Date: 2006-08-14 02:40:32
**I think this is an indication that it is best not to let your kids play war games in the woods with their cap firing toy guns and walkie talkies anymore…** ================================ Training camps for terrorists in UK parks Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday August 14, 2006
The Guardian Suspected terrorists have mounted training exercises in some of the most popular areas of the national parks of England and Wales, the Guardian has learned. Undercover detectives have watched groups of up to 20 men, some with known terrorist connections, taking part in outdoor training in the Lake District and elsewhere. The exercises have gone on sporadically for several years, but some training camps are understood to have been run in the past 12 months. None is believed to be related to last week’s arrests for an alleged plot to blow up planes leaving Heathrow, but security sources told the Guardian that the use of training camps in remote areas of the UK was typical of terrorists seeking to build cells in this country. The disclosures came as the home secretary, John Reid, announced early this morning that the threat to the UK posed by terrorism had been downgraded from critical to severe. A statement from the Home Office said: “This means that a terrorist attack is still highly likely. But the intelligence assessment suggests that an attack is no longer imminent.” The change was made by the Joint Terrorism and Analysis Centre, the statement said. Following the change, the ban on hand luggage on flights from the UK was lifted. The Department of Transport said in a statement that passengers would now be allowed to carry one item of hand luggage on to flights. Twenty-three of the alleged plot suspects were still in custody last night, while Pakistani officials said there were clear links between a suspect arrested there in recent days and al-Qaida networks in Afghanistan. The revelation of the camps is likely to raise anxiety about the number of potential terrorists in the UK, though laws introduced in April allow prosecutors to seek a life sentence for anyone convicted of the offence. Surveillance teams watching the groups in the Lake District are thought to have gathered evidence to pass on to crown prosecutors. The Guardian knows the precise location of the camps where the group has been monitored in the Lake District, but cannot disclose it. The group, unaware it has been under surveillance, was not undergoing weapons or explosives training. However, police believe they have clear evidence the men were preparing a mission of some sort, not enjoying a camping holiday. The surveillance is thought to have been by detectives from Scotland Yard’s antiterrorism branch; security sources in London confirmed they were aware of it. The farmer whose land was used, and who knew nothing of the men’s intentions, declined to comment, while other locals said they were completely unaware of the training mission. “Frankly, I would have thought they would have stood out,” said one local resident. Shortly after the 7/7 attacks, a senior police officer said he was aware of training exercises in the UK’s national parks, but appeared to withdraw his remarks. Colin Cramphorn, chief constable of West Yorkshire, said camps would be found in the Yorkshire Dales and the western Highlands, as well as the Lakes. “They’re actually pure indoctrination camps,” he said in a media interview. The following day his press officer said he had been attempting merely to “make an analogy”, adding: “He was not talking about camps as physical locations.” As part of the inquiry into the July 7 attacks police have investigated a rafting trip to Bala in north Wales by two of the four suicide bombers made shortly before the attacks. The former imam at Finsbury Park mosque Abu Hamza, serving seven years for inciting murder and race hate, is also alleged to have organised camps in the Brecon Beacons, south Wales. Prisoners held at Guantánamo have also told counterterrorism officials that Abu Hamza organised exercises. The first, in 1997, are said to have been at a monastery near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and at a farm in Kent. Next year he is said to have run an exercise in the Brecon Beacons at which two men, who claimed to be former members of British special forces units, were paid to explain how to maintain firearms, and gave counter-surveillance training. According to the statements made by prisoners at Guantánamo, about ten of Abu Hamza’s followers attended the training course. Although human rights lawyers are deeply sceptical of these statements, the allegations of camps in Wales are understood to have been corroborated by number of other prisoners. When police raided Finsbury Park mosque in January 2003 they recovered found chemical suits, gas masks, a stun gun, knives, blank-firing handguns, maps and handheld radios. avast! Antivirus: Outbound message clean. Virus Database (VPS): 0632-2, 10/08/2006Tested on: 8/14/2006 02:41:18avast! – copyright (c) 2000-2006 ALWIL Software.