Non-Existent “Bigger than 9/11” Airline Plot 6

I came in for much criticism at the time for being the first “respectable” commentator to call the fact that the “Bigger than 9/11 airline plot” was massive government hype, but my sources were very good. After a long trial a jury has now found that there was no credible evidence of plans to blow up airlines.

jurors rejected prosecution claims that Ali was responsible for an unprecedented airline bomb plot. They discarded evidence that Ali intended to target passenger jets flying from London to major North American cities with suicide attacks.

The jury did find that three of the accused were engaged in a plan to carry out domestic terrorist bombing, and there does appear some quite firm evidence to substantiate that. Doubtless the appeals process will work its way through. But this appears to be another example of a small pathetic group of failed would be terrorists who were never, at any stage, planning to take liquid explosives on to airliners.

That is the fundamental problem with the “War on Terror”, It is not that Islamic extremist terrorism does not exist. It does. Frankly given the many, many thousands of civilians we have killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, it would be surprising if it did not exist. But it is massively hyped out of all reality by a government determined to use it to justify a massive increase in its powers over the citizenry.

I ask you to cast your minds back to just how very massive the hype was about the “airline liquid bomb plot” in summer of 2006. Scotland Yard called it “Bigger than 9/11”. In particular, remember the appalling anti-Muslim stories of plans to blow up planes using babies and baby bottles – as potent and horrifying a racist urban myth as has ever been developed.

These were total rubbish.

Of the twenty one people arrested over this massive plot to blow up airlines, which the Metropolitan Police described as “Bigger than 9/11”, in the end three were convicted of conspiracy to murder and four of causing public nuisance. Not one of those dragged from their homes at 2.30 am on the direct personal instruction of John Reid was convicted.

Accepting that 7/7 was Islamic terrorism (which I realise many people do not), about 60 people have been killed by Islamic terrorists in the UK. Any death is terrible, but that is about 2% of those who died in the Northern Ireland troubles. Even in the year of 7/7, less people were killed by Islamic terrorists than were drowned in their own baths. You have more chance of being struck by lightning than killed by a Islamic terrorist.

Yet this terrorist campaign was described by Tony Blair as “A fundamental threat to Western Civilisation” and by John Reid as “A threat on the scale of the Second World War”. The astonishing thing is that they created a climate in which the media accepted those assesments without a hint of the ridicule they deserved.

Terrorism has to be fought and prevented, but that is best done by meticulous, plodding police and intelligence work. It is also fundamental, but worth saying, that opposing rather than participating in oppression, bombing, torture and illegal invasion abroad would cut the ground from under terrorism. You do not fight terrorism by massively talking it up and terrifying your population into anti-Muslim attitudes, and initiating a spiral of repression that will just cause more terror.

On December 2006 I blogged:

I still do not rule out that there was a germ of a terror plot at the heart of this investigation. We can speculate about agents provocateurs and security service penetration, both British and Pakistani, but still there might have been genuine terrorists involved. But the incredible disruption to the travelling public, the War on Shampoo, and the “Bigger than 9/11” hype is unravelling.

If anyone can point to anything more prescient, I shall be dead impressed.

6 thoughts on “Non-Existent “Bigger than 9/11” Airline Plot

  • writeon


    I've also been sceptical about the hyperbole surrounding these super-terror cases. There seems to be pattern. At first the case is inflated out of all proportion by the police, politicians and the media, in order to provide 'proof' or justification for the continuing 'war of terror'. In essence one could call it simply propaganda for the government's agenda.

    Then months later, when most people have forgotten about what the whole case was about, the trial ends with the accused being found guilty of serious, but relatively insignificant offences. The media, as witnessed today, never compares the hysteria with the reality which the trials uncover. But that really doesn't matter as the real 'value' of the 'plot' has already been achieved during the media blitz.

    Terrorism is best fought by regarding it a crime, the tactic of the militarily weak. Why do we choose to exaggerate the size and importance of the terrorist threat? Simply because it's an excuse for us to launch a campaign to control vital areas of the world which our ruling elite believe are vital to the 'national interest', or at least the perceived interests of the United States.

    Whether our leaders are guilty of 'high treason' for subordinating the interests of the UK relative to those of a foreign power, is debatable.

    Our disproportionate use of violence in our strategy for fighting terrorism is not only ignorant and incredibly destructive, what's worse is, it's massively counter-productive. Here we seem to be playing into the hands of the terrorists, who want us to go over-the-top and prove their thesis that we are brutal, agressive, imperialist, crusaders; bent on slaughtering Muslims, whose lives have little to no value for us.

    The current escalation in relation to Pakistan beggars belief. Spreading our attacks to Pakistan because are strategy is failing in Afghanistan seems insane to me, though probably inevitable. Pakistan, an unstable country at the best of times, doesn't really need more destabilization. Our actions are undermining the prestige of the Pakistani military and making millions of people very, very angry indeed. The idea that we can force Pakistan to take a more active role in the 'war of terror' by attacking and bombing them, seems, on the face of it, close to the desparate logic of the criminally insane!

  • Strategist

    Actually, a very plummy "security expert" interviewed on the BBC's 10 O'Clock News has assured us that the jury have delivered the wrong verdicts and the police, MI5 & prosecuting authorities are very disappointed with them.

  • macshealbhaich

    So, Strategist, are you implying that in effect they are saying that in future they'd better come up with the right, pre-determined, verdict… or else?

  • NoJags Neil

    An interesting feature by Lewis Page of The Register this afternoon.

    You can't question his credentials and he always makes for an interesting read.

    I'm tending to take the middle ground. I think there was a real threat. At the same time, the over-hype and reaction from John Reid and the press winds me up because it effectively hands victory to the jihadis and terrorists. It's got to the point where all you need to do is set off a non-viable device or immolate yourself at an airport terminal and you achieve the same level of hysteria as if you had killed hundreds of people.

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