Daily archives: September 10, 2006

“Murder in Samarkand” confiscated by airport staff – again

From The Guardian

The war on terror moves in mysterious ways. Last month, not long after the allegedly planned terrorist attacks on multiple jetliners over the Atlantic were foiled, Ben Paarman turned up at Luton airport for a flight to Berlin. Having forgotten to remove toiletries from his hand luggage, he was hauled over for further inspection, and two books were discovered. A German novel passed without comment, but Murder in Samarkand, Craig Murray’s memoir of his incident-strewn stint as British ambassador to Uzbekistan, didn’t. “‘Is that about terrorism?’ asked the lady that examined my onboard luggage,” wrote Paarman on neweurasia.net, a collection of blogs by and about Central Asians. “‘Humm, well, it contains mentions of that, but it’s about your former ambassador to Uzbekistan and more about diplomacy,’ I replied politely. ‘Does it have al-Qaeda in it?’ I looked a bit confused. ‘Well, I have to check this with my manager, the rest of your stuff is fine, though.'” The manager arrived, asked Paarman where he got the book (Waterstone’s, Islington), then pronounced: “I am afraid you cannot take this onboard, Sir.” The book was duly confiscated. This much has already been mentioned, in this paper. But then it happened again.

On Monday Gillian Davison, an actress on her way to New York, reported on the blog that she had had her copy of the same book confiscated at Heathrow. Murray has offered to replace Paarman’s copy – and consulted lawyers. “The lawyers said that the first time it might have been just a mistake, not policy,” he replied this week, to an email from the Guardian asking how far this course of action had gone, “but twice at two different airports looks like a policy. We are strongly minded to go to the High Court for an injunction under the Human Rights Act.”

View with comments

BRITAIN: The mysterious case of the disappearing ‘terror’ plots

From Green Left Review

By Norm Dixon

Readers of Britain’s newspapers are regularly accosted with blood-curdling banner headlines screaming of the ‘thwarting’ of potentially catastrophic ‘terror plots’, of ‘Islamic fanatics’ being apprehended in daring midnight raids. ‘Chilling’ details, ‘revealed’ by anonymous police and government ‘sources’, underline why ‘we’ must accept a ‘trade-off’ between civil liberties and ‘security’, the editorials assure an apprehensive populace. Months or even years later, however, news that many of the ‘plots’ never actually existed is buried behind the latest sex scandal or exploitative ‘expose’ ‘ if reported at all.

On August 10, deputy commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Paul Stephenson declared that a plan to ’cause untold death and destruction’ and ‘mass murder on an unimaginable scale’ had been foiled with the arrest of 24 people. ‘We believe that the terrorists’ aim was to smuggle explosives onto planes in hand luggage to detonate them in flight’, Stephenson alleged. Britain’s and the world’s mass media trumpeted the claims.

However, within days the dramatic case against the detainees as told to the media by anonymous US and British government and police ‘sources’ began to unravel. The claim that an attack was ‘imminent’ was false. No reservations had been made or airline tickets purchased by the 10 charged with serious terrorism offences; several did not even have passports. Apparently, just one had used the internet to check flight schedules recently. There were no bombs.

The assertion that the detainees intended to destroy 10-12 aircraft was ‘speculative and exaggerated’, a British official admitted to the August 28 New York Times. Claims of a convoluted ‘Pakistani connection’ between the plotters and al Qaeda have disappeared. The possibility of successfully concocting ‘liquid bombs’ from household products in a plan’es toilet mid-air has been dismissed by chemical experts.


Gareth Pierce, defence lawyer for the 17-year-old in the case accused of possessing items ‘useful to a person preparing acts of terrorism’, told the August 31 Chicago Tribune how police had misrepresented what they had found at the boy’s mother’s home and twisted it to fit their grandiose claims. According to police, ‘suicide notes’, a map of Afghanistan and a bomb ‘manual’ had been found.

What was actually discovered, Pierce told the Tribune, were wills written by people who had fought in Bosnia more than 10 years earlier. The accused was just six when much of this material was placed in the box! ‘They’re not suicide notes at all. They’re really simple wills. To call these suicide notes was absolutely disgraceful’, Pierce said.

The wills were found in a box that once belonged to the boy’s father ‘ who has since divorced and moved out ‘ when he ran a now-defunct charity that helped displaced Bosnian Muslims. The box also contained a crude map drawn by the boy’s younger brother when he was a child. There was also a book of drawings of electrical circuits, which even if it was of some use in building a bomb, it would be useless for the device that police allege the group was trying to construct.

Associated Press on September 4 reported that prosecutors told a London court that the detainees will not face trial until March 2008. They will remain in prison and the key details of the prosecution’s case will be kept secret until then.

Lies and fabrication

Will the British government and mass media’s accusations stand up in court? Not if the record of British police, government and media lying, exaggeration and fabrication in recent ‘terror’ cases is anything to go by.

As Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, pointed out in an August 14 article on his website

‘Of the over 1000 British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only 12% are ever charged with anything. That is simply harassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few ‘ just over 2% of arrests ‘ who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do with terrorism, but of some minor offence the police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.’

At 4am on June 2, around 250 police, some wearing chemical suits, stormed a house in Forest Gate, east London. Police claimed that a chemical bomb was in the house. Awoken by the sound of doors being broken down, the two families living there thought they were being attacked by robbers. Mohammed Abdul Kahar was shot in the chest by police, who failed to identify themselves or give a warning, narrowly missing his heart.

Rupert Murdoch’s seedy Sun newspaper on June 3 ramped up the anti-Muslim panic, without a shred of evidence: ‘A CHEMICAL bomb held by Islamic terrorists is primed to go off at any time, police feared last night. The device is believed to have been designed to release a toxic cloud in a crowded space ‘ killing hundreds. And senior officers are convinced it has been prepared for an ‘imminent’ attack in the UK … Last night a frantic hunt was on to find the bomb before it could be activated by fanatics. One senior security source said: ‘We are absolutely certain this device exists and could be used either by a suicide bomber or in a remote-controlled explosion.”

Not to be outdone, Murdoch’s Times on June 3 reported the finding of a ‘poison suicide vest of death’. No chemical bombs or suicide vests ever existed. Kahar and his brother were detained for eight days without charge under the Terrorism Act (2000) before being released. ‘The only crime I have committed is being Asian and having a long beard’, Kahar told the BBC on June 13. ‘They haven’t had the decency to apologise.’

‘Red mercury’

In one of more bizarre examples of how the British government, police and the media work hand in glove to manufacture terror scares was provided when the notorious ‘fake sheikh’ Mazher Mahmood, a journalist for Murdoch’s tacky News of the World who regularly dresses up in Arab robes to trick celebrities and others into compromising themselves, and an undercover police agent in 2004 attempted to entrap three people in a ‘virtual’ terror plot.

Mahmood offered to sell them an imaginary nuclear substance, ‘red mercury’, telling them it could be used to make a radioactive ‘dirty bomb’. However, the three seemed to be more interested in the claim that red mercury could also wash marked money. The undercover cop then offered to buy the fake substance from them for $300,000 a kilo.

With the approval of the Labour government’s attorney-general, the three dupes were arrested by the Met’s anti-terrorist squad on September 24, 2004. They were charged with attempting to secure funding or property for terrorism and having ‘a highly dangerous mercury-based substance’ for use in terrorism. The following day, the News of the World’s front page screamed, ‘Anti-terrorist cops move in after News of the World uncovers bid to buy radioactive material’. Red mercury, the News of the World lied to its unfortunate readers, is’a deadly substance developed by cold war Russian scientists for making briefcase nuclear bombs’.

The three remained in jail until their acquittal almost two years later. During the trial, which cost more than ‘1 million, the government prosecutor declared that ‘the Crown’s position is that whether red mercury does or does not exist is irrelevant’ and urged the jury not to get ‘hung up’ on that point. Luckily, the jury did not agree.

Own goal in Manchester

Britain’s government-police-press team scored an own goal in April 2004, when 400 Greater Manchester police rounded up 10 Iraqi Kurds. Leading the lynch mob was the Sun, which ran an invented story that began: ‘A SUICIDE bomb plot to kill thousands of soccer fans at Saturday’s Manchester United-Liverpool match was dramatically foiled yesterday. Armed cops seized ten terror suspects in dawn raids. Intelligence chiefs believe al-Qaeda fanatics planned to blow themselves up amid 67,000 unsuspecting supporters. A source said: ‘The target was Old Trafford.’ The Islamic fanatics planned to sit all around the ground to cause maximum carnage. They had already bought the tickets for various positions in the stadium, cops revealed last night.’

The entire fantastic story, and the cops’ case against the Kurds, was improvised from leaked police information about the ‘discovery’ of a couple of old ticket stubs from a Manchester United soccer match in a suspect’s flat. He was indeed guilty of being a fanatic ‘ a fanatical supporter of Manchester United who had kept the stubs as a souvenir of the only game he and a friend had attended! They were bought from a scalper, which explained why the tickets were for different parts of the ground. The 10 people were released without charge.

Ricin reflux

Perhaps the most cynically exploited of the British government’s series of fabricated ‘terror scares’ was the police announcement in January 2003 that a ‘terrorist cell’s’ plans to use ricin poison in an attack had been foiled.

On January 7, British government ministers announced that ‘traces of ricin’ had been found in a flat raided by police. Prime Minister Tony Blair seized on the ‘plot’ to bolster the propaganda campaign to go to war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Blair made the ludicrous claim that the discovery of ricin, which can only kill if directly injected into a person’s bloodstream, proved that ‘this danger [of weapons of mass destruction] is present and real and with us now. Its potential is huge.’

Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell also referred to the alleged ‘cell’ during his speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003, arguing for war against Iraq if Hussein did not abandon his non-existent WMD. Powell claimed it was proof of a ‘sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network’.

The truth was that there was no al Qaeda cell and no ricin. On the same day that the government proclaimed the discovery of ‘traces of ricin’ in the flat, tests by the government’s own research facility at Porton Down had found there was no ricin. That finding was kept secret by the government for more than two years.

In April 2005, four people were acquitted on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, while charges against four others were dropped. One person, Kamel Bourgass, was convicted on a lesser charge of ‘conspiracy to cause a public nuisance by the use of poisons and/or explosives’, based on his possession of ‘recipes’ to make ricin and evidence of attempts to do so. However, the April 20, 2005, Independent reported that ‘Professor Alistair Hay, one of Britain’s foremost authorities on toxins, said Bourgass’s attempts to construct toxic weapons from his small supplies of ingredients and ramshackle ‘laboratory’ were ‘incredibly amateurish and unlikely to succeed’.’

From Green Left Weekly, September 13, 2006.

View with comments

Mass hangings.. TV station closed .. Democracy reaches Baghdad

From Postman Patel

Al-Arabiya, is an independent Dubai based Arabic language satellite news station with offices in over 40 major cities. It was launched in 2002 in opposition to Al Jazeera. It was originally funded by Saudi-controlled pan-Arab satellite TV pioneer MBC, Lebanon’s Hariri Group, and other investors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states. It was set up as an all-news channel to compete directly with Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV.

The Iraqi Government have issued an order to close the station down in Baghdad. The station was able to broadcast live the entry of police to close their Baghdad city centre studios.

The order apparently was issued by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Cabinet and said TV stations should uphold the code of media ethics (?) , or else the government would take legal action against them.

In November 2003, the U.S.-Paul Bremer’s Governing Council banned Al-Arabiya from reporting from Baghdad after it aired an audio tape, said to be from Saddam Hussein, who was still at large at the time. 46 Coalition troops had been killed that month, there had been a loss of a Chinook helicopter and Bremer had just returned from a pep talk with Cheney from Washington.(See BBC Online report at the time)This action was approved by Bremer but curiously in his book “My Year in Iraq” forgets to mention it.(see WAPO report)Charles Heatly, a spokesman with the U.S.-led administration said, “Ambassador Bremer fully agreed with and supported the Governing Council’s decision.”

Shortly after, Saddam was found and captured and they were allowed to continue, famously they interviewed the leader of the free world and Commander in Chief of the occupying forces in May 2004. (White House transcript)

Just over a year ago in August 2005 Iraq ( Prime Minister Iyad Allawi) re-introduced the death sentence. Common during Saddam’s rule, capital punishment was suspended by the occupying US authorities in 2003. “This law is to help protect the Iraqi people in the face of an onslaught of indiscriminate murder. I think it may help,” said, Minister of State Adnan al-Janabi adding that it would remain in force until the security situation was deemed more stable.

This was condemned by the UN, European states and human-rights groups. “If the Iraqi government has reintroduced the death penalty we will lobby them to abolish it as we would do with other states that have the death penalty,” a Foreign Office spokesman said at the time.(To date la Beckett remains silent on the matter)

The first 3 victims were members of Ansar al-Sunna, an insurgent group, who were executed on September 1st 2005 after confessing to their crimes in a televised trial broadcast in May from al-Kut, in southern Iraq.

The men were identified as Bayan Ahmad al-Jaf, 30, a Kurdish taxi driver, and two Sunni Arabs, Uday Dawoud al-Dulaimi, 25, a builder, and Taher Jassim Abbas, 44, a butcher. They were found guilty of kidnapping and murdering three policemen and abducting, raping and killing Iraqi women.

The Iraqi authorities took over responsibility for the overcrowded Abu Ghraib prison at the weekend where there are said to be hundreds of prisoners who have received a death sentence. There are also reports that several gallows have been recently installed. On Wednesday a mass execution of 27 people took place. (Daily Telegraph 8/8/06)

An Iraqi Justice Ministry official said two of those hanged had been convicted of terrorism charges, and the other 25 ‘ including a woman ‘ were convicted of murder and kidnapping. In confirming the hangings a spokesman called the dead prisoners, “terrorists”, a name normally reserved for insurgents who have attacked coalition or Iraqi forces.

News of the executions was made public by Prime Minister al-Maliki when attending a ceremony to hand control of Iraq’s military to the recently elected government from American control.

The verdict on Saddam Hussein is expected this month and he faces a death sentence, he has asked to face a military firing squad rather than hanging.

View with comments