There is an interesting article in The Sunday Times about the private sector "Islamic terrorist database" set up by the American lawyer who sued the US tobacco industry for tens of billions, and was awarded billions in legal fees. He seems to be investing some of his millions in another class action suite against banks and financial institutions supposedly involved in funding the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks, and, presumably the Saudi Arabian government.
However, this private sector "database" and the staff of former US intelligence operatives hardly fills one with confidence about the allegedly less comprehensive and less well funded Government systems.
"I was the first journalist to be granted access to the database. Down a series of oak-panelled corridors in Motley’s law office is a darkened room where two database managers sit at laptops in front of a large screen. They showed me how they have adapted a British computer program called Analysts’ Notebook — used by many law enforcement agencies — to find links between some of America’s most wanted terrorists, well known Islamic charities and famous banks.
We typed in “Abdelghani Mzoudi”, one of the Moroccans from the Hamburg cell who, the German authorities believe, was involved in logistics for 9/11. We added “account” and the computer flashed up six accounts. We followed payments to his Citibank account in Düsseldorf and found that his fellow Moroccan, Zakariya Essabar, was the source of one of the transactions. Soon there was a web of bank transactions on screen, linking the two men.
Mzoudi was acquitted last year by a German court that said there was a significant possibility he knew nothing of the plot. German prosecutors are appealing."
Obviously this "evidence" was not sufficient to prove a terrorist plot to the satisifaction of a German court. Nevertheless this "database" has now tagged and possibly libelled anyone with a similar name as being an "Al Queda terrorist".
How do they know that all of the financial transactions were anything to do with funding terrorism ? How can they prove that what some people thought were charitable donations were actually being diverted to fund terrorists ? How can they prove that banks or charities actually knew that this was happening and that they were complicit ?
"One of the database managers demonstrated their party-piece: how they discovered who was behind the Madrid bombings. Running the names of those arrested through their database, they found the same names in documents from the German prosecutors.
“The Spanish government was blaming it on Eta and we were able to show it was Al-Qaeda, because the same names had been lower league players in Hamburg,” he said."
This is utter rubbish. They did not "discover" anything. The Spanish Government did blame ETA initially, based on the "dry run" of a similar attack that ETA had done before Christmas.
Once the first suspects were arrested as a result of tracking down the mobile phone used in one of the bombs which did not detonate (the mobile phone was simply being used as an alarm clock timer and not as a mobile phone call or SMS message actuated trigger) then it became obvious that fundamentalist Morrocans etc. were involved rather, than Basque separatists from ETA.
It would be astonishing if the Spanish authorities could not use their own intelligence and their own copies of Analyst's Notebook to highlight any possible links with the Hamburg cell etc. For these ambulance chasing lawyers to claim that they "discovered" who was behind the Madrid bombings is rubbish.
If this private sector database really is
"“It’s the best database on Islamic terrorism in the world,” said a senior counter-terrorism official at the FBI."
then that speaks volumes for just how innaccurate and clueless the professional intelligence databases must be.