Who are Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir which the Home Secretary plans to ban?

The international Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir will be banned as a terrorist organisation, Home Secretary James Cleverly has said, as he described it as “antisemitic”.

An order will be put before Parliament which would make joining the organisation illegal in the UK under terror laws, the Home Office said.

Calls for the group, which is already banned in many countries, to be outlawed have grown since the October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas fighters.

Here the PA news agency looks at the group’s history and beliefs as well as what becoming a proscribed organisation would mean for the group.

– What does the group believe in?

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is Arabic for Party of Liberation, is an international Islamic fundamentalist group which seeks to unite the Muslim world under a theocratic caliphate based on Sharia law.

It was founded by Palestinian Islamic scholar Taqiuddin al-Nabhani al-Filastyni in east Jerusalem in 1953, while that part of the city was under Jordanian occupation.

Its leader in the UK, Dr Wahid Asif Shaida, was reported by the Mail on Sunday to have practised as a family GP in north London for more than 20 years.

According to the Counter-Extremism Project, the group says its goal is to peacefully convert Muslim nations into adopting Islamist political systems.

The group claims it only seeks to establish the caliphate in the Muslim world and not in western countries such as the UK.

– Why is it considered dangerous?

Despite claiming to be peaceful, people linked to the group have been associated with acts of terrorism.

It is already banned in at least 13 countries, including Muslim-majority Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

Germany, China and Russia have also outlawed the group.

It is claimed terrorists become more susceptible to violent extremism after initially becoming radicalised by the group.

Notorious fighter for so-called Islamic State Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed Jihadi John, is said to have attended events with HT speakers while at university.

Intelligence officers are said to have found HT literature in the UK home of Omar Sharif, who tried to blow up a bar in Tel Aviv in 2003.

– Why is the group not already banned?

Former prime minister Sir Tony Blair wanted to ban the group after the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005, and Lord Cameron pledged to outlaw the group before becoming Prime Minister in 2010.

David Anderson KC, who was previously the Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, submitted a report to Parliament in 2011 recommending against banning the group as it had not advocated violence.

The Home Office previously said the group does not advocate violence and cannot be banned simply for having unpopular ideas.

– Why have calls to ban the group grown in recent months?

The Government has come under increasing pressure to ban HT since the October 7 attacks.

Members have taken part in pro-Palestine rallies on the streets of London alongside other groups in recent months, after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A Hizb ut-Tahrir member could be seen shouting “jihad” in a video from an October march, but the Metropolitan Police said no offences were identified.

7/7 bombings anniversary
A plaque at Kings Cross Underground station remembers victims of the 7/7 bombings. Former prime minister Sir Tony Blair wanted to ban the group after the attack (Chris Radburn/PA)

Dr Shaida questioned the veracity of the October 7 attacks in a TalkTV interview with broadcaster Piers Morgan, and called Hamas a “resistance” movement.

Despite claiming not to be violent, its attitude towards Jews has come under scrutiny in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks.

In 2002, HT leaflets found in Denmark urged Muslims to kill Jews “wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have been [sic] turned you out”, the BBC reported.

In 2003, similar antisemitic rhetoric resulted in the group being banned from many university campuses in the UK and a complete ban of the group in Germany.

– What does it mean for a group to be deemed a proscribed organisation?

Proscription is the banning of an organisation based on an assessment that it commits or participates in, prepares for, promotes or encourages, or is otherwise concerned in terrorism, according to the Home Office.

It is a crime to belong to, express support, invite support for or arrange a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation.

Wearing clothing or carrying articles in public which arouse “reasonable suspicion” that the person doing so supports a proscribed organisation is also a criminal offence, as is publishing an image of an article such as a flag or logo in the same circumstances.

The maximum penalty for proscription offences is 14 years in prison, which has risen from 10 years since the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021 came into effect.

As of March 2023, 92 people have been charged with proscription-related offences as a primary offence in Great Britain, and 56 have been convicted.

The Government keeps the list of proscribed organisations under review and they can be unbanned.

Use of aliases by proscribed organisations is closely monitored and the use of a name not listed does not prevent the police and Crown Prosecution Service from taking action against someone for proscription offences.

– What groups are proscribed in the UK?

A total of 79 international and 14 Northern Ireland related terrorist organisations are proscribed.

The majority are Islamist groups including al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and al-Shabab.

Neo-Nazi groups such as National Action and separatists such as the Basque nationalist group ETA also appear on the list.

The Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, which has acted as a “malign proxy military force” for Moscow across the world, is among the most recent additions to the banned list.