30 September 2006

Pakistan and the Terror Nexus

Poor old General Musharraf. His PR trip trying to rehabilitate the image of Pakistan around the world appears to have been slightly scuppered by the leak of the now widely-reported UK Defence Academy paper. Notwithstanding the predictable chorus of denial from the corridors of power, namely, from those who for all intents and purposes stand accused (at the current time Musharraf, Blair, Bush, etc.), the leaked report is entirely consistent with a wealth of evidence in the public record.

The leaked report, authored by a British intelligence official with a military background, is based on interviews with Pakistani Army officers and academics. BBC News has flagged-up one of the most important sections of the document, which says:

"The Army's dual role in combating terrorism and at the same time promoting the MMA and so indirectly supporting the Taliban (through the ISI) is coming under closer and closer international scrutiny. Pakistan is not currently stable but on the edge of chaos.

[The West has] turned a blind eye towards existing instability and the indirect protection of Al Qaeda and promotion of terrorism.

Indirectly Pakistan (through the ISI) has been supporting terrorism and extremism - whether in London on 7/7 or in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The US/UK cannot begin to turn the tide until they identify the real enemies from attacking ideas tactically - and seek to put in place a more just vision. This will require Pakistan to move away from Army rule and for the ISI to be dismantled and more significantly something to be put in its place.

Musharraf knows that time is running out for him..."

The instrumental role that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has played in formenting international terrorism is well-documented. This paper from an MoD-run think-tank shows clearly that senior intelligence officials are privately so concerned about this problem, that they are leaking the material at this time precisely to counter Musharraf's latest round of PR exercises in the USA and elsewhere.

In The War on Freedom (2002), The War on Truth (2005), and The London Bombings (2006), I've described in somed detail Pakistan's role in supplying military, intelligence and logistical support to terrorist networks linked to 9/11, 7/7, and even Iraq. What's most disturbing about it, is that this is hardly a ground-breaking revelation. On pages 102-3 of The London Bombings, I quote from two US Defence Intelligence Agency documents dated from two weeks after 9/11, which I had obtained after their declassification in September 2003.

Five years ago, these intelligence reports had noted how "bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe sanctuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan directives." Bin Laden’s camp, for example, located on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, "was built by Pakistani contractors, funded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate." The Taliban regime "was created, imposed and recognised by Pakistan in pursuit of its own interests’, and under its jurisdiction, al-Qaeda was "able to grow unmolested inside Afghanistan."

But what about after 9/11? The Pentagon agency continues:

"Pakistan’s goals are simple, the continuance of the policy they have always demonstrated regarding Afghanistan... In Islamabad, they have tried to ignore or bury the evidence for some time. It must be a deeply troubling period for General [Musharraf] in Pakistan, who is asked to help hunt down the culprits that he helped to establish and supported. Not to support the US invites trouble and to assist the US to their aims also presents problems to Pakistan. The quandary leaves the Pakistanis confused as to how they might be absolved without permanently shattering their regional aspirations or their Government."

Five years later, it seems that little has changed. So what's been the response from the British and American governments? Instead of taking the drastic action advised by the Defence Academy report -- such as investigating and even dismantling the Pakistani ISI -- Blair and Bush, following in the footsteps of their predecessors, continue not only to actively attempt to conceal the ISI's criminal complicity from public understanding, but worse still also to escalate the provision of financial, military and intelligence support to the ISI. The record is almost absurd, with Musharraf rounding up thousands of militants one day, and then releasing them without charge the next, meanwhile continuining to provide covert financial and military assistance.

There's a lot of history here that needs to be recalled to grasp the significance of this. Such as the oft-ignored fact that former ISI Director, Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, had ordered al-Qaeda finance chief Ahmed Omar Sheikh Saeed to wire at least $100,000 to chief 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta prior to the terrorist attacks on the WTC and Pentagon. This is one of those awkward, deeply uncomfortable stories that the mainstream tried to ignore, revealed at first by Indian intelligence officers cited in the Times of India (who obviously have the motive to dish the dirt on their Pakistani neighbours), but subsequently confirmed repeatedly by American (e.g. Wall Street Journal) and even Pakistani government and intelligence officials (e.g. Dawn). Extensive documentation and analysis is in The War on Truth. I can repost some of my analysis on that episode later on perhaps, if people really want me to (although I'd much prefer you go get a copy of the book, hint hint); but in the meantime you can get an online glimpse of some the relevant data and issues from Paul Thompson's timeline here.

The thrust of the matter is that neither al-Qaeda veteran Sheikh Saeed -- a British Muslim by the way -- nor Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad been indicted or even remotely officially investigated for their complicity in the financial organization of the 9/11 attacks. Former Labour Minister Michael Meacher MP pointed out the huge and dangerous ramifications of the Pakistani connection in a Guardian piece published just over a year before 7/7. "It is extraordinary", he observes, "that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count [of financing 9/11]. Why not?"

Ironically, Musharraf has provided an inkling of an answer to this question recently, in the wake of the Defence Academy leak, apparently in an attempt to launch his own PR counter-offensive by leaking confidential and embarrasing information available to the ISI. The Gulf Times reports one of the particularly interesting, and damning tid-bits from Musharraf's new book In the Line of Fire:

"Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf has disclosed that Omar Sheikh, who kidnapped and murdered American journalist Daniel Pearl and is now facing death penalty, was actually the British secret Agency MI6’s agent and had executed certain missions on their behest before coming to Pakistan and visiting Afghanistan to meet Osama and Mullah Omar.

... General Musharraf has written in his book that while Omar Sheikh was at the London School of Economics (LSE), he was recruited by the British intelligence agency MI6, which persuaded him to take an active part in demonstrations against Serbian aggression in Bosnia and even sent him to Kosovo to join the jihad. At some point, he probably became a rogue or double agent.

The local media is discussing the possibility that Omar would use evidence from President Musharraf’s memoirs to save himself from the hangman."

There are those who might doubt the word of Musharraf, and who can blame them? But in fact I documented Omar Sheikh Saeed's simultaneous intelligence connections to the CIA, ISI and MI6 in The War on Truth and The London Bombings. Details have come forth from an intriguing combination of American, British and Pakistani government sources.

Readers of my 7/7 work will begin to see an unnervingly familiar pattern here. As I explained on "Generation 7/7", a Channel 4 learning documentary that has been aired several times since the 7/7 anniversary (including last week), the suspected 7/7 mastermind al-Qaeda fixer Haroon Rashid Aswat is also an MI6 double agent according to American intelligence officials. When former Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus came on Fox News last year and revealed the extent to which MI6 had been protecting Aswat from our own police services and the CIA, the official story shifted suddenly and inexplicably. Police spokesmen, who had previously described in detail the telephone records of Aswat's extensive conversations with alleged chief London bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan, summarily denied that Aswat had any connection at all to 7/7. The shift in reporting happened precisely to conceal the embarrassing revelation that the failure to apprehend Aswat, was due to the active obstruction of attempts to apprehend him, by our very own MI6.

As Michael Meacher MP also noted, the subject of Musharraf's revelations -- Ahmed Omar Sheikh Saeed -- may well have also been connected to the planning of the 7/7 atrocities. He notes "reports from Pakistan" suggesting "that Sheikh continues to be active from jail, keeping in touch with friends and followers in Britain." Although this is hardly surprising, given Sheikh's incestuous relationship with Pakistani military-intelligence, it is utterly disturbing. Why do our governments continue to refuse to investigate this issue?

26 September 2006

Biting Mangos... and Bullets: from Bradford to Bangladesh -- a Tribute to my Uncle

Over the weekend, I had travelled down to join a panel of media experts and film-makers at the annual "Bite the Mango" Bradford Film Festival at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. Our panel hosted two seminars at the Festival, the first on 'Faith in Film', and the other on 'Representation of Muslims in Media'. I was invited at the last minute in a frantic telephone call from one of the coordinators of the festival, and drove down with my family on Friday so that I could arrive comfortably in time for the Saturday morning workshops.

Among the issues I discussed in the Q & A sessions was Home Secretary John Reid's face-off with self-styled "radical cleric" Abu Izzadeen, where Reid took it upon himself to warn Muslim parents to watch out for "signs" of their children turning into dangerous extremists. Izzadeen's heckling diatribe in response, was followed by more heckling diatribe from Anjem Choudray. Reid pointed at the conduct of these two imbeciles as proof of his point.

In reality, the very fact that Izzadeen and Choudray are free to run around heckling a British Minister is precisely the evidence that disproves Reid's Islamophobic attempt to pin responsibility for terrorist-extremism on Muslim parents.

Both these individuals are notorious extremists affiliated to the proscribed al-Muhajiroun network linked to al-Qaeda and chaired by Omar Bakri Mohammed, a network re-named as the Saved Sect and then Al-Ghurabaa. Despite apparent proscription, the group's key members and activities operate intact, quite unhindered. To date, the government refuses to arrest and prosecute these individuals in spite of their repeated violations of British law, including incitement to violence, racial hatred and terrorism, and in particular despite their open admission of engaging in terrorist-training with confessed intent to target Britain.

Consider Izadeen's statement a week after 9/11 cited on p. 77 of my book, The London Bombings: "There are a sizeable number of Moslems undergoing military training in the UK... If America decides to bomb Afghanistan, then we'll wake up. If they're going to attack Afghanistan then what's my duty? It's going to be a new chapter." The day after, his colleague Zahir Khan told an al-Muhajiroun meeting in Birmingham that: "If Britain helped attack Afghanistan, it would be allowable for Moslems to attack military targets in Britain."

A Sunday Times investigation recorded Izzadeen's declaration to a group of teenagers on 2nd July 2005, that it was imperative for Muslims to “instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar”, and indeed that: “I am a terrorist. As a Muslim of course I am a terrorist.” Claiming to have engaged in military training in Pakistan, he said he did not want to go to Allah while sleeping in his bed “like an old woman”. Instead: “I want to be blown into pieces with my hands in one place and my feet in another.” That was five days before the 7/7 atrocities.

Six months before the London terror strikes, Izzadeen's mentor, Omar Bakri, had delivered a fatawa over the internet urging British Muslims to join a global al-Qaeda jihad. He explicitly described Britain as a legitimate target, condoned the killing of civilians, and condemned the British government's deployment of anti-terrorist legislation -- which had been used not long before to arrest Bakri's close associate Abu Hamza, whose trial was scheduled for 7th July 2005.
But the British government wasn't interested in investigating Bakri. Instead they allowed him to travel to Lebanon, upon which they debarred him from returning to the UK, and thus ensured that he is permanently outside British jurisdiction. Meanwhile, Bakri himself -- who continues to indoctrinate and guide a small circle of extremist fixers in the UK -- boasts that he is regularly called in for questioning about terror-related issues by the Lebanese on behalf of the British government -- a matter on which the Foreign Office has "no comment".

And of course, Reid wouldn't want us to consider the role of MI6 in the mid-1990s in actively using Omar Bakri, Abu Hamza and suspected 7/7 mastermind Haroon Rashid Aswat to recruit British Muslims to go fight in Kosovo, as reported by multiple American and French intelligence sources cited in the New Criminologist, and elsewhere. Reid's reluctance to take serious, meaningful legal action against Bakri's boys, like Izadeen and Choudray, does not square with his eagerness to blame Muslim parents for the same failure.

That was the thrust of my observations on this televised debacle at the film festival.

We got back from Bradford on Sunday evening. I had forgotten my mobile at home, and had a backlog of messages, one from my Dad, so I called him back. He had very bad news.

My uncle in Bangladesh had been shot on Saturday morning while I was speaking on my panel in Bradford. A nationally-respected professor of political science at Dhaka University, Dr. Aftab Ahmed, had been attacked in his own home on the university premises by unidentified gun-men, who had pushed their way into the apartment and shot him four times at close range in the upper body, in the presence of his wife (my aunt) and 9-year old disabled daughter (my cousin).
This evening, at around 8 pm, my Dad called to let me know that my uncle passed away earlier this morning. He had been recently demoted from a government-appointed post as Vice-Chancellor at Bangladesh's National University. In that position, he had tackled entrenched issues of political corruption and bribery, the legacy of the previous Allawi League government, when hundreds of university staff had been systematically recruited solely for their political support of the govt, as opposed to their merits as teachers. In a politically explosive and unpopular move, he had fired all staff recruited on the basis of corruption and moved to revitalize academic standards in university recruitment.

This wasn't the first time my uncle had made enemies. He was well-known as a Marxist dissident, and had often been imprisoned by previous governments for his loud opposition and participation in demonstrations and strikes. In 1995, he co-authored a powerful critique of the lack of accountability Bangladesh's purportedly democratic institutions, warning of "the intransigent attitude of the bureaucracy" and highlighting "the lack of willingness and ability ofMPs to seriously enquire into government policies and operations."

In another notorious episode, my uncle had made a few off-hand televised remarks suggesting the Bangladeshi national anthem be amended for a new time, and to give new impetus to the people. He was harshly criticized by hardline nationalists in a concerted campaign that almost lost him his job. But such things never bothered him.

My uncle was a courageous academic who stuck by his principles, and spoke what he believed. For unswervingly doing what he was convinced was just, he was murdered in a brutal assassination, unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh. As the world turns and the newsbites chatter, I pray for uncle's soul, and hope that his legacy of political activism on behalf of freedom and, always, against oppression and corruption, will be carried forward in Bangladesh, this beleaguered icon of Third World devastation from which I am descended. To those out there who believe, please pray with me.

East Timor, Genocide and Humanitarian Hubris

I've just had an article printed in Entelequia: revista interdisciplinar (no. 2, 2006), a peer-reviewed Spanish interdisciplinary social science journal published by the University of Malaga, on our "humanitarian" policy in East Timor over the last few decades, including the UN intervention of the late 1990s.

Although Australia's military intervention in East Timor in May 2006 raised obvious questions about western humanitarian motives, those of us familiar with the documented record of western interventionism in the region would not be surprised. My Entelequia piece is titled "Humanitarian Intervention in East Timor: A Critical Appraisal", and offers a historically-grounded critique of the idea that what we did in East Timor is "humanitarian" in any meaningful sense of the term. On the contrary, East Timor was the genocidal outcome of imperial logic at its finest.

After exploring a few of the theoretical issues in defining "humanitarian intervention", I apply the theory to the realities of what happened in East Timor in the context of our relations with Indonesia. It's a grim story of how Britain, the United States and Australia aided and abetted acts of genocide against the Timorese people, all the way until the 1999 UN intervention. The willingness of western power to deploy itself in the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians, all in the service of corporate-strategic interests, should not be forgotten. The ability to do so while deploying the mainstream media to effectively generate exactly the opposite simulacra of events, is also hugely instructive.

Our leaders are quite used to portraying imperial genocide as an act of the highest humanitarian benevolence, an institutionalized political habit that betrays the disturbing dark side of western civilization. This global imperial system, which routinely engages in state-terrorism to protect and perpetuate its own operation, is on no moral high ground.

18 September 2006

Ex-UK Intel Official says Liquid Explosive Claims "Fiction"

This is the exclusive story that the entire British media establishment ignored. It's a story that almost every major newspaper was offered, but didn't want to print. It's the story of how the British and American governments, for all intents and purposes, invented a terror threat in August 2006, to trigger a climate of fear and paranoia convenient for the legitimization of a political agenda of intensifying social control at home, and escalating military repression in the Middle East. And in so doing, they diverted the attention of the police and intelligence services toward a phantom, and away from a very real threat that remains intact, and that the government refuses to deal with.

But it's not just the British media's cowardice at fault. The media has been subject to a government D-Notice, one of those "advisory" instructions suggesting politely to editors that they avoid any information that might, purportedly, prejudice the trial of the alleged terrorists detained in August. This has fatally skewered all reporting on the terror plot in favour of the government's line, a prejudicial situation that seems of little concern to the authorities.

That's why you won't be reading this story in the mainstream British or American press. But thankfully, we still have a few courageous journalists and editors out there on the cutting edge of investigative reporting, who know an important story when they see it. It's taken about a month to do the research, interviews, writing up, and finding a home, for this exclusive report. I'm grateful that the report has been headlined in the United States by The Raw Story, the highly respected investigative news site responsible for breaking dozens of major stories before they were picked up by the mainstream, including the Valerie Plame case vis-a-vis Iran, Iraq pre-war intelligence, and so on. Indeed, their reporting is "referenced by the New York Times, the Guardian, L.A. Weekly, the New York Post, the Toronto Star, The Hill, Roll Call, The Advocate and Hustler" -- and they get about half a million unique hits a day.

Here in the UK, the New Criminologist (Vol. 6, No. 2, Summer 2006) has published the piece, which is great, as this is one of the oldest professional criminology journals published by and for experts in the field. However, the full article on their website is only available to paid subscribers -- but Raw Story have the whole thing at theirs.

And finally, The Muslim News, a British monthly newspaper that has been praised by the likes of Prime Minister Tony Blair, ex-Home Secretary Jack Straw, among others, is printing an abridged version of the story on 29th September 2006.

I can only request you, in this context, to do the following. Do a chain-mail job on this one: Forward the link to all your friends; and ask them to forward it to all their friends, with the same request; and to keep it going until it gets all over the world. Perhaps we might be able to get this story, which fundamentally undermines the government's claims, to break into mainstream consciousness without mainstream support. Thanks for your help.

15 September 2006

What the 9/11 Families are Saying

One of the things that really bothers me is the marginalization of the 9/11 families, the people who lost their loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Not only have the families, and their call for an investigation even now, been marginalized by the Bush administration; they have also been marginalized by the 9/11 "truth" movement which has largely shown little interest in what the families have been saying.

More than anyone, it's been the 9/11 families who have been at the forefront of the ongoing campaign for an independent public inquiry into the attacks that might truly hold the authorities to account, and result in full disclosure of what happened, how and why. Indeed, one of the most powerful resources demonstrating how little we really know about 9/11 comes in the form of the huge list of 9/11 Unanswered Questions on the website of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission. In all, there are, I believe, several hundred questions pertaining to virtually every single dimension of the terrorist attacks. (NOTE: by the way, when I cited 9/11 widow Lauri van Auken in my article below "Interrogating 9/11", although she spoke on behalf of many 9/11 families, she did not speak on behalf of the 9/11 Families Steering Committee as the latter had been disbanded in January 2005 already)

Readers familiar with my work on 9/11 in The War on Freedom and The War on Truth will note the numerous parallels between the lines of inquiry set out in those books, and the questions and anomalies raised by the 9/11 Families Steering Committee. Last year at the McKinney hearing in the House of Representatives, two of the Jersey widows, Mindy Kleinberg and Lauri van Auken, told me that The War on Freedom was quite literally the first book they had read offering a deeply critical perspective of the 9/11 official narrative. Very early on, my colleague Kyle F. Hence of 9/11 Citizens Watch had ensured that copies of the book were passed on to family members as well as Congressional representatives.

While the 9/11 Families Steering Committee website offers a litany of pounding questions that the 9/11 Commission ignored, those who want a no-nonsense factual reference point for understanding the extent to which the 9/11 official narrative is riddled with holes, would be well-advised to check out the work of Paul Thompson at the Centre for Cooperative Research, whose 9/11 Timeline inspired the Jersey widows and fed heavily into their new documentary film, 9/11 Press for Truth, for which Thompson was story adviser. I'm pleased to note that my research in The War on Truth is cited in a Cooperative Research Timeline project on "The use of Islamist militants by American and Israeli militarists - The War in Afghanistan to September 11 and beyond". Thompson's work is pivotal precisely because of its nature -- it's not theoretical, it's not hypothetical and its not speculation: it's purely and simply a chronological collection of continually updated raw historical and empirical data. My method of analysis is somewhat similar in that I avoid theoretical speculation as far as possible, and instead insist on discerning breaks, shifts, and interconnections in the data itself by which one can observe clear patterns and their implications.

One reason I bring all this up is to flag-up Thompson's data on the WTC investigations, in particular in relation to the burning question of the huge deposits of molten metal noticed by dozens of eyewitness -- fire fighters, scientists, and other experts -- for up to five weeks after the 9/11 attacks (appended below with this post)

A commentator has attempted to "debunk" the findings of molten steel at Ground Zero, which I mention in my article below, "Interrogating 9/11". There are a number of problems with this approach, first and foremost which is the overriding ideological predisposition to "prove" that no molten steel was found. This is a disingenious position, as looking at the data itself, the sheer volume of people who witnessed the molten metal demonstrates that the phenomenon did exist. The vast majority of observers insisted that this was actually molten steel, not any other kind of metal, which was often seen to be dripping either directly off steel beams, or from the cores where the beams were originally erected. Now looking at the data in its totality, the insistence that it was not molten steel in the face of this credible testimony is simply bizarre. The insistence is not founded in fact, but merely in the assumption that all the observers at Ground Zero were wrong. My position is simply this:

1. the data largely speaks for itself, and in the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary, should be taken at face value.

2. whereas a final conclusion may not be deductible on this basis, preliminary probable inferences are justifiable on the basis of the available data.

3. such inferences based on reasonable grounds indicate an unresolved anomaly in the official narrative.

The anomaly could be consistent with a variety of interpretations. What I don't understand is the desire of some, such as the commentator, to completely deny that any such anomaly exists. This is, indeed, exactly what the official NIST investigation did, pretend that there was never any molten metal. I can accept that the findings of molten steel have not been forensically confirmed, but this is precisely because, as Thompson also documents, the Bush administration deliberately ensured that the materials were collected and scrapped before any such investigation was possible. We are, therefore, forced to work solely with the data that we do have, which is overwhelming and credible enough to justify the conclusion that an anomaly relating to the WTC collapse persists, and that independent investigation is necessary.

It is such independent investigation that the 9/11 families continue to call for, not to support some preconceived lunatic fringe theories, but to get to the unsullied truth -- not simply for the sake of their own "closure", but because the phenomenon of terrorism since 9/11 continues to play an integral role in the international system, and continues to kill and maim innocent civilians around the world.

==

Appendix:
Paul Thompson's WTC Data on Molten Steel

September 12, 2001-February 2002: Witnesses See Molten Metal in the Remains at Ground Zero
A chunk of hot metal being removed from the North Tower rubble about eight weeks after 9/11. [Source: Frank Silecchia]
In the weeks and months after 9/11, numerous individuals report seeing molten metal in the remains of the World Trade Center: Ken Holden, who is involved with the organizing of demolition, excavation and debris removal operations at Ground Zero, later will tell the 9/11 Commission, “Underground, it was still so hot that molten metal dripped down the sides of the wall from [WTC] Building 6.” [9/11 Commission, 4/1/2003] William Langewiesche, the only journalist to have unrestricted access to Ground Zero during the cleanup operation, describes, “in the early days, the streams of molten metal that leaked from the hot cores and flowed down broken walls inside the foundation hole.” [Langewiesche, 2002, pp. 32] Leslie Robertson, the structural engineer responsible for the design of the WTC, describes fires still burning and molten steel still running 21 days after the attacks. [SEAU News, 10/2001 ] Alison Geyh, who heads a team of scientists studying the potential health effects of 9/11, reports, “Fires are still actively burning and the smoke is very intense. In some pockets now being uncovered, they are finding molten steel.” [Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine, 2001] Ron Burger, a public health advisor who arrives at Ground Zero on September 12, says that “feeling the heat” and “seeing the molten steel” there reminds him of a volcano. [National Environmental Health Association, 9/2003, pp. 40 ] According to a member of New York Air National Guard’s 109th Air Wing, who is at Ground Zero from September 22 to October 6, “One fireman told us that there was still molten steel at the heart of the towers’ remains. Firemen sprayed water to cool the debris down but the heat remained intense enough at the surface to melt their boots.” [National Guard Magazine, 12/2001] New York firefighters recall “heat so intense they encountered rivers of molten steel.” [New York Post, 3/3/2004] As late as five months after the attacks, in February 2002, firefighter Joe O’Toole sees a steel beam being lifted from deep underground at Ground Zero, which, he says, “was dripping from the molten steel.” [Knight Ridder, 5/29/2002] Steven E. Jones, a physics professor from Utah, later will claim this molten metal is “direct evidence for the use of high-temperature explosives, such as thermite,” used to deliberately bring down the WTC towers. [MSNBC, 11/16/2005] He will say that without explosives, a falling building would have “insufficient directed energy to result in melting of large quantities of metal.” [Deseret Morning News, 11/10/2005] There is no mention whatsoever of the molten metal in the official reports by FEMA, NIST, or the 9/11 Commission. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 5/1/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004; National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/2005 ] But Dr. Frank Gayle, who leads the steel forensics aspects of NIST’s investigation of the WTC collapses, is quoted as saying, “Your gut reaction would be the jet fuel is what made the fire so very intense, a lot of people figured that’s what melted the steel. Indeed it didn’t, the steel did not melt.” [ABC News 7 (New York), 2/7/2004] As well as the reports of molten metal, data collected by NASA in the days after 9/11 finds dozens of “hot spots” (some over 1300 degrees) at Ground Zero (see September 16-23, 2001).

11 September 2006

Interrogating 9/11

This is a slighly amended version of a piece published in Italy's mainstream weekly glossy Left Magazine around today's anniversary of 9/11.


Five Years On, Being a Sceptic Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re A Lunatic… Although It Might Do

Five years after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that shook the world, scepticism about the Bush administration account of what happened, as well as of the “War on Terror” in general, has increased exponentially. This has accompanied the emergence of all kinds of pet theories about what happened, some of them truly bizarre, others intriguing but vacuous, and perhaps a few based on compelling facts.

For someone not familiar with these theories, it’s difficult to know where, and why, to start. And particular variants of 9/11 “truth”, such as the “no planes” theory that the whole event was merely an audiovisual technicolor chimera concocted on our TV screens, don’t help.

But is it all just a pile of lunacy? If only it was, I could sleep much better at night. Unfortunately, beneath the mountain of theories and speculations, there remain disturbing and persistent anomalies that have yet to be resolved. In this respect, the mainstream media’s approach to criticism of the 9/11 official narrative has been wanting in the extreme, focusing largely on bizarre pet theories and fringe speculations, suggesting that anybody who has doubts about the official story must be delusional, dumb, or both.

If only life were so simple. Five years after 9/11, the official narrative is riddled with inconsistencies that every official investigative process has been at great pains to ignore. For those familiar with the oddities and absurdities of the 7/7 official narrative here in the UK, this should not come as a great surprise. But it does indicate that the Western government narrative of international terrorism is profoundly flawed.

Among those sceptical of the government’s account of the 9/11 attacks, for instance, are the bereaved families of the 9/11 victims. “We hoped that our thousands of unanswered questions would be addressed and answered” said Lauri van Auken, whose husband Kenneth died in the attacks, in her opening address at an all-day Congressional hearing on 22nd July 2005 sponsored by Hon. Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Hon. Rep. Raul Grijalva, where I had the honour of testifying alongside a host of former intelligence officials, scholars and journalists. “Yet, incredibly, we have found that the Commission’s definitive final report has actually yielded more questions than answers,” continued van Auken on behalf of the 9/11 Families Steering Committee. She indicted the 9/11 Commission Report as just “some statements that truly insulted the intelligence of the American people, violated our loved ones’ memories, and might end up hurting us one day soon.”

Her characterisation of the Commission Report was the most damning condemnation that the 9/11 Families Steering Committee had ever made about the official inquiry process. Yet it was met with resounding silence from the American media, which refused to report the hearing in general, and ignored von Auken’s heart-rending testimony on behalf of the 9/11 families


Collusion with the Enemy

In fact, overwhelming evidence confirms that al-Qaeda networks in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Asia-Pacific, have been penetrated and manipulated by Western intelligence services. Conspiraloonery? If only it was. As I argue in my 3rd book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (2005), the evidence for this is extremely well-documented, deriving from innumerable, credible intelligence sources. But why? Largely to destabilize regional environments to pave the way for new “security” policies that serve to protect not people, but foreign investors taking over regional markets -- especially markets with significant oil and gas deposits.

Although it is widely acknowledged that our governments used al-Qaeda to repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, after the Cold War our geostrategic connections with al-Qaeda did not end. Actually, they proliferated in surprising and disturbing ways. Indeed, one CIA analyst described the covert strategy in plain words to Swiss television journalist Richard Labeviere, currently chief editor at Radio France International: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”

Areas where Western power continues to intersect, both directly and indirectly, with al-Qaeda networks around the world include Algeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Phillipines, Kosovo and Macedonia. So we’re talking about the regions of North Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific and the Balkans. These are just a few examples from the public record, and documentary evidence is available in great detail in The War on Truth.

Al-Qaeda operatives as senior as Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s own right-hand man, have been recruited by the CIA. According to Yousef Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism, reporting in Defense & Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, the al-Qaeda deputy leader was approached by a CIA emissary in November 1997, who offered him $50 million to protect US interests in the Balkans, a deal he apparently accepted. Ayman and his brother, Muhammed, personally oversaw the establishment of al-Qaeda training camps in Kosovo and Macedonia after this point according to Bosnia, Albanian, Yugoslav, Macedonian, American and European intelligence sources, to train the same people -- the KLA (now operating as the NLA) – receiving advanced weapons and military training from the CIA and NATO.

The implication is dire, but it is one supported by other academics such as University of Ottawa professor Michel Chossudovsky and University of California (Berkeley) professor Peter Dale Scott: that al-Qaeda in many ways has continued to function throughout the post-Cold War period as an instrument of Western statecraft, a covert operations tool. The geostrategic arc of this policy across Central Asia, the Balkans and North Africa is charted more specifically in the latter one-third of my latest book, The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (2006), which draws on some of my War on Truth research and expands on it directions more relevant for understanding the context of 7/7.

The thesis that Western power continues to connect with al-Qaeda in the pursuit of strategic and economic interests in the key regions mentioned, flies in the face of everything we are force-fed by the official narrative sponsored by governments and mass media. But consider the fact that my research in The War on Truth has been endorsed by people like Robert D. Steele, a retired Marine Corps infantry and intelligence veteran who worked as an operations officer in all four CIA Directorates. Apart from that, Steele was responsible for founding and setting-up the newest US intelligence facility, the Marine Corps Intelligence Center. He described The War on Truth as

“… consistent with both my years of experience as a clandestine case officer, and my extensive reading on national security misadventures. ... I find the author’s speculation that the US, the UK, and France, among others, have been actively using terrorists, nurturing terrorists, as part of a geopolitical and economic strategy… to be completely credible.”


Who Dunnit? “Er, Ahem, Don’t Ask, We’re Still Not Sure…”

So what about 9/11 specifically? Five years on, even core elements of the official narrative taken for granted by the 9/11 Commission Report, remain absurdly unresolved. To this day, for example, the real identities of most of the alleged hijackers are unknown. In this year’s volume of the peer-reviewed journal Research in Political Economy, edited by economics professor Paul Zarembka of New York State University, Jay Kolar reviews credible reports from the BBC, CNN, and other mainstream sources around the world, confirming that “at least ten of those named on the FBI’s second and final list of 19 have turned up and been verified to be alive, with proof positive that at least one other ‘hijacker’, Ziad Jarrah, had his identity doubled, and therefore fabricated”. Kolar argues that since many of the alleged hijackers are now alive, they must have had ‘doubles’ using their identities as aliases.

So who were these people? According to Daniel Hopsicker, a former PBS producer and NBC investigative reporter, US military sources confirm that the alleged hijackers had trained in US military installations in the 1990s, and even had connections to the CIA and DEA. Dozens of eyewitnesses told local American newspapers that they recognized some of these individuals from their FBI photos -- they had displayed patently non-Islamic behaviour in the form of drinking alcohol, snorting cocaine, and frolicking with women at lap-dancing clubs and illicit parties, incommensurate with that of normal practising Muslims, let alone Islamist al-Qaeda fanatics about to conduct the most spectacular martyrdom operation in history.

So again: Who were these people who, simultaneously, seemingly associated with the senior echelons of al-Qaeda, trained with the US military, were recruited by the CIA, and indulged in all sorts of illicit delights forbidden by Islamic norms? It's a question that the 9/11 Commission never asked.


And How Did They Do It? “Er, Ahem, No Comment…”

Worse still, in yet another bizarre anomaly that the 9/11 Commissioners simply ignored, most of these individuals were notoriously incapable of flying properly according to their own flight instructors. Mohammed Atta, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Marwan al-Shehhi and Hani Hanjour, were all described by their trainers as utterly incompetent. Hanjour’s instructor told the New York Times incredulously: “His English was horrible, and his mechanical skills were even worse. It was like he had hardly even ever driven a car. I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.”

But Hanjour’s flight into the Pentagon, as is well-known, was described by pilots as one of the most sophisticated flying operations they had ever seen. “For a guy to just jump into the cockpit and fly like an ace is impossible -- there is not one chance in a thousand,” said former US Air Force and commercial pilot Russ Wittenberg.

Indeed, with four hijacked aircraft flying around the most restricted airspace in the US for about one and a half hours, why did the FAA and NORAD fail to respond immediately? As Lt. Col. (ret.) Robert Bowman, director of the Star Wars programmes under Presidents Ford and Carter, has said, standard operating procedures were systematically violated. Many military and intelligence experts across continents -- such as Stan Goff, US Army Special Forces Master-Sergeant (ret.); Andreas von Bulow, former State-Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Defence (1976-1980) and Minister for Research and Technology (1980-1982); Gen. Anatoli Kornukov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force; among others -- remain perplexed on this point, and dissatisfied with the 9/11 Commission Report’s inadequate explanations of this monumental failure, the damning implications of which were flagged up by John Pilger in the New Statesman.

There are related issues here of public safety. For instance, technologies were in place to remotely direct the hijacked aircraft to avoid the terrible scenario unfolding. “Most modern aircraft have some form of autopilot that could be re-programmed to ignore commands from a hijacker and instead take direction from the ground,” Jeff Gosling of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, told the New Scientist one day after 9/11. Why were these technologies not used to save the aircraft? Why did the 9/11 Commission not bother to ask the same question?


The WTC Collapse Anomaly

Even the official account of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings is being increasingly disputed by some American scientists. In a peer-reviewed contribution to the new book 9/11 and the American Empire (Olive Branch, New York), Steve Jones, professor of physics at Brigham Young University (BYU), points out the widely reported discoveries of molten metal in the basements of the two WTC towers, which were hit by planes, as well as in the third building, WTC 7 -- a building which symmetrically collapsed despite not being hit by a plane. In all cases, the official account blames intense fires, made hotter due to jet (or in WTC 7’s case diesel) fuel.

But all scientific investigations by NIST, FEMA and independent experts establish that the fires burned well below 2800˚ Fahrenheit, the melting point of steel. In other words, it is agreed by all that the fires never burned hot enough to melt the steel columns. Whether or not the steel was hot enough to buckle, the official account fails to explain the deposits of molten metal found after the collapses. If not the fires, what could have caused the steel to melt? Jones argues that the findings constitute “direct evidence for the use of high-temperature explosives, such as thermite, which produces molten iron as an end product.” Perhaps there are other explanations, perhaps not. But the data itself represents a problem for the official account.

Shocking and absurd conspiraloonery? Not really. That's the easy way out. The scientific validity of Jones’ line of inquiry has been supported by several other experts, such as Judy Wood, professor of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University; and Charles N. Pegelow, a 30-year veteran structural engineer. Indeed, long before this emerging scientific dissent -- only 3 months after 9/11 -- the inadequacy of the official account had been flagged up by fire protection engineering experts. Editor Bill Manning wrote in Fire Engineering that:

“Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the ‘official Investigation’ blessed by FEMA… is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure… Respected members of the fire protection engineering community are beginning to raise red flags, and a resonating [result] has emerged: The structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers….”

Professor Jones didn’t write his paper to support a prior ideological-conspiratorial agenda -- he wrote it to point out that to date, conventional scientific explanations of the WTC collapses remain flawed and inadequate. The molten deposits found at Ground Zero, and the failure of the official narrative to account for them, represent an anomaly that should be investigated impartially, not dismissed for reasons of political convenience -- or arbitrary standards of the boundaries of sanity.

Five years on, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we still don’t know what really happened on 9/11. And this dismal, pathetic state of affairs should not continue. The 9/11 families, and with them the wider public, have an elementary right to full answers to these basic questions. And I’m not about to offer you, the reader, an alternative all-explanatory theory, or a nice ready-made answer on a plate. I don’t have one. I just offer you the raw data to start a healthy process of cognitive dissonance, with which you can do as you please.

But I will say that there is one thing we do know: that much of the official narrative is untenable, in surprising and disturbing ways. As our leaders continue to push the Middle East toward the brink of nuclear war, while crushing civil liberties and criminalizing dissent at home, the case for a truly independent public inquiry into the phenomenon of terror could not be clearer.

10 September 2006

Bush's Macabre Dance of Death With Bin Laden (or, "why we are all loser's in this 'war on terror'")

Today's Independent on Sunday, carries a piece by me in a special comment section 'The legacy of 9/11'. It's stands next to a penetrating analysis by Gore Vidal, which is quite cool. [For those who don't know, Gore raised awkward questions about 9/11 in an extended analysis based entirely on my 1st book, The War on Freedom: How & Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001, printed in The Observer a few years ago.] The Independent print version is slightly abridged compared to the hundred odd words extra in the version I'm posting here (btw, same thing with the previous post).

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Bush's macabre dance of death with bin Laden
The world cannot be turned into two giant enemy camps

Independent on Sunday 10.9.06

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

There is a “War on Terror”, we are told, but who is winning? Since the 9/11 assault, terrorist attacks in Bali, Casablanca, Istanbul, London, Madrid, and elsewhere, have killed and injured thousands of innocents. Bin Laden has depicted the fear and devastation wrought by such atrocities, fuelling suspicion and hostility against Islam worldwide, as a legitimate Muslim response to “a new crusade led by America against the Islamic nations.” Bin Laden’s actions have thus been hugely successful in exacerbating an inexorable polarisation between “the Islamic world” and “the Americans and their allies.”

Yet oddly, bin Laden’s rhetoric bears unnerving similarities to that of his most ardent opponents. In the wake of last month’s terror plot, President Bush declared that we are fighting a “war against Islamic fascism.” Indeed, the monolithic identities identified by bin Laden seem to read straight from the musings of influential Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington. “Contemporary global politics is the age of Muslim wars”, he wrote in January 2002. “These instances of Muslim violence could congeal into one major clash of civilizations between Islam and the West or between Islam and the Rest.”

And indeed, bin Laden has successfully bogged down the United States, Britain and the Rest of the West in a series of dubious imperial military adventures in the Middle East and Central Asia. By now, coalition casualties in both conflict zones have soared, with up to 20,000 American troops sufficiently wounded to have been evacuated. Iraqi and Afghan civilian casualties, however, have also done the coalition no PR favours. A widely-cited survey by Marc Herold, professor of economics at New Hampshire University, found that at least 3,767 Afghan civilians were killed by British and US bombs between October and December 2001. In Iraq, the Lancet provided a peer-reviewed estimate of “at least 100,000” Iraqi civilians killed largely under coalition aerial bombardment. The reported destruction lends undeserved credence to bin Laden’s portrayal of a West at war with Islam. These nations were targeted, he said, solely because they are “Muslims and non-American”. Therefore, the Americans felt it was “their right” to “annihilate” them.

Combined with the increasingly repressive and discriminatory apparatus of anti-terrorism laws being extended and executed at home, the Anglo-American response has only served to alienate and criminalize the very Muslim communities that are needed to curb terrorism. In September 2004, the Institute of Race Relations warned that terrorism powers were being misused for other purposes, in routine criminal investigations and in the policing of immigration. By the 7th July terrorist attacks last year, despite over 700 arrests of Muslims under the UK Terrorism Act, there were less than 20 convictions. Following bin Laden down his rabbit hole, the West has created a ‘recruiting sergeant’ for Islamist terrorism more powerful than bin Laden could have ever dreamed.

But simultaneously, bin Laden’s 9/11 provided precisely the ideological capital Whitehouse policymakers needed to implement questionable strategies that would otherwise have received little public support. In September 2000, the neoconservative Project for a New American Century -- many of whose members joined the Bush administration -- advocated “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf”, to be achieved by the Defense Department moving “more aggressively to experiment with new technologies and operational concepts”. But this process of transformation, it lamented, “is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor.” Thus, with 9/11, bin Laden sealed the neoconservative grip on power, by seemingly proving their point -- that Islamist terrorism was an unprecedented new threat, requiring unprecedented global policing.

Since then, the policies and pronunciations of Bush and bin Laden have repeatedly rebounded off each other in an increasingly macabre dance of death. “These events have divided the whole world into two sides”, declared the al-Qaeda emir on 8 October 2001: “The side of believers and the side of infidels.” As if to confirm the accuracy of this statement, the American President warned the international community the following month that “they will be held accountable for inactivity. You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”

But alas, life is not so simple. The world cannot be compartmentalized into two giant enemy camps doomed to global conflict. Five years on, there are no winners in this war, only hundreds and thousands of losers, Muslim and non-Muslim victims of neoconservative and Islamist terrorism. While the mutual rhetoric and actions of the fundamentalists serve to reinforce each other, they ignore the common principles of human rights, justice, and freedom that unite the authentic Islamic and western European heritage, and which the vast majority of Muslims and non-Muslims alike hold dear.

Engaging the Enemy Within

Here's a piece I forgot to post, which was printed in the Independent on Sunday on 13th August 2006 titled "Engaging the Enemy Within".

I had originally approached them proposing a piece that would deconstruct that month's "terror plot" -- after some discussion, the editors said they had that front covered, and wanted something else to deal with the question of why we get muslims who seem to want to become suicide killers? What is it about these muslims? Is there something particularly mysterious or exotic about them?

So I thought I would leave my demolition job to my blog and other online outlets (as no one in print wanted to touch it with an editorial barge pole, too controversial i presume), and tackle this particular issue of muslim extremism....

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Engaging the enemy within Their legitimate concerns turn into a psychology of victimisation
Independent on Sunday 13.08.06

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed


The Wednesday arrests of 24 terrorist suspects, mostly British Muslims, planning to launch a spectacular suicide terrorist attack more lethal than 9/11, has sent shockwaves of fear around the world. The plotters have been described as young British-born men and women, between the ages of 17 and 35. How could such seemingly normal people, many with jobs, families and an education, become radicalised to the extent that they were prepared to die, in order to kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians?

An open letter to the Prime Minister from three of the four Muslim MPs, three of the four Muslim peers, and 38 Muslim organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain blames government foreign policy. Although No. 10 is dismayed by the letter, the thrust of its argument was acknowledged by a Home Office report leaked to the Sunday Times last year, several days after the 7th July atrocities, which admitted that young British Muslims were particularly disillusioned by “a perceived ‘double standard’ in the foreign policy of western governments”, especially regarding “Western bias in Israel’s favour over the Israel/Palestinian conflict.” Many British Muslims see the ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere as “acts against Islam.” The report says that “a sense of helplessness” about this situation is exacerbated by the “lack of any tangible ‘pressure valves’, in order to vent frustrations, anger or dissent.”

British intelligence agencies are acutely aware of this connection. In February 2003, the Joint Intelligence Committee warned the Prime Minister that the al-Qaeda threat would be “heightened by military action against Iraq”. Just over two weeks before the 7/7 attacks, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre noted that the Iraq issue provided a “motivation and a focus” for UK-based terrorist activity.

Yet is this explanation sufficient? After all while many British Muslims oppose the occupation of Iraq they are hardly unusual in this regard. Millions in Britain oppose our government’s foreign policy. There is therefore something deeply unsatisfactory about this explanation -- clearly, grievances over the war must be accounted for, but what remains mysterious is how such grievances are converted into the planning of suicide atrocities.

Nothing obviously distinguishes British Muslim terror suspects. They don’t appear to suffer from any obvious forms of social exclusion. However, many of them seem to have been looking for something more in life. Neighbours and friends described them as non-descript, well-behaved practising Muslims. Several were recent converts to Islam, such as the son of a Conservative Party staffer, and another described as a former alcohol and drug user. How did they become radicalized?

There are perhaps 3,000 Muslims in this country who are, or have been involved in al-Qaeda related terrorist activity. The vast bulk of these people were recruited after 9/11 during the war in Afghanistan, by a small group of foreign Islamist preachers and activists revolving around the Finsbury Park mosque. They include Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Hamza, Abu Qatada, Abu Izzadeen, Mohammed al-Masari, Saad al-Fagih, among others. Out of these, only Hamza and Qatada are in custody, and Bakri is in exile.

The brand of “Islam” promoted by Bakri, Izzadeen, and others is a highly charged political ideology that feeds in part on Muslim grievances about western foreign policy. Normal and legitimate concerns are turned into a paranoid psychology of victimization that views a monolithic “west” as hell-bent on the destruction of Islam and Muslims worldwide.

What western military jargon calls ‘collateral damage’, wrought by western interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere, becomes ample fodder to propagate a dualistic worldview in which the west is at perpetual war with Islam. But this marginal interpretation of Islam pre-dates the recent round of Western intervention in the Middle East. Extremist preachers depict the killing of western civilians as retaliatory attacks justified by Muslim deaths due to American, British and Israeli military operations. Hypnotic audiovisual techniques splice images of gruesome atrocities against Muslim civilians with those of al-Qaeda leaders preaching justice. The resulting sense of victimization is used to show that a return to a global Islamist theocracy established through “jihad” is necessary to protect Muslims from oppression. Thus, the sense of helplessness, frustration and anger is consciously filtered into a dangerous and cult-like ideology of death, as a path to hope.

In methods and end-goals, this extremist vision of Islam is not significantly different to other dangerous cults that prey on impressionable minds, except in terms of the massive scale of its material support-network. The letter from Muslim leaders in Britain ignores the fact that this network is actively promoted and exported by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, as well as groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. They pour millions of pounds of funds into mosques, organizations and charities not only in the UK, but in the US, western Europe, and beyond. The aim is to identify Islam with their specific political program. In this they resemble those in the West who claim that the world can be understood in terms of ‘evil-doers’ and ‘arcs of extremism’.

The process of radicalization is an expensive one. Saudi financing of al-Qaeda through charities and foundations is well-known to the international intelligence community. Operatives like Bakri and Hamza received lavish funding from this network and used it to bring extremism into British Muslim communities. Sophisticated indoctrination techniques have allowed an extremist governing ideology sponsored by Gulf States, with little support amongst most Muslims around the world, to successfully create a minority of dangerous fanatics who are willing to indulge in atrocities, believed to be justified by the west’s perceived atrocities against Muslims.

The British government’s response to the networks spearheading this radicalization process has been ambivalent. Over the last decade, our close economic ties to repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia have led western leaders to turn a blind eye not only to domestic human rights abuses there, but also to the sponsorship of terrorist networks and a corresponding extremist ideology of Islam. Simultaneously, the government has failed to arrest, charge or prosecute some of the most senior Islamist operatives linked to terrorist activity, including for instance Omar Bakri, who while languishing in Lebanon outside British jurisdiction, continues to oversee the radicalization of hundreds of British Muslims via internet, encouraging them to engage in terrorism.

The authorities must take legal action against Islamist preachers who lead these networks. Both the government and media should stop treating extremist organisations as fit representatives of mainstream muslim opinion. And all of us must be clear that extremist Islam is a well-funded and sophisticated lie, much like the western imperialism it purports to resist.

1 September 2006

CENSORED: The NY Times "Terror Plot" Expose They Don't Want You to Read

This is a special post for my fellow Brits.

On 28th August 2006, the New York Times printed an investigative story on that month’s 10/8 “terror plot”, undermining the claims of US and British government officials, and suggesting that details had been exaggerated beyond all proportion for political reasons. The article was also published online.

But interested British readers quickly discovered that they had been denied access to the article. Instead they discovered the following web message:

“This Article Is Unavailable

On advice of legal counsel, this article is unavailable to readers of nytimes.com in Britain. This arises from the requirement in British law that prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial.”

Even printed copies of the newspaper destined for the UK were scrubbed. Apparently for strictly legal reasons.

In fact, the New York Times’ decision to self-censor its own expose from the British readership is, like the “terror plot” itself, more likely to have been based on reasons of political expedience.

Consider, for instance, the confident declaration of Paul Stephenson, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police in London, that the goal of the apprehended suspects in plotting the attack was “mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” Prejudicial to the case Mr. Stephenson? In similar vein, on the very day of the arrests, other officials estimated that as many as 10 planes were to be blown up, possibly over American cities. In Britain, the threat level was raised to its highest, “critical”, signalling an imminent terrorist attack, while Home Secretary Dr. John Reid talked repeatedly of the likelihood of an immediate strike. Such pronouncements were repeated in the US. Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said that the plot was “getting really quite close to the execution stage.”

Let’s be clear on this. These were not qualified, tentative descriptions of suspicions about a possible plot. These were definitive, unqualified proclamations about having detected and successfully foiled an imminent al-Qaeda strike to blow up about 10 civilian planes using liquid explosives to be manufactured on board. So much so that Dr. Reid was rebuked by the Attorney-General for possibly prejudicing the trial of the arrested individuals.

Possibly?

My own research of public record sources published Monday 21st August, “The Truth about the ‘Terror Plot’… and the new pseudo-terrorism”, fundamentally undermines the official narrative. My findings, like that of the NY Times article, do not prejudice any trial -- but they do prejudice the standards of political convenience adopted by British and American officials, whereby their repeated distortions, exaggerations and outright fabrications about the "terror plot" have been used to justify government attempts to push for suspension of sections of the Human Rights Act 1998, and to drastically increase draconian anti-terror powers.

For this reason, publication of the latest evidence undermining the government’s prejudicial claims serves not to create further prejudice, but to correct the lies and distortions that have already been widely disseminated and swallowed whole by an increasingly pathetic and subservient media, that remains unable to learn from the pattern of deceit long established in examples like the non-existent “Ricin Plot” (as former British Ambassador Craig Murray says, “there was no ricin; and there was no plot”). What the new evidence, indeed, demonstrates quite clearly, is that the British government, deliberately, consciously, pretended that there was an imminent threat from a plot which, it knew all too well, barely existed.

Therefore, for reasons of urgent public interest and in order to help correct the prejudicial distortions printed and aired repeatedly by the media on the basis of the false statements of our purported political representatives, I am posting the New York Times article in full, online, for the first time (see Annex below). And I would urge you all to re-post everywhere you can.

A number of points within the article, however, are worth highlighting. The New York Times points out, for instance, that according to “five senior British officials… the suspects were not prepared to strike immediately. Instead, the reactions of Britain and the United States in the wake of the arrests of 21 people on Aug. 10 were driven less by information about a specific, imminent attack than fear that other, unknown terrorists might strike.”

Unfortunately, this “fear” also had little basis in actual evidence. Consider the fact that “British officials said the suspects still had a lot of work to do. Two of the suspects did not have passports, but had applied for expedited approval.” One of the men had apparently looked up airline schedules for flights from London to the US (a crime for any British Muslim?), but investigators confirmed that “the suspects had neither made reservations nor purchased plane tickets.” Supposed “bomb-making equipment” described blandly as “chemicals” and “electrical components” (meaning household products and MP3 players) was found “five days after the
arrests,” not before.

“In fact,” continues the NY Times, “two and a half weeks since the inquiry became public, British investigators have still not determined whether there was a target date for the attacks or how many planes were to be involved. They say the estimate of 10 planes was speculative and exaggerated.”

Speculative and exaggerated is a rather polite term, some might say. “In his first public statement after the arrests, Peter Clarke, chief of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police, acknowledged that the police were still investigating the basics: ‘the number, destination and timing of the flights that might be attacked.’” So what did they know about this alleged plot?

Not very much really. Here we get to the really “prejudicial” part. “Despite the charges, officials said they were still unsure of one critical question: whether any of the suspects was technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives while airborne.”

In my 21st August analysis, I had already raised fatal questions about the technical viability of the “terror plot” scenario. So did, apparently, “a chemist involved in that part of the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was sworn to confidentiality.” Thus while officials and experts are cited as generally agreeing that “the investigation points to a serious and determined group of plotters”, they also add that “questions about the immediacy and difficulty of the suspected bombing plot cast doubt on the accuracy of some of the public statements made at the time.” So perhaps some of these people were extremists, possibly involved in criminal activity, possibly up to no good -- but the “terror plot” scenario remains fundamentally questionable.

As Michael A. Sheehan, the former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism in the New York Police Department told America's newspaper of record: “In retrospect, there may have been too much hyperventilating going on.”

Hyperventilating is not quite the word I would use. “Bullshitting”, appears to be a more fitting, if less polite, description.

Also consistent with what I wrote more than a week ago, the NY Times quoted British officials saying “many of the questions about the suspected plot remained unanswered because they were forced to make the arrests before Scotland Yard was ready.” I had already noted that the Brits didn’t want to move on the suspects due to the paucity of evidence. “The trigger was the arrest in Pakistan of Rashid Rauf, a 25-year-old British citizen with dual Pakistani citizenship, whom Pakistani investigators have described as a ‘key figure’ in the plot.”

But Rauf had been tortured by Pakistani interrogators, according to the Pakistani Human Rights Commission. Which means the central source for the details about the plot are inadmissible by law. “Several senior British officials said the Pakistanis arrested Rashid Rauf without informing them first”. What the Times doesn’t mention is that the impetus for the Pakistanis to move came from the Americans. “The arrest surprised and frustrated investigators here who had wanted to monitor the suspects longer, primarily to gather more evidence and to determine whether they had identified all the people involved in the suspected plot.”

Our boys in the police and intelligence services, in other words, saw no reason to do anything. But the Americans did. And in doing so, they compromised an ongoing intelligence operation, just so they could manufacture a false “intelligence success”. It seems, moreover, that our government didn’t only lie to its people. It also lied to its friends. “The plotters received a very short message to ‘Go now,’ ” Franco Frattini, the European Union’s security commissioner, told the NY Times. He had been briefed by Dr. Reid. “I was convinced by British authorities that this message exists”, he said.

The message, folks, didn’t exist. “A senior British official said the message from Pakistan was not that explicit”, reported the NY Times. In other words, it didn't say 'Go now'. It said something else, far more ambiguous. But that didn't stop Dr. Reid from telling everybody the opposite. Meanwhile, “Mr. Reid and Mr. Clarke declined repeated requests for interviews.” What a surprise. Two weeks after they had chorused a story of an imminent strike creating death on an unprecedented scale even worse than 9/11, “senior officials here [in the US] characterized the remarks as unfortunate.”

Most people, I fear, would characterise those remarks in more damning terms.

Has anyone, by the way, noted the frequency with which anonymous British officials have been sourced for this story? Are they all in contempt of court for showing that the government’s claims were untrue, for attempting to correct the public record? I don’t think so.

And that’s why I post the entire story for you. Read at your peril….


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ANNEX

August 28, 2006 -- The New York Times

Details Emerge in British Terror Case

By DON VAN NATTA Jr., ELAINE SCIOLINO and STEPHEN GREYLONDON, Aug. 27 — On Aug. 9, in a small second-floor apartment in East London, two young Muslim men recorded a video justifying what the police say was their suicide plot to blow up trans-Atlantic planes: revenge against the United States and its “accomplices,” Britain and the Jews.

“As you bomb, you will be bombed; as you kill, you will be killed,” said one of the men on a “martyrdom” videotape, whose contents were described by a senior British official and a person briefed about the case. The young man added that he hoped God would be “pleased with us and accepts our deed.”

As it happened, the police had been monitoring the apartment with hidden video and audio equipment. Not long after the tape was recorded that day, Scotland Yard decided to shut down what they suspected was a terrorist cell. That action set off a chain of events that raised the terror threat levels in Britain and the United States, barred passengers from taking liquids on airplanes and plunged air traffic into chaos around the world.

The ominous language of seven recovered martyrdom videotapes is among new details that emerged from interviews with high-ranking British, European and American officials last week, demonstrating that the suspects had made considerable progress toward planning a terrorist attack.

Those details include fresh evidence from Britain’s most wide-ranging terror investigation: receipts for cash transfers from abroad, a handwritten diary that appears to sketch out elements of a plot, and, on martyrdom tapes, several suspects’ statements of their motives.But at the same time, five senior British officials said, the suspects were not prepared to strike immediately.

Instead, the reactions of Britain and the United States in the wake of the arrests of 21 people on Aug. 10 were driven less by information about a specific, imminent attack than fear that other, unknown terrorists might strike.

The suspects had been working for months out of an apartment that investigators called the “bomb factory,” where the police watched as the suspects experimented with chemicals, according to British officials and others briefed on the evidence, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, citing British rules on confidentiality regarding criminal prosecutions.

In searches during raids, the police discovered what they said were the necessary components to make a highly volatile liquid explosive known as HMTD, jihadist materials, receipts of Western Union money transfers, seven martyrdom videos made by six suspects and the last will and testament of a would-be bomber, senior British officials said. One of the suspects said on his martyrdom video that the “war against Muslims” in Iraq and Afghanistan had motivated him to act.

Investigators say they believe that one of the leaders of the group, an unemployed man in his 20’s who was living in a modest apartment on government benefits, kept the key to the alleged “bomb factory” and helped others record martyrdom videos, the officials said.Hours after the police arrested the 21 suspects, police and government officials in both countries said they had intended to carry out the deadliest terrorist attack since Sept. 11.

Later that day, Paul Stephenson, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police in London, said the goal of the people suspected of plotting the attack was “mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” On the day of the arrests, some officials estimated that as many as 10 planes were to be blown up, possibly over American cities. Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, described the suspected plot as “getting really quite close to the execution stage.”

But British officials said the suspects still had a lot of work to do. Two of the suspects did not have passports, but had applied for expedited approval. One official said the people suspected of leading the plot were still recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers.

While investigators found evidence on a computer memory stick indicating that one of the men had looked up airline schedules for flights from London to cities in the United States, the suspects had neither made reservations nor purchased plane tickets, a British official said. Some of their suspected bomb-making equipment was found five days after the arrests in a suitcase buried under leaves in the woods near High Wycombe, a town 30 miles northwest of London.

Another British official stressed that martyrdom videos were often made well in advance of an attack. In fact, two and a half weeks since the inquiry became public, British investigators have still not determined whether there was a target date for the attacks or how many planes were to be involved. They say the estimate of 10 planes was speculative and exaggerated.

In his first public statement after the arrests, Peter Clarke, chief of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police, acknowledged that the police were still investigating the basics: “the number, destination and timing of the flights that might be attacked.”

A total of 25 people have been arrested in connection with the suspected plot. Twelve of them have been charged. Eight people were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and preparing acts of terrorism. Three people were charged with failing to disclose information that could help prevent a terrorist act, and a 17-year-old male suspect was charged with possession of articles that could be used to prepare a terrorist act. Eight people still in custody have not been charged. Five have been released. All the suspects arrested are British citizens ranging in age from 17 to 35.Despite the charges, officials said they were still unsure of one critical question: whether any of the suspects was technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives while airborne.

A chemist involved in that part of the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was sworn to confidentiality, said HMTD, which can be prepared by combining hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals, “in theory is dangerous,” but whether the suspects “had the brights to pull it off remains to be seen.”While officials and experts familiar with the case say the investigation points to a serious and determined group of plotters, they add that questions about the immediacy and difficulty of the suspected bombing plot cast doubt on the accuracy of some of the public statements made at the time.“In retrospect,’’ said Michael A. Sheehan, the former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism in the New York Police Department, “there may have been too much hyperventilating going on.”

Some of the suspects came to the attention of Scotland Yard more than a year ago, shortly after four suicide bombers attacked three subway trains and a double-decker bus in London on July 7, 2005, a coordinated attack that killed 56 people and wounded more than 700. The investigation was dubbed “Operation Overt.’’

The Police Are Tipped OffThe police were apparently tipped off by informers. One former British counterterrorism official, who was working for the government at the time, said several people living in Walthamstow, a working-class neighborhood in East London, alerted the police in July 2005 about the intentions of a small group of angry young Muslim men.

Walthamstow is best known for its faded greyhound track and the borough of Waltham Forest, where more than 17,000 Pakistani immigrants live in the largest Pakistani enclave in London.

Armed with the tips, MI5, Britain’s domestic security services, began an around-the-clock surveillance operation of a dozen young men living in Walthamstow — bugging their apartments, tapping their phones, monitoring their bank transactions, eavesdropping on their Internet traffic and e-mail messages, even watching where they traveled, shopped and took their laundry, according to senior British officials.

The initial focus of the investigation was not about possible terrorism aboard planes, but an effort to see whether there were any links between the dozen men and the July 7 subway bombers, or terrorist cells in Pakistan, the officials said.

The authorities quickly learned the identity of the man believed to have been the leader of the cell, the unemployed man in his mid-20’s, who traveled at least twice within the past year to Pakistan, where his activities are still being investigated.

Last June, a 22-year-old Walthamstow resident, who is among the suspects arrested Aug. 10, paid $260,000 cash for a second-floor apartment in a house on Forest Road, according to official property records. The authorities noticed that six men were regularly visiting the second-floor apartment that came to be known as the “bomb factory,” according to a British official and the person briefed about the case.Two of the men, who were likely the bomb-makers, were conducting a series of experiments with chemicals, said the person briefed on the case.

MI5 agents secretly installed video and audio recording equipment inside the apartment, two senior British officials said. In a secret search conducted before the Aug. 10 raids, agents had discovered that the inside of batteries had been scooped out, and that it appeared several suspects were doing chemical experiments with a sports drink named Lucozade and syringes, the person with knowledge of the case said. Investigators have said they believe that the suspects intended to bring explosive chemicals aboard planes inside sports drink bottles.

In that apartment, according to a British official, one of the leaders and a man in his late 20’s met at least twice to discuss the suspected plot, as MI5 agents secretly watched and listened. On Aug. 9, just hours before the police raids occurred in 50 locations from East London to Birmingham, the two men met again to discuss the suspected plot and record a martyrdom video.As one of the men read from a script before a videocamera, he recited a quotation from the Koran and ticked off his reasons for the “action that I am going to undertake,” according to the person briefed on the case. The man said he was seeking revenge for the foreign policy of the United States, and “their accomplices, the U.K. and the Jews.” The man said he wanted to show that the enemies of Islam would never win this “war.”

Beseeching other Muslims to join jihad, he justified the killing of innocent civilians in America and other Western countries because they supported the war against Muslims through their tax dollars. They were too busy enjoying their Western lifestyles to protest the policies, he added. Though British officials usually release little information about continuing investigations, Scotland Yard took the unusual step of disclosing some detailed information about the investigation last Monday, when the suspects were charged.

A Trove of Evidence

“There have been 69 searches,” Mr. Clarke, the chief antiterrorist police official from Scotland Yard, said Monday. “These have been in houses, flats and business premises, vehicles and open spaces.”Investigators also seized more than 400 computers, 200 mobile phones and 8,000 items like memory sticks, CD’s and DVD’s. “The scale is immense,” Mr. Clarke said. “Inquiries will span the globe.”

He said those searches revealed a trove of evidence, and officials and others last week provided additional details.

Four of the law firms that are defending suspects declined to comment.When police officers knocked down the door to the second-floor apartment on Forest Road, they found a plastic bin filled with liquid, batteries, nearly a dozen empty drink bottles, rubber gloves, digital scales and a disposable camera that was leaking liquid, the person with knowledge of the case said. The camera might have been a prototype for a device to smuggle chemicals on the plane.

In the pocket of one of the suspects, the police found the computer memory stick that showed he had looked up airline schedules for flights from London to the United States, a British official said. The man is said to have had a diary that included a list that the police interpreted as a step-by-step plan for an attack. The items included batteries and Lucozade bottles. It also included a reminder to select a date.

In the homes of a number of the suspects, the police found jihadist literature and DVD’s about “genocide” in Iraq and Palestine, according to British officials. In one house searched by the police in Walthamstow, the authorities found a copy of a book called “Defense of the Muslim Lands.”A “last will and testament” for one of the accused was said to have been found at his brother’s home. Dated Sept. 24, 2005, the will concludes, “What should I worry when I die a Muslim, in the manner in which I am to die, I go to my death for the sake of my maker.” God, he added, can if he wants “bless limbs torn away!!!”

Looking for Global Ties

In addition, the British authorities are scouring the evidence for clues to whether there is a global dimension to the suspected plot, particularly the extent to which it was planned, financed or supported in Pakistan, and whether there is a connection to remnants of Al Qaeda.

They are still trying to determine who provided the cash for the apartment and the computer equipment and telephones, officials said.

Several of the suspects had traveled to Pakistan within weeks of the arrests, according to an American counterterrorism official.

At a minimum, investigators say at least one of the suspects’ inspiration was drawn from Al Qaeda. One of the suspects’ “kill-as-they-kill” martyrdom video was taken from a November 2002 fatwa by Osama bin Laden. British officials said many of the questions about the suspected plot remained unanswered because they were forced to make the arrests before Scotland Yard was ready.The trigger was the arrest in Pakistan of Rashid Rauf, a 25-year-old British citizen with dual Pakistani citizenship, whom Pakistani investigators have described as a “key figure” in the plot.

In 2000, Mr. Rauf’s father founded Crescent Relief London, a charity that sent money to victims of last October’s earthquake in Pakistan. Several suspects met through their involvement in the charity, a friend of one of them said. Last week, Britain froze the charity’s bank accounts and opened an investigation into possible “terrorist abuse of charitable funds.” Leaders of the charity have denied the allegations.Several senior British officials said the Pakistanis arrested Rashid Rauf without informing them first. The arrest surprised and frustrated investigators here who had wanted to monitor the suspects longer, primarily to gather more evidence and to determine whether they had identified all the people involved in the suspected plot.

But within hours of Mr. Rauf’s arrest on Aug. 9 in Pakistan, British officials heard from intelligence sources that someone connected to him had tried to contact some of the suspects in East London. The message was interpreted by investigators as a possible signal to move forward with the plot, officials said.“The plotters received a very short message to ‘Go now,’ ” said Franco Frattini, the European Union security commissioner, who was briefed by the British home secretary, John Reid, in London. “I was convinced by British authorities that this message exists.”

A senior British official said the message from Pakistan was not that explicit. But, nonetheless, investigators here had to change their strategy quickly.

“The aim was to keep this operation going for much longer,” said a senior British security official who requested anonymity because of confidentiality rules. “It ended much sooner than we had hoped.” From then on, the British government was driven by worst-case scenarios based on a minimum-risk strategy.

British investigators worried that word of Mr. Rauf’s arrest could push the London suspects to destroy evidence and to disperse, raising the possibility they would not be able to arrest them all. But investigators also could not rule out that there could be an unknown second cell that would try to carry out a similar plan, officials said.Mr. Clarke, as the country’s top antiterrorism police official in London with authority over police decisions, ordered the arrests.

But it was left to Mr. Reid, who has been home secretary since May and is a former defense secretary, to decide at emergency meetings of police, national security and transport leaders, what else needed to be done. Mr. Reid and Mr. Clarke declined repeated requests for interviews.Prime Minister Tony Blair was on vacation in Barbados, where he was said to have monitored events in London; Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott did not attend the meeting.

“While the arrests were unfolding, the Home Office raised Britain’s terror alert level to “critical,” as the police continued their raids of suspects’ homes and cars. All liquids were banned from carry-on bags, and some public officials in Britain and the United States said an attack appeared to be imminent. In addition to Mr. Stephenson’s remark that the attack would have been “mass murder on an unimaginable scale,” Mr. Reid said that attacks were “highly likely” and predicted that the loss of life would have been on an “unprecedented scale.”Two weeks later, senior officials here characterized the remarks as unfortunate. As more information was analyzed and the British government decided that the attack was not imminent, Mr. Reid sought to calm the country by backing off from his dire predictions, while defending the decision to raise the alert level to its highest level as a precaution.

In lowering the threat level from critical to severe on Aug. 14, Mr. Reid acknowledged: “Threat level assessments are intelligence-led. It is not a process where scientific precision is possible. They involve judgments.”

Reporting for this article was contributed by William J. Broad from New York, Carlotta Gall from Pakistan, David Johnston and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.

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