Al Qaeda Orders UK Kidnappings and Beheadings

Al Qaeda has ordered “a series of kidnappings and beheadings” in the UK, David Leppard reports for the Sunday Times.

The “strategic” assassination instruction was issued by Al-Qaeda’s leaders in Pakistan and Iraq to dozens of their followers in this country. It was uncovered by MI5 last autumn, senior security sources say. As a result police are on standby for multiple attempts by terrorists to kidnap and then behead people across Britain. MI5 is conducting a counter-terrorism surveillance operation to prevent such an attack. The alleged attempt to kidnap and behead a Muslim soldier or soldiers in Birmingham was just the first of a series of planned attacks, security sources say.


One well placed source said: “Cells in the UK have been alerted to carry out this type of attack as opposed to the more sophisticated type of bombing in which you place a large number of volunteers at risk. All you need for a beheading is a bit of courage and a sharp knife.” The order to encourage “low-tech” assassinations is said to follow a review by senior Al-Qaeda planners after an alleged plot to smuggle bombs onto airlines was foiled by police last August.

His colleague, Sean Rayment, reports on the possible source of the intelligence.

Deep inside the heart of the “Green Zone”, the heavily fortified administrative compound in Baghdad, lies one of the most carefully guarded secrets of the war in Iraq. It is a cell from a small and anonymous British Army unit that goes by the deliberately meaningless name of the Joint Support Group (JSG), and it has proved to be one of the Coalition’s most effective and deadly weapons in the fight against terror. Its members – servicemen and women of all ranks recruited from all three of the Armed Forces – are trained to turn hardened terrorists into coalition spies using methods developed on the mean streets of Ulster during the Troubles, when the Army managed to infiltrate the IRA at almost every level. Since war broke out in Iraq in 2003, they have been responsible for running dozens of Iraqi double agents.

Working alongside the Special Air Service and the American Delta Force as part of the Baghdad-based counter-terrorist unit known as Task Force Black, they have supplied intelligence that has saved hundreds of lives and resulted in some of the most notable successes against the myriad terror groups fighting in Iraq. Only last week, intelligence from the JSG is understood to have led to a series of successful operations against Sunni militia groups in southern Baghdad.

Information obtained by the unit is also understood to have inspired one of the most successful operations carried out by Task Force Black, in November 2005, when SAS snipers shot dead three suicide bombers. The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq up until his death in June last year, followed intelligence obtained by the JSG, as did the rescue of the kidnapped peace campaigner, Norman Kember.

Meanwhile, Nick Britten and Nigel Bunyan of the Telegraph report that, as one might predict, British Muslim leaders are complaining about being “persecuted by the Government” and comparing the current political climate to Nazi Germany.

It seems the Brits are taking the terrorism threat quite seriously and taking reasonable and logical steps. At the same time, they’ve probably been too quick to hype big arrests only to have further investigation prove that the accused were innocent or that the plots were much less sophisticated and grand than at first suspected. One hopes we’re learning from those mistakes.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Good to see the Brits taking a stand. They have a very serious problem with radical Islam; much worse than we do here in the colonies. But hopefully, they can root out the bad guys without causing much inconvenience for the good guys.

  2. G.A.Phillips says:

    In the first place the Muslim believes as the Nazi does as does the liberal, in the second place if you practice evil as a way of life as does the true believer be it Muslim or liberal I am sorry to inform you that being persecuted for being evil and trying to spread such beliefs is a good thing. Dude would some on plz read some history books, and as for for the silly Muslims who where the allies of the the Nazi, what in the great blue hell did you think Hitler would have rewarded you with for your friendship and your support if he would Have won and almost did with the help of the likes of you? Me thinks that we would not have to worry about crazy-ss Muslims murdering good people every God-blessed day because their would not be any!