The recent Daily Mail furore over the recent BBC Newsnight tv interview with Taleban (or Taliban) leaders in Afghanistan appears to have missed a whole dimension of to the story.
Yesterday, the very lucky to still be in a job Home Office Minister of State for Policing and Security, Tony McNulty, provided Written Answers to several Parliamentary Questions about Proscribed Terrorist Groups. He managed to gloss over the fact that neither the Taleban in Afghanistan nor any Chechen terrorist groups have ever been, or are now, on the official list of Proscribed Terrorist Groups under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 3 Proscription
This means that it is still perfectly legal to belong to, or to claim to belong to or support, to arrange meetings of, or to wear distinctive clothing or uniforms associated with, the Taleban in the United Kingdom.
By virtue of the extra-territorial jurisdiction powers added to the Terrorism Act 2000, by the The Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 Part 2 Terrorist Acts and Threats: Jurisdiction which was brought into force in April 2004, and the pointless repetition of these same extra-territorial powers in the Terrorism Act 2006 section 17 Commission of offences abroad this also applies to any British citizens or residents overseas e.g. in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Home Secretary John Reid, and his predecessors Charles Clarke, David Blunkett and Jack Straw have all failed to Proscribe the Taleban, whilst maintaining the ban on obscurely named Irish terrorist groups, which were splinter factions of, or aliases for, Republican and Unionist terror groups e.g. the Red Hand Commando, which are no longer active.
This is despite the Terrorism Act 2006 section 21 Grounds of proscription and section 22 Name changes by proscribed organisations widening the scope to Proscribe groups or organisations which have never, themselves, actually been involved in any terrorist violence at all, but are only involved in the ill defined idea of "glorification".
Despite all these anti-terrorist legal powers, somebody in Whitehall appears to be protecting the Taliban.
Are there any Whitehall whistleblowers out there who will make public why the Taleban is being protected by the UK Government in this way ? Is it due to some unfathomable policy, or is it due to sheer incompetence ?
Until John Reid gets his finger out, and Proscribes the Taleban, he is simply uttering worthless NuLabour slogans, when he pretends to be "tough" on , say, "terrorist websites" or "denying the use of the internet to terrorists", claims which he repeated at the secretive G6 conference in Stratford on Avon this week.
This lack of a Ban on the Taleban, also makes a mockery of the the current ongoing Extradition Act 2003 saga of the British muslim IT technician Babar Ahmad, who , like the NatWest 3 bankers (David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew) or Gary McKinnon the computer hacker, is also facing extradition to the USA, without being able to challenge any prima facie evidence in a UK court. They all could and should, have been charged and tried, and if found guilty, convicted, here in the UK, which is where they physically were when they allegedly committed the offences they are accused of i.e. none of the extradition cases involve flight from custody or escape across international borders.
Babar Ahmad is accused, by the US authorities, of running websites hosted in the USA, which broke President Clinton's sanctions against Afghanistan, He is not facing any terrorism charges or any other charges in the UK, and it is unclear to us how the principle of dual criminality has been applied fairly in this case, since, neither the Taleban, nor any Chechen rebel groups, which his websites did support (without any evidence that they directly raised any money for these groups) were Proscribed Groups in the UK either circa 1999 - 2000 or today. There is obviously insufficient evidence to charge Babar Ahmad with any of the vast range of Terrorist Offences under UK law, and it is a disgrace that the UK and US Governments have been involved in "jurisdiction shopping".
Unlike the others we have mentioned, Babar Ahmad has never been granted bail, and has been languishing in prison since August 2004, awaiting extradition to the USA, where he faces the real prospect of ending up in Guantanamo Bay or under similar Military rather than Civilian judicial restrictions, which would preclude him getting a fair trial in the USA, for alleged offences, which have nothing to do with the USA, but with Afghanistan and Russia, neither of which countries have sought his extradition.