shows the primacy of London- and Birmingham-based individuals among offenders as well as higher than average relative deprivation and Muslim population at neighbourhood level.

Based on the official measure of relative deprivation in England (Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015), almost half (48%) of (English residence) IROs were committed by individuals living in the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods nationally, commonly referred to as 'highly deprived'.

There is little correlation between involvement in terrorism and educational achievement and employment status where known.



While IROs were mainly carried out by individuals who were raised as Muslim, one in six offenders was a convert. Sixteen per cent of IROs were committed by individuals known to have converted to Islam prior to their offending. This is more than four times higher than the estimated proportion of converts among the Muslim population at national level.


Prior contact with authorities and criminal history

Three-quarters of IROs were committed by individuals who were previously known to the authorities; and one quarter were committed by individuals with a previous criminal conviction.

Seventy-six per cent of IROs were committed by individuals who were previously known to the authorities through one or more of eight identifiable points of contact. Almost half (48%) of IROs were committed by those who were already known to the Security Service (typically through surveillance or as a peripheral associate during previous investigations). Thirty-eight per cent of IROs were committed by individuals with previous criminal convictions (26%) or a history of police contact, including prior investigations, arrests and charges that did not result in a conviction or control order/TPIM (12%). Previous convictions were for a variety of offences – most commonly public disorder, theft-related, terrorism, assault, drug-related and offensive weapons or firearms offences. Over a third (36%, 9% overall) of previous convictions were for extremism- or terrorism-related activities; and almost half (46%, 12% overall) of individuals with prior convictions had previously received a custodial sentence. Other prior contact includes known public engagement in extremism-related activism (13%); being stopped or detained in relation to (suspected) travel for terrorist purposes (9%); known contact with the government counter-radicalisation programmes Prevent and Channel (5%); known mental health issues (4%); immigration offences/intended deportation or extradition (4%); and regulatory or financial investigation or sanction (1%).


Current status

The status of offenders with regard to their sentence as of December 2016 calculated using their sentence and time spent on remand. In 45% of IROs the individual has completed their sentence, while in 30% of IROs the individual is in detention. One in ten is serving their sentence in the community on licence or is within a suspended sentence order.


Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 07 March 2017


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