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Monday, September 04, 2006 

Scum-watch: Contempt for contempt.

Last night's raids, which have so far triggered no hysterical statements from politicians or police, ought to be seen in this light.

I spoke too soon. Today's Sun splashes partly on a quote from a "security source":

One security source said: “They mingled with ordinary members of the public. They must have seemed like innocent nature-lovers enjoying the outdoor life and the best that England can offer. But in reality we believe they were planning mass murder.”

During the surveillance, some watchers heard one leading suspect telling a group that as many people as possible should be killed.

A source told The Sun: “He was heard to say, ‘Let’s kill them — let’s kill them all’. It was damning proof they were intent on murder and it put the wind up us.”

Security chiefs used new legislation outlawing the training of terrorists to move in on the suspects over the weekend BEFORE they could put their wicked plans into action.

Anti-terror cops are confident they already have enough evidence to bring charges against a “substantial” number of those being held.

Usually the process involved in the criminal justice system is to charge someone, then give the evidence in a court of law. In these days of public relations terror alerts, all that's been thrown out the window. Now the process seems to be to either talk to the media anonymously and tell them the magnificent evidence you have against these evil fiends or what you fear they might have been planning, or to call a press conference once the suspects have been charged to tell the media how dangerous they are and what they've found. This has been partially down to the disquiet in the aftermath of the Forest Gate raid - which resulted in the Koyair brothers being smeared by the Murdoch press in particular, even after nothing was found at their house, as well as the suspicions rightly held that the government is over-hyping the terror threat.

Today's Sun article must surely be pushing the boundaries of contempt of court, however. The security source effectively accuses men that have not even been charged yet with being guilty of incitement to murder, even though it goes on to say they only might have enough evidence to charge a "substantial" number. It also remains to be seen how a group of young Muslim men could be effectively training for jihad within eyesight and earshot of other members of the public, which seems to be what the security source is saying that the men did. Last night's documentary by Peter Taylor on Islamic extremism had a section on a cell in France, whose training consisted of going for ten minute jogs round a park.

Naturally, the fact that Abu Hamza supposedly went to the school for a weekend but was told to sling his hook (groan) is casually dropped into the story (to be fair, all the reports have done this) to further the overwhelming line of the report: that something must have been going on for him to have gone there. One of his ex-hencemen was also arrested in the raid on the Chinese restaurant. The Sun also seems to think that the school itself is suspicious, something not highlighted in other media reports.

Meanwhile, officers who raided the Jameah Islameah school at Mark Cross, near Crowborough, East Sussex, were conducting an inch-by-inch search, focusing on a lake and woodland at the 54-acre former convent, which often lets outside groups use its grounds at weekends.

A security source said undercover agents were monitoring other suspected al-Qaeda camps.

The source said: “It would be naive to think there aren’t other schools of this type operating in the UK.

“A number of similar high-level surveillance operations are taking place as we speak.”

Mystery surrounds financing at the school, which has been criticised by Ofsted inspectors.

It has only nine boys on its roll — but annual fees of just £1,000.

Imam Bilal Patel, who runs it, has been questioned but NOT arrested over the allegations of terrorist training.

Neighbours said last night the sound of gunshots had been heard coming from the school.

Compared to the Guardian:

Counter-terrorism sources indicated that it was not the activities of the school itself but what might have gone on in its grounds that was the subject of the investigation.

Mystery wouldn't surround the financing situation if the Sun writer (Mike Sullivan, who you may remember from the non-existent House of Horrors reports) had done a search of Google for Jemeah Islameah, which brings up the school's website as the first result. The school is not a normal everyday institution, but rather one for those aged 16-65. It only has classes for girls aged 11+ running in various parts of London in the evening. The site also provides a phone number to call and enquire about camping weekends, as well as openly stating that fees are £900 PA.

While the Sun mentions how the recent anti-terror bill made the attending of a terrorist training camp an offence punishable by up to ten years in prison, it only alludes to the fact that the men have actually been arrested under the new "glorification" of terror offence created in the 2006 Terrorism Act.

As it happens, the men might well be charged. They might well be guilty of something or other. The Sun is as ever though already certain that they are definitely evil-doers and potential murderers. The casual erosion of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty continues then unabated, and the current government is unlikely to start making much noise about possible contempt of court. After all, it's partly down to them that so much hysteria has been generated about the threat facing Britain. Rebekah Wade ought to remember though that it was only 6 years ago that the Sunday Mirror was taken to court after it published a story which led to the collapse of the trial of Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate, two footballers accused of a racist attack, of whom Bowyer was cleared and Woodgate found guilty of affray. It's something that could easily happen again.

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I love the fact that The Sun fails to mention that the Sussex Police trained at the school for over a year :)

Ahaha, quite. I forgot about that.

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