Saturday, March 15, 2008 

Barot and Borat.

Remember Dhiren Barot? Referred to without irony by the Sun as the "dirty bomb mastermind", and sentenced last year to 30 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder, what few of the press reports went into were his exact plans for constructing this dirty bomb. That might have had something to do with how his plan involved not the use of a high-strength radiological source, which he quite freely admitted that he was going to be unable to obtain, but rather smoke alarms.

Thanks to the NEFA Foundation, who have just posted a whole cache of documents on Barot and his co-accused on their website, we now have Barot's own "final presentation" (PDF) on radioactive materials and radiation dispersal devices, more commonly referred to as dirty bombs. Presumably meant to be part of his application to higher-ups in Pakistan for funding, something which he never received, the document reads as a mostly plagiarised dissertation on radioactive materials, with some first person comments on how an attack would be carried out, with references to how some would be unusable because they themselves would die before they reached the target with the appliance, even if they were on a suicide mission. Although large parts of it are blanked out, it's Barot's conclusion which is the main bit we're interested in.

While Barot also considers in his conclusion cesium-167, it's the americium found in smoke alarms which he settles on:

This then was his dirty bomb plan, and it's just as loony as we originally thought it was. Can there really be anything much more laughable than the idea of Barot and his henchmen harvesting americium-147 from industrial gauges and then putting it in, of all things, a Coke can? As Watching Us, Watching Them pointed out, there would be far more risk to the public from the burning of the plastic from the smoke alarms than from the actual tiny amounts of americium inside.

There's little doubt that Barot was a dedicated jihadist who believed in what he was doing. Like many of his brethren however he was a fantasist, and not just any sort of fantasist, but a Walter Mitty like figure who wrote pretentious, deadly serious type plans for attacks which were just completely infeasible. Pointing this out ought to have been the media's first duty; that far from being any sort of mastermind or senior al-Qaida figure, something certainly not proved, he was far from acting on any of his dilettante-type brainstorms. As we know however, the power of nightmares are far more powerful than the power of reality.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007 

Oh Barot, you're so fine...

Just ever so slightly odd news being relayed by the BBC in their coverage of the attack on everyone's favourite terrorist mastermind:

An al-Qaeda plotter who planned to kill thousands of people in the UK and US in "dirty bombings" has been badly injured in an attack by fellow prison inmates.

Gosh, I can just see the thousands breathing their last, the deafening siren of thousands of smoke alarms echoing in their ears as they enter that long, dark tunnel, all the result of Barot's dastardly plan to poison the population by detonating a bomb with 10,000 blaring smoke detectors packed around it.

A news blackout was imposed for the duration of his hospital stay, during which armed police were present. Barot was returned to prison on Saturday.

Well, it wasn't much of one considering this his lawyer, Mudassar Arani, appeared on Channel 4 News last Sunday and said that he'd been scarred for life as a result of having a mixture of hot oil and water thrown over him.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007 

Terrorists are gay!

Reading the reports on the sentencing of the 7 men found guilty of plotting with Dhiren Barot, whom was individually going to bring the world to an end with his evil Islamic trickery, it's far more instructive what they don't say than what they do.

Of all the reports in the "quality" press (Telegraph) (Times) (Indie), only the Guardian's points out that err, no explosives and no bomb-making equipment were ever found. Barot, alleged to be an "al-Qaida general" by the prosecution, was the one who came up with the plans, which he is supposed to have presented to superiors further up the al-Qaida chain in command in Pakistan, only to be arrested on his return. The judge, when passing sentence, additionally mentioned that it was quite possible that the plans put together by Barot would never have been carried out.

Put simply, we're never going to find out in full what Barot's plans were, for obvious reasons. The ones we have learned of, however, suggest that like many other jihadists, Barot was more interested in the spectacular and incredibly difficult to pull off than he was in the practicality of attacks that really would have "killed hundreds if not thousands".

Take for instance his plans for a so-called "dirty" bomb, of which not a single newspaper bothered to explain in full apart from playing up the notion. According to the Telegraph on the day previously, he wrote that:

A few grams of cobalt 60 with several pounds of explosives are enough to close an area the size of Manhattan.

And he's right, it probably would. Interestingly, it seems quite possible that he might have plagiarised some of his ideas and research on "dirty bombs" from the testimony of Dr Henry Kelly to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, which examined the threat that radiological attacks would pose to the United States. The evidence to me, especially considering the way the threat posed by dirty bombs has since been played down, and how other investigations have come to very different conclusions, seems rather over-the-top and close to hysterical in claiming that even if a tiny amount of a radiological substance was exploded it might mean demolishing much of the surrounding area. The reality is that Barot had no chance of obtaining cobalt 60, and he knew it. He was far more interested in Americium.

Americium, as Kelly's evidence also states, is found in smoke detectors. Barot's plan was to somehow either harvest the minute quantities of it from smoke alarms, or if that proved too difficult, to somehow acquire 10,000 of them, then either set them alight, or place all 10,000 of them on top of an "explosive device", all without anyone noticing this tottering tower of beeping annoyances. He worked out that it would cost around £50,000 to obtain the smoke alarms, and another £20,000 to store them, all money which he didn't have. As Tom on BlairWatch wrote at the time:

15cm * 15cm * 4cm = volume of 900 cubic centimetres
10000 of those is 9000000 cubic cm or 9 cubic metres. So we're talking of someone spending £50,000 he didn't have piling up a stack of smoke alarms into a tower 1m square and 9m tall, then setting fire to it, in the middle of a city, without anyone noticing, releasing a total of 0.002 grams of a slightly radioactive substance which is only dangerous in gram quantities. Scared yet?

Fucking petrified. This is the so-called dirty bomb which Peter Clarke described would:

have caused fear, panic and widespread disruption

but only as a result of the police themselves panicking, not because of what Barot might have been able to do.

Barot's other plans were similarly doomed to failure. The stretch limos which were to be filled with gas cylinders were meant to be used in attempts to bring down buildings with underground car parks, which as any architect will tell you, would be incredibly difficult to achieve. His other idea in the same vein was to blast a hole through the incredibly thick walls of the Underground where it's near to the Thames in order to flood the tube, which would have required a bomb far, far more powerful than those which were detonated by the suicide bombers on 7/7, something which Barot himself acknowledged would be difficult to obtain, which was why he had suggested using gas cylinders in the limo attacks.

None of this is to deny that Barot was a clearly dedicated and intelligent terrorist, far more versed and interested in exact planning and research than many of his ilk, but it still stands that his conclusions, rather than just one sentence references to his overall aims ought to have been disseminated in order to show just how (un)likely his plans were to succeed.

Still, why bother doing any of that when you can just call him gay? The Sun's set their "chief investigative reporter", aka "chief embellisher and bullshitter" on the case:

SEVEN terrorists were caged for a total of 136 years – as it was revealed their al-Qaeda ringleader is suspected of being a closet GAY.

The suspicions about Prince fan Dhiren Barot were harboured by at least one trusted lieutenant and a woman who knew him.

Conclusive proof then.

And homosexuality carries the DEATH PENALTY in strict Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Err, and your point is? Barot isn't from Saudi Arabia: he originated from India then came to live here, and if he was closeted rather than "practicing" it wouldn't have made any difference.

As his cell members were jailed over their role in his plot, suspicions of Barot’s sexuality emerged.

A barrister for Nadeem Tarmohamed said during their trial at Woolwich Crown Court in London: “It became apparent that Barot decided to surround himself with younger, impressionable men.”

Christ, really? That wouldn't be anything to do with him attempting to indoctrinate or mold them in his image, would it?

Lawyer Matthew Ryder said one woman who knew Barot had said: “He was always asking questions about beards and music like Prince, so much so that she questioned his sexuality. There were many others who did.”

About beards?! Clearly this shows the working of the homosexual mind; what heterosexual person would care about their beard? As for Prince, well, who doesn't like Purple Rain? In any case, Prince is supposedly a Jehovah's Witness, something which Barot would likely look down on.

Terrorist mastermind and queer, the British press has spoken.

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