Monday, May 21, 2007 

Roll up, roll up! Who wants ten years in the slammer for having this book?

Via Postman Patel:

A 34-year-old man accused of possessing an al-Qaeda training manual has been released on bail by magistrates.

Khalid Khaliq, from Beeston, in Leeds, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of involvement in the 7 July London bombings.

Could this "al-Qaida training manual" possibly be similar to the one featured on that well-known jihadist website, the Smoking Gun? Among the lessons featured in the "Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants" are the making of ricin: the same phony recipe which Kamel Bourgass had a copy of. Other essential teachings in the ways of waging holy war against the infidels are knowing that you can kill someone by making them eat cigarettes:

There is enough nicotine in three cigarettes to kill a person. Sixty to seventy milligrams of pure nicotine will kill a person within an hour if eaten.

Well well well. Who would have known?

To be serious for a second, this isn't really funny. The potential punishment for having a copy of such a laughable document is a possible 10 years in prison, which ought to tell you something about the idiocy of imposing custodial sentences on the back of someone having a book that might be useful to terrorists. Chuck Palahniuk, before submitting Fight Club to publishers, asked experts whether the recipes that are recited in the novel for nitroglycerin, which he had obtained during his research, were legitimate. He was told they were, and so modified them slightly. This, sadly, is the sort of territory we're getting into.

The other three who were arrested at the same time as Khaliq have all been released without charge. Mohammad Sidique Khan's cousin, Imran Motala, gave an interview to the Grauniad at the weekend. Despite apparently being under surveillance for at least a year, with no signs whatsoever that he was involved in any form of radical Islam, he was still held for 7 days before being released. This isn't the first time that months of surveillance seem to have got something horribly wrong - the other was Forest Gate. It's also worth remembering that a couple of the arguments against holding an inquiry into 7/7 are undermined by such revelations: firstly that not every suspect can be held under surveillance over long periods, when those who are obviously innocent apparently can be, and secondly that an inquiry will divert resources for tackling extremism now. If people like Motala can be held under scrutiny for so long, those resources seem to be in the wrong place already.

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