Category Archives: TWAT

The War Against Terrorism

Malians in the middle as al-Qaeda steps up a gear

Picture by May Ying Welsh

“Ansar al Din is a Malian armed group that hosts Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) much as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.”

A rather interesting article on the Al Jazeera website by May Ying Welsh about al-Qaeda in Mali, as flagged up by Andy Morgan.

…Al-Qaeda has based itself in northern Mali for 10 years, as part of an alleged secret agreement with Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), the president of Mali who was deposed in a military coup in March 2012 as northern cities were falling to Tuareg rebels.

During ATT’s presidency, AQIM amassed an outrageous fortune in Mali – collecting up to $250m in hostage ransoms from Western governments for more than 50 European and Canadian hostages kidnapped over the past decade, usually from neighbouring Niger.

At this moment there are still European hostages being held by al-Qaeda in northern Mali pending delivery of a $132m ransom.

The ransom negotiations, which were carried out under the auspices of the presidency, were confirmed by the Wikileaks cables to be a goldmine for the Malian VIPs involved – with each receiving his cut of the jackpot including, according to a former Malian official with knowledge of the deals, the president himself…

…According to numerous northern residents, AQIM fighters have been circulating openly in Tuareg towns, not for the past year, but for the past 10 years; shopping, attending weddings, and parading fully armed in the streets, in front of police stations and military barracks.

Colonel Habi ag Al Salat, a Malian army commander who defected in 2011 to join the [secular Tuareg rebel movement] MNLA, was one of the first to notice the Algerian fighters from the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) entering Tuareg towns of the far north such as Aguelhoc, which was under his command.

But when Habi warned his army superiors they told him to stand down and leave the men alone because they were “not enemies” of Mali. When the GSPC changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, following a pact announced by Ayman Al Zawahiri, that policy did not change.

“Mali opened the field to al-Qaeda – to roam among the camps and villages, to build relationships with the people,” says Habi.

“Local people benefitted up to a point from the trickle down of money flowing to al-Qaeda by way of Mali. And this ensnared many of our youths who are unemployed. Mali facilitated al-Qaeda, providing them complete freedom of movement among our families because they believed the presence of this group would impact the Tuareg struggle against the governing regime which has been going on for 50 years”…

…Meanwhile the Tuaregs have a sinking feeling: The fear that they are the ones who will be killed in any coming war, in the name of fighting al-Qaeda.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/2012review/2012/12/20121228102157169557.html

On cop-spies and paid betrayers (1.3): Lambert of the Yard and the mystery of his ‘suburban terror bunker’ trading address

Following the recent update on the travails of Dr Robert Lambert MBE, formerly of The Yard, I have dug up a little bit more information relating to the north-west London address to which a number of companies associated with him have been registered.

Since 1985 the owner of 54 Anson Road – then described as in Willesden – has been Mohamed Ahmed Kagzi. Yet since 2005, Watford-based General Electric subsidiary GE Money Mortgages has loaned on the property.

Mr Kagzi does not have a very wide footprint across company registration; his name throws up only one directorship, Management Ventures, set up in January 2011 and giving 54 Anson Road as its address. Yet Mohammed Ahmed Kagzi only became a director of that company on February 8 – one day after the resignation of the founding director. And who was that? Well, our old friend Graham Michael Cowan – he of paperwork-filling on IMPACT’s registration.

There are at least two other companies trading from 54 Anson Road which have had Graham Michael Cowan as director: Agha Interiors (registered October 2009) and Minerva & Indigo Consultants (registered May 2012).

Anyway, let’s not make mountains out of molehills, and instead move back to Mohammed. Mr Kagzi and his Cricklewood property earned a brief moment in the sunshine in June 2006, when no less an organ of the fourth estate than the Watford Observer Hendon Times* reported that 54 Anson Road had “been labelled a sophisticated charitable front with links to Al-Qa’ida.

The article notes that the property was the registered office of Sanabel Relief Agency, “a charity which had its Manchester and Birmingham offices raided by anti-terrorist police last Wednesday” (i.e. 24 May 2006). The Al-Qa’ida connection comes via a February 2006 US Treasury Department report claiming Sanabel’s main work was fundraising for the Bin Laden-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. In addition, Sanabel found itself listed by the UN’s Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee for its purported LIFG links. The assets of five British-based Libyans, including Sanabel volunteer Tahir Nasuf, three Sanabel-linked property companies (Ozlam and Sara in Liverpool, and Meadowbrook Investments in Bristol) and Sanabel itself, which had had charitable status since 2000, were frozen worldwide due to the claims.

Whilst, as the Observer Times* notes, Mohammed Ahmed Kagzi was not named in the US document, and nor was he arrested during the countrywide dragnet, in addition to owning 54 Anson Road, he was also reportedly the registered auditor for Sanabel Relief Agency. It certainly makes him an interesting choice of business partner, and his property an unusual location for your business premises – as the former Special Branch Chief Inspector Bob Lambert did, when he registered his consultancy there little more than two years after it was raided by anti-terrorism cops.

Oh my, Bob, what have you got yourself mixed up in?

* Amended 16/8/13 following information from newspaper reporter Lawrence Marzouk that the ‘suburban charity with Al-Qa’ida ties’ story was actually written for the Hendon Times, rather than the Watford Observer (which is an entirely separate title, but part of the same Newsquest group) as originally stated here. In his words: “No reason for it to appear on Watford Obs web.” Many thanks for the clarification, Lawrence.

On cop-spies and paid betrayers (1.2): Doctor Bob Lambert, his academic friends and the tightening purse-strings

So, let us return to Bob Lambert, AKA animal activist Bob Robinson, AKA academic Dr Robert Lambert MBE, AKA Detective Inspector Lambert of Special Branch.

We have not heard much about him since June, when Green MP Caroline Lucas used Parliamentary privilege to repeat allegations that whilst infiltrating animal activist circles in the 1980s, Lambert was personally responsible for setting off an incendiary device that partially destroyed a Debenham’s department store in Harrow, causing £340,000 worth of damage.

It is interesting to note that where formerly (certainly in January 2012 when I wrote my original piece) he was listed on the staff page of the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC), now only his co-director Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer is named.

Could it be that the EMRC’s work with Muslims was being disrupted by the very public suggestion that Lambert had a long history as a seducer, infiltrator and provocateur?

Of course, there is nothing in the newly-censored EMRC profile page that suggests Lambert is not still wholly entwined with the project. They are simply not advertising it.

Lambert’s relationship with Githens-Mazer is worth looking at. The EMRC profile page suggests he is from Baltimore, but with familial connections to Ireland. He hints at having (Irish) republican-with-a-small-r leanings; how that sits with him working as a wingman for someone whose career was focused on detailed, long-term betrayal whilst at an organisation set up specifically to deal with Irish republicanism is not clear.

According to his LinkedIn profile, after graduating from the private liberal arts college Swarthmore near Philadelphia, Githens-Mazer then pitched up in London to work on a PhD at the LSE, which he completed in 2005. He then took up a professorship at the University of Exeter, and assumed co-directorship of the EMRC in September 2009. Whilst working on his PhD, he lectured at the University of London’s Queen Mary College (2003-4), and from 2005-6 he also lectured at Nottingham Trent.

The EMRC webpages indicate that Githens-Mazer and Lambert began collaborating in October 2007. Since then Githens-Mazer has worked closely with Lambert over a number of years, clocking up co-authorship credits on an academic article [July 2010], two website articles [(i) February 2010; (ii) June 2011], a pair of EMRU research reports [January 2010], a book chapter [2009] and seven Comment is Free pieces in The Guardian [(i) April 2009; (ii) October 2009 ; (iii) October 2009; (iv) December 2009 ; (v) January 2010; (vi) June 2010; (vii) July 2010]. Busy scribblers indeed.

Besides their work together in the EMRC, in March 2009 Lambert also recruited Dr Githens-Mazer (plus his wife Gayle) to the company which he had set up in August 2008, Lambert Consultancy And Training. That company was dissolved in March 2010, having filed no accounts.

Curiously, LC&T was registered to a large, 6 bedroom semi-detached house at 54 Anson Road in Cricklewood, north-west London (estimated value: £650,000), which subsequently appears to have been turned into a multi-occupancy dwelling (that’s developer jargon for ‘divided into bedsits and flats’). One wonders whose property it was then, and indeed whose it is now.[1]

Since December 2010, the Githens-Mazers have been living in a quarter-million pound house in Penryn, Cornwall – somewhat closer to Exeter, where they both work (him at the Uni, her at Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry), than Anson Road in leafy NW2. Lambert, in addition to his work at the EMRC in Exeter, as previously noted also puts in the hours as an online lecturer on the Terrorism Studies course run by the Centre for Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews; so it seems unlikely the ex-copper has the time (or indeed money) for a £650k pied à terre in The Smoke when he lives and works in the toes of England and spends a significant amount of his time Skyping with students up in Scotland.

To make things even more interesting, between May 2008 and November 2009, Lambert was a consultant to another company, Strategy To Reach Empower and Educate Teenagers (STREET UK). He was appointed to STREET on 18 May, twelve days after it was registered. The next day Dr Abdul Haqq Baker – a colleague of Lambert’s from the CSTPV, and according to his biography, the person who initiated STREET – was named as director. In addition, Mohammed Alyas Karmani was added as director in April 2010. The registered address of STREET is… 54 Anson Road in Cricklewood – the same as Lambert Consultancy And Training.[2]

Things now get a bit confusing. According to a paper produced by the Fourth Freedom Forum‘s Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation, ‘A Case Study in Government-Community Partnership and Direct Intervention to Counter Violent Extremism‘ (written by Jack Barclay[3], December 2011), STREET “was created and is run largely by members of a Muslim community in south London” and was “[L]aunched in 2006″. The south London location is re-emphasised a number of times: “…Brixton, the immediate south London locale where STREET is based…strong connections to the south London Salafi community…youth in Lambeth and other parts of south London…” and so on. The paper does name Dr Baker as STREET’s founder and managing director, and also names ‘Alyas Karmani’ as a co-director “who joined the programme three years after its inception”.

Are you keeping up? Well, Mohammed Alyas Karmani, AKA Alyas Karmani, AKA Mohammed Karmani, is based in Bradford, where he is now a city councillor for George Galloway’s Respect Party, having beaten the incumbent Labour candidate (and previously the Leader of the council) in the May 2012 local elections. In coverage at the time of the campaign, Karmani was described as “director of Street, a national project working with at-risk young people“. He’s also co-director of a Bradford-registered company called The Diversity Project, along with Saima Butt.

Getting back to the CGCC report… So we have both current directors of STREET quoted in it. We then have a surprise guest appearance by none other than “Robert Lambert, a former head of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Muslim Contact Unit”. No mention is made of his directorship with STREET, though the author claims that he “has had more than 10 years of close contact with STREET and the south London Salafi community, both as a police officer and subsequently as a scholar at [EMRC]“. How the numbers on that are supposed to work I am not sure, but we’ll let it slide.

Of more interest within the article are two things in particular: (i) the framing of STREET as predating the government’s own Prevent – the prevention workstream of the over-arching CONTEST counterterrorism strategy – whilst also pursuing similar goals; and (ii) Lambert’s comments that “I have seen some very well-meaning Muslims who want to challenge violent extremism who give it a go and fail because they’re not equipped; they don’t have the street credibility. I’ve also seen Muslims who have that street credibility but lack the requisite religious position.”

In light of this observation perhaps it is not so odd that Lambert – a ‘former’ cop-spook of extremely long standing – would have resigned as a director of STREET.

Let’s move on. Firebug Bob – or Mr Robert Lambert MBE as he prefers to style himself for the purpose of Companies House registrations – is also director and company secretary of Siraat, set up in January 2009 and based on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton. Hmmm, Brixton, you say? In south London? Why is this ringing bells? His fellow directors are Carey Anderson and Raymond Boakye. Who they? Well, I’d like to know too. The web yields not a lot about Siraat[4] or them, except for a gem of a Telegraph story from February 2011, very Telegraphically entitled ‘Counter-terrorism projects worth £1.2m face axe as part of end of multiculturalism‘:

The first to be hit is the Street project, which is associated with Brixton Mosque in South London. The project has received more than £500,000 in three years from the government.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that the Home Office has told the project it will have its money withdrawn this year in the first step towards switching funding away from strains of Islam with which the government disagrees.

The Street project is likely to be only the first to feel the effect of the new policy, with other organisations including Siraat, a £500,000 prison-based mentoring project across southern England and Impact[5] that has received £280,000 and is based in Hounslow, West London, both facing closure.

…[STREET] currently employs 12 staff and received £326,990 in 2009-2010 and £191,310 from 2010 until October this year.

It caters for Muslims from across South London, providing sports and social activities at the mosque youth centre and running classes on Islamic religious precepts, social responsibilities and citizenship. Over the last 18 months, it has completed 12 of the 40 cases it has managed.

The Street project was founded by Abdul Haq [sic] Baker, who is its secretary and one of its directors. Mr Baker is also a trustee of the Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre…

Companies Houses notes that there is a proposal to strike Siraat off the register, that the last accounts are ten months overdue, and that the last tax return, which should have been filed in February, hasn’t been. STREET is in similar straits.

So it seems that not everything Dr Robert Lambert MBE turns to gold. The Police Community engagement for Conflict Transformation (PCCT) hub, set up by University of Birmingham academics, seems to be taking no chances and makes no mention of Lambert or the CSTPV, with which (according to Bob) they are in partnership.

Still, there’s always the likes of the Cordoba Foundation to fall back on – you may remember that their journal Arches published a puff piece on the Met’s Muslim Contact Unit (MCU) written by Dr Robert. You know, the one linking Islamists to anarchism. Anyway, the Foundation’s chief executive is one Anas Altikriti, who just happened to be on the advisory board of the CSTPV. Given that both Bob and Cordoba – which in 2009 was accused by David Cameron of being “a front for the Muslim Brotherhood” – appear to be on the (currently) losing side in some kind of turf war between competing strategic viewpoints in Whitehall, I’m sure we can expect to see future cooperation between them.

Notes:

[1] For more on 54 Anson Road, see the next post on Bob Lambert.

[2] And here’s a bonus prize: from its establishment in February 1998 until its dissolution in 2001, a company called Al – Anssar – founding director one Dr Abdul Haqq Baker – was also registered to 54 Anson Road.

[3] ‘Jack Barclay’ appears to be a pseudonym. The CGCC paper describes him as “the Director of Scanner Associates, a counter-extremism consultancy that works with governments to help them better understand and challenge violent extremist radicalisation. He is based in the United Kingdom.” Scanner Associates is not a company name registered in the UK. A google on ‘”jack barclay” “scanner associates”‘ throws up a single result – a spreadsheet of work done hosted on New York’s City government website(!) – this lists one Richard Scanner from Scanner Associates at 10 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island NY 10301, telephone 718 816 4321, amongst nearly 1,500 other entries.

‘Jack Barclay’ pops up in other counterterrorism articles published by other think tanks I’ve never heard of, like ‘Challenging the Influence of Anwar Al-Awlaki‘ (International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, September 2010), and those I have, such as ‘The Language of Jihad‘ (Royal United Services Institute, December 2011).

In the former, the biography of ‘Barclay’ reads thus: “Jack Barclay is a Strategic Communication consultant specialising in the use of strategic messaging to counter violent extremism. He works with a range of organisations to improve their understanding of radical Islamist ideologies and the strategic communication activities of Salafi-Jihadi movements. He has provided support to counterterrorism strategic communication research and campaign development by a range of public sector agencies. He is based in the United Kingdom and can be contacted at jack_barclay@yahoo.co.uk.”

In the RUSI one, it says: “‘Jack Barclay’ is a strategic communication adviser specialising in the study of violent extremist radicalisation, extremist strategic communication and the use of strategic messaging to counter violent extremism. He works closely with a range of public sector organisations, both foreign and domestic, to improve their understanding of radical Islamist ideologies and the strategic communication activities of violent jihadist and other extremist movements.”

[4] It may be worth mentioning that a google on “siraat, counterterrorism” gives as a top-ranking result a link to the front page of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (second when I did it); a search on just “counterterrorism” brings up the NaCTSO in a lower placing (eleventh).

[5] Does anyone know anything about ‘Impact’? Without any firm information on it it’s rather tricky trying to trawl the usual data sources. ETA: Many thanks to Piombo for correctly identifying Impact as the Initiative For Muslim Progression & Advancement of Community Tolerance, AKA West London IMPACT.

Hey – guess who was a director of and consultant to IMPACT, from inception in December 2009 until May 2012? It’s our friend Dr Abdul Haqq Baker! Also serving through the same period was one Valerie Chung, with Graham Michael Cowan appearing to have done the paperwork. Electronics trader Najeeb Ahmed – a professional businessman, it would seem – remains a director, and unlike Siraat and STREET, IMPACT is up to date with its company filings.

Registered to an address in Southall in west London, IMPACT appears to have been established as a ‘deradicalisation’ programme for west London following “confidential discussion [between Hounslow Council's Corporate Community Investment and Cohesion Unit and] the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office,” based on “the award winning and successfully established work streams of STREET”.

Edited: 7 September 9:30am to add bits about Al – Anssar and IMPACT.
Edited: 8 September 3:30pm to add links & sort out typo.
Edited: 9 September 4:15pm to modify internal links.
Edited: 15 October 11:15am to correct a couple of typos only just spotted.

TOLD YOU SO: Plymouth ‘G20 bomb plot that wasn’t a bomb plot’ 5 released without charge

All five members of a group arrested in connection with an alleged terror plot have been released without charge.

Police say the final member of the five, a 25-year-old man, was freed on Tuesday night.

The man was arrested in Plymouth on 27 March, along with two 20-year-old women, a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy after police found explosives.

Police said investigations were continuing, but those freed were no danger to the public.

A search of a Plymouth flat after the arrest of the eldest man led to police finding “political literature”.

After the flat was searched, a number of “firework-like devices” were made safe by Royal Navy bomb disposal experts.

Literature found in the flat was described by officers as political but “not extremist“.

The 25-year-old man, the 20-year-old women and the 16-year-old boy are on police bail in connection with other offences.

The 19-year-old man faces no further action.

Det Supt John Clements, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “The Constabulary is continuing to carry out a thorough and detailed police investigation and, while a large number of items have already been seized and arrests made, the investigation is ongoing.

“We would like to reassure the public that at no stage has anyone been released from police custody who poses any threat to the public.”

Detectives were investigating the possibility they were planning to mount protests in London against last week’s G20 summit of world leaders.

News story buried on the Devon page of the BBC News website yesterday lunchtime (tip o’ the titfer: Westside Climate Action).

Told you so.

London paper-sellers & Brazilian electricians – an overwhelming sense of déjà vu…

Ian Tomlinson/Jean Charles de Menezes

Working together for a safer London

Jess Hurd met the Met

NUJ statement:

“A photographer documenting the persecution of Irish travellers in the UK was herself subjected to police intimidation…on UN Human Rights Day.

“The NUJ has condemned the abuse of the police’s stop and search powers after they forcibly took photographer Jess Hurd’s camera from her and detained her for 45 minutes under S44 of the Terrorism Act whilst she was covering a traveller wedding in London Docklands, part of a long term documentary project on the persecution of travellers.

“Whilst clearly photographing a wedding, the pictures of which appeared in Saturday’s Guardian newspaper, Jess was detained under s44 on the grounds she could be carrying out hostile reconnaissance for a terrorist assault.”

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “This is yet another absurd misuse of the s44 powers which are designed to allow the police to detain those actively involved in carrying out a terrorist activity not to stop press photographers carrying out their legitimate business.

“Despite the government’s warm words about the right to photograph in public and new Home Office guidelines it appears the routine abuse of these powers goes on.

“How ironic that those documenting persecution and intimidation on UN Human Rights Day should be subject to such abuse and intimidation”.

For the full story see photojournalist Marc Vallée’s blog (from whence the mp3 was taken).

9th of November

I just saw the date

Secret agents get A-Space for social networking

The War Agin Terror meets surplus value-reclaiming desk jockey timewasting…

…[US intelligence chiefs] are encouraging their staff members to use a new social-networking site designed for the super-secret world of spying.

“It’s every bit Facebook and YouTube for spies, but it’s much, much more,” said Michael Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analysis.

The program is called A-Space, and it’s a social-networking site for analysts within the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

Instead of posting thoughts about the new Avenged Sevenfold album or Jessica Alba movie, CIA analysts could use A-Space to share information and opinion about al Qaeda movements in the Middle East or Russian naval maneuvers in the Black Sea.

The new A-Space site has been undergoing testing for months and launches officially for the nation’s entire intelligence community September 22.

CNN and Heise Online (Tip o’ the titfer: Euro-Police)

Internet coup! NETCU anti-protest guide hits the public domain

Oops! Police at the Climate Camp in Kent have dropped a clanger – or more specifically a copy of their demonstrators=turrists handbook, the NETCU Policing Protest Pocket Legislation Guide (“For Police Use Only”).

NETCU? Who they? Well, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit “forms part of the national policing response to domestic extremism”, and gives advice to individual police forces and other ‘enforcement agencies’ relating to this. There’s even a handy little biography on the inside page of Policing Protest (with even handier contact details):

NETCU provides tactical advice and guidance on policing single-issue domestic extremism. The unit also supports companies and other organisations that are the targets of domestic extremism campaigns. NETCU reports through the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE) to the Association of Chief Police Officers Terrorism and Allied Matters – ACPO(TAM) committee.

National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU)
PO Box 525, Huntingdon, PE29 9AL
Tel: 01480 425091
Fax: 01480 425007
Email: mailbox@netcu.pnn.police.uk
Web: http://www.netcu.org.uk

Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to public authorities in England and Wales. Under the Act, organisations listed in Schedule 1 to the Act – either by name or by description – have to provide public access to information they hold. NETCU is not a public authority as defined by Schedule 1 and therefore there are no obligations on NETCU to disclose information under the Act. Police forces are advised not to release this guide following freedom of information requests.

Edition 2 – November 2007

It could be seen as a successor to projects such as ARNI, the Animal RIghts National Index which was subsequently rolled out to encompass a wide range of environmental and social activists.

One can also see it in the context of the ‘Green Scare‘, the post-COINTELPRO pursuit of the ELF and others in the United States.

And let us also consider NETCU’s targeting of groups it considers to be engaged in ‘tertiary terrorism’ (most notably animal rights campaigns such as SHAC).

From creating databases which log the activities of entirely lawful groups and individuals, through to the arbitrary casting of politically-motivated behaviours beyond the spheres of the lawful, unlawful or criminal into the less rationally-bound romper room labelled terrorism (with all its attendant emotional responses); that is the nature of the NETCU game.

In other words, through bureaucratic manoeuvring, artless sophistry and ideologically-motivated authoritarianism, NETCU shifts the goalposts for what passes for legal protest. Thus a terrorist is not defined by her or his actions, but by having been labelled a terrorist (by way of ‘domestic extremist’). Thus terrorism is not “the systematic use of terror, esp as a means of coercion” (Penguin Pocket English Dictionary, 1990), it is any activity undertaken by those previously defined by the new terms of reference as ‘terrorists’.

That the NETCU website is liberally sprinkled with pictures of yogurt-weaving peace marchers, clowns(!) and, erm, the Countryside Alliance should give an indication of exactly whom the organisation considers a ‘domestic extremist’ – that’s right, pretty much anyone who ever dares dissent from the Westminster-approved script.

So read the Policing Protest book and find out how you should behave in future lest you accidentally become a dangerous terrorist.

Links:

TWoT lists, slowly

My beautiful lady friend hijacked me for a fortnight, but I’m back now, looking forward to [edit for correction] EndorseIt.

Anyway, here’s the first David Rees-23/6 Get Your War On video:

Tip o’ the titfer: Graham Linehan’s Why, That’s Delightful.

Brown: shirty measures to safeguard liberty

Gordon Brown thinks a more authoritarian, intrusive, centralised state affords its citizens greater liberty.

Gordon Brown has defended the use of CCTV, ID cards and the DNA database – saying they protect civil liberties.

In a speech to the IPPR think tank, the prime minister said they helped ensure people’s right to live free from crime.

…In his speech Mr Brown said it was time to write a “new chapter” in Britain’s history which would both protect citizens’ security and individual liberties.

(from the BBC report on the speech)

STOP PRESS: Downing Street plans to send a research team to the moon on a factfinding mission into the possibility of securing the longterm sustainability of the British cheese industry through interstellar expansion. Now that’s thinking outside the political box, baby!

It techno terrorists two, baby

O noez, Bristol *really is* a hotbed of mad Islamofascist turrists!!!1!! Well, at least if you go by ‘Breaking News’ stories on the Beeb website:

A 19-year-old man has been arrested in Bristol under the Terrorism Act, police have said.

The man, from the Easton area of the city, is being held for questioning.

Officers from Avon and Somerset Police are conducting a forensic search of his address. A second nearby property is also being searched.

It’s all to do with “ongoing investigations” into Andrew Ibrahim, the ‘techno terrorist’ who got himself charged under the PTA in April, so obviously it’s not going to be a repeat of last summer’s whole cooking oil fiasco.

The world of modern policing

The Ladybird Book of Modern Policing

From a recent eBay auction (tip o’ the titfer: Bristol Graffiti)

The war against grammar

USAF ‘A Changing World’ website

OPINION LEADERS: The countries brightest minds weigh in on the challenges we face.

From the USAF’s ‘A Changing World’ recruitment campaign website.

Presumably those “brightest minds” do not include too many language specialists.

Still, nice to know that America’s air force is limiting its jurisdiction to merely the skies, outer space and the internet…

‘Terrorist blacklists’ slated

Interesting little nugget spotted on SGOC blog, about the Council of Europe backing a report which criticises the current system of placing individuals and groups on ‘terrorism blacklists’ without any right of appeal:

The Committee finds that terrorism can and must be fought effectively with means that fully respect human rights and the rule of law. International bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) ought to set an example for states in this respect, as a matter of their own credibility and that of the fight against terrorism in general.

Targeted sanctions against individuals or specific groups (“blacklists”) imposed by the United Nations Security Council and the Council of the European Union are, in principle, preferable to general sanctions imposed on states that often have dire consequences for vulnerable population groups whilst targeted sanctions such as travel restrictions and freezing of assets hurt only those found personally responsible.

As they have a direct impact on individual human rights such as personal liberty and the protection of property, the imposition of such targeted sanctions must respect minimum standards of procedural protection and legal certainty, as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and UN human rights instruments. The procedures currently in use at the UN and at the EU fall far short of these standards, as the present report and the examples given by the Rapporteur show.

The Committee therefore appeals to the Council of Europe’s member states to use their influence in the United Nations and in the European Union to improve procedures for the imposition of sanctions in the two bodies in line with its recommendations and encourages national and European courts to provide the necessary legal remedies to the victims of unfair procedures currently in use.

EUobserver adds a little context:

The parliamentarian assembly of the Council of Europe on Wednesday (23 January) backed a report saying the use of terrorist black-lists by the UN and the EU violate fundamental rights.

Besides breaching human rights, the procedures used by both the UN Security Council and the EU to put individuals or groups suspected of having links with terrorism on a black-list are “completely arbitrary”, the Council of Europe lawmakers said in a statement.

…It is the governments who choose who is put on the black-lists, but they currently do it disrespecting the right to a fair trial, according to the author of the report, Dick Marty.

The former Swiss state prosecutor called for those that are about to be blacklisted to be notified and then compensated in cases where no evidence is found against them – as has happened.

However, “it is almost impossible” to be withdrawn from such a list, Mr Marty said, citing the case of The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) as an example.

The PMOI had been classified as a terrorist organisation but protested and won its case at the European Court of Justice – however, it is today still on the EU’s black-list.