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Britain’s airline terror plot: Questions that need to be answered

by the editorial board | 11.08.2006 05:37 | Analysis | Repression | Terror War | London | Sheffield | World

The claim that American and British security forces have thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up commercial flights between Britain and the United States should not be accepted uncritically. It is impossible to determine at this point whether or not such an attack was in the offing, although the mass media have, as usual, reported the assertions of the British and American governments as indisputable fact, without bothering to ask for any specific information that would substantiate the official story.

The British police statement that the alleged plotters aimed to “create mass murder on an unimaginable scale” by blowing up mid-flight an unspecified number of aircraft is chilling. The far-reaching security measures that have been implemented—including the shutdown of London’s Heathrow Airport and an indefinite ban on carry-on luggage—add to the climate of fear and apprehension.

At a time such as this—in the midst of spectacular claims from London and Washington, a media barrage supporting them, and a massive disruption of commercial flights resulting from extreme security measures—it is all the more imperative that people not suspend their capacity for critical thought and political judgement.

Raids in the early hours of Thursday morning on homes and business premises in London and the West Midlands resulted in 21 arrests. Spokesmen for the US and British governments asserted that those arrested were involved in the most significant terrorist plot since 9/11.

Later reports said that 24 people had been arrested in Britain and more had been detained in Pakistan. Among those arrested were a Muslim charity worker and a Heathrow Airport employee with an all-area access pass, according to Britain’s Channel 4 News. Five suspects in the plot are still at large, according to ABC News, which cited US sources.

BBC News reported Thursday evening that the arrests were the result of a long-standing investigation coordinated between the US, British and Pakistani governments. British Home Secretary John Reid in a press conference earlier on Thursday said Prime Minister Tony Blair had briefed President George Bush on the impending arrests and security measures over the weekend.

Subsequent reports claimed the plotters had planned to target simultaneously up to ten aircraft from three US carriers by smuggling onboard liquid chemical explosives disguised as beverages or electronic devices.

US intelligence officials said the plotters hoped to stage a “dry run” today (Friday) and the actual attack would have followed days later. A senior congressional source claimed the plotters planned to mix a sports drink with a peroxide-based paste to make an “explosive cocktail” that could be triggered by an MP3 player or cell phone.

President George Bush made a brief statement mid-day Thursday that was calculated to heighten public anxieties and exploit the alleged terror plot to justify the panoply of reactionary policies his administration has pursued since 9/11 in the name of the “war on terror.”

Speaking on an airport runway in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he said that the thwarted plot was a “stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom.” He suggested that the plot vindicated the measures—massive domestic spying, military tribunals, detentions without trial—taken by his administration to “protect the American people,” and went on to warn that “it is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America.”

The World Socialist Web Site has no information that allows us to make a definitive judgement on the existence or non-existence of a terrorist plot on the scale claimed. However, it is the responsibility of the US and British governments to produce the facts that would substantiate their allegations and justify the extreme security measures they have taken, and to present these facts to the public in a clear and concise manner.

They have produced no such factual account or substantiation.

Neither the White House nor Downing Street has any right to expect people to accept their claims at face value, or place confidence in any of their statements. The war against Iraq was legitimised on the basis of false claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. These lies have destroyed forever the credibility of Bush and Blair.

If it is true that such a heinous crime was being planned, the responsibility for this ultimately rests with the policies pursued by Washington and London. Ever since 9/11, both Bush and Blair have employed the mantra of the “war on terror” as a cover for their predatory war aims in the Middle East, immensely intensifying anti-American and anti-British sentiment within the Muslim world. At the same time, the “war on terror” has been used domestically as the pretext for an unprecedented assault on democratic rights.

Faced with a worsening debacle in Afghanistan and Iraq, and massive international opposition to their support for Israel’s devastation of Lebanon, both governments have an interest in perpetuating an atmosphere of hysteria. Such a climate serves to intimidate their opponents and justify ever more draconian measures at home and abroad.

In point of fact, the official accounts in Britain of the alleged terror plot lack any specific or verifiable facts and are remarkably short on detail. The statements by American officials are no better when it comes to serious substantiation. They are, however, more detailed in their claims.

US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a televised news conference that the plot was “a very sophisticated plan and operation” and was close to fruition. “It was not a circle with a handful of people sitting around and dreaming,’’ he said. “They had accumulated the capability necessary and they were well on their way.’’

The plot appeared to have been aimed at US carriers flying out of Heathrow, he continued. It was “international in scope” and suggestive of Al Qaeda.

He did not give a specific date for the timing of the plan, but said it may have been before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. “I can’t tell you they had a particular date in mind,” he said. “Nor can I tell you that they would have waited that long. This was quite close to the execution date.”

Chertoff offered no explanation of how security services knew that a terror attack was imminent when they didn’t know the target date for its execution.

This is by no means the only question mark hanging over official accounts.

Britain’s Home Secretary Reid gave the impression in his press conference that the evidence prompting the arrests came from the UK, and CNN reported that information gathered after recent arrests in Pakistan convinced British investigators they had to act urgently to stop the plot. However, Britain’s Channel 4 reported that UK authorities had acted based on intelligence provided by the CIA.

Moreover, if Blair was in discussions with Bush over the weekend about an “imminent” terrorist attack, why did he still leave for his holiday in Barbados on Tuesday? And given that the plot is said to have targeted planes, why did the security services allow him to do so?

And if the threat posed by the plot was considered dangerous enough to warrant raising the terror alert in the UK from “severe” to “critical” and to code red in the US, why were no arrests made for five days? And why was the terror alert only raised after the arrests were made and not before?

No such questions have been asked by the media. And yet recent months have seen a number of alleged terrorist plots—in the US, Canada and Australia—that were supposedly thwarted by the security services. In each case, mass arrests were made of people who, according to the indictments, had merely discussed terrorist acts. No concrete plans were discovered, no weapons or explosives seized. And in most of these cases, the supposed plots were initiated and encouraged by government informers who acted as agent provocateurs and entrapped the alleged conspirators.

In the case of July’s so-called “tunnel bomb” plot in New York, the purported conspirators were foreign nationals who had never set foot in the US.

As for the political utility of the current terror scare, it should be noted that only hours before Thursday’s raids, British Home Secretary Reid gave a major speech in London in which he accused opponents of the government’s anti-democratic legislation of undermining the “war on terror.”

In the face of what he called “probably the most sustained period of severe threat since the end of the second world war,” Reid decried those who “don’t get it,” blaming them for the fact that “we remain unable to adapt our institutions and legal orthodoxy as fast as we need to.”

Making it clear that the required “adaptation” meant the gutting of traditional democratic rights, he added: “Sometimes we may have to modify some of our own freedoms in the short term in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy all of our freedoms in the modern world.”

-World Socialist Web Site

by the editorial board
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Hide the following 16 comments

What's all this airport stuff really about?

11.08.2006 07:49

Yes, there has been very little critical analysis in the media. I wrote this letter to my local evening paper last night:


I read with interest the pages of reports (Evening Leader 10/8/06) on the terrorist attack foiled by the police and intelligence service and about the extra security measures being taken at our airports. So, what's all this about?

In the words of Hermann Goering, "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders... all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

How true. It works even better than that right now, as Blair's warmongering in Afghanistan and Iraq and his support for Israel's warmongering in Lebanon have ensured that Britain really is a target for attack. Hardly surprising, given that all of these wars (along with Israel's actions against the Palestinians) have blatantly flouted international law. War crimes and crimes against humanity have been and are being committed, for which there seems no prospect of the perpetrators being brought to justice.

The concept of a "war on terror" is fatally flawed. No amount of extra security measures - x-ray machines at airports, policemen with guns, tanks patrolling the streets, new laws which curtail our civil liberties, imprisonment without trial, shoot-to-kill policies, immigration controls, ID cards and biometric data, locking up peaceful protesters - nor the best efforts of our intelligence services can ever ensure our safety, although they do serve the purpose described by Goering above. We will remain at risk until we deal with the injustices which are fuelling the current terrorist threat.

Forget "war on terror". We should all be shouting: "PEACE AND JUSTICE ON TERROR!"



11.08.2006 07:51

"World Socialist Web Site has no information that allows us to make a definitive judgement on the existence or non-existence of a terrorist plot". Precisely - so shut up then and wait for more information to emerge before jumping on the bandwagon.

Paul Edwards

Paul - wake up

11.08.2006 08:18

Remember "we" went to war in Iraq in part for fear of ricin, which we only found out two tear later didn't exist:

There have been a series of "fake terror cells" in the US and Canada:

Emmanuel Goldstein got it right:

"Reid WAS right when he claimed that "We are probably in the most sustained period of severe threat since the end of the Second World War". But the threat is from him and his government, while working class people are the intended victims."

The "War on Terror" is, in reality, a war on the working class, this article from 2002 got a lot of things right:

"The War on Terrorism is a fraud. Its purpose is to maintain carte blanche for the ever more desperate agenda of American capital: the domination of the continent of Eurasia, and the crushing of the Left worldwide, especially its anti-capitalist core.

The crimes of September 11 were so shocking that for many, perhaps most people, even those on the Left, it is literally unthinkable that they could have been committed or intentionally permitted by the Bush administration or some secret operations group working for it...


A bit smelly

11.08.2006 09:35

So many arrests. Something is wrong. Perhaps someone has been tortured in pakistan and named every acquaintace as a conspirator. Or it is the work of an agent provocateur who has build up a terrorist network to discover?

The Greenwar meeting specifically organised groups of five who did not know each other and acted independently. Their airplane sabotage is identified as accidents. The other half of the schism seem inactive.

There is a web game Greenwar. Have players been hoiked?

The fun will start when an ibola carrier boards a plane.


Don't bank on this being false...

11.08.2006 10:09

We should be sceptical about these reports, there have been so many raids on bad or virtually no "intelligence" but if I was a betting man this one looks more likely to be true. The sheer scale of the disruption caused means there are serious consequences if there are no prosecutions from this one. Jean Charles Menezes and the forest gate shootings were the result of the policies instigated by the police but required an element of on the ground fuck up. The events yesterday were purposely done with maximum disruption. But just because Bush, Blair and the securocrats will take advantage of any incident to push forward their agenda doesn't mean that aren't groups out there seeking to blow up aircraft.

Just because something is shocking doesn't mean that Bush had prior knowledge. There isn't an elite controlling everything that happens in the world. There are all sorts of struggles with various sides involved.

The real political point in all this is that there is never a security solution to this but a political one, the root cause is Foreign policy in the Middle East.

2+2 don't make 5

Blair to blame

11.08.2006 14:03

Whether true or not Blair is to blame. The fact we could believe so many British citizens could be potentially driven to terrorism is further proof of the increase in terrorism caused by Blairs policy ( invading Afghanistan and Iraq and supplying bombs to drop on the Lebanese and Palestinians ).

The recent fake terror alerts - ricin, Manchester Utd and Edinburgh Hogmanay to name a few - do not lend credibility to this latest alleged plot. The damage to the economy it has caused probably will require convictions to justify it, however those convictions may not be sound. Given the press reaction and the government spin it seems unlikely an unbiased jury can be found, and if the case is based on second hand torture confessions or tactics such as publishing lists of names of the accused then they will be little better than the kangeroo trials of supposed IRA bombers in the 70's.

There has been a lot of media claptrap about this being an attack of unprecedented carnage - as if Falluja was never attacked.


sleight of hand

11.08.2006 19:29

The magician waves his wand and utters the magic spells "danger, terror, security, lock-down" and lo and behold - we have a suddenly unsure public. The effect is the same as if the magician had said boo!
With that much power and the demonstrable willingness to both use and abuse that power to obtain its craven ends, aided and abetted by an uncritical PR department masquerading as the liberal press regurgitating the party line, we are probably quite right to feel a little dubious about the veracity of this particular claim. Idioms of wolves and crying spring to mind, as does the proven method for dealing with liars - asking for evidence at every step of the way throughout their claims about "how it all happened".
This (UK/US) regime has a less than honest track record, in a depressingly long list of deceit and subterfuge, disregard for laws and ethics in equal measure, and blatant manipulation, and so in my opinion (humble as it may be) don't really allow themselves to be trusted. To be fair, whether or not the actions and stories of other nations involved in the WoT(?) are equally, more or less honest than that documented in the history of the UK/US regime remains a question that I cannot answer. Perhaps others can: a table of deceit by governments involved (regardless of role) to get a rank ordering ... that would be interesting to compare. But, absent such a comparator, I can't say what the balance is, so cannot judge the UK/US regime as promoting any more lies and deceits than other nations do.
What I can claim however, is that the UK/US regime's first tactic seems to be to reduce everything that happens to the lexicon of the WoT(?) and to do so +before+ a full investigation is conducted. Furthermore, I can also identify documented instances when what they said happened, didn't (and variations on that common theme). This isn't so much a competition for being dishonest, but a challenge to the fundamental principle upon which their leadership is based: we are a mass that needs to be controlled so that they, the big guys(!), can get on with their important work, without us getting in the way. To whatever extent terror does or does not exist in the world (as this is portrayed in the western media), the UK/US regime is definitely not above manipulating that trigger, to exploit its potentialities to usher in changes that, since the sixties, have gotten quite troublesome. "What we need is a decent war on WWI and WWII proportions, gives us a good reason to shut the punters up while we make a grab for the remaining supplies of known energy sources and get rid of those last hold-outs to pro-western interests in the area at the same time", one could almost imagine the conversation going over brandy and cigars in that Yo! Blair relationship the UK/US regime have cultivated.

As any magician will tell you, timing is everything. If a timeline were laid out with the dates of each foiled or completed terror atack, when the information about the plot was known and when it was revealed, with key milestone speeches or event, I wonder what kind of pattern it would make? To what degree would there be a discernable pattern, of coincidences. Time magazine, not known for its radical critique of the Bush neo-con regime, is not above considering the exquisite timing of these alerts also:,8599,1211369,00.html

Regardless of what the outcome of this alert is, there are some questions which are hardly smoking guns, but provocative nonetheless. These have been posted above, so won't be repeated here. What is also of concern is the sudden elevation to "critical" in our magic warning system. So what!? Are we supposed to go running for the shelters in our back gardens now, nicely stocked with supplies from the routine rehearsals and drills we each conduct? Is there a reason why the threat that we are supposed to be aware of is itself nebulous, word-of-mouth, innuendo, difficult to quantify, even qualify, hard to evidence? Is there a reason why this threat to "our way of life"/"our love for freedom" (sic) is as airey-fairy as the neo-lab-con Home Office's concept of "fear of crime" as a target measure?

The link is not frivolous. The Home Office in the UK has, since the late nineties which saw Blair come to power, created a concept through a mangling of nouns and verbs, using this surgically mauled concept as a measure for success in addressing the problems of crime and disorder in the UK. Police, councils, and housing associations were required to pool resources, capacity and info to fight something called "anti-social" behaviour (i.e. delinquency). Crime & Disorder Partnerships (CDRP) as these alliances were called have over the time of their existence heralded in a boom in CCTV surveillance, exclusion zones, licensing repeals, yellow vested cops and rent-a-cops, ASBO, spot fines, and so on and so forth. Always, these gradual incursions on "deviant" behaviour through situational/ geographic crime prevention techniques (the so-called "broken windows" theory - clean up the place, change the lay-out to design crime out, come down hard and fast on violations and the area will be reduced in crime) are exercised to "reduce crime and the fear of crime". The trouble is, the fear of crime is, as a concept, a nonsense. All that is measured is the degree of anxiety about their personal safety. The fact that the media makes a living - and very decent living - at scaring people with graphical tales of woe and violence, death and vulnerability, is going to play havoc with the fears of personal vulnerability (i.e. anxiety). Given the reach, influence and bank balance of the media in full flight, the punter doesn't stand a chance. Therefore, the punters are going to remain scared. The are +always+ going to report a fear of crime. In fact it is common that those areas that do not have high crime levels actually report higher fear of crime levels than those areas where the actual crime figures are higher. To what extent then is the fear of crime concept valid, in a methodological sense: does it measure what it purports to measure?
But, what it +does+ accomplish is that it is always good to justify another contingent of measures that by-and-large impose themselves on the ordinary citizen. That this has reached its apotheosis under Reid is not surprising: at least he is blunt - citizens of the UK ... get used to living in an era as bad as the second world war, under biting limitations on existing human rights. Can we expect the courts to challenge any of this on our behalf? Certainly, most politicians have been less than oppositional to the stripping of our rights and freedoms. With fear and uncertainty on one side and the lure and pressures of "security" on the other, human rights are so easily surrendered in the quest to be safe. So, over a period of time, we frogs have settled into the gradually warming water, no longer noticing that it is getting really friggin' warm in here, and its getting harder to jump out as time goes on ... . The frogs will boil because they do not jump out of a pot of water that is gradually heated and don't feel the heat until it is too late. But, the fear of crime, aka anxiety, can easily be whipped up into a fear of a bigger crime, a more nefarious crime because you can't see it, can't smell it , can't hear it, nor touch it, and it has no taste. But, it is lurking shadow, long, Arabic/ barbaric and menacing. It is a long shadow, willing to die whenever it springs forth, wanting to take you out with it because it hates your values, it hates your freedoms, it hates that you drink or wear revealing clothes, it hates how you live, it hates that you want its oil, it just friggin' hates - do we need to know why?

Any good magician will tell you that if he can convince an audience to swallow the possibility that maybe, just this once, something like magic will suddenly become a real force in a previously unsympathetic universe, that if he can hold their attention over here long enough for them to be interested in what seems to be the action, and then sucker them by a quick, deft movement born of years of practice, he will have - briefly - made their willingness to believe suddenly real. The logic and the reason will kick in the doors quickly again, but that memory of a possibility, the questions, the amount of plausable alternatives, leaves a vulnerability to be willing to believe again, and again, and again ... . Like watching TV, really. Like watching porn. A suspension of disbelief is necessary.
Any decent pickpocket will tell you that she must first distract and second act. It is all sleight of hand. The magician, the pickpocket, the politician, the advertiser: manipulation of the perceptions is the currency in which these folk peddle.

Fear makes us malleable: a scared people is a people looking for strength and decisiveness in their leaders. All of this makes way for the reborn 21st Century face of fascism: the corporate-face of nationalism, the implementation of "full spectrum dominance" and the control of dwindling resources to secure its interests, and an excuse to rid the world of "the Arab problem" in order to gain control on the supply of oil. We, the scared hapless punters that we have become, remain at home, watching sitcoms, knowing that our government is taking care of us. Should we ever, one day, venture outside again (with the government's permission, of course), we will probably no longer recognise the wreck of the world we once knew. No doubt, and the government will confirm this, we will be blaming those terrorists for doing this, because they hate our freedoms and our way of life.

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Two more questions

11.08.2006 23:06

Personally I think this so far has been a clean operation. The abscence of any concrete proof is more to do with the security services total refusal to reveal sources in order to protect their operations rather then there not being any information. Also the espionage world is very grey, in fact if you spend long enough there you'll soon discover that not only is there no black and white, there's no up or down or left or right.

That said I suspect it's going to be piggy backed on to bring in more control measures so my two questions are;

Will they deliberatley throw the convictions in order to use it as an excuse to extend the 28 day detention?

Seeing as the suspect are all home grown will the ID cards (which are so real I'm looking at one now) now carry the phrase "The use of explosives invalidates this card"?


adding to the above

12.08.2006 00:47

I do believe the actual order given out at the police briefing was "If it moves, nick it!" so many of the 24 arressted will actually be found innocent because they actually knew nothing about it.


No dead Lebanese children on TV today

12.08.2006 09:27

George Bush is just following John Reid in ensuring any trials following today's arrests are irretrievably prejudiced.

It is a fact that only the closest Blair circle bothers to deny, that if young British Muslims are turning to terrorism, it is the Blair-Bush foreign policy of war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine that has driven them to it. The majority of British people share their outrage at our foreign policy. That is not to condone the response of irrational violence. Terrorism is plain wrong. But it is Blair who has, through his evangelical embrace of the neo-con foreign agenda, massively increased any current threat of terrorism to the UK.

But let us do what none of the 24 hour news channels are doing; draw breath and count up to ten. What has actually happened so far?

There have been, reportedly, 21 people arrested. There have been no terrorist attacks, no explosions. US sources are reported as saying that explosive devices have been found, but no news from the Police as yet.

I am reminded of the Forest Gate arrests and the notorious "Chemical weapon vest" which was threatening London and required 270 policemen and a four mile air exclusion zone to deal with. The media was shoving that out just as uncritically as it is shoving out this air attack, even though it made no sense. Anyone who knows anything about weapons knows that for a chemical weapon you want maximum dispersal - the last thing you are going to do is wrap it in fabric around a human body. And why the air exclusion zone? Were they going to throw the vest at a passing jet? The media never did ask any of those questions.

Similarly, I recall the famous ricin plot, where again police and the professional pundits said millions could have been killed. In the event, of course, it turned out there was no ricin and no plot.

And I remember Jean Charles De Menezes, the "suicide bomber", with his "bulky jacket", with "wires sticking out", who "leapt" the ticket barriers and "raced" onto the tube. All lies.

So I am waiting with a little healthy scepticism to see the truth of this "al-Qaida plot" bringing "Mass murder on an unprecedented scale".

Of course, it helps New Labour look Churchillian, and explains why Israel had to be supported in the ethnic cleansing of South Lebanon, part of the "Arc of extremism". it is interesting that the timing of these arrests exactly today, after "months" of surveillance, was determined by the Prime Minister - the CO in COBRA, the operational command, stands for Cabinet Office.

The political timing could not have been more convenient - a junior minister had resigned over arms to Israel, and the backbench rebellion demanding a recall of parliament over Lebanon will now be containable in the name of standing together in the War on Terror. And the news agenda has been seismically shifted. The public mood is instantly tilted from sympathy for the people of Lebanon, leading to questioning of the War on Terror, to renewed fear that "Islamic fascists" are planning to kill us all.

So to recap: Blair's crazed foreign policy has made us a genuine potential target for terrorist attack. The government manipulates and spins that threat to political advantage.

We wait for the court system to show whether this was a real attempted attack and, if so, it was genuinely operational rather than political to move against it today. But the police' and security services' record of lies does not inspire confidence.

As Britain's outspoken Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray helped expose vicious human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of Islam Karimov. He is now a prominent critic of Western policy in the region.

Craig Murray
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After Heathrow: What accounts for the threat of terrorism?

14.08.2006 12:22

There is still little substantive information on the alleged plot to explode transatlantic flights from Britain to the US in mid-air. To date, the British government has provided no facts to substantiate its claims of a conspiracy to commit mass murder in the air.

Unless and until it does so, the public has both a right and a political responsibility to withhold its judgment on the government’s claims.

Most press commentary is given over to reporting on the lives and backgrounds of many of the 23 people being held in Britain as a result of last Thursday’s police sweep. (One of the 24 initially arrested has been released.)

Such coverage is legally presumptive and suggestive of guilt. It prompted an admonishment by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith and Home Secretary John Reid that the media was in danger of prejudicing any future trials.

The government’s warning is disingenuous. It was Reid himself who held a press conference on the morning of the police raids in London and the West Midlands at which he baldly stated that the “main players” in a terrorist conspiracy had been arrested.

The following day, in an unprecedented move, the Bank of England froze the assets of 19 of those held in custody and published their names. The youngest is 17 and the oldest 35. This action, authorised by the Treasury, began a media feeding frenzy that has included camping outside family homes, publishing photographs and quizzing residents and friends.

This has been accompanied by assertions that more than 1,000 British citizens are committed to fundamentalist Islamic ideology and involved in terrorist activities. In addition to this “core group,” politicians and the media have denounced the “Muslim community” for failing to address the alleged cancer in its midst and being blinded to reality by religious dogmatism.

The Sunday Times editorialised against “The Enemy Within”. This it described as fanatical British-born Muslims “educated in the country and brought up within a tolerant democracy,” many of whom “seem all too ordinary, perhaps enthusiastic about football and cricket and living ‘normal’ westernised existences,” but who are amongst a “generation of disaffected Muslims who see any excuse as a reason for killing their fellow citizens.”

In an article entitled “What Makes a Martyr?” the Sunday Telegraph wrote of a “sophisticated network” of Islamic fundamentalists that “casts its net wide over many hitherto-moderate Muslim youngsters. Its modus operandi is now a well practised, psychological approach aimed at brainwashing ‘clean skins’—those with moderate backgrounds.”

The Telegraph cited a recent government report that, amongst young Muslims, both the “well-educated and the disaffected poor are ripe for conversion, first to radicalism, sometimes then to terrorism: the former in our universities, the latter in mosques or prisons through a sense of disillusionment with their current existence.”

If such claims are to be taken at face value, it means that hundreds of young people from all walks of life, including the highly educated, are preparing with cold-hearted indifference to kill and maim their fellow citizens.

Yet, despite the gravity of the scenario presented, neither the media nor the government make any attempt to explain how such a situation could come to pass. With one voice, they bitterly denounce any suggestion that the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and Britain’s support for Israel’s attack on Lebanon have contributed to this disturbing state of affairs.

On the Conservative Party right, the Telegraph declared, “... in fact, the extremists who plot mass murder give very little evidence of being motivated by the details of Britain’s foreign policy.” The nominally liberal and pro-Blair Observer denounced the suggestion that Britain’s actions overseas were perceived as anti-Islamic as “ludicrous lies”. Foreign policy should not be adapted so as to placate those who had “crossed a line into psychopathic criminality,” the newspaper declared.

A similar litany has been repeated ad nauseam by the Blair government so as to suppress all criticisms of its wars of aggression in the Middle East. It dovetails with President Bush’s declaration that “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”

Such claims turn reality on its head. It is not those who oppose imperialist war and warn of its political impact who are endangering the lives of the British people, but the architects and defenders of these wars.

Even as it denies that British foreign policy plays any role, the media fails to offer any alternative explanation for the influence of Islamic fundamentalism. The July 7, 2005 bombings in London, like 9/11 and the attacks in Bali and Madrid, are attributed simply to “brainwashing”. The Observer says in passing that alienation amongst young Muslims must be tackled, but does not attempt to address where it comes from, much less say what is to be done about it.

One week prior to last week’s police raids, Blair made a speech in the United States on British foreign policy in which he denounced “reactionary Islam” and advocated as an alternative a set of supposed “global values” based on “freedom, respect for difference and diversity”. Such rhetoric from a man who has trampled over civil liberties and the democratic process, and has conspired and lied in order to flout international law, can only fuel contempt for official hypocrisy.

Blair demands of the disaffected that they worship at the altar of Mammon and accept Washington’s claim that its wars for “regime change” in pursuit of oil and other vital resources are about spreading “democracy”.

The impact of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Lebanon is, in reality, a crucial starting point in explaining the growing alienation of Muslim youth in Britain. But in itself it does not explain why antiwar sentiment, which is shared by the majority of the British population, would find expression in an inclination to commit murderous and reactionary attacks.

The same is true with regards to the growing social polarisation within Britain that has condemned many young people to enormous hardship. Millions grow up with no prospect of achieving many of the things their parents took for granted—career advancement, their own home, a secure and decent-paying job—and have a sense that they inhabit a world that is indifferent to them.

All of this combines to fuel hostility to the existing political and economic order. But for this to pass over into a readiness to kill innocents and commit suicide in the process, other factors must be at work.

At one time, millions of people in Britain and internationally looked to the labour movement as the agent of political and social change. Opposition to economic oppression, attacks on democratic rights and militarism found political expression in the socialist aspirations that animated working people, and the younger generation in particular.

No such avenue is offered today. Instead, the Labour Party and the trade unions are indelibly associated with big business, racist immigration legislation and the promotion of “identity politics” based on ethnicity, gender and religion, which is used to undermine any class-based approach to social problems.

This is the outcome of a process that has spanned decades, and has had a highly damaging impact on the political consciousness of working people. Ever since the mid-1970s, the labour movement has collaborated in the systematic lowering of the social position of the working class. First under Margaret Thatcher and John Major’s Conservative Party governments, and from 1997 on under Labour Party Prime Minister Blair himself, the old workers’ organisations have embraced a neo-conservative agenda that has transformed Britain into a low-wage, low-tax sweatshop for the transnational corporations and the super-rich.

To make matters worse, they have proclaimed this as the best of all possible worlds and led an international campaign to hail the “death of socialism”.

Every means for influencing and changing society has been systematically closed down to working people by a government that boasts of its determination to defy the popular will and impose the interests of the financial oligarchy. Not even on such life-and-death matters as war are working people allowed any influence—as was underscored by Blair’s dismissal of the mass protests against the imminent invasion of Iraq in February 2003.

The initial manifestation of the official labour movement’s attack on socialist consciousness was to reduce the aims of the workers’ movement to the so-called “bread and butter” issues of trade union struggles. The transformation of society was proclaimed a distant utopia long before it was rejected out of hand. Millions know very well that Labour’s embrace of capitalism has, in fact, proved devastating from the standpoint of the living standards of the working class. They must understand that it has also exacted an appalling price ideologically.

It is the political vacuum created by the disintegration and decay of the labour movement that ultimately gives succour to the fundamentalists. They are able to exploit feelings of injustice and denounce Western militarism, portraying the reactionary policies of the capitalist ruling elite as a war on Islam. Theirs is indeed a reactionary creed, but it nevertheless makes an ideological appeal by promising a better world than that which currently exists.

If one accepts the claims of the political establishment and the media—designed to justify further attacks on democratic rights and new imperialist military adventures—that large sections of Muslim youth have turned against society as a whole, then one must conclude that the capitalist system, which these same spokesman defend, has demonstrated its utter and irreversible failure.

Only the revival of the workers’ movement on genuinely internationalist and socialist foundations can overcome religious obscurantism by inspiring and empowering workers and youth with a scientific perspective for unifying the world’s people. And the objective social and political conditions for the emergence of such a movement are growing daily.

Amidst the hysteria that is being whipped up over the alleged Heathrow terror plot, these are the critical questions that must inform the response of working people.

Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland
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Baby bomb terror

15.08.2006 10:54

Hunt on for baby bombers

By JOHN KAY Chief Reporter and SIMON HUGHES

HATE-filled mums willing to sacrifice themselves and their BABIES are being hunted in the war on terror.

Security sources confirmed last night that alleged “baby bombers” were among those arrested over the plot to massacre thousands by downing transatlantic flights.

Those being quizzed included a husband and wife with a six-month-old infant.

The discovery prompted fears that there were fanatical mothers in secret al-Qaeda cells in Britain ready to become suicide bombers — and to die with their tots in their arms.

And it emerged as the reason why women at airports were ordered to drink from their babies’ bottles before being allowed to board flights during last week’s massive alert.

One senior Government security adviser warned of a race against time to identify individuals who might pose a threat.

The adviser said: “It may be beyond belief, but we are convinced that there are now women in Britain who are prepared to die with their babies for their twisted cause. They are ruthless, single-minded and totally committed.”

The nightmare is that mums carrying tiny tots would provide “very good cover” and not raise suspicions among even the most alert security guards.

The threat was identified along with an additional warning that as many as two dozen terror cells may still be active in Britain.

The source added: “We believe all the known players involved in last week’s plot have been detained. Our biggest concern now is all the unknown players who may be out there.

“And that includes mothers who are ready and willing to see their little ones die. It is a race against time.” Women around the world have carried out suicide attacks in the past.

Two female Chechen terrorists blew themselves up on separate flights in Russia two years ago.

An intelligence source said: “Al-Qaeda specialises in attempting the unexpected. What could be more unexpected in Western eyes than women willing to die with their babies?”

MI5 chiefs are jubilant over cracking the plan to disguise bombs as soft drinks or baby bottles — but warned that other forms of transport are massively at risk from suicide attacks.

The Government source said: “There are dozens of other outrages being plotted on all forms of transport because they offer the highest potential body count.”

Yesterday it emerged that among those detained in last week’s raids is believed to be a key al-Qaeda figure.

A senior Government official said: “He is not al-Qaeda’s Mr Big in Britain but he is certainly a very important player.”

It is now almost certain that a dummy run for an attack had been planned by terrorists for a flight over the weekend.

“We now think that was on,” said the source.

Last night 23 people arrested in raids in London, Birmingham and High Wycombe, Bucks, remained in police custody.

Twenty-two can be detained until Wednesday and a decision on another individual has been adjourned until today.

The Scum
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The politics of the latest terror scare

16.08.2006 10:13

Five days after UK authorities arrested 24 British-born Muslims and announced that they and their American counterparts had thwarted a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights from London to the US, neither the British nor the American government has produced any facts to substantiate their dire claims.

No details of the supposed plot have been provided, and no hard evidence that would justify the arrest of so many people or the imposition of chilling security measures that had wreaked havoc at airports in the US and Britain.

In the meantime, commercial flights are being turned around in mid-flight, and wild claims of new plots are hitting the newsstands. The latest was the arrest of three Palestinian-Americans who were hauled into jail in Michigan after they purchased some 80 cell phones from a Wal-Mart store. Local police discovered that one of them had a digital camera with an image of the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. This was sufficient to charge them with conspiring, using cell phones as detonators, to attack the bridge.

This implausible “plot” was punctured on Monday when the FBI issued a statement that none of the three were connected to any known terrorist groups, that buying cell phones was not a crime, and that the Mackinac Bridge was in no danger. Family members explained that the three bought and sold cell phones to make a living. The incident was, however, indicative of the atmosphere of hysteria that is being encouraged by the Bush administration. (As of this writing, moreover, the three suspects remain in jail).

Unless and until hard facts are presented, the entire airline terror plot must be viewed with the gravest suspicion.

On NBC TV’s “Today” program Monday morning, Lisa Myers, reporting from London, said British authorities were complaining that they had less evidence than they wanted against the alleged plotters because the Bush administration insisted that the timing of the arrests be brought forward by a week. The British, according to Myers, had planned to wait until the supposed conspirators carried out a “dry run” of their plot.

That British officials are privately expressing concerns about a lack of evidence raises serious questions as to whether there are clear and convincing facts that those arrested had anything to do with the alleged plot, or that such a conspiracy existed.

Myers’ revelation reinforces previous reports that the British government had objected to claims by US officials that the alleged plot was linked to Al Qaeda. These developments suggest that far from thwarting a nefarious plot on the eve of its implementation, the British government came under pressure from Washington to participate in a massive provocation, and that once more it knuckled under to US demands.

The lack of facts has not prevented the mainstream media, especially in the US, from uncritically accepting the official claims and embellishing them with commentaries by “terrorist experts” about Al Qaeda connections, home-grown terrorist cells and similar hypotheses, all of which are calculated to create a climate of fear and intimidation.

Nevertheless, buried in the reams of newspaper articles and hours of television commentary are bits and pieces of information that cast further doubt on the substantiality of the official claims. Thus Monday’s USA Today, in an article headlined “Fearing Wider US Plot, Investigators Raced Clock,” noted the following: “There was also no immediate evidence that any of the suspects had purchased tickets for future flights, although British authorities have indicated some of the suspects had allegedly reviewed flight schedules and were honing in on specific flights.”

Yet British and American officials stated at the time of the arrests last week that the airline attack was “imminent.”

To make the entire affair more suspect, the NBC news program Monday evening reported that British authorities had discovered “new evidence” that led them to alter their approach to their ongoing investigation. What was this “new evidence?” And how could it significantly alter an investigation that had supposedly thwarted an imminent attack? These questions were not even raised.

Despite the lack of factual substantiation, official threat levels have been raised and so-called security measures have been introduced that have created chaos in the air transport system and subjected the American and British people to police-military methods that violate their privacy and infringe on their democratic rights.

Twenty-three British citizens remain in jail, under conditions, according to their lawyers, that make a mockery of due process and democratic rights. They have been denied contact with family members, have had virtually no contact with legal counsel, and are being subjected to abusive treatment, including confinement in freezing cells. They have been charged with no crimes, and, under recently passed British anti-terror laws, can be held without charge for up to 28 days.

The names and photos of most of the prisoners have been splashed across newspapers and their assets have been seized by the British Treasury, proving that the presumption of innocence is a dead letter in both Britain and the US.

These are the type of conditions that police agencies employ to terrorize suspects and extract damaging statements or confessions that are then cited to “prove” state allegations and prosecute defendants.

One thing is clear: the supposed plot has been seized on for transparently political purposes of a deeply reactionary character.

On Monday, British Home Minister John Reid announced that the official threat level in Britain had been lowered from “critical” to “severe,” even as he suggested that there were many terrorist cells operating in Britain and revived the Labour government’s call for an extension of preventive detention to 90 days.

The day before, the US homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, made the rounds of Sunday talk shows and called for changes in US laws to make government spying even more pervasive and allow for preventive detention along British lines.

Why was the Bush administration so insistent that the alleged plot be exposed last Thursday? The answer has nothing to do with security considerations. It has, rather, to do with the machinations of the clique of political gangsters—Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, among others—who run the US government.

With their favorite Democrat, the rabidly pro-war senator and former vice presidential candidate, Joseph Lieberman, losing the Democratic primary in Connecticut to a political upstart running as an opponent of the Iraq war, Ned Lamont, it was urgent that this expression of mass antiwar and anti-Bush sentiment be shoved off the front pages and supplanted by a new round of fear-mongering and hysteria.

Likewise the revelations of US war crimes in Iraq and the torture of US prisoners at Guantánamo.

Even as Cheney was in discussions with the government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the impending terror scare, he held a rare press briefing to denounce the vote for Lamont as a boon to Al Qaeda. This bit of witch-hunting was then taken up by Lieberman himself, who slandered opposition to the Iraq war and to himself as tantamount to support for terrorism.

There undeniably is a conspiracy. It is a plot to use terrorist threats, real or imagined, to terrorize the American people, intimidate them, disorient them, and accustom them to accept the militarization of every aspect of their lives and the destruction of their democratic rights. The center of this conspiracy is the American government itself.

This is to be, in so far as Cheney and company have a say in the matter, the atmosphere in which the November elections are held.

What is the political context in which this latest terror scare takes place? Iraq has descended into civil war under the jackboot of American military occupation, Afghanistan is spiraling out of control, the US-Israeli war in Lebanon has ended in political failure, new opinion polls show Bush’s approval ratings once against sinking to record levels and antiwar sentiment rising to new heights.

An article in Monday’s Washington Post noted that Republican incumbents in the Northeast fear they could be wiped out in the November elections as a result of popular hatred for Bush and the war.

The answer of the Cheney-Rove conspirators is to engineer a new wave of panic and hysteria in an attempt to once again stampede voters behind Bush’s “war on terrorism.” They did the same in 2004, when in the run-up to the election the government suddenly announced a plot to attack major financial institutions in New York, Washington and Newark, New Jersey—a plot that came to nothing. And there was, at a convenient point in the election calendar, the sudden reemergence of Osama bin Laden with a taped message reminding the American people that he was determined to wipe them out.

The fascist-minded denizens of American’s secret government rely on the cowardice and complicity of the Democratic Party and the services of an utterly servile and corrupt media, which is itself heavily populated by outright agents of US intelligence agencies. Not a single mainstream newspaper or media outlet has challenged the claims of the government regarding the alleged airline terror plot.

What about the 24th alleged conspirator, who was quietly released by the British authorities from jail last week? Who is he? Why was he released? Was he perhaps the MI5 intelligence agent who reportedly infiltrated the group of alleged plotters? These questions are not even asked, let alone answered.

Why does the media take the government leaders in the US and Britain at their word? They all dragged their people into a war on the basis of lies. Bush stood before Congress, the Supreme Court and the American people in his 2003 State of the Union Address and lied about Iraq’s supposed attempt to buy uranium from Niger. The US secretary of state went before the United Nations and delivered an extended brief for war that was packed with lies. Cheney is a serial prevaricator.

As for Tony Blair, he not only lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, he secretly sanctioned a shoot-to-kill policy that resulted in the police murder of an innocent worker, Jean Charles de Menezes, in the aftermath of last year’s London train bombings.

The most important lesson that must be drawn from the current terror scare is just how far advanced the police state conspiracies are in the United States, and just how criminal are the methods of those who run the country.

15 August 2006
Copyright 1998-2006
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved

Barry Grey
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The US media and the London terror scare

16.08.2006 10:15

Since August 10, when British authorities arrested two dozen individuals in connection with an alleged plot to blow up a number of airplanes over the Atlantic Ocean, the American mass media has worked ceaselessly to create a climate of fear.

For the first several days after the news of the alleged plot broke, American news programs were virtually unwatchable. The lurid logos and wild, unsubstantiated allegations made a mockery of claims that the networks and cable channels are in the business of “news-gathering.”

The responses of the cable news channels to events like the August 10 arrests are predictable. One knows ahead of time that each of the channels will have its own sensationalist logo and catch-phrase. However, the combination of limited imaginations and shared political goals—centered on keeping the US population in a state of constant panic—often results in a certain overlap. CNN, for example, chose “Target: USA” as its phrase, Fox News opted for “Terror in the Sky,” and MSNBC neatly combined the two with “Target America: Terror in the Sky.”

On the morning of August 10, CNN anchors Soledad O’Brien and Tony Harris did their best to terrify their viewers. O’Brien began: “You’re watching a special edition of ‘American Morning,’ as we bring you breaking news that has begun really in Great Britain, but has rippled its way right here to the United States. We’re talking about terror.

“British officials are saying that they have disrupted a plot to commit mass murder. That’s a quote, ‘a plot to commit mass murder.’ They said mass murder on an unimaginable scale. They believe, in fact, that they have foiled the plot. Twenty one people are now under arrest.”

O’Brien introduced a later segment this way: “A sophisticated terror plot has been foiled. Now worldwide aviation has been thrown into chaos as unprecedented security measures are now being put into place...

“Lots of unknowns, of course, at this point as the investigation is just getting under way. How many planes, for example? Was there a specific date planned? We do not know.”

The CNN anchor neglected to place the very existence of the plot in the category of “unknowns.” That she and her colleagues accepted without questioning. She made no use of the word “alleged.” Her phrase, a “terror plot has been foiled,” would be repeated by commentators dozens and dozens of times over the next several days, as though this were an established fact.

Inadvertently acknowledging the public’s growing skepticism about terror scares organized by the Bush administration, CNN reporters recurrently referred to this new terror scenario as “the real deal.”

O’Brien couldn’t help herself over the course of the morning: “A source close to the investigation says this is the real deal,” “People close to the investigation say this is the real deal,” “A source close to the investigation says, ‘this is the real deal.’”

Nor could her co-anchor, Harris, who first asked a CNN reporter: “You travel all over the world, does this feel like the real deal to you?” and then assumed ownership of the phrase himself, “And a source close to the investigation says this is the real deal.”

CNN correspondent John King also got in on the act, “This senior administration official moments ago saying that this is very much the real deal, in his view.” Jeanne Meserve, CNN homeland security correspondent, carried the torch throughout the morning and afternoon, repeating the phrase on several different CNN programs: “Just talked to a US government official, who, when I asked about the seriousness of this threat, called it the real deal,” “According to one official I talked to, this was, quote, ‘the real deal,’” “A US official telling me this morning this was the real deal in his opinion” and “Officials call this the real deal.”

And if the plot turns out, in the end, not to be the ‘real deal,’ will there be any consequences for these individuals? Of course not. The entire affair will simply be allowed to die away.

The shift into terror mode is less immediately noticeable on Fox News Channel, since this Rupert Murdoch-owned propaganda arm of the Bush administration is perpetually on a ‘war footing.’ On Fox, no one even bothered with the word “alleged” in reporting the British airplane conspiracy.

On a typical Fox afternoon program last week, “In the wake of the London bomb plot...” one of their stupid female announcers begins, over the logo “Terror in the Sky.” Scotland Yard is conducting “70 anti-terror investigations,” we are informed. One of the suspects in the airplane plot planned to “use his infant as a decoy” while carrying out the dastardly deed. The British government has “stopped four bomb plots” since last July.

No evidence, no proof for any of this.

At one point a list of spectacular “Plot Details” appears on the screen:

* Blow up planes in midair

* Up to 50 terrorists involved

* 21 arrested so far

* Use liquid explosions to blow up planes

* Target American planes

Chris Wallace of Fox begins an interview, with yet another “terrorism analyst,” in the following manner: “When British authorities broke up that terror plot to blow up several aircraft heading for the US, they prevented a massacre over the Atlantic.” No reason to bother with the formality of an investigation, much less a trial.

On August 11, Fox’s John Gibson, a vicious proponent of police-state measures, questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. Gibson asked: “What is the role that either the Patriot Act or the NSA surveillance program or any of those kinds of things where American authorities listen in on people, what role did that play in this investigation?” Gonzalez more or less sidestepped the question, on the grounds that “We don’t want to jeopardize the subsequent prosecution.”

Gibson wasn’t to be put off so easily: “Let me put it this way, Mr. Attorney General. Apparently the Brits did use ‘sneak and peek’ as well as telephone taps. Does that illustrate, or should that illustrate to the American public, why those are necessary tools here?”

Gonzalez replied by providing the justification offered by every dictatorial regime for spying on the population: “We have had a very dangerous and very determined enemy, and they’re very smart. And they’re very wise in the ways that they communicate with each other. And I think we have a responsibility in government to ensure that we’re taking advantage of changing technology ourselves. We shouldn’t handicap ourselves.”

The alleged airline bomb plot has caused massive disruption to international air traffic. As always, the Bush administration would like to have it both ways: terrify the public yet not cut into the profits of giant corporations. On Fox’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” August 10, the host of the program raised this vexing matter with Frances Townsend, White House homeland security adviser.

Cavuto worried that many members of the flying public “might be canceling reservations. In a way, then, do the terrorists succeed by not succeeding?” Townsend provided this rather shaky assurance: “Well, you know, they—if people begin to cancel their reservations and not travel, the—the terrorists do, in some measure, succeed. You know, this is about fear. It’s about instilling that fear in the flying public, both British and American.

“And you heard, today, the president, and you heard [Homeland Security] Secretary [Michael] Chertoff say, the measures we are taking, while they will create an inconvenience for the flying public, is the—are the very same measures that ought to give them the reassurance that it is safe to continue flying.”

Should one laugh or cry?

On MSNBC, with certain notable exceptions, the same general tone was struck. On August 10, Tucker Carlson, something of an idiot, introduced his afternoon program as follows: “The news today, absolutely chilling. What could well have been the most spectacular terror attack since 9/11, a murderous plot involving jumbo jets and targeting thousands of unsuspecting American travelers. But unlike the deadly attacks on New York and Washington almost five years ago, this plot was thwarted, possibly at the very last minute.”

At 7 p.m., Chris Matthews chimed in, beginning his “Hardball” program, “coming to you tonight from outside the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington,” with: “A terror plot of unimaginable scope was thwarted today. British authorities arrested 24 British subjects, suspected in a plot to blow up nine airplanes on their way from London to the US. President Bush and US officials worked with their British counterparts in the days leading up to today’s arrests.”

Later in the evening, right-wing former congressman Joe Scarborough started off “Scarborough Country” as follows: “Tonight, governments in America, England and across the world are working feverishly to unfold that terror plot to blow up those flights from Great Britain to the United States. Thank God the plot was foiled by Scotland Yard, with the help of US authorities, who picked up an unusually high amount of chatter over the past month.”

On his August 14 program, Carlson interrogated Dr. Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought and a senior member of the Muslim Association of Britain, who raised doubts about the terror plot, noting that “we have been told that this entire alleged plot was uncovered by the Pakistanis.... And I don’t have any confidence in the Pakistani intelligence or in any intelligence in that part of the world because they function as contractors. They do things in order to appease certain circles, and we’ve been there before.”

This was too much for Carlson, who interjected indignantly, “So, wait, you are basing your claim that this is likely a hoax simply on the fact that you don’t like the ISI, the Pakistani Intelligence Service, and that they’ve been wrong before? I mean, do you have evidence that this was a hoax? Because it’s an awfully poisonous thing to say otherwise.”

The application of the adjective “poisonous” to the defense of individuals who have been jailed and branded would-be mass murderers by two of the most powerful governments on earth, but not charged or found guilty of any crime: Does this not sum up the contemptuous attitude of the American media toward democracy?

Tamimi proceeded to point out the obvious: “I don’t have evidence that it is a hoax, but there is no evidence that it was real.”

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s “Countdown” program represented something of an exception to the uncritical transmission of government claims as facts. He began his program August 10, remarking, “The hysteria stops here,” and later, “The source is the British, the same people who missed both subway bombings in London last year, then shot a purported terrorist wearing a suicide-bomb vest and running from police, only it turned out he was a 27-year-old electrician wearing an ordinary shirt and walking.”

Olbermann asked, “How much of the plot was actually operational, how much of it feasible, how much of the reaction political?”

On August 14, Olbermann returned to the alleged bomb plot, in a segment called “The nexus of politics and terror.” He noted that “the plot, while real, might not have been quite as real as it was being advertised.” Among the revelations he mentioned: “Now we know, from senior members of British intelligence, that no attack was imminent, that those suspected had yet to buy airline tickets, and some of them didn’t even have passports.... Our government insisted on immediate arrests, and proceeded, both before and after them, to make every imaginable piece of political [hay] out of them.”

Olbermann even raised a thoroughly taboo question in the American media, “whether a government would really exaggerate or manipulate terror developments, not to allay the fears of the citizenry, but rather to inflame them.”

A fascistic rant

A special note must be added about the presence on CNN’s Headline News channel of Glenn Beck, a reactionary radio talk show host, who has been given his own evening program. Pretending to provide “straight talk,” Beck, an obviously unstable individual, carries on in the manner of a homegrown American fascist.

Lest we be accused of exaggerating, here are a few samples. From his August 10 program: “Does your gut tell you that this [the alleged bomb plot] is the start of something much bigger? We’re at red alert for the very first time in our nation’s history, and I for one don’t think it should be just because of what happened in London.”

Beck then referred to the case of two Muslim men from Dearborn, Michigan, arrested on terrorism charges for purchasing hundreds of cell phones. The claims have subsequently been exposed as fraudulent, the men released and the terrorism charges dropped.

Beck ranted on: “Also bodies of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have reportedly been found among the Hezbollah fighters slain in Lebanon. [Another entirely unsubstantiated assertion.] I have been saying this the whole time. And now we have proof positive. We are at world war with Iran. They are assembling forces and mobilizing our enemies on a global level. Iran is the head of the snake.”

And later on the same program: “The story out of London is huge. But it is part of something much bigger, and much more dangerous. This is why I’ve been saying we’re in World War III. It’s just—we’re at the beginning, and we’re just now beginning to see how everything is really tied together.”

On August 14, Beck returned to the Iranian threat and its apocalyptic character. [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] “is a force for evil who is more dangerous than Hitler. Hitler really didn’t want to die to fulfill his sick vision. This guy does and will.

“I also know that I am no longer going to call this a war on terror. Mainly because that implies that it’s kind of like the war on drugs. You know, something that will always be around, we just need to contain it. Just saying no doesn’t really work with crazy people.

“We have to wipe this threat out completely, not contain it. We need to kill them before they kill us.”

This is the type of filth to which the American public is subjected on a daily basis.

16 August 2006

Copyright 1998-2006
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved

David Walsh
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Contradictions, anomalies, questions mount in UK terror scare

17.08.2006 07:51

A British court on Wednesday extended the warrants for 23 people held since August 10 in connection with the alleged plot to blow up commercial airliners flying from Britain to the US. An additional person was arrested Tuesday. The judge issued his ruling late in the evening following a closed-door hearing that lasted most of the day.

Under Britain’s recently passed anti-terror law, suspected terrorists can be held for up to 28 days without being charged. Amid growing indications that the authorities lack firm evidence to back up their claims that the arrested men and women were on the verge of executing a terror attack on the scale of 9/11, there had been speculation in the press that at least some of the prisoners would be ordered released.

In the event, the judge gave the police more time to question the suspects, but refused to extend the warrants for the full period allowed by the anti-terror law. A police statement said the warrants for 21 of the suspects were extended until August 23 and for 2 others until August 21.

It is fair to surmise from the unusual length of the hearing and the limited extension of the warrants that the evidence presented by the authorities fell considerably short of constituting a hard and convincing case.

Indeed, one week on, it seems that the current alert is unravelling, and that it is of a similar type to previous “terror plots” that subsequently proved to involve nothing concrete, with much of the supposed evidence resulting from the activities of police informants working as agent provocateurs.

It this case, it transpires that not only were no bombs actually assembled, but none of the British-born Muslims being held had purchased airline tickets, and some did not even possess passports. Despite a massive trawling operation by police involving days of extensive searches at 46 separate locations, no trace has been found of chemicals that were supposedly to be used as explosives.

Yet on August 10, Home Secretary John Reid claimed security services had successfully foiled a terrorist conspiracy to “bring down a number of aircraft through midflight explosions” on the eve of its execution. Paul Stephenson, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said chillingly, “This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.”

In the US, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a news conference that the plot was “a very sophisticated plan and operation” in which the suspects had “accumulated the capability necessary and they were well on their way,’’ while President George Bush said it was a “stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists.”

As the UK’s terror alert was raised to “critical” and airports across the country ground to a halt, stranding tens of thousands of passengers, the claims and rumours from largely unidentified sources continued. According to one account, two of those held—apparently husband and wife—plotted to use their six-month old baby as a decoy for their suicide mission above the Atlantic.

This, and similar lurid claims, were repeated by the establishment media as good coin, with no attempt made to substantiate them. Self-censorship on the part of the media played a major role, with the Guardian, for example, informing its readers that it knows “the precise location” of terror camps in the UK countryside, “but cannot disclose it.”

Now, at least some sections of the media feel obliged to acknowledge widespread doubts as to the veracity of such claims. Yesterday’s Guardian reported that the announcement of the alleged plot had caused broadcasters and newspapers to be “barraged with a wave of sceptical views” from “thousands of ordinary people.” The same day, NBC’s early morning “Today” programme in the US led its show with the question: “Is there a case?” Reporter Lisa Myers stated baldly that “there is no evidence that a bomb was tested in England or that explosives were prepared.”

If some are beginning to distance themselves from the wild assertions made by the British and US authorities, it is with good cause. In addition to the absence of concrete evidence, many questions remain unanswered—not least, why the terror alert was raised only after large numbers of arrests had already been made?

With each passing day, the spectacular claims of a week ago look less and less convincing.

On August 15, the UK’s Channel 4 News broadcast an exclusive interview with Amjad Sarwar, whose brother Assad was one of those arrested in the August 10 police raids in High Wycombe. For days, the media had reported that Amjad was also in detention, and his photograph had been splashed across the newspapers. But Amjad had never been arrested, much less questioned. He asked pointedly, “If they got this wrong, what else have they got wrong?”

His brother’s arrest was also a mistake, Amjad insisted. “They’ve got it all wrong. He is an innocent guy....There is no way he could have anything to do with terrorism. He condemns terrorism.” The police had “picked up an innocent person just because he had a beard,” he said.

A neighbour of the Sarwars told the Daily Mirror, “They are perfect neighbours.”

Other information suggests that the terror plot was concocted at US urging, utilising the willing services of the Pakistan government and its security services, which themselves are well known to have links with various terrorist organisations.

On August 13, the Observer newspaper published a timeline of the run-up to the terror raids. If its account is to be believed, neither the head of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Operations department nor Britain’s transport secretary had been informed until the last moment that a terrorist attack was “imminent.”

According to the Observer, Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander was holidaying in Scotland when he was contacted on August 7 by an official in his office, advising him there’s “something you need to know.” A civil servant was apparently sent to Scotland to brief the minister on “an urgent terrorist threat—although at that stage it was not considered immediate.”

Until late on Wednesday, August 9—only hours before the police raids and mass arrests—few outside an “elite” had any inkling “something was up,” the newspaper continues. Amongst those in the dark was Andy Hayman, head of Special Operations with the Metropolitan Police, who, the Observer reports, was in Spain with his family. Late that evening, “colleagues rang to suggest he return immediately. His flight touched down shortly after 3 am on Thursday, soon after the majority of suspects had been picked up.”

Yet President Bush had “known about the plot for some time,” as did “City officials in New York,” who, “several months ago...had been told that there was a major investigation going on in Britain.”

The Observer states that Prime Minister Tony Blair had also discussed the alleged plot with Bush on Sunday, August 6, and again the day before the raids. Strangely, this did not prevent Blair leaving for his Caribbean holiday on Tuesday, August 8—just as his transport secretary was returning early from his own vacation.

Just as extraordinary is the fact that since then, apart from a few lines praising the security forces, the prime minister has not made any statement regarding what has been described as some of the “gravest” days ever experienced by the UK. Even as the airline carriers, which have lost millions of pounds, line up to denounce “nonsensical” security measures and demand an independent inquiry into the way the alleged terror threat was handled, Blair has remained silent.

A spokesman for the prime minister merely said, “If he had known on Monday night what he knew on Wednesday night, I don’t think he would have gone on holiday.”

This means either that earlier claims that Blair was in the loop and was briefing the US were false, or that the prime minister had reason to believe no major threat really existed, and/or that he was unaware that a major police operation would be mounted within 48 hours of his departure.

The alleged Pakistan connection

In so far as there is any effort to account for the fact that leading figures within the British government and police were apparently taken by surprise at developments, they revolve around the arrest of a Briton, Rashid Rauf, in Pakistan.

It is claimed that Rashid, described as the alleged plot’s “mastermind,” was detained late on Wednesday, August 9, causing an accomplice to make a “panicked telephone call to a British suspect, directing him to go ahead with the airliner plot,” several reports said. The government and police, the story goes, had to take urgent measures to avert this disaster.

However, there are numerous conflicting accounts as to the timing of Rashid’s arrest, with several reports that he has been in custody in Pakistan for more than one month. Similarly, the location of his arrest has been given variously as Karachi, Lahore, Bahawalpur and the Afghan border.

Moreover, as of yesterday, Pakistani authorities reported that there had been no request from Britain for Rashid’s return. There is no extradition treaty between Britain and Pakistan, but such a request could be made under international conventions.

The so-called “Pakistan connection” raises even more questions.

Reports of the number of those detained by the Pakistani authorities vary from 7 to 17. The Independent newspaper noted, “Remarkably little information has emerged from Pakistan about the arrests. Well-connected journalists are complaining that their usual sources have dried up, which is unusual in Pakistan, where the intelligence services like to boast to journalists of their successes.”

Any “details” that are supplied by Pakistan must be regarded as suspect. Notorious for its use of torture, it is one of the favoured destinations for CIA “rendition” flights. The Guardian cited Ali Hasan, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, that “torture was endemic and that there was no doubt it would have been used on Mr Rauf.”

The Pakistan government has used its role in the alleged terror plot to curry favour with Washington. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told a rally marking Pakistan’s 59th anniversary of independence that his government’s role in disrupting the alleged plot proved it was fighting terrorism “along with the world community.”

This has not stopped government and intelligence agencies of various countries briefing at odds with one another. Pakistan officials have been keen to insist that Rashid was arrested on the Afghan border as he crossed into Pakistan, but this has been flatly rejected by the Afghan authorities and British security sources, who told the Independent that some of the statements from Pakistani officials should be “treated with circumspection.”

Britain and Pakistan are also at odds over allegations that the terror plot was to be financed through charitable donations for the victims of last October’s devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan.

News reports in the UK suggested that monies intended to finance terrorist activity had been transferred between Britain and Pakistan, disguised as charitable donations to the earthquake relief fund. Rashid and his brother Tayib, who was amongst those arrested in Birmingham last Thursday, are reportedly involved in the charity Crescent Relief, which raised funds for the earthquake’s victims.

If confirmed, this would be of no surprise. Those of Kashmiri origin make up the largest number of Pakistani immigrants to Britain, and this was the area hit especially hard by the quake. Tens of thousands made donations and organised collections for the victims, and hundreds more travelled to the region to help directly.

The British press has stated that there was “no suggestion” that Crescent Relief was “aware that funds may have been siphoned off.” It has been less cautious as regards another earthquake charity, Jumaat ud Dawa, which the Independent described as “the charitable arm of a Kashmiri terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has been banned by the Pakistani government after pressure from the US government.”

Yahya Mujahid, from Jamaat Ud Dawa, issued an angry denial, stating, “We have nothing to do with this alleged plot and have no link to this. There is no logic to what the US is doing.”

On August 15, Tasnim Aslam, for Pakistan’s Foreign Office, described the charge against the charity as “absurd.” He said, “These are all absurd stories, and the objective is to malign Pakistan and to cast a shadow on efforts made by Pakistan to uncover and foil this terrorist plot.”

She told a news briefing, “Rashid Rauf has nothing to do with any charity involved in the earthquake relief work or with any relief work as such. There is absolutely no connection.” According to other reports, British intelligence is said to be trying to establish if there is a connection between those detained in last Thursday’s raids and the July 7, 2005, bombings in London. Why, after those arrested were reportedly tailed for one year, and their e-mails, phone calls and Internet connections intercepted and scrutinised, police would still be “trying to establish” such a connection is again not explained.

But the Los Angeles Times noted another anomaly. Regarding claims that the plot was to involve 20 suicide bombers on board up to 10 aircraft, it states that “some intelligence analysts in the US and Europe wonder whether the alleged operatives, who included a 21-year-old who converted to Islam only six months ago, had the expertise to pull off the ambitious attack under pressure.”

Indeed, details on those held seem widely at odds with the claims made by government and the police, and repeated by the media.

Aside from their youth—the oldest is 35 and the youngest 17—and the fact that most are British-born Muslims of Pakistani descent, there does not appear to be a single consistent link between any of them. And in many instances, friends, relatives and acquaintances have categorically rejected all allegations of terrorist involvement.

Tayib Rauf, 22, works in his father’s cake business. On Tuesday, his friend, Mohammed Nazam, released video footage of Tayib taken just hours before his home was raided. It shows him strolling through Nazam’s store discussing business matters. Nazam said he had been with Tayib until 2:30 a.m. the day of his arrest.

“He probably still had my check in his pocket when he was picked up—around four in the morning—from his home. If he were a person involved in a gang, he wouldn’t be sitting with me chatting, would he?”

Umar Islam, 28 (born Brian Young), converted to Islam two or three years ago. He is married and has a young child. The Sun newspaper reported that Umar “helped shield the public” during the London bombings, hunting for other bombs in his job as a bus ticket inspector.

“His actions are at dramatic odds with allegations he now faces of being part of a plot to blow transatlantic jets out of the sky,” the Sun acknowledged. The newspaper cited a work colleague reporting, “He was certainly committed to what he was doing. You couldn’t fault him at all. On that day he was trying to save lives, not destroy them.”

Waheed Zaman, 22, a biomedical science student, is head of the Islam Society at London Metropolitan University. His childhood friend, Kamran Siddique, described him as a football fan “who dreamed of being a doctor,” who dressed in “a combination of Western and Islamic attire,” had “many white, Asian and black friends,” and who had been elected head of the Islamic society “because of his moderate ways.”

Waheed Arafat Khan, 24, is also described as having the “appearance of being perfectly integrated into Western society.” Neighbours reportedly described him as “thoughtful, considerate and polite.”

Ibrahim (formerly Oliver) Savant, another recent convert to Islam, is a secretary with an East London music firm. Described as an avid England football supporter, he lives with his wife and his English mother Marilyn and Iranian father Ibrahim, whose name he is believed to have taken when he converted. His brother, Adam, also a company director, described himself as “outraged, shocked and angry” at the arrest.

Abdul Waheed (born Don Stewart-Whyte), 21, is the son of a Conservative Party agent, Doug Stewart-Whyte, who died nine years ago. A former art student, he had a reputation as a playboy until converting to Islam approximately six months ago, along with his sister Heidi, and marrying a Muslim girl.

Two brothers arrested, Shazad Khuram Ali, 27, and Haider Ali, 30, run their own business importing sports cars. They are said to be close friends with Waseem Kayani, 29, a taxi driver who was also arrested. A friend said, “There is no way he would blow himself up. He just got married.”

Osman Adam Khatib, 20, was described by his English neighbour as “someone with a good heart.”

It is such gaping discrepancies that are now leading to open speculation that there might be another reason for last Thursday’s alert.

Craig Murray was the British ambassador to Uzbekistan until his removal in 2004, he says for criticising the Uzbek regime’s human rights record. In a commentary posed on the Global Research web site, he writes: “We then have the extraordinary question of Bush and Blair discussing the possible arrests over the weekend. Why? I think the answer to that is plain. Both in desperate domestic political trouble, they longed for ‘Another 9/11.’ The intelligence from Pakistan, however dodgy, gave them a new 9/11 they could sell to the media. The media has bought, wholesale, all the rubbish they have been shovelled.”

He notes that British Home Secretary John Reid had made a speech just hours before the raids “warning us all of the dreadful evil threatening us and complaining that ‘Some people don’t get’ the need to abandon all our traditional liberties. He then went on, according to his own propaganda machine, to stay up all night and minutely direct the arrests. There could be no clearer evidence that our Police are now just a political tool.”

Writing in the Daily Mail, Stephen Glover worried lest “it transpires that the plot was less advanced, and less potentially apocalyptic in its effects, than Dr. Reid has suggested.”

If so, it would mean not only that “this government’s already shaky credibility would be shattered,” but “the effect on public opinion of ‘crying wolf’ once again would be disastrous.”

17 August 2006
Copyright 1998-2006
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved

Julie Hyland
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An officially induced panic: UK terror scare sparks wave of mini-scares

19.08.2006 17:14

More than a week after the US and UK announcements that an alleged terror plot to blow up commercial airliners flying from Britain to the US had been foiled, the official claims are unraveling. Authorities have been unable to provide any concrete evidence to back up the story that police raids and mass arrests in Britain thwarted an imminent attack that would have taken the lives of thousands of transatlantic travelers.

Significant details, in fact, have come to light that indicate the opposite. Not only has it been revealed that no bombs were actually in the process of being assembled, but none of the suspects—British-born Muslims, who at this point remain in custody without having been charged—had purchased airline tickets. Some did not even hold passports.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the government-media hysteria about the alleged plot was prompted not by security concerns, but rather by a politically motivated desire to divert attention from the growing crisis of both the Bush and Blair governments. Under conditions of a deepening military and political debacle in Iraq, growing domestic opposition to the war, a deteriorating military situation in Afghanistan, and the unfavorable outcome for the US and Britain in Lebanon, the eruption of the latest alleged terror plot has served to “change the subject,” while fostering an atmosphere of fear and panic that both governments hope will disorient the public and facilitate new attacks on democratic rights.

It is now clear that there was no imminent attack to be thwarted. But the massive provocation unleashed by Washington and London has succeeded in creating a climate of near-hysteria, at least within official circles, the media, the airline industry, and police agencies, that has spawned a string of incidents in which minor occurrences were sensationalized and reported, replete with wild claims and lurid rumors, as new “terror events.”

Under other circumstances, most if not all of these occurrences would have been handled in a routine manner. In the current climate, they became news items of national and international significance—until, by the next news cycle, the dire allegations had proved baseless.

These cases follow a common pattern: allegations are leveled by the authorities; the media swings into action to uncritically promote and embellish the official line. In short order, the initial claims are abandoned and the stories drop out of the headlines, with no accounting for the initial false reports, while the media waits with bated breath for the next “terror threat.”

Bomb scares, emergency landings

New incidents are being reported with such frequency that it is difficult to keep up with them. The most recent was a bomb scare Friday aboard a charter flight from London’s Gatwick Airport headed for Hurghada, Egypt.

Police reported that a passenger had found a note in a seat pocket saying a bomb was on the aircraft. The note prompted the pilot to order an emergency landing, and the 767 jet was escorted by an Italian fighter jet to Brindisi airport in Italy. Fire engines surrounded the plane upon landing, and the passengers were disembarked. After a search of the plane turned up nothing, airport officials stood down the emergency.

A day earlier, a flight from London’s Heathrow Airport headed for Washington, DC, was diverted to Boston after a woman’s strange behavior and altercations with the flight crew prompted the pilot to order an emergency landing.

Local television stations and national cable networks interrupted regular programming for live coverage of the incident, as Air Force F15 jets escorted the plane to an emergency landing at Logan Airport, where authorities interrogated passengers and police dogs sniffed through luggage for explosives. None were found.

Some early reports on the passenger, Catherine Mayo, a 59-year-old woman from Vermont, claimed she had a suspicious note in a foreign language, and might somehow have a connection to Al Qaeda. It was also reported she was in possession of a six-inch screwdriver. Reference to the screwdriver was subsequently dropped. According to the FBI, it turned out that the potential Al Qaeda link was a vague reference Mayo had made to “being with people associated with ‘two words.’ ”

Later Thursday, it was being reported that the woman had not posed a threat and was most likely suffering from claustrophobia or a panic attack. US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said in a statement: “At this time, there is no evidence that this was a terrorist-related incident.”

Mayo was arrested and charged with interference with flight crew members and flight attendants by intimidation, and held overnight. In convicted, she faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

In another incident on Thursday, a terminal at the Tri-State Airport in West Virginia was shut down for 10 hours after two bottles containing liquids in a woman’s hand luggage reportedly tested positive for explosives residue at a security checkpoint. Airline service was suspended, and about 100 passengers and airport employees were ordered to leave the terminal.

A machine used by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners to test for explosives registered positive on the bottles, and a canine team also registered a “positive hit.” But chemical tests later that day found no explosives in the bottles, one of which contained a gel-type facial cleanser. The TSA screening procedure tests for a range of explosives residue, some of which are found in common household items.

The woman, a 28-year-old of Pakistani descent, was taken from the airport by federal authorities at 5 p.m. No charges have been filed against her.

In another bomb-scare incident, a half-mile perimeter was set up around a container terminal in Seattle, Washington, on Wednesday after it was reported that bomb-sniffing dogs’ reactions had indicated that at least one container recently unloaded from a ship could contain explosives. Dozens of personnel were evacuated.

The US Customs and Border Protection Service said that an X-ray machine subsequently “revealed ‘anomalies’ in two containers from Pakistan,” although when they scanned the containers with radiation detection equipment, no radioactive material was found.

Cell phone “terror plots”

A supposed threat of terrorist attack from individuals purchasing pre-paid cell phones in bulk was the impetus for several arrests and investigations in the past week. In February and March, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent out joint bulletins alerting local police departments around the US that the profits from the resale of these untraceable phones could be used to finance terrorist organizations—or that the devices themselves could be used as detonators to trigger explosive attacks.

Two cell phone incidents in the Midwest made national news this past week. On August 11, three Texas men of Palestinian descent were arrested in Michigan after attempting to buy 80 cell phones in separate purchases of three at a time. Adham Abdelhamid Othman, 21, Maruan Awad Muhareb, 18, and Louai Abdelhamied Othman, 23, were arrested outside a Wal-Mart in Caro, Michigan, about 80 miles north of Detroit, after store employees became suspicious and notified police.

A search found that one of the men had images of the Mackinac Bridge—which links Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas—on a digital camera. From this, local authorities surmised that they were plotting to target the bridge with an explosive blast. The arrests sparked increased security on the 5-mile-long bridge, with the Coast Guard stepping up its patrols.

Prosecutors charged the men with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes—felonies with a 20-year maximum penalty. The three were each jailed on $750,000 cash bond, and held for nearly five days on the terrorism charges in Tuscola County jail.

The men told a magistrate the day after their arrest that they had bought the cell phones for resale, and that they had taken the photos of the bridge—along with snapshots of local wildlife and lakes—as tourists. By Monday, the FBI’s Detroit office had issued a news release saying the agency had no information indicating that the men had any “direct nexus to terrorism.”

On Wednesday, Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene asked for the state terrorism charges to be dismissed so the men could be turned over to federal authorities. The three appeared in a US District Court in Bay City, Michigan, on Thursday and were charged with federal fraud conspiracy and money laundering—charges unrelated to terrorism.

Similar cell-phone terror charges fizzled out in nearby Ohio on Monday. Dearborn, Michigan, residents Osama Sabhi Abulhassan and Ali Houssaiky, both 20, were arrested August 8 in Marietta, Ohio, when police found dozens of pre-paid cell phones in their car, along with $11,000 in cash. A store clerk had phoned police after the two men purchased a large number of cell phones.

Initial reports on the arrests indicated passenger lists and an airport security guide were also found. (As it turns out, Houssaiky’s mother works for Royal Jordanian Airlines and had left an outdated passenger list in the car, along with the guide.) The two were charged with soliciting or providing for an act of terrorism, money laundering and a misdemeanor charge of lying to police about what they were doing with the phones. Police claimed the men gave two accounts of why they purchased the phones.

As in the alleged threat to blow up the Mackinac Bridge, Michigan news broadcasts warned of the local terrorist connection. Media coverage took a particularly vile form in a blog by Debbie Schlussel, a local radio talk show host and occasional guest on Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor.”

In a blog entry titled “All-American Terrorist: How Dearbornistan Boys went from Football Field to Islamic Terror,” Schlussel wrote that the two men arrested in Ohio, former students at Fordson High School in Dearborn, came from the “most Muslim-populated high school in America” and suggested that any student from Fordson should be considered “a terrorist in training.”

But the charges against Abulhassan and Houssaiky were dropped on Monday, when Ohio authorities said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them. They were released on Tuesday after spending a week behind bars, jailed separately from other inmates. Intent on pursuing whatever charges they can, Washington County Prosecutor James Schneider said his office will continue to press the misdemeanor charge.

In yet another cell phone case, police in Tucson, Arizona, have been searching for two men of Middle Eastern descent for allegedly trying to buy around 50 disposable cell phones at a local Sam’s Club store. Authorities claim the men are wanted for questioning, but not criminal charges.

Arizona’s Counter-Terrorism Information Center has advised local police departments that there is a possible increase in suspicious purchases of pre-paid cell phones, although they admit that purchasing them in such large numbers makes it unlikely that they were being purchased to detonate a bomb, as much smaller quantities—easily available without bulk purchase—would be required.

Nonetheless, KVOA television reported on the dragnet atmosphere, as police responded to a tip that two Middle Eastern men were buying a large number of cell phones at discount stores in Huachuca City, Arizona, south of Tucson:

“Huachuca City police swung into action. They set up surveillance at the Dollar General and the Family Dollar stores.

“They soon spotted the black Ford Explorer with a California license plate, the vehicle the caller told police about.

“Three people—a woman, and two men with Middle Eastern names—were detained, questioned, and later released by federal agents.”

Again, nothing to substantiate any terrorist activity connected to the cell-phone purchases.

Copyright 1998-2006
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved

19 August 2006

Kate Randall
- Homepage:


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