Calls for Britain to ban group that took part in October 7 terror attack

Pressure on government to outlaw the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine


The PFLP flag is flown prior to the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Atletico Madrid at Celtic Park Stadium on October 25, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Calls are mounting for the UK to proscribe the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The group was one of eight different armed Palestinian factions that claimed partial responsibility for October 7, publishing photos and videos of its members infiltrating IDF outposts in southern Israel and celebrating the massacre.

Banned in the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union, the self-styled “revolutionary socialist” group gained notoriety for carrying out plane hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s. Under EU law, the PFLP was subject to financial sanctions in the UK, but that no longer applies due to a Brexit loophole.

The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council wrote to the government in 2018 warning that unless the Treasury took action, the PFLP, as well as the political wing of Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, would benefit from the loophole.

While Hamas was proscribed in 2021, the PFLP and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade (AAMB) are both still legal in the UK. A Board of Deputies spokesperson said: “The PFLP and the AAMB were not on the UK’s list of proscribed terror organisations when the country left the EU, creating a gap in enforcement. We have urged for some time that this situation should be remedied. We sincerely hope that the government will now act to close the loophole opened up by Brexit and re-proscribe the PFLP and AAMB.”

A spokesperson for the CST told the JC: “The PFLP has a long record of terrorism, internationally in the past and up to the present day in Israel and the West Bank. They boasted of taking part in the October 7 terror attack and it is galling to see their flag being flown freely on anti-Israel protests since then here in Britain. We urged the Home Office in October last year to proscribe the PFLP and all Palestinian armed groups that took part in the October 7 massacres and we hope they will take action soon.”

Unlike Islamic fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was proscribed by the government in January, there is no evidence that PFLP has a political infrastructure in the UK, but its logo has been seen on campuses, at marches and on T-shirts. The PFLP logo was flown at a Celtic football match in October by “ultra” fan group the Green Brigade. Football rules prohibit political symbols being shown at matches and Celtic was fined by Uefa, the governing body of football in Europe.

In 2019, PFLP propaganda was found at the University of Essex. Posters stamped with the PFLP logo and communist military iconography stated “we are all freedom fighters” and condemned “Zionism, fascism and capitalism”.

In Arabic, they said, “We take up arms to continue the struggle until victory.” The posters were seen on campus corridors around the same time that a Jewish student society (JSoc) was being formed at the university. Responding to a recent Freedom of Information request made by advocacy group We Believe in Israel, the university said it had investigated the posters. Other public authorities approached with an FOI request declined to provide evidence, citing security concerns.

The Union of Jewish Students said reports of support for the PFLP on British campuses were “deeply concerning”.

A UJS spokesman said: “Action must be taken to provide universities with the tools to eliminate support for the PFLP and root out extremism on campus wherever it may come from.”

PFLP member Leila Khaled, who hijacked planes in 1969 and 1970 and who in February described Hamas as “freedom fighters”, was booked to speak at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign fundraiser earlier this month.

PSC distanced itself from the event, which was due to be hosted by the West Midlands branch of the campaign group.

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