UK Counter Terrorism Report Warns Kidnaps On Rise And Ransoms Used For Financing

UK Counter Terrorism Report Warns Kidnaps On Rise And Ransoms Used For Financing

The first annual report on the UK’s strategy for counter-terrorism reveals that numbers kidnapped last year rose to 50, almost double that of 2010.

In addition to the rise in kidnaps, the report also warns of the increasing tactic behind them and estimates that at least $60 million paid in ransom payments has been used to finance terrorist groups since 2008.

Of the 150 foreign nationals who have been abducted in the last four years, the report states 13 have been Britons.

The report also reveals more than 500 would-be terrorists received support designed to prevent them from joining radical terrorist groups, through an initiative called the Channel Project — a $4.54 million (£3 million) a year UK government scheme designed to protect people at risk from radicalization.

Between January 2011 to December 2012, there were exactly 1,274 referrals, of which 243 people — including a few school children — were offered support through the project.

Charles Farr, director general of the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism, said that while the UK refuses to pay kidnap ransoms, other countries and private companies do.

The report also highlighted an increasing threat from Syria where al-Qaeda supporters are attracting hundreds of foreign fighters from Europe, including a number from the UK.

Mr Farr added: “As and when UK residents return here, there is a real risk that they may carry out attacks using the skills that they have developed overseas,” although he did add extremist groups mentioned in the report were not just Islamist but also included far-right groups looking to recruit supporters.

At the forthcoming G8 conference in Northern Ireland this summer, UK prime minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Teresa May are expected to urge member countries to vote in an international consensus to refuse to pay future ransoms when kidnap demands arise.

Mr Farr said he believes the Channel Project is an essential part of counter-terrorism, adding:

“If you look at the cost by comparison if those people had to be put through the criminal justice system or an investigation, it’s a fraction of the amount. This is quite apart from the damage it does to families and communities.”