The BBC reports on the press conference in which it was announced that only 11 of the "liquid bomb on aircraft plotters" have been charged, out of the 25 people who had been arrested.
Another woman was released today without charge - is this suspect "J", who applied for a judicial review on the grounds that the District Judge did not specify the reasons for her continued detention as he should have done ?
This appears to be the first time that the terrifyingly vague new Terrorism Act 2006 section 5 Preparation of terrorist acts has been used, which could attract a penalty of life imprisonment.
There seems to be an extraordinary number of computers and mobile phones which have been seized, far more than seems likely would have been actually used in any such plot.
Susan Hemming, from the Crown Prosecution Service said that only 8 people had been charged with Conspiracy to Murder and under the new Terrorism Act 2006 Section 5 Preparation of terrorist acts
This seems to be the first use of this frighteningly vague and "catch all" power:
5 Preparation of terrorist acts (1) A person commits an offence if, with the intention of- (a) committing acts of terrorism, or
(b) assisting another to commit such acts,
he engages in any conduct in preparation for giving effect to his intention.
(2) It is irrelevant for the purposes of subsection (1) whether the intention and preparations relate to one or more particular acts of terrorism, acts of terrorism of a particular description or acts of terrorism generally.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.
Two people appear to have been charged with the "brother's keeper" thought crime offence of "failing to betray members of your family" to the police, under Section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000, as amended by the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 section 117 Information about acts of terrorism
Only one person, who is just 17 years old, is actually charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 57 Possession for terrorist purposes
11 other people are still being held without charge until at least Wednesday, including the brother of man named by the the alleged ring leader of the plotters, who is under arrest in Pakistan, wher ehe has been for several years.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorism Unit did not mention the seizure of any actual viable bombs or ready to go dis-assembled improvised explosive devices, exactly as we suspected when the news of the arrests was announced.
He did mention "bomb making equipment" of an unspecified "electrical components" variety and
"chemicals, including Hydrogen Peroxide"
Note that there is no mention of how concentrated this H2O2 might be, or how much of it has been found.
The stuff you can easily buy over the counter is far too weak (less than 5 % solution) to be of any use in the "movie bomb plot scenarios" which the media were wittering on about with supposed "binary liquid explosives" which could somehow be mixed onboard an aeroplane (without any cooling) to magically create enough explosive to destroy the aeroplane, in the few minutes that someone could have to themselves in the toilets, before the rest of the passengers and crew became suspicious.
Some of the practical difficulties are outlined in The Register
Peter Clarke gave some other details of what digital evidence has been seized:
"more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones and 8,000 items of removable storage media, such as memory sticks, CDs and DVDs"
The Police have apparently
"removed some 6,000 Gigabytes of data"
It is at this point that we despair of the mainstream media.
Are they so innumerate that these figures do not immediately sound warning alarms to them ?
There were only 25 people arrested, including the 3 who have been released without charge, so that means that , on average, there are at least:
- 16 computers
- 8 mobile phones
- 320 "memory sticks, CDs and DVDs"
for each of the alleged plotters who were arrested !
Are we seriously meant to believe that all of these computers and mobile phones have actually been used in this alleged plot ? We simply do not believe this.
Are these seizures, in fact, "collateral damage" to innocent people's computers and phones etc, which mostly have nothing whatsoever to do with the alleged plot ?
There are unconfirmed media reports, for instance of about 3 cyber cafés having been raided, but these seem to have been relatively small, with "only" 20 or so computers having been seized. Unless the cyber cafés operators and the alleged terrorist plotters are utter idiots, then the hard disks of these machines will not yield any useful information, due to anti-virus precautions , restricted customer access, except to specific shared areas, and the tendancy for such machines to be regularly re-built from the operating system upward from standard disk images, to counteract any viruses , porn and possible copyright infringements which the customers of cyber cafés or other public internet access points, tend to infect them with.
How can this really be "intelligence led" policing ?
Are these seizures really designed to attempt to re-make the case for 90 days detention without charge, which the NuLabour Ministers like Home Secretary John Reid and Chancellor Gordon Brown have been hinting at, but which did not impress the Home Affairs Committee very much according to their report on Terrorism Detention Powers ?
It is noticable that 11 people have been charged without the need to analyse "6,000 Gigagbytes of data", or "8,000 items of removable media" etc. using fingerprints, DNA and of course computer forensics.
It certainly does appear to be a plot of some sort, but we are still not convinced that there was such an imminent danger, which justified the raising of the national state of terrorist alert to CRITICAL, and which justified the millions of pounds of economic damage and the terrorist propaganda victory which resulted from the inept extra "security theatre" red tape which was inflicted on airports, on airliines, and on the travelling public.