8 July, 2013
Membership of two extremist groups will become a criminal offence under planned changes to UK terror laws.Home Secretary Theresa May wants to outlaw UK-based Minbar Ansar Deen and Nigeria-based Boko Haram.An order to ban the radical Islamist organisations from operating in the UK will take effect from midnight on Friday if it is approved by Parliament.
Minbar Ansar Deen, also known as Ansar
al-Sharia UK, allegedly promotes
terrorism by distributing content through its online forum. It encourages individuals to travel overseas to engage in extremist activity,specifically fighting, the Home Office said.
The Government said banning Boko
Haram, which aspires to establish Islamic law in Nigeria, would prevent the group from operating in the UK and give the police powers to tackle any UK-based support for the group. Boko Haram – meaning Western education is banned – has been blamed for a number of attacks across northern Nigeria, which have left at least 1,600 dead since 2010. All schools in Nigeria’s Yobe state were closed on Monday after at least 29
students and a teacher were killed in an
attack on a boarding school.
Decisions to proscribe the Islamist
organisations in the UK are understood to be unrelated to the murder of soldier
Drummer Lee Rigby near the Army
barracks in Woolwich,southeast London, in May. The penalties for proscription offences can be a maximum of 10 years in prison or a £5,000 fine.
Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Home
Secretary can proscribe an organisation if it is believed to be connected to terrorism. But a high threshold which takes into account the threat the group poses to the UK has to be met before the minister can go ahead. If approved by Parliament, it will be a criminal offence to belong to or back Minbar Ansar Deen or Boko Haram, as well as arrange meetings or wear clothing in support of them.
Other proscribed groups include al Qaeda, Al Shabaab and Islam4UK, which was led by controversial preacher Anjem Choudary before it was banned.