Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 4th March 2010.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 1:00 pm, 4th March 2010

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that observation, but the order does refer to a specific threat to British interests in Kenya, and it is only proper to assume that, given that it is their country, they should be the first port of call for any practical assistance that might be needed. So co-operation would be required, and it is that co-operation that I am seeking to probe.

On the issue of al-Shabaab's presence in the UK, is the Minister in a position to say anything more about the numbers of people involved? I appreciate that there are growing concerns about potential terrorist links between Somali organisations and the Somali diaspora in the UK. Can he give any further details about the assessment of al-Shabaab's presence in the UK and any evidence of organised travel from the UK to Somalia for the specific purpose of terrorist training?

As everyone in the House is aware, British and other allied servicemen and women are paying a very heavy price in Afghanistan to prevent the resurgence there of a regime that might play host to al-Qaeda. I expect that the House will share my concern that as we, and in particular the Pakistani armed forces, close off options for terrorist training in Afghanistan and Pakistan, al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist organisations may simply relocate? The current campaign of the Pakistani armed forces gives every indication of being of profound importance in this regard, and their apparent success should receive greater attention than it has done so far in the UK. Their success is very important to us. In the light of the consequences of that campaign in particular, will the Minister confirm that just as we now accept the need for more concerted efforts in Yemen, we cannot ignore the growing dimension of terrorist activity in the horn of Africa?

Finally, on the Somali diaspora, let me join the Minister in reassuring those in the Somali population in the United Kingdom, whether they are British citizens or not. As he will be aware, a significant number of Somalis living in Britain are here because they fled from the very people we are seeking to proscribe today. Does the Minister agree that when we proscribe organisations, we must be emphatic in saying that we are not labelling entire communities or nationalities?