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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 13:00 GMT
Britain's 'safe haven' past
Britain's reputation as a safe haven for political extremists could be transformed by the new Terrorism Act, which comes into force on Monday.
The UK has been a favoured destination for political exiles since the 1970s, when left-wing activists fled from Turkey.
Then in 1979 the Islamic revolution in Iran saw many exiled radicals head for Britain, where they sought political refuge.
Today the country has become an established home to moderate and extremist political organisations.
The government is also concerned about domestic terrorism, particularly from extreme animal rights activists who have sent letter bombs and planted car bombs targeting animal researchers.
David Capitanchik, an expert on terrorism based at Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University, said the new law had been discussed on the international stage for several years.
"There have been lots of complaints from countries like India about the freedom terrorists have to raise money, keep it in banks, and plan terrorist activity, here in London.
"And Britain wants to show it's not a safe haven."
He said the problem in this country were not the "bomb-throwers" but those working behind the scenes.
"The sort of people who have refuge here tend to be the organisers, financiers and political polemicists, not the activists."
He said a "helluva lot" of money was being raised for groups which could soon be outlawed under the new act.
A Home Office spokesman said such a list of banned groups was now under "careful consideration" but he could not say when it would be released.
Among the controversial groups known to have sympathisers in Britain are:
His group seeks to establish a "world Islamic state". Mr Mohammed says the group will simply go underground if it is banned.
An earlier version of this story inappropriately listed the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA) as one of the "controversial groups known to have sympathisers in Britain".
BBC News Online accepts that neither MIRA nor its spokesman Dr Al-Fagih have ever been involved with or espoused terrorism. BBC News Online apologises to Dr Al-Fagih for any distress that he may have suffered as a result of its publication.
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