Daily archives: August 18, 2006

Deadly Baby Bottles

One aspect of the alleged bomb plot which has provided a tremedous boost to the atavists, is the so-called “Baby bottle bomb”.

As the Daily Telegraph reported on August 14, “Scotland Yard are quizzing Abdula Ahmed, 25, and his 23 year old wife Cossor over suspicions that they were to use their baby’s bottle to hide a liquid bomb”.

This appalling and macabre idea is just what the rabid right needed to stoke up images of how sub-human Muslims are. Prepared to blow up their own baby! For example, John Howard, Australian Prime Minister:

“That would be an appalling reflection on the lack of humanity of that child’s parents.”

That is one of the more moderate quotes. I won’t repeat some of the stuff from US blogs.

One allegation on those blogs, that I can’t track down any original source for, is that the police found baby bottles containing residues of potentially bomb-making chemicals. This allegation has also been quoted to me in comments on this website.

Whether police really have said this, is a matter I can’t clarify. But if they have, consider this. I am looking at a bottle of Milton sterilising tablets. I, and generations of British parents, used these or similar chemicals to sterilise my baby’s feeding bottle. The instructions read thus:

Active Ingredient

Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate


Harmful if swallowed. When in contact with an acid, releases a toxic gas.

Hydrogen peroxide is also widely sold in pharmacists and can be used for various domestic purposes including as a disinfectent.

A very high proportion of baby bottles would show traces of potentially dangerous chemicals. It means nothing.

I hope that the allegation is untrue and this young family intended no such crime. But there is nothing uniquely Islamic about infanticide. Indeed, in the last two days the news bulletins have covered prominently the stories of a British man who allegedly jumped from a balcony clutching his two children in Crete, and the inquest on a woman who threw herself under her train with her nine year old child.

Horrible? Yes. Have Muslims wreaked more horror on the World, either historically or in the last five years, than those professing other religions? No.

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Tashkent tales of terror and tippling

Rather snooty review from the Indpendent’s diplomatic editor, who I feel may have been writing with an eye to preserving her FCO contacts. Incidentally, I think “Carry on up the Khyber” is a great film.


From The Independent

By Anne Penketh

Published: 11 August 2006

The Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan has one of the world’s most vicious regimes. President Islam Karimov, a Soviet-era survivor, would be right at the top of any league table of despots, along with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Kim Jong-Il of North Korea. Former UK ambassador Craig Murray, when he was Our Man in Tashkent, launched a one-man campaign to expose human-rights abuses in Uzbekistan. But his accusations that the Government was turning a blind eye to the use of torture brought him into conflict with support for the “war on terror”, and he was forced to resign after a smear campaign encompassing both his private and professional life that destroyed his health and his marriage. In this book, Murray tells his side of the story.

If you have already formed an opinion about the poor judgement of the kilt-wearing, self-described “boozed-up, randy Scot”, who left his long-suffering wife for an Uzbek dancer, the book will not change your mind. It is a shame, because Murray has a compelling tale about torture, skulduggery and bravery in the wilds of Uzbekistan. But the central theme risks being obscured by the revelations about his personal life. It is more Carry on up the Khyber than Murder in Samarkand.

A Foreign Office colleague is described as “the only man in the FCO who can drink me under the table”: a boast illustrated during Murray’s posting to Uzbekistan. On a typical evening’s drinking with an Uzbek official, the pair down considerable quantities of Georgian red wine before they each consume the best part of a bottle of vodka with mutual toasts. They then drive to the nearest fleshpot – “in any Western country he would have been 10 times over the drink-driving limit” – where they continue the evening with beer and yet more vodka until 4am.

Murray describes well the horrors of the US-backed Karimov regime – the death by boiling, police rapes and forced labour in the cotton fields. To his credit, his decision to confront the Uzbek authorities gained him their respect and made him a hero to the NGOs. “I was trying to change a massively entrenched dictatorship by hurling myself against it. What was the point?” Simply “that it had to be done. Think William Wallace. On the other hand, when they tortured him to death they forced his own testicles down his throat.”

This is indeed what happened to Murray, metaphorically speaking, as his diplomatic career was brought to an end. His witty and engaging narrative makes him look like the Candide of the cynical diplomatic world. In his fight against the system, the system won, despite his principled stand against New Labour’s craven alignment with the Bush administration. But spare a thought for his superiors, bombarded by e-mails and telegrams. Murray was an ambassador behaving like a politician – even, at times, like the local head of Human Rights Watch. What prospects for British diplomacy if everybody behaves like a loose cannon, whatever the moral justification?

Murray realises that, by protesting about the uselessness of intelligence obtained under torture, he had inadvertently uncovered the basis of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” programme. “That would explain the ferocity of the attacks aimed at removing me and destroying my reputation,” he says. The sad epilogue is that, since his departure, the human rights situation in Uzbekistan has worsened still further. In a major geo-political shift, President Karimov has realigned his government with Moscow – a much less demanding partner in the field of human rights.

Anne Penketh is diplomatic editor of ‘The Independent’

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