Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:36 pm on 4th March 2010.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Minister of State (Home Office) (Crime and Policing) 12:36 pm, 4th March 2010

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I was going to come on to this point later in my speech, but I shall happily cover it now. He will know that the organisation, al-Shabaab, is currently and actively concerned with terrorist activity. I cannot go into the details of every aspect, because we are aware of matters that we cannot disclose to the House for a range of reasons, but the group has waged a violent campaign against the Somali Transitional Federal Government, and against the African Union peacekeeping troops in Somalia since the beginning of 2007. It has undertaken a range of terrorist tactics, such as suicide operations and roadside bombings, and mounted a range of operations since 2007, including in June 2009 in Beledweyne, one of the largest cities in Somalia, a suicide car bomb attack that killed the transitional Government's Security Minister and, as a random act of terrorism, about 30 other people in the process.

The organisation has launched terrorist attacks outside areas under its control, most notably in October 2008, when five co-ordinated suicide attacks were mounted against targets in Somaliland and Puntland, including the Ethiopian embassy, the presidential palace and the United Nations Development Programme compound. In September last year, al-Shabaab released a video statement in which it pledged its allegiance to Osama bin Laden. As recently as 2 February 2010, it announced its intention to combine the jihad in the Horn of Africa with the global jihad led by al-Qaeda. I hope that that helps to give my right hon. Friend a flavour of some of our concerns in relation to the international operation of al-Shabaab.