HOME AFFAIRS – LISTS OF TERRORISTS – 13 October 2005

Dr Julian Lewis: I do not have any difficulty with what the Minister has said so far. For the purpose of clarity, I ask her what the situation is with groups such as the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which, for all I know, may be on a previous list. There is no evidence of them causing a direct threat to civilians in the United Kingdom, but they have an overt record of blowing up buses and finding other ways of killing civilians in Israel. Is it the case that that alone is enough to qualify an organisation of that sort to go on the list, given that British citizens often travel to Israel?

[The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Hazel Blears): I have tried to outline that the first requirement is that a group should be concerned in terrorism, and that can be promoting, encouraging or taking part in acts of terrorism. There is a series of other factors that the Secretary of State can take into account, and some will have greater weight than others. One of those factors is supporting the rest of the international community to tackle terrorism. Where groups are active in other countries it is vital that we act together to ensure that we do as much as we can to fight global terrorism. That is one of the factors that are taken into account.]

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Dr Lewis: The Minister is being extremely generous in giving way. A few moments ago, she said that all the organisations on the new list are believed to have some link with al-Qaeda. Reverting to my earlier question about organisations such as the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, does that mean that she is not putting on the list organisations that are a threat to British tourists abroad, but which are not known to have links with al-Qaeda?

[Hazel Blears: The criteria are not as rigid as the hon. Gentleman suggests. The groups on the list are of the highest priority at this time, but the list is not exhaustive and is kept under constant review. If we receive advice that another organisation has become a serious threat, we will revisit the matter. The criteria around groups that are or are not connected with al-Qaeda are not rigid, and if organisations pose a serious threat to the people of this country, either here or abroad, we will review the matter.]