Find descriptions and information on the key terms used on this site below.
The bombing of Pan Am flight 103 took place on 21 December 1988. A flight from Frankfurt to Detroit exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all on the plane and 11 on the ground, 270 in total. It is the most deadly terrorist attack ever in the UK. Eventually after years of investigating, two Libyans were accused of committing the attack. In 2003, Muammar Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the attack as a requirement for UN sanctions on Libya to be lifted.
MOHAMMED SIDIQUE KHAN
Mohammed Sidique Khan was believed to be the leader of the group who committed the 7/7 bombings. Having been born in Leeds to Pakistani parents, he went on to complete a business degree at Leeds Metropolitan University. It is believed he was radicalised in 1999 and used a local Youth outreach centre as a means of recruitment. It has also been reported that he postponed the bombing from 6th July as he had to take his pregnant wife for a hospital appointment.
Shehzad Tanweer was one of the 7/7 bombers, committing the act and dying at the age of 22. Being of Pakistani heritage, he grew up in Leeds and attended University there before going to Pakistan to pursue Islamic studies. At the time of his death he had been working in his Dad's fish and chip shop. He had attended the Youth outreach program that Mohammed Sidique Khan had been recruiting from, and had attended the same mosque as him and Hasib Hussain.
Lindsay was one of the bombers who committed the 7/7 attacks. Having been born in Jamaica, he moved to the UK aged 5 and grew up in West Yorkshire. He converted to Islam in 2001 and married a Irish women who had also converted. His wife is now one of the most wanted Western Jihadists, although at the time of the bombings allegedly had no idea of the attacks and was not a radical herself.
Hasib Hussain was the son of Pakistani immigrants living in Leeds. At the time he committed the 7/7 attacks he was 18 years of age and a member of local cricket and football teams. Hussain had never indicated extremists beliefs, either at school or home. He came to know the other attackers through a Youth Access program and by visiting the same mosque as them.
OSAMA BIN LADEN
Osama Bin Laden is one of the most well-known terrorists to ever live. Born to a wealthy Saudi-Arabian family, Bin Laden became radicalised after fighting against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in 1979, and deciding a sharia rule in the Middle East was essential. He started funding jihad across the region, working in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Afghanistan. He was wanted by the US Government after bombing US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1988, the same year he formed Al Qaeda. He is most well known for masterminding the 9/11 attacks. In 2011, he was killed by US Special Forces in Pakistan.
ABU MUSAB AL-ZARQAWI
Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was the first leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He was responsible for a series of attacks, bombings and beheadings during the Iraq war and was known by his supporters as the 'sheikh of the slaughterers'. Al-Zarqawi, originally from Jordan, was responsible for a jihadist training camp in Afghanistan between 1999 and 2000. He was killed by US airstrike in 2006.
Tony Blair served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007, and was the leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. Blair ordered British troops into combat five times during his first six years of leadership, more than any other Prime Minister had done previously. In 2007, he was replaced as the leader of the party by Gordon Brown. Ever since, he has been questioned on the legitimacy of the invasion of Iraq and on the role Britain played in the War on Terror.
2006 TERRORISM BILL
The 2006 Terrorism Bill proposed changes to policies and policing as a reaction to the events of 7/7. Subsequently, the 2006 Terrorism Act was passed on 30th March 2006. Some of its terms have been controversial, such as the 90 day detention policy, where those suspected of terrorism but not yet officially charged can be detained for up to 90 days. Many criticised this based on the human right to liberty unless charged as a criminal. Tony Blair personally argued for the bill and all its terms, refusing to compromise on the length of detention time. Despite this, government were defeated on the 90-day detention, and it was instead lowered to 28 days. This defeat led to doubts on Blair's ability to muster support within his own government.
2007 LONDON BOMBING
On 29th June 2007, two car bombs were found but were disabled before they could be detonated. One was found in Haymarket and the other near Cockspur Street. Gordon Brown had been newly appointed as Prime Minister two days previously, but Downing Street dismissed a link. Bilal Abdullah, who had been arrested in relation to the Glasgow Attack, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in both incidents, and is currently serving life imprisonment, at a minimum of 32 years.
Bilal Abdullah is a convicted terrorist, responsible for both the Glasgow Attack and the 2007 London Bombing, alongside Kafeel Ahmed. Abdullah lived just outside of Glasgow and qualified as a doctor in Baghdad in 2004, before becoming a registered doctor in the UK in 2006. He had links to the Sunni Wahabist sect and other radical Islamic groups. He had come to the attention of security services after visiting Islamist websites.
Kafeel Ahmed was an accomplice of Bilal Abdullah in the Glasgow Attack and 2007 London Bombing. Ahmed was an aeronautical engineer and an Indian Muslim born in Bangalore, India, before being raised in Saudi Arabia. Ahmed was driving the Jeep Cherokee as it rammed into the terminal at Glasgow Airport and set ablaze. He died from third degree burns later. A suicide note left behind indicated that both men intended to die in the attack.
SHIA DEATH SQUAD
A death squad is a group whose primary function is to carry out killings or forced disappearances without permission from a judge or court of law as part of genocide, revolutionary terror, political repression or ethnic cleansing. Death squads are not the same as assassinations, due to the much larger number of victims and the permanent organization of the squad. Death squads in the Iraqi Civil War were often made up of disgruntled Shi’a and members of security forces who aimed to kill Sunnis in reaction to the insurgency against the Shi’a-dominated government.
Depleted Uranium is uranium with a lower content of the fissile isotope U than natural uranium. Civilian uses include radiation therapy, radiation shielding, radiography equipment, and it is used by militaries in armour plating and armour-piercing projectiles. Depleted uranium often arises as a by-product of the production of enriched uranium for fuel in nuclear reactors and in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
Stephen Timms is a member of the Labour Party and a British politician who served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2006 to 2007. He was a Member of Parliament for East Ham and served the New Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. In May 2010, Timms was the target of an attempted murder by Islamic terrorist Roshonara Choudhry who stabbed him twice in the abdomen. Choudhry was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Roshonara Choudhry is the woman who attacked Stephen Timms during a constituency surgery in 2010. She was 21 at the time of the attack. and had recently dropped out of a degree in English and Communications at King’s College, London. In a police interview, she said that she found the university to be anti-Islamic due to their counter-radicalisation programmes. Choudhry became inspired to attack Timms through lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki. Choudhry did not attend her trail for attempted murder, stating that she did not recognise the court’s jurisdiction. She is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum of 15 years.
Al-Qaeda translates to ‘the base’ and is a militant Sunni Islamist multi-national terrorist organization founded by Osama Bin Laden in 1988. Al-Qaeda members believe that a Christian-Jewish alliance conspires to destroy Islam, and opposes ‘man-made’ laws, instead advocating to replace them with a strict form of sharia law. The group also believes that killing non-combatants is religiously sanctioned. The United Nations Security Council, the United Nations Security Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union as well as various countries have designated it as a terrorist group. Al-Qaeda were behind the 1998 United States embassy bombings, the September 11 attacks and the 2002 Bali bombings. In response to the September 11 attacks, the US launched the War on Terror.
Revolution Muslim was an organization advocating for the removal of current rulers of Muslim-majority nations in order to establish a traditional Islamic state and end what they considered ‘Western imperialism’. The organisation was based in New York City and founded by two American Muslim men, Yousef Al-Khattab and Jesse Curtis Morton, in 2007. They operated through street protests and preaching and online through their website ‘RevolutionMuslim.com’. In November 2010, their website was shut down after the arrest of the leaders. Morton was released in 2015, Al-Khattab in 2016, and Zachary Adam Chesser, a third leader, is scheduled for release in 2032.
Lee Rigby was a British Army soldier of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Rigby had served in Cyprus, Germany and Afghanistan before assisting with duties at the Tower of London. He was killed by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale on 22nd May 2013 outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London. Adebolajo and Adebowale ran him down with a car before using knives and a cleaver to stab and hack him to death. The attackers explained that their motive was to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British army.
Michael Adebolajo was born in Lambeth into a Christian family, and later converted to Islam in 2003. He studied sociology at University of Greenwich and was involved in radical Islamist activities, having been linked to the outlawed Islamist group al-Muhajiroun. In 2013, Adebolajo along with Adebowale attacked and killed British soldier Lee Rigby to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British army.
Michael Adebowale studied at the University of Greenwich alongside Michael Adebolajo. Adebowale converted to Islam in 2009 and in 2013, assisted in the murder of Lee Rigby, a British soldier, outside of the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. He was found guilty of the murder of Lee Rigby and given a 45-year jail sentence.
Sharia Law is part of the Islamic tradition and is a religious law. The term sharīʿah in Arabic refers to God’s immutable, divine law, which is different from fiqh, the human interpretation of the law. The modern application of Sharia Law is a contested area of debate between Muslim fundamentalists and modernists.
BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY
The British National Party is a fascist, far-right, political party in the UK founded in 1982. Its current leader is Adam Walker and it is headquartered in Cumbria. It has no elected representatives at any level of government. The party reached its biggest success in the 2000s having over fifty seats in local government, one seat on the London Assembly and two Members of the European Parliament. Up until 2009, it had a whites-only policy and adheres to biological racist ideas – that there is a biologically distinct white-skinned “British race” which was one branch of the wider Nordic race, a view similar to early fascists such as Adolf Hitler.
Khalid Masood was a jihadist who was responsible for the 2017 Westminster attack. On 22 March 2017, Masood drove a car into the pavement on the south side of Westminster bridge, injuring more than 50 people and killing four. He then proceeded to crash the car into the perimeter fence of the palace, and fatally stab an unarmed police officer. He was shot by an armed police officer and died at the scene. Masood was born in Kent and brought up in Rye, East Sussex, before moving to the West Midlands. He had been described by the MI5 as a ‘peripheral figure’ in 2010 but it was decided that he did not pose a threat. He had not been previously convicted of any terrorism offences. Most jihadi terrorists are under 30, whereas Masood was atypical in that he was 52.
Jihad is an Arabic term meaning ‘struggling’ or ‘strive’. In Islam, it refers to any effort to make your life conform with God’s guidance. This can be a struggle against your own evil inclinations, or efforts towards the moral improvement of your ummah, or community. In fundamental Islamic law, the term refers to an armed struggle against those who are not Muslims, but many modernist Islamic scholars emphasise the frequency of the term Jihad in the Quran without military connotations. The term has gained attention in recent years due to its use by terrorist efforts.
PALACE OF WESTMINSTER
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is a meeting place for the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two parliaments of the United Kingdom. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster in central London. It was the location of an attack by Khalid Masood on 22nd March 2017.
MI5 is the domestic counter-intelligence and security agency of the United Kingdom. It is directed by the Joint Intelligence Committee and is bound by the Security Service Act 1989. The service works towards counter-terrorism and espionage within the UK and protects British parliamentary democracy and economic interests.
Imam is a leadership position within Islam. It is used as the title of a worship leader in a mosque and within Sunni Muslim communities. Imams provide religious guidance and serve as community leaders, leading Islamic worship services. For Shi’a Muslims, Imams are leaders of the Islamic community after the Prophet Muhammad.
Muammar Gaddafi was a revolutionary, soldier and politician who was the leader of Libya from 1969 to 2011. Initially he ruled as Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic, but after 1977 he was the 'Brotherly Leader' of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Throughout this time he remained as head of the military, suppressing dissent throughout his rule. Clearly, he ruled as a dictator across four decades, he was subject to a cult of personality, although he was consistently protested against due to his social and economic reforms. His administration consistently violated human rights and financed global terrorism.
Islamic State, who are also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh (depending on where they are operating) are a Islamic extremist group who operate as an unrecognised state. The United Nations have designated them a terrorist organisation. The group were formed in 1999 and pledged their allegiance to Al Qaeda. They took part in the Insurgency of Iraq in 2003. Islamic State are known worldwide for their brutal means of rule and control, they often publish videos of beheadings, beatings and other types of executions.
A caliphate is an Islamic State which presumes rule over all Muslim people. The caliphate is under the leadership of a Caliph, supposedly a person who is considered the successor of the Prophet Muhammed.