The Associated Press has a report about the arrest and appearance in court of Babar Ahmad, a 30 year old British citizen, who works in IT support (including PC Applications and webmastering of an internal departmental website) at the Centre for Computing Services at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, UK, where he was arrested on Thursday.
"LONDON (AP) - A British man wanted on an American extradition warrant used U.S.-based Web sites to recruit fighters and raise support for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, U.S. government lawyers said in court Friday.
They claim that Babar Ahmad, 30, had links to the e-mail account of a Chechen mujahedeen leader behind the October 2002 Moscow theater siege, and that he had a document on battle group plans for U.S. Navy vessels involved in operations against Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan and enforcing sanctions on Iraq."
"Rosemary Fernandes, representing the United States, said the Navy document, dated April 2001, had been seized by British police in 2003 and verified by U.S. authorities.
The document highlighted the vulnerability of the ships, operating in the Strait of Hormoz in the Gulf, to attacks by small boats and rocket-propelled grenades, she said."
Just because a copy of an April 2001 vintage US Navy document was found, does not mean that it was actually a secret document. It could easily have been downloaded from a public US Military website - some of which were censored to remove some of the vast array of sensitive documents which they publish on the public, worldwide accssible internet, after September 2001.
Babar Ahmad does not seem to have been charged with either espionage or even computer intrusion.
Even today the US military cannot seem to secure its systems from illegal porn spammers and others who seem to have compromised their networks. Back in 2001, the situation was even worse.
"The extradition warrant alleges that between 1998 and Feb. 19, 2001, Ahmad sought through American Web sites and e-mail people in the United States "to give or otherwise make available money and other property" to commit terrorist acts in Chechnya and Afghanistan.
Until the USA redifined various Moslem charities as "terrorist front organisations" after September 2001, this activity could have been perfectly legal in the USA. There were no complaints about such activity during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when many such organisations were used to send CIA funds to support the warlords and drug smugglers.
"Separate counts accuse Ahmad of soliciting support and funds for terrorism between 2001 and the end of 2003.
The U.S. lawyers gave no further details in court about Ahmad's alleged connection to Chechen separatists, and did not identify the owner of the e-mail account.
Have all emails and internet connections and phone calls to and from Imperial College been intercepted and retained and monitored as a result of this case ?
Fernandes said U.S. officials alleged Ahmad ran Web sites that contained information on how to enter war zones and encouraged military training for jihad.."
Just like all the do it yourself "survivalist", neo-nazi, National Rifle Association etc. websites protected by the "Freedom of Speech" First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ?
Is "training for jihad" actually a specific crime under any statute in the USA ? The indictment against Abu Hamza also contains such wording, who will no doubt point out that "jihad" does not actually necessarily always mean "armed insurrection against the Government of the USA", but can just mean "religous struggle".
"The warrant also alleges that between the same dates Babar "agreed with U.S. citizens based in the U.S.A. and others" on a plan to raise funds for terrorist purposes.
It goes on to accuse him of soliciting funding for terrorism between Feb. 19, 2001 and the end of 2003."
Did he really actually specify exactly what the money he is alleged to have collected was to be used for ?
There seems to be considerable interest and support for Babar Ahmad amongst the Muslim community, who held a conference today highlighting his case and the allegations of physical mistreatment of him during his first arrest in December 2003, after which no charges were brought under the Terrorism Act, presumably for lack of sufficient evidence to satisfy a UK court.
This is now the third case involving extradition of an alleged terrorist to another country, of people such as Farid Hilali or Abu Hamza. Despite the full resources of the UK Police and Intelligence Agencies, there has been insufficient evidence to even charge, let alone convict these suspects, even under the wide ranging and draconian powers available under the Terrorism Act 2000
As with Abu Hamza, does Babar Ahmad, a British citizen, face the possability of the death penalty if he is sent to the USA ?
If Babar Ahmad really is a major funds raiser for terrorist causes, then why was he not kept under intensive surveillance ? Surely following the money flows to and from him must uncover the terrorist organisation ?
How many thousands or millions of pounds of terrorist finances under Babar Ahmad's control have the authorities frozen or seized using their draconian powers ? Presumably, zero, otherwise the Home Secretary David Blunkett would have been giving press interviews trying to claim a political success.
We have got no sympathy with real terrorists, but when people against whom there is not enough evidence to try them in a UK court, on offences that they are alleged to have committed whilst actually on UK soil, for which there are ammple Police powers and draconian UK laws to deal with, are being extradited to foreign countries on little or no evidence, some of which could be the result of allegations produced under torture, something is very wrong.
We end up having to reluctantly campaign against the present UK Government, which seems to be throwing away our civil liberties and national sovereignty, thereby actually letting the terrorists win by destroying the core values which we are supposed to be defending.