[News] Doubts Hang Over Terror Plot

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Mon Aug 14 11:30:31 EDT 2006


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August 14, 2006


London Fog


Doubts Hang Over Terror Plot

By CHRISTOPHER REED

London.

Just weeks ago a task force of British police, some armed and others 
in chemical protection uniforms, raided an East London working home 
and arrested two brothers -- shooting one. It was part of an alleged 
"terrorist plot" to use the deadly substance ricin on an unsuspecting 
citizenry. It was also a fiasco, with no terrorist plot, no ricin, 
and no crime, except the shooting of an innocent man.

Yet now the public is asked to give grateful thanks to these same law 
enforcement officers who have, in the words of politicians and 
officials from both sides of the Atlantic, foiled another "terrorist 
plot". This one, based mainly in the similar London suburb of 
Walthamstow, would have caused "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" 
in "Britain's 9-11" at a time of "the most severe threat since the 
end of the second world war." Worse than Hitler!

We await the release of more facts about the 21 (or 23, or 24) young 
men and one (or two) young women who intended to blow up in mid-air 
nine (or 10 or 12) transatlantic airplanes "soon" or in the "next few 
days" or just "imminently". The two-score young Muslim Brits 
allegedly were preparing liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks, 
but actually nitroglycerin (or nitormethane, or triacetone 
triperoxide). However, one of these was so unstable it was likely to 
fail (as it did in another plot) or smelled so pungent a patrol dog 
would sniff it at half a mile, or was "almost impossible" to mix on 
an airplane.

Then we were told the British police had been tracking this plot for 
a "year" or "several months" but decided to pounce on the alleged 
perps last Wednesday because of "information" from a "source" in 
Pakistan. Why then? A good question, especially as we were also told 
none of the intended terrorist travellers had yet purchased an 
airline ticket. Odd...for at this time of year in Britain 
transatlantic tickets are not immediately available -- unless these 
were going to be First Class terrorists, perhaps comparing their 
last-minute arrangements over drinks in the VIP lounge?

But we must not be flippant about what president Bush called the 
"Islamic fascist" threat, which included, according to the Sunday 
Times of London, the Al-Quaida terrorist group leader in Britain, who 
was (allegedly) among those arrested. There have of course since 9-11 
been terrorist attacks in several countries that killed hundreds of 
people of a dozen or more nationalities.

Yet it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the authorities, 
from police to secret service agencies, the military, civilian 
security forces, and politicians including national leaders and those 
of cabinet rank, behave in these times in such a way as to erode any 
confidence or trust not only in their efficiency, but their good 
faith. It is almost as if they were encouraging the conspiracy theorists.

Indeed, the Arab press immediately expressed suspicions of official 
motives and explanations. Their media are poorly reported in Britain 
and America, so here is a summary offered by an Arab journalist 
colleague from the Al Quds al Arabi newspaper in London (from the Arabic):

(The latest terror plot) "is mostly intentionally exaggerated news. 
The aim is to serve the political goals of the Blair-Bush duo in 
their war against what they call 'Islamic terror'.

"UK government spokespeople claimed in the past that they unveiled 
terror cells and Blair has been using the policy of frightening his 
people every time he is faced with a political campaign against his 
policies of supporting the genocide of Arab and Muslim people. He and 
his accomplice Bush, desperately want to shift world attention from 
their fascist policies of conducting daily massacre against Arab and 
Muslim people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

"If it was a real terror plot as claimed by UK police, then Blair is 
responsible for putting his people in the danger zone because he runs 
with his accomplice Bush a fascist terror war against the children of 
Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, thus creating the best environment for 
extremists.

"If the UK police have been following up this plot for months, as was 
announced, why did they wait for such a long time to announce it -- 
until just when the majority of British public opinion was standing 
against Blair-Bush support of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon? 
We doubt the UK police claims because we know very well that faking 
such plots is a very easy practice by the USA and UK governments, who 
also faked the plot that Iraqi had arms of mass destruction.

"If these claims prove correct, we denounce those involved, who 
should be punished severely. But the real responsibility is on 
Bush-Blair, the axis of fascism and evil, who are targeting Arab and 
Islamic countries in their new crusade ... "

Nothing here claimed as fact is inaccurate. The opinions are a 
curious reversal of what Bush and Blair say about Muslim extremists 
(note the "evil axis"), but turned upon them. The allegation of 
fakery is posed -- not stated as fact -- but such a notion, held by 
many, earns little or no space in British-US media. Not even if you 
replace the word "fakery" with, for instance, "gross exaggeration." 
So this media presentation is no worse than what is offered by the 
English-language mainstream press; it could be argued that at least 
it also presents an alternative view.

Actually the "Blair-Bush duo" has been on vacation during the alleged 
plot disclosure. Blair's stand-in, the minister for home affairs, 
John Reid, spoke in London in a manner that the Arab newspaper would 
find familiar. He said police had caught the "main players" in the 
plot, without using the word "alleged" and thus possibly jeopardizing 
any trial by "prejudging" the evidence in Britain's far stricter 
rules of criminal justice proceedings. He also dismissed with 
contempt the charge that Britain's recent foreign incursions into 
Muslim nations had exacerbated extremist hatred of its policies.

More suspiciously, he suddenly changed his mid-week schedule to 
deliver an extraordinary speech, on Wednesday itself. Instead of an 
address about immigration and the justice system, he switched to 
"protecting the public" from "fascists with unconstrained capability" 
because of their "access to modern chemical, biological, and other 
means of mass destruction." He could have been talking about the new 
case -- but the arrests did not happen for another 12 hours. No 
official explanation was offered for the changed speech but 
"something changed" a ministry spokesman admitted, without saying what.

Reid is responsible for the police forces of Britain, and under his 
jurisdiction were the disgraceful events of two months ago in the 
neighborhood of Forest Gate, East London. The two brothers arrested 
were later released and no charges were brought. The police who shot 
and wounded one have been exonerated. Also exonerated is the police 
officer who shot and killed an innocent Brazilian immigrant aged 27 
on a subway train after an earlier "terrorist" raid in London last 
year. The man's parents are being forced to seek justice over their 
son's death through a private legal action. Meanwhile, the police 
officer in charge of the death raid has put in for her promotion, 
which is under "consideration."

The record gets worse. It is an established and much criticized fact 
in the US and elsewhere that the most suspicious kind of tips on 
alleged crimes come from a committed "informant" who clearly has 
reason to gain from the information. In the Forest Gate case the tip 
was from an informant, as it was in Wednesday's arrests. Overall, the 
Guardian of London reported recently, of the 701 people arrested 
under Britain's Terrorism Act since the September 11 2001 attacks, 
half have been released without charge and only 17 convicted. Only 
three of those cases relate to allegations of Islamist extremism. The 
US conviction record over 9-11 is even worse.

Add to this a lawyers' consensus that conspiracy charges are the 
hardest to prove and the riskiest to bring, with their strong 
potential for misuse. The reason is simple: Conspiring means mostly 
talking ("planning" police would call it) and that can mean something 
serious and intentional, or speculative and without possible 
completion. Yet in London's new case, conspiracy is likely to be the 
main grounds for any prosecution (although already one person has 
been released).

Not only the Arab papers but anyone with a cynical eye on politics in 
London and Washington cannot fail to notice how convenient was the 
timing of this raid. The bloody fiasco of Israeli aggression in 
Lebanon was removed from the headlines just as they became the worst. 
And, as Al Quds noted, mounting British protest and parliamentary 
threats of an official inquiry, were swept away for the rest of the week.

Britain's Tony Blair has also, like George W. Bush, already exploited 
fear of terrorism to pass repressive new legislation severely 
threatening or curtailing traditional personal and civic freedoms. He 
is currently seeking to extend to 90 days the period -- already 
lengthened once to 28 days -- during which terrorist suspects can be 
detained. Blair was prevented from doing that by his parliament, but 
now perhaps the mood might change...

A few Muslim journalists in London have been permittted to voice some 
concern over Britain's racial politics. One in the Sunday Times, 
Navid Akhtar, who investigated young Muslims' attitudes for a British 
television channel. He countered Reid's claim that terrorist attacks 
prior to 9-11 invalidated the charge of British foreign policy as an 
aggravation of Islamic anger.

He pointed out that most of those arrested seemed to be "fully 
integrated" into British society. Two were even converts. Most were 
also in their young to mid-twenties, so that "they have been caught 
up in the war on terror for much of their adult lives. They have seen 
their fellow Muslims being killed in wars conducted by their own 
government and they feel responsible....and live in a dual reality."

As a consequence, "a number of disillusioned youngsters feel more 
attached to the global community via the internet than they do to 
their immediate community on the ground."

This makes immediate nonsense of Reid's argument about 
British-American foreign policy. Yet the divisions of society come 
not from just that. They are spurred by the repellent enthusiasm with 
which the forces of "homeland security" pursue their dubious trade -- 
appearing almost to rejoice in the mayhem they believe is leveled against them.

Policemen in Britain usually avoid rhetoric and go to lengths to be 
dull even about the most spectacular crimes. They "detain" someone 
who "may help us in our inquiries" as they say about an arrest in a 
horrific ax murder. Their bold claims and extravagant talk in this 
case are grounds alone upon which to be deeply suspicious of the 
official version and the motives of those promoting it.

Christopher Reed usually reports from Japan but is in England on a 
visit. He can be contacted at 
<mailto:christopherreed at earthlink.net>christopherreed at earthlink.net


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