New anti-terror laws will target 'indirect incitement'

Three new offences will be contained in the Counter-Terrorism Bill, due to be published later this year.

A new offence of "indirect incitement" to terrorism aimed at restraining firebrand militants will make it a crime to glorify or condone terrorism if the intention is to incite people to take part in attacks.

Legislation outlawing "acts preparatory to terrorism" will make it a crime to plan or prepare for a terror act, including accessing terrorist websites. The offence would also cover people with intent to acquire chemicals or with instructions on how to produce a bomb. A further offence includes banning terrorist training and making it an offence to receive training in terror techniques in Britain or abroad.

Outlining the details of the legislation in a letter to his Conservative and Liberal Democrat opposite numbers, Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said an offence of acts preparatory to terrorism would help police intervene early to protect the public. He said, "This may mean the precise details of the planned terrorist act are not known, indeed the terrorists themselves may not have decided exactly how they will act."

The package of measures will also include legislation designed to close loopholes which hamper the work of police and security services. The Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said the new offence of indirect incitement to terrorism would cover those who endorsed terrorist acts with a strong intention to incite people to commit further atrocities.

She said direct incitement to carry out terror attacks was already outlawed, but less clear-cut indirect statements would be covered by the new laws. "For example, saying isn't it marvellous this has happened and these people are martyrs - not direct incitement to do something but something that could be construed by someone as giving an endorsement of terrorism."

She acknowledged that any prosecution would have to prove strong intent to incite terror acts and said ministers were treading a fine line.

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