"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Terror Fried Rice

Colin Powell and cohorts should have been unsubtley shamed by the recent verdict in the case of suspected terror plots in the UK. Their exploitation of the suspected plot, scaremongering the public into believing there was a massive posioning conspiracy, thouraghly foiled. The threat was said to represent only a drop in the ocean, when it came to what this worldwide organisation was capable of. It was used as yet another reason to invade Iraq, which at the time, was still linked to international terrorism by the US/UK governments and under the trusting eye of the media.

But even the rubbishing of the 'suspected' plot by the courts seems to have little effect on how the story is to be played out/relayed to the public. The Irish Times reports today, the same evidence that was brought up at the outset of the inquiry "Their objective was - in furtherance of their extremist Islamist cause - to commit acts of terrorism in the UK, by use of poisons such as ricin and cyanide, and by use of explosives," prosecutor Nigel Sweeney told London's Old Bailey court. Even though the relavancy of this might be lost on most. What is not mentioned is that "after police discovered a suspected chemical weapons lab in a north London apartment and launched a countrywide sweep" (1) there was no chemical weapons found, not even poisons.

The government have apparently not been proven wrong, the man obviously was a danger, since he did murder someone. However he and the other aquited men were not the threat they were hyped to be. [Gareth Peirce, the solicitor for four men found not guilty in the trial, called on the government to justify some of its claims. "There was never any ricin, there were no poisons made. There seems to be a pathetic, clumsy, amateurish attempt to make some by a man who was conceded, I think by all, to be a difficult, anti-social loner," she said. "But I think one also has to consider how was it that all of us in this country were allowed to believe that there was ricin. That there was a substantial plot. That it wasn't an individualist, tiny, failed attempt."] (2)

The Irish Times choosing though, to linger on the loosest part of the judgement, "The jury confirmed the essential thrust of the prosecution that there was a terrorist conspiracy aimed at the UK." A less inflamatory lead would have been "The jury also confirmed that none of the other men suspected represented any threat to society."

Therefore the government has been free to use this single incident to "cast a slur on all asylum seekers and immigrants." Shaping the way for future public fear manipultaion.

The actual recipes the man possessed for posions were readily available to anyone with access to a computer.

"However, the distinguishing characteristic of the recipe for ricin, including the one cited in the terror trial, is the ratio of acetone used to wash the weight of castor seeds. It is -four to one-, a marking characteristic of its origin in American sources. Kurt Saxon, originally published it in a pamphlet called "The Weaponeer" in 1984. (Currently it can be found in Saxon's "The Poor Man's James Bond," Vol. 3," 1988.)"

"GlobalSecurity became aware of the trial of Bourgas and others as it proceeded. Senior Fellow George Smith, Ph.D., was consulted by an expert witness and scientist for the defense lawyers on the nature and provenance of ricin and other allegedly poisonous recipes seized for the case. Relevant materials from Saxon and Hutchkinson originals were also furnished.

It was the British prosecution's aim to link the "UK poison cell" to al Qaida by associating its ricin and poisons recipes with documents of Afghan -- read al Qaida -- origin. It cited three documents of interest: the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" seized in an information gathering raid in Manchester in 2000, notes found in English and Russian in Kabul in 2001 and notes found in Kabul, written in Arabic, also in 2001.! (3)

"The trial of the infamous "UK poison cell," a group portrayed by Secretary of State Powell as al Qaida-associated operatives plotting to launch ricin attacks in the United Kingdom and in league with Muhamad al Zarqawi in Iraq, found nothing of the sort. The jury did find "the UK poison cell," known as Kamel Bourgas and others (Sidali Faddag, Samir Asli, Mouloud Bouhrama, Mustapha Taleb, Mouloud Sihali, Aissa Kalef), not guilty of conspiracy to murder by plotting ricin attacks and, generally speaking, not guilty of conspiracy to do anything. Kamel Bourgas had been previously convicted of murder of a British policeman in an unpublicized trial."

Martin Pearce -- leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at Porton Down, had finished lab tests which indicated the ricin finding was a false positive. "Subsequent confirmatory tests on the material from the pestle and mortar did not detect the presence of ricin. It is my opinion therefore that toxins are not detectable in the pestle and mortar," wrote Pearce in one document.

"The alleged existence of ricin and "the UK poison cell" in January 2003 would subsequently play a part of Colin Powell's presentation as rationale for war against Iraq. In his speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003, Powell purported to show how a web of terrorists including the UK cell, was interconnected with Muhamad al Zarqawi, who was said to be directing terrorist plots from the safe refuge of Iraq."

The Guardian tells it with a dash of common sense:

"Yesterday's verdicts on five defendants and the dropping of charges against four others make clear there was no ricin ring. Nor did the "ricin ring" make or have ricin. Not that the government shared that news with us. Until today, the public record for the past three fear-inducing years has been that ricin was found in the Wood Green flat occupied by some of yesterday's acquitted defendants. It wasn't."

[The most ironic twist was an attempt to introduce an "al-Qaida manual" into the case. The manual - called the Manual of the Afghan Jihad - had been found on a raid in Manchester in 2000. It was given to the FBI to produce in the 2001 New York trial for the first attack on the World Trade Centre. But it wasn't an al-Qaida manual. The name was invented by the US department of justice in 2001, and the contents were rushed on to the net to aid a presentation to the Senate by the then attorney general, John Ashcroft, supporting the US Patriot Act.

To show that the Jihad manual was written in the 1980s and the period of the US-supported war against the Soviet occupation was easy. The ricin recipe it contained was a direct translation from a 1988 US book called the Poisoner's Handbook, by Maxwell Hutchkinson.

We have all been victims of this mass deception. I do not doubt that Bourgass would have contemplated causing harm if he was competent to do so. But he was an Islamist yobbo on his own, not an Al Qaida-trained superterrorist. An Asbo might be appropriate.] (4)

1. The Irish Times
2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4441993.stm
3. http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/nsn/nsn-050411.htm
4. Duncan Campbell is an investigative writer and a scientific expert witness on computers and telecommunications. He is author of War Plan UK and is not the Guardian journalist of the same name