Daily archives: December 14, 2006

Terror plot starts to fail in the mainstream

The BBC carried two pieces yeaterday that suggest the liquid explosive Terror Plot is looking rather less robust than has been previously suggested…

UK ‘plot’ terror charge dropped

A Pakistani judge has ruled there is not enough evidence to try a key suspect in an alleged airline bomb plot on terrorism charges. He has moved the case of Rashid Rauf, a Briton, from an anti-terrorism court to a regular court, where he faces lesser charges such as forgery.

Pakistan has presented Mr Rauf as one of the ringleaders behind the alleged plan to blow up flights out of London. The British authorities say they foiled it with Pakistan’s help in August. They say proceedings against suspects arrested in Britain will go ahead.


The arrest of Rashid Rauf in Pakistan triggered arrests in the United Kingdom of a number of suspects allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic flights. The Pakistani authorities described him as a key figure. But an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities or that he belonged to a terrorist organisation.

As well as forgery charges, Mr Rauf has also been charged with carrying explosives. But his lawyer says police evidence amounts only to bottles of hydrogen peroxide found in his possession. Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant that can be used for bomb-making if other chemicals are added.

The BBC’s Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the judge’s decision has reinforced the already widespread scepticism there about the airliner plot. Several commentators said the threat was deliberately exaggerated to bolster the anti-terror credentials of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and that it helped to demonise British Muslims of Pakistani origin.

The Crown Prosecution Service in the UK said the dropping of charges against Mr Rauf in Pakistan would “make no difference” to the case against the men charged in Britain.

‘Suspected conspiracy’

In August, the British government requested the extradition of Mr Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani origin who returned to Pakistan four years ago, in connection with a 2002 murder. Scotland Yard declined to discuss which murder case the request related to. The government in Pakistan, which has no extradition treaty with the UK, said it was considering the request.

Rashid Rauf was arrested in Pakistan earlier that month over the alleged plot to blow up US-bound aircraft, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said.

He has been described by Pakistan’s government as a “key person” in the “suspected conspiracy”. The August arrests led to increased airport security around the world, causing major disruption. Passengers on many flights were forbidden to take liquids aboard aircraft.

Terror search ends amid cash row

Scotland Yard anti-terror officers are to stop a search of woodland linked with the alleged airliners bomb plot amid a dispute over funding. Thames Valley Police, which was guarding the woods near High Wycombe, Bucks, had said it might pull the plug over spiralling costs.

The force demanded the Home Office cover the ‘8m cost. Plans for either military personnel or fencing to be used to seal the site are understood to have been rejected. The search operation started after the alleged plot was uncovered in August.

Thames Valley Police are thought to have threatened to “walk away from the scene” if it did not get some financial assistance from the Home Office. The Home Office said its request was still being considered.

Pension reserves option

It is thought Thames Valley may have to dip into pension fund reserves to ensure the force has enough money to cover any unexpected costs next year, if the Home Office turns down its request for extra funding. Last month, the local force ended its search of Kings Wood and moved onto the Booker Common area.

Ch Supt Graham Bell, from Thames Valley Police, had described the Kings Wood search as “one of the most intensive large-scale searches I can remember”. The alleged plot sparked a massive security operation at Britain’s airports and MI5 raised the attack threat level in the UK to critical – its highest.

The authorities believed the targets were both US and UK airlines flying to all parts of the US.

See also The UK Terror plot: what’s really going on?

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9/11: The Roots of Paranoia

Christian Hayes article is an important dissection of the issues around theories of false flag terrorism, and the very real over-hypeing of the terrorist threat. I strongly recommend this balanced but incisive analysis.


By Christopher Hayes in The Nation

According to a July poll conducted by Scripps News Service, one-third of Americans think the government either carried out the 9/11 attacks or intentionally allowed them to happen in order to provide a pretext for war in the Middle East. This is at once alarming and unsurprising. Alarming, because if tens of millions of Americans really believe their government was complicit in the murder of 3,000 of their fellow citizens, they seem remarkably sanguine about this fact. By and large, life continues as before, even though tens of millions of people apparently believe they are being governed by mass murderers. Unsurprising, because the government these Americans suspect of complicity in 9/11 has acquired a justified reputation for deception: weapons of mass destruction, secret prisons, illegal wiretapping. What else are they hiding?

This pattern of deception has not only fed diffuse public cynicism but has provided an opening for alternate theories of 9/11 to flourish. As these theories–propounded by the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement–seep toward the edges of the mainstream, they have raised the specter of the return (if it ever left) of what Richard Hofstadter famously described as “the paranoid style in American politics.” But the real danger posed by the Truth Movement isn’t paranoia. Rather, the danger is that it will discredit and deform the salutary skepticism Americans increasingly show toward their leaders.

The Truth Movement’s recent growth can be largely attributed to the Internet-distributed documentary Loose Change. A low-budget film produced by two 20-somethings that purports to debunk the official story of 9/11, it’s been viewed over the Internet millions of times. Complementing Loose Change are the more highbrow offerings of a handful of writers and scholars, many of whom are associated with Scholars for 9/11 Truth. Two of these academics, retired theologian David Ray Griffin and retired Brigham Young University physics professor Steven Jones, have written books and articles that serve as the movement’s canon. Videos of their lectures circulate among the burgeoning portions of the Internet devoted to the cause of the “truthers.” A variety of groups have chapters across the country and organize conferences that draw hundreds. In the last election cycle, the website www.911truth.org even produced a questionnaire with pointed inquiries for candidates, just like the US Chamber of Commerce or the Sierra Club. The Truth Movement’s relationship to the truth may be tenuous, but that it is a movement is no longer in doubt.


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