Babar Ahmad is a British citizen, obviously of the extremist Muslim variety, but one who seems to be in the process of receiving rough justice at the hands of the UK and USA authorities, including sustaining documented physical injuries when he was arrested and then subsequently released without charge under the UK's draconian Terrorism Act 2000.
We have no sympathy for Islamic jihadist causes, but for a British citizen, to be fast track extradited to the USA, without the need to present even flimsy evidence about activities which were legal in the UK back in 1997 / 1998 relating not to terrorist crimes in the USA, but to possible activities in a third or a fourth country does seem to be unfair, unjust, and morally unworthy of our democratic traditions and values.
If we throw these away, then the terrorists will have won.
Non-military support for people in Afghanistan or Chechnya is not illegal. Neither the Taleban in Afghanistan nor the Mujahideen in Chechnya were then, or are now proscribed terrorist groups according to United Kingdom law. This is obviously insane and incompetent, but the situation could have been remedied by the Home Secretary David Blunkett, at any time, simply by signing an order. The fact that neither he nor his predecessor Jack Straw have bothered to do so is a scandal.
If there are any "money laundering" etc. charges to be brought, then they should be brought in a UK court.
If Home Secretary David Blunkett was serious in his claims that he is not promoting a "climate of fear", his spin and public relations propagandists should be quashing the impression given by media reports like "Terror suspect 'sought chemicals'" from the BBC and the completely inaccurate and scaremongering hedline "Terror Suspect 'Tried to Buy 5,000 Tons of Sulphur'" by the Press Association.
Of course if you actually bother to read the affidavit in support of extradition (.pdf) by Robert M. Appleton, the Assistant United States Attorney in charge of the extradition case:
"Correspondence Seeking Large Quantities of Fertilizer and
Chemicals and the Specific Reference to Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan
A search of the bedroom at 42a Fountain Road in December, 2003, uncovered approximately 25 to 30 pages of correspondence between AHMAD and various export companies from mid-1997 through early 1998, in which AHMAD sought to purchase up to 5,000 tons of sulfur / phosphate based fertilizers and large amounts of several chemicals, on behalf of a third party. A purchase order from one of the companies that Babar contacted reflects a shipment of “miscellaneous items” on or about June 12, 1997, to a purported company in Pakistan. A July 1, 1997, letter to AHMAD from that company enclosed a bank check for the
exact same amount of the purchase. Agents continue to investigate the significance of this."
Most people call this "international trade", presumably for a profit, which is perfectly legal, even in the United States.
"sulfur / phosphate based fertilizer" is just that - fertiliser. It is not the explosive sort of ammonium nitrate based fertiliser.
Even if this fertiliser was of any use in an armed conflict, anyone who can arrange the smuggling of 5,000 tons of anything to Afghanistan or Chechnya would have to be a logistics genius, with access to vast resources, which Babar Ahmad obviously is not.
There is other "bottom of the barrel scraping" stuff being presented in the affidavit, but which will, presumably not actually get tested as evidence under the "fast track" extradition procedure to the USA under the Extradition Act 2003:
"30 Request for Extradition - Page 30
"The Empire State Building Brochure
Also recovered from AHMAD's residence during the search was what appears to be a several page tourist brochure of the Empire State Building. Although the brochure appears to be from the late 1960s or early 1970s, it nevertheless contains: (1) details about the number of workers and visitors to the building each day; (2) details on the height, volume and construction of the building, including amounts of steel, number of stairs, number of elevators, number of windows, and location of the ventilation system; and (3) information on public observatory access and hours of operation. The four page brochure also includes full pictures of the building in both day and night; as well as four aerial shots of the building from the north, east, south and west. The brochure also contains an aerial street map of New York City, with the Empire State Building at the center, identifying its location at the intersection of W 34th Street and 5th Avenue."
Possession in London, of a 35 or 40 year old tourist brochure of the Empire State Building in New York, is now to be considered to be some sort of terrorist related crime ?? As Babar Ahmad's father points out, Babar was not even born in 1973 when his father visited the Empire State building as a tourist and brought back the brochure.
Unfortunately this ridiculous "evidence" cannot be challenged under the "fast track" extradition system introduced when the Home Secretary David Blunkett gave away our sovereignty to the US authorities. What is particularly galling is that the reverse extradition procedure is forbidden under the US contitution i.e. any extradition request by the UK authorities for people in the USA does need to present challengable evidence to a US Court.
If the charges against Babar Ahmad were not so serious, with the penalty of up to life imprisonment in the US penal system, where the chances of physical assault and murder by "patriotic" US felons must be extremely high, for someone accused of "terrorism against the USA", this Kafkaesque situation would be ridiculous and laughable.
" 31 Request for Extradition - Page 31
In 1998, AHMAD also traveled to the United States. Upon his return in the United Kingdom, AHMAD possessed on his person a ballistic, or “bullet proof,” vest and a GPS system.
Since when is the possession of a GPS system, which can be bought for a few pounds in any electronic gadget or camping and outdoor sports shop, a terrorist crime ?
"Also included in the correspondence seeking fertilizer and chemicals was a letter to AHMAD dated June 11, 1997 (one day before the date of the purchase order), from a different import-export company in Pakistan, the “Moon Star Fabrica (PVT) Ltd.” The letter indicates that a person in Pakistan instructed the company to contact AHMAD in connection with the exportation of “mangoes.”"
So in fact, the affidavit does not actually state that there was a
"Specific Reference to Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan" back in this circa 1997/1998 correspondence, does it ?
The extradition hearing seems to have been adjourned until December 16th.