- "The threat to the UK remains from homegrown terrorism, and is heavily youth- and male-oriented with British nationals prevalent among offenders." — Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015).
- "The increased prevalence of smaller cells and individualistic offending, suggests a rise in terrorism cases that feature shorter lead times to offending and fewer opportunities for identification." — Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015).
- "While analysis of pre-offense behaviors shows that there is no one profile for engagement with Islamism-inspired terrorism, some trends can be identified. Offenders commonly consumed extremist and/or instructional material prior to, or as part of, their offending. Much of the pro-jihadist material accessed promotes 'them and us' thinking, dehumanization of the enemy, and attitudes that justify offending." — Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015).
- "Analysis of common sites of inspiration and facilitation appears to corroborate current counter-radicalization policy priorities such as restricting terrorist and violent extremist material on the internet, supporting at-risk sectors and empowering families to safeguard against extremism." — Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015).
The 1,000-page report — "Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015)" — was published on March 5 by the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank based in London.
The report, authored by terrorism researcher Hanna Stuart, identifies, profiles and analyzes all 269 Islamism-inspired terrorism convictions and suicide attacks in the United Kingdom between 1998 and 2015.
The report also compares data between 1998 and 2010, a period when al-Qaeda reached its zenith, and 2011 and 2015, the period following the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, the uprisings known as the Arab Spring, and the rise of the Islamic State in 2014.
The report shows that young British males were the most prevalent offenders, but that involvement by British females nearly tripled in recent years.
The report found little to no correlation between involvement in Islamic terrorism and educational achievement and employment status. In addition, most of the offenders were based in London and Birmingham, and a majority were living at their family homes with parents, siblings, spouses and/or children. "These findings challenge common stereotypes of terrorists as well-educated and middle-class or as isolated loners," according to the report.
While most offenders were raised as Muslim, one in six was a convert. Three-quarters of offenders were previously known to the authorities; one-quarter had a previous criminal conviction. One in five offenders received terrorist training abroad or engaged in combat prior to arrest.
The report cites the internet as a major source for the inspiration of offenders. At the same time, most offenders belonged to wider networks, formed in person and online, with friends and families. Only one in ten offenses was carried out by someone who acted entirely alone and had no extremist connections.
"The increased prevalence of smaller cells and individualistic offending, suggests a rise in terrorism cases that feature shorter lead times to offending and fewer opportunities for identification," the report warns.
The report's main findings include:
- The overwhelming majority (93%) of Islamism-related offenses
(IROs) were committed by males. Females accounted for 4% of IROs between
1998 and 2010 and 11% of IROs between 2011 and 2015 — an increase of
- IROs were carried out by individuals between the ages of 14 and
52 years. Forty-six percent of 2011–2015 offenses were committed by
individuals aged under 25, a small increase from 42% for 1998–2010
offenses. The most common age ranges overall, and across both time
periods, were 21–24 and 25–29.
- Seventy-two percent of IROs were committed by British nationals
or individuals holding dual British nationality. There was almost no
difference between the earlier and later time periods (72% and 71%
- More than half (52%) of IROs were committed by individuals of
South Asian ancestry, i.e., British-Pakistanis (25%) and
British-Bangladeshis (8%). Other offenders had family ties to countries
in Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
- Forty-seven percent of IROs were committed by individuals who
were born in the UK. More than a third (38%) of those born outside of
the UK or of unspecified birthplace were raised (at some point before
the age of 18) in the UK. As a result, 67% of IROs were committed by
individuals who were either born or raised in the UK.
- London was the place of residence of 43% of IROs, followed by
West Midlands, with 18%. Of the latter, 80% (14% overall) were in
Birmingham. The third most common region was North West England, with
10% of IROs. Together these three regions contained the residences in
almost three-quarters (72%) of cases. No other region contained 10% of
- Across both time periods, East London was home to half (50%) of
London-based offenders, while the three most common boroughs — Tower
Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest — contained the offenders' residence
in 38% of all Londoner IROs (and 16% overall).
- Just over a quarter (26%) of individuals who committed IROs had
some form of higher education. More than a third (36%) had studied for
or achieved secondary level, further education or vocational
qualifications, while in 38% of cases, attainment is unspecified.
- Thirty-five percent of IROs were committed by individuals in
employment; a further 12% were full-time students. Therefore, almost
half (47%) of IROs were committed by those in either employment or
- Thirty-eight percent of IROs were committed by individuals who
were unemployed. Of these, almost one-quarter (24%, 9% overall) were in
or had recently been released from detention or had recently left
full-time education or returned from months-long foreign travel.
- Sixteen percent of IROs were committed by individuals known to
have converted to Islam. This is more than four times higher than the
estimated proportion of converts among the Muslim population at the
- More than half (55%) of IROs were committed by individuals either
living with family, such as with a partner and/or children (28%), or
living at their family home, such as with parents and siblings (27%).
- One in five IROs (21%) was committed by an individual whose
living arrangements and family circumstances were additionally linked to
terrorism or a terrorism investigation. In 55% of these cases,
individuals were convicted alongside relatives and/or a partner or they
were part of the same cell.
- Female offenders were more than twice as likely as male offenders
to be living with a partner, relative or individual who is also
involved in terrorism (50% and 19% respectively).
- Seventy-six percent of IROs were committed by individuals who
were previously known to the authorities; 38% were committed by
individuals with previous criminal convictions. More than a third (36%,
9% overall) of previous convictions were for extremism- or
terrorism-related activities; almost half (46%, 12% overall) of
individuals with prior convictions had previously received a prison
- A total of 386 charges were successfully prosecuted in 264
convictions between 1998 and 2015. The most common offenses were
preparation for acts of terrorism (27%) and possession/collection of
information useful for terrorism (14%), followed by fundraising offenses
(8%), dissemination of terrorist publications and conspiracy to murder
(both 6%) as well as conspiracy to cause explosions and assisting
offenders (both 5%).
- More than two-thirds (69%) of IROs were secured under terrorism
legislation; just over half (54%) of defendants pled guilty. 2011–2015
defendants pled guilty (64%) more often than 1998–2010 defendants (47%).
- The most common sentence was between one year and four years
(35%), followed by sentences of between four years and ten years (27%),
between ten years and 20 years (15%), and life sentences (13%).
- Of the 33 individuals with a life sentence, 30 attempted or
planned to kill others, either in indiscriminate bomb attacks or
targeted knife attacks, and received minimum terms ranging from 14 years
- Individuals who committed, attempted or were planning attacks
were responsible for 37% of IROs. Among these offenses, bombing was the
most commonly featured type of attack (74%). Proportionally, offenses
involving beheadings or stabbings increased eleven-fold across the two
time periods, from 4% between 1998 and 2010, to 44% between 2011 and
- Individuals involved in facilitating acts of terrorism, either by
fundraising or recruiting or by providing material goods or
documentation, or ideologues who encouraged terrorist acts through
incitement or by disseminating terrorist publications, were responsible
for one-third (33%) of IROs.
- Individuals who demonstrated an interest in terrorism, but whose
plans were not advanced enough to pose an imminent threat were
responsible for 18% of IROs.
- Individuals whose offenses related to travel (attempted or
planned) for terrorist purposes, namely to receive terrorist training or
to engage in fighting overseas, were responsible for 12% of IROs.
Travel-related IROs increased four-fold across the two time periods
(from 5% to 21%).
- Civilian targets were a feature in one-third (33%) of offenses.
Infrastructure sectors and institutions, mostly transportation, were a
feature in just under one-third (32%) of offenses.
- Urban soft targets (areas into which large numbers of citizens
regularly gather for usual activities or special events) were among the
intended targets for attack in 31% of offenses. Military targets both
overseas (including British or coalition forces) and at home (military
bases and processions as well as soldiers) were a feature in almost a
quarter (24%) of offenses.
- A total of 117 IROs were committed by individuals directly linked
to one or more proscribed terrorist organizations. Of these, 56% were
directly linked to the UK-based group al-Muhajiroun (25% overall), 24%
were linked to al-Qaeda (10% overall) and 11% were linked to Islamic
State (5% overall).
- One fifth (22%) of IROs were committed by individuals who were
known or suspected to have attended training camps for terrorist
purposes; the majority (78%) were not. Of those with training, most
(78%) had trained at camps abroad, 19% had trained at UK-based camps,
and in two cases (3%) the location was unspecified.
"The threat to the UK remains from homegrown terrorism, and is heavily youth- and male-oriented with British nationals prevalent among offenders....
"While analysis of pre-offense behaviors shows that there is no one profile for engagement with Islamism-inspired terrorism, some trends can be identified. Offenders commonly consumed extremist and/or instructional material prior to, or as part of, their offending. Much of the pro-jihadist material accessed promotes 'them and us' thinking, dehumanization of the enemy, and attitudes that justify offending....
"Analysis of common sites of inspiration and facilitation appears to corroborate current counter-radicalization policy priorities such as restricting terrorist and violent extremist material on the internet, supporting at-risk sectors and empowering families to safeguard against extremism."
On May 22, 2013, British soldier Lee Rigby (right, holding his son) was murdered outside London's Woolwich Barracks by Islamists Michael Adebolajo (left) and Michael Adebowale, who are converts to Islam. Speaking into a camera just after the murder, Adebolajo said: "we swear by the almighty Allah, that we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone... You people will never be safe."