The World Trade Center bombing on September 11th 2001 has not only impacted the United States but also the world. It was perhaps one of the darkest days in American history after World War II. Leaders from different countries condemned the heinous crime of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terror network who proudly acknowledged responsibility for the cowardice and barbaric acts. Former US President George W. Bush launched what he called “war on terrorism”.While calling on other countries to join his cause, President George W. Bush almost guaranteed success in their campaign against terrorism.
For his part, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the September 11 bombing was a turning point in history because of the danger it poses to the future of mankind. Great Britain was one of the first countries that reacted to the bombing being one of the closest allies of the United States.The impact of the 9/11 tragedy has exposed the weaknesses of US homeland security and defense policy. Great Britain felt that it was linked to the event to a lesser extent because 9 of the 11 terrorists suspected of executing the attacks found their way to the United States from Heathrow and Gatwick, aside from the findings that there were traces of terrorist attacks on British grounds.Sweeping changes in internal security and border control were initiated in Great Britain as part of the moves to prevent another terrorist attack similar to the 9/11 tragedy. The reforms initiated by the British government coincided with the United States policy reform measures regarding their homeland security. This paper will focus on the effects of 9/11 tragedy to the security reform measures initiated by Great Britain, relating their efforts in preventing terrorist attacks.
DiscussionsEffects of 911 to Great Britain’s law and enforcementAt the height of growing international terrorism in the 21st century, Great Britain has managed to succeed in the war against terrorism by enacting several anti-terrorism laws. Emergency legislation was implemented in the face of growing conflicts between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland as well as the terrorist attacks launched by the Irish Republican Army. In the year 2000, the enactment of the Terrorism Act made the emergency legislation directed to the IRA became null and void. The law likewise began legal measures against terrorism in the United Kingdom (Yogev, 2008).One of the provisions set forth in the Terrorism Act of 2000 was coming up with the definition of terrorism. Section 1 clearly states that a terrorist act is any threat aimed to promote political, religious, or ideological principles for the purpose of intimidating or frightening the public. The Terrorism Act of 2000 covers violence directed towards an individual, serious damage to properties, disruption of infrastructure, systems, or utilities, or any action that could jeopardize the health and safety of the public (Yogev, 2008).Section 11 of the ‘Terrorism Act of 2000’ lays down the special offenses that individuals or organizations that launch terrorist acts.
The provision also includes membership in a terrorist organization. The succeeding provision establishes the offenses for aiding a terrorist organization while Sections 15-18 imposes severe punishment to individuals funding terrorism. The law also provides for the arrest of individuals allegedly involved in terrorism as well as on matters concerning search and detention. Punishment includes indictment of the suspected individual for a period of 48 hours or up to another 7 days depending on the warrant of the judge (Yogev, 2008).In December 2001, the British Parliament enacted the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Act (ACTSA) that authorizes the British security forces to expand their powers in several aspects of counterterrorism such as detention, surveillance and investigation, and non-conventional terrorism.
Section 4 of the ACTSA granted powers to the Minister of Interior to order the administrative detention of foreign nationals believed to be an international terrorist and is a threat to national security (Yogev, 2008).However, in December 2004, the justices of the House of Lords, through a majority rule, called for the revocation of the law concerning detention because it was discriminatory to detain foreign nationals even if British citizens likewise pose danger to national security. Following the ruling, the Parliament rescinded the concerned provision and instead enacted the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2005 allowing restraining and surveillance orders to be issued against suspected terrorists. This law is still being enforced (Yogev, 2008).Results of anti-terrorism legislationThe Terrorism Act of 2006 initiated several amendments to the Terrorism Act of 2000 and included new violations to terrorism-related offenses. The new law included the prohibition of incitement to acts of terrorism as well as the disseminating any publication that has something to do with acts of terrorism. Under this law, training of terrorists and possession and use of radioactive and nuclear substances became punishable. In November 2007, Salma Malik, a British citizen, was charged for possessing recordings believed to be related to acts to commit terrorism (Yogev, 2008).
The latest development in British security reforms is the draft of the Counter-Terrorism Bill of 2008. Under this law, the British forces will be granted the power to detain suspected terrorists for 42 days as well as to gather information related to terrorism. However, a final draft is still to be made as there are still debates on the potential compromise of human rights to the granting of powers to the British security forces (Yogev, 2008).Another development in Great Britain after the 9/11 incident was the implementation of the British Identity Cards Act of 2006.
Under this new law, a central register will be established for the purpose of collecting complete fingerprints, digitized facial scans, iris scans, as well as present and past addresses of all British residents. This move of putting up a system of monitoring citizens using extensive and sophisticated technology is unprecedented (Bransten, 2006). However, the move is being duplicated in 25 member states of the European Union. It will cover citizens who are more than 12 years of age. The fingerprints will be included in the passports as well as biometric chips.
In Great Britain, the move was met by various reactions saying that it could be a move towards establishing a police state as well as a violation of civil liberties. Former British Prime Minister allayed fears saying that there is nothing to worry about this new “smart card.” (Bransten, 2006)One of the primary critics of this move is Gus Hosein from the London School of Economics. He is noted for his expertise on antiterrorism policies, technology, and privacy issues at the London School of Economics. According to him, blanket surveillance and not smart cards can stop terrorism.
For example, during the 2005 London public transport incident and attempts to bomb trans-Atlantic flights, ID cards did not help during the investigation of the incident. The suspected bombers had their IDs in their bags (Bransten, 2006). Likewise, there is a consensus among European commentators and politicians that in order to curb terrorism, there is a need to integrate Muslims into the mainstream and put an end to the rise of urban ghettoes (Bransten, 2006).From 2001-2003, the enforcement of the ATCSA resulted to the arrests of 16 foreign nationals. Two of them were given permission to leave Britain for France and Morocco. In 2004, nine of them questioned the legality of their detention in the British House of Lords.
This led to the revocation of the provision on administrative detention by the higher court. Aside from that, the authority to arrest provided for in the Terrorism Act of 2000 was still enforced. In 2003, the terms of arrest was extended from 7 to 14 days. In 2006, it was further extended to 28 days (Yogev, 2008).Findings and conclusionIt is found that the 9/11 tragedy has exposed weaknesses in the anti-terrorism measures of the United States. The rippling effect to global governments was to initiate security reform measures to strengthen their own counterterrorism strategies and anti-terrorism laws. Like Great Britain, it strengthens its internal security and the enactment of several anti-terrorism laws, although the British government had already set their sights on enhancing their fight against international terrorism.
The Terrorism Act of 2000 was the very first legislative action in the United Kingdom which focused on terrorism. The law provided for the arrest of individuals suspected of being involved in cuddling the terrorists. A more virulent anti-terrorism laws and enforcement are enacted.
Similarly, homeland security and immigration policies have been tightened, focusing on preventive and defensive measures against vulnerabilities. The reforms initiated by the British government coincided with the United States policy reform measures regarding the security of their citizens. The implementation of various laws resulted to several arrests, in which therefore compromise human rights that commonly complaint for illegal arrests and detentions of suspected individuals. The enactment of the British Identity Cards Act of 2006 has become extensive, but beneficial for securing the majority of citizenry.
What has then changed the Great Britain after 9/11 was the strengthening and empowering of law enforcement relating counterterrorism and upheld strong alliances amongst global governments. Additionally, Great Britain sustains political-economic convergence among countries of the European Union. In conclusion, Great Britain promotes stronger alliances that would supplant its vulnerability from continuing threats of international terrorist organizations. Thus, Great Britain has woke up from the learning experience of the United States in the 9/11 tragedy.