BBC : Anti-terror police searching park

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Anti-terror police searching park

April 30, 2009

Counter-terrorism officers are searching a public park in north Manchester, police have confirmed.

Officers are using metal detectors and dogs to scour part of Heaton Park, four miles north of the city centre.

Police say the searches - part of an ongoing operation following raids in north-west England on 8 April - could last three days.

Twelve men arrested in Manchester, Liverpool and Clitheroe, Lancashire, were later released without charge.

A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police, said: "Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit are currently searching an area of Heaton Park in north Manchester.

"This is part of the ongoing counter-terrorism operation."

The searches began at 0830 BST on Thursday at the park, which is about two miles from Cheetham Hill where several addresses were raided in the operation.

Police appeared to be concentrating on an area around 200 yards inside the boundary, between a boating lake and a pitch-and-putt course.

Officers in black boiler suits used spades and sticks to clear undergrowth at a heavily wooded area alongside a brook.

Police have not indicated what they are trying to find.

Clitheroe Advertiser : MEP's concerns following anti-terror operation

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

MEP's concerns following anti-terror operation

April 29, 2009

AN MEP from the Ribble Valley has raised serious questions about the Government's immigration policy and the way in which the arrests of the 12 men across his North West constituency were handled.

Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim, a member of the sub-committee on human rights, was reacting to news that all 12 men arrested in the counter-terrorism raids, including two in Clitheroe, had been released without charge, but 11 – all Pakistani nationals – were expected to be deported.

Mr Karim, who lives in Simonstone, said it was "extremely disconcerting" that the investigation led by the police and based on intelligence which Gordon Brown described as no less than a "serious terrorist plot", had revealed insufficient evidence to prove any terrorist involvement of the men arrested.

He claimed it brought into question the reliability of the intelligence gathered by the Government's sources and the way in which the response to it was handled.

Mr Karim said it also demonstrated that the extension from a 28-day detention was not necessary, but in fact would be unworkable, bureaucratic and unhelpful.

Furthermore, Mr Karim claimed the case had raised serious questions about the UK's immigration policy and the procedures surrounding security checks on foreign students. The Government has admitted that student visas serve as major loophole in the UK's border controls.

Commenting from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Karim said: "I am extremely concerned by the recent revelations regarding Operation Pathway. Firstly, the Government needs to close any loopholes in immigration policies that allow people of any origin to enter the UK, who could potentially pose a national security threat.

"Furthermore, the Prime Minister's remarks about the nature of the apparent threat that the men arrested posed now seem entirely fruitless given that evidence to prosecute the men has been insufficient.

"Not only are our immigration policies and procedures failing us, but the Government and its agencies are playing with the lives of these individuals and deporting them to cover their own backs."

Dawn : Pakistani students in UK

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pakistani students in UK

Dawn Editorial | April 29, 2009

‘Operation Pathway’ was perhaps destined for failure the moment the UK’s top counter-terrorism officer was photographed with files providing details of planned police raids on Pakistani students. The officer concerned was forced to resign and the police action, which had been in the works for months, was moved forward at short notice. The result: mass arrests but no solid evidence.

Even so, that did not stop UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown from crowing about how the police had foiled a major terrorist plot. What terrorist plot? There may have been one but we will never really know, will we, considering how badly the inquiry was bungled? Physical searches of flats and houses yielded nothing, and neither did scrutiny of seized computers. In the end, all charges were dropped but yet the students are not at liberty.

They have been remanded to the custody of the UK Border Agency pending their deportation. Can Mr Brown, who was in Pakistan the other day, answer this one simple question: what is their crime? Every single student rounded up by the police was in the UK on a valid visa. Not one shred of evidence that could stand up in court could be produced against any of the young men now in custody. Is this justice? No, it is not.

Britain’s civil liberties record is not spotless, particularly in its dealings with the IRA, but the country does stand out as a bastion of basic rights in the western world. Every country has the right to act decisively when it feels that its security interests are being threatened. The UK cannot be deprived of that privilege. But when it knows that it has made a mistake, the British government, and yes it’s prime minister, should have the decency to show remorse and apologise for the incarceration of Pakistani citizens whose only fault perhaps was that they weren’t white.

The UK needs to sort out its race issues. Racism in Britain is both institutional and in your face. Few middle-class persons of colour who spend any prolonged period of time in Great Britain can come away saying that they were not discriminated against in one way or another. This is an issue that Britain needs to address on an urgent basis. Meanwhile, teenagers of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin do not turn the other cheek at any given affront like their predecessors did.

The race riots of 2001 showed once and for all that there is now a generation of South Asians in Britain that will not simply cower and simper. But there is a downside to this dubious empowerment as well. Alienated from the mainstream, many Muslim Britons are more than willing to lend an ear to the obscurantists.

Dawn : Pakistan seeks early release of arrested students

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pakistan seeks early release of arrested students

By M. Ziauddin | April 28, 2009

LONDON: Pakistan’s High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan has appealed to the British government to release the 10 Pakistani students without further delay to undo the enormous damage done to their reputation.

At a press conference here on Monday, Mr Hasan said the UK security forces failed to find any evidence against the students who were arrested in dramatic circumstances and wrongly accused of hatching an ‘Easter Bomb Plot’ which turned out to be another embarrassing intelligence failure.

He vowed that Pakistan would take up the case of these students to the level of the High Court, House of Lords and even the European Court.

Mr Hasan said the UK authorities had failed to bring charges under anti-terrorism legislation and, therefore, it would be only right to release these students and they should be compensated monetarily for troubles they had been through. ‘They should be allowed to carry on studying at their respective universities.’

He said officials from the high commission were in touch with the students — currently being detained at Bradford, Manchester and Coventry — and had assured them of full assistance.

The HC regretted that Pakistan was initially kept in the dark about the nature of charges and proceedings of the probe despite many requests.

Four of the 10 students appealed against their arrest and detention on Friday, four launched appeals on Monday and the remaining will put up appeals on Tuesday.

It was made out in the media as if these students were to stage terrorist acts of huge proportions, he said. The innocent students were maligned. The media has been proven wrong and now it’s the moral duty of the media to vindicate Pakistan with the same amount of coverage, Mr Hasan demanded.

The high commissioner said Pakistan had high expectations from UKs well-known legal justice system and hoped these students would be allowed to complete their studies.

He said the British and American visa rules were the toughest in the world already and only a limited number of people were allowed entry into these countries after a stringent counter-checking process.

He said that of the 27,000 students who applied for student visas in legitimate British institutions, only 10,000 were given visas.

ABC (Australia) : UK sending more troops to Afghanistan

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

UK sending more troops to Afghanistan

by Emma Alberici | April 28, 2009

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has visited Afghanistan and Pakistan and outlined a new strategy for what he has called the "crucible of terrorism".

After talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Mr Brown announced a shift in the UK's strategy toward Afghanistan.

The plan mirrors that outlined by US President Barack Obama and involves greater focus on the border with Pakistan which the British Prime Minister described as a "crucible for terrorism" responsible for fostering up to three-quarters of terror threats faced by the UK.

Britain will send 900 extra troops in addition to $30 million worth of aid to help the Afghans with their election in August.

Daily Times : Zardari asks Brown to give Pakistani students fair chance

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zardari asks Brown to give Pakistani students fair chance

By Sajjad Malik | April 28, 2009

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday expressed concern over the recent arrest of ‘Pakistani students’ in Britain, and hoped that the students would be given a fair chance to defend the charges against them and allowed to complete their studies.

Zardari was talking to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who had called on the president. The two leaders discussed matters related to the regional situation, terrorism and bilateral ties.

Zardari acknowleged British support for Pakistan in the war on terror, and hoped that the strengthening of economic relations between the two countries would help Pakistan overcome its socio-economic problems.

Zardari called for the [international] community’s support in fighting terrorism and extremism. He said the government had the will to fight terrorism, but there were areas in which capabilities needed to be strengthened.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Privatisation Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, British High Commissioner in Islamabad Robert Brinkley and other senior British officials accompanying Brown.

Times : Gordon Brown defends Pakistani terror deportations

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gordon Brown defends Pakistani terror deportations

April 27, 2009

Gordon Brown today defended plans to deport 11 Pakistani students who were arrested in a suspected terrorist plot even though no charges were brought against any of them.

The group, whose plight has provoked great anger in Pakistan, appealed against deportation today. The Pakistani Prime Minister raised the issue with Mr Brown at a meeting in Islamabad this afternoon.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari delivered an apparent snub to Mr Brown by cancelling a joint news conference, leaving Yusuf Gaza Gilani, the Prime Minister, to take his place.

At the press conference, Mr Brown said: “I think we have got to recognise that we have both got problems that are affecting both the security of our citizens and the sentiments in our country, with terrorist plots that have been planned and some people are trying to execute.

“This terrorist threat that exists cannot be ignored, it cannot be wished away. Both the Prime Minister and I know that it is important that governments around the world take action to deal with violent extremism. Thousands of young people studying in Britain come from Pakistan and we welcome them but wherever there is a problem we have got to take action.”

But although he hailed a “new chapter” in the relationship between Britain and Pakistan, the episode appeared to have cast a shadow over his visit.

The Pakistani Prime Minister, standing alongside Mr Brown, confirmed that he had raised the case during their meeting and appealed to him to allow the men to continue their studies in Britain.

“We had a concern. We have discussed that whatever information is shared with us we will examine it, but at the same time there are institutions and we will work under that bit of the constitution,” Mr Gilani said.

“I think the law will take its own course and I would also request the Prime Minister that their studies should not be discontinued.”

All 12 suspects arrested in a Operation Pathway which was designed to thwart what the Prime Minister called “a very big terrorist plot” have been released without charge.

Eleven of the men, all Pakistani nationals, were transferred into the custody of the UK Borders Agency pending a deportation hearing.

Mohammed Ayub, a lawyer for three of the men, called for an independent inquiry into the operation.

The arrests were brought forward by 12 hours after Bob Quick, Scotland Yard’s head of counter-terrorism, accidentally disclosed details of the raids to Downing Street photographers while on his way to brief Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.

It was hoped that the arrests and searches would produce evidence of bomb-making activity or components. But officers failed to find uncover enough evidence to result in any charges.

Guardian : Government wants phone and internet providers to track users

Monday, April 27, 2009

Government wants phone and internet providers to track users

Home secretary rules out state-run 'super-database' but firms would store details of calls, emails, texts and web browsing

Alan Travis, home affairs editor | April 27, 2009

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, today ruled out building a single state "super-database" to track everybody's use of email, internet, text messages and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Smith said creating a single database run by the state to hold such personal data would amount to an extreme solution representing an unwarranted intrusion of personal privacy.

Instead the Home Office is looking at a £2bn solution that would involve requiring communications companies such as BT, Virgin Media, O2 and others to retain such personal data for up to 12 months.

The decision to abandon a state central database is a setback for the police and security services who wanted rapid access to the data while conducting counter-terror and crime investigations. Instead they will have to apply for the data to be released to them on a case-by-case basis to each individual telecoms and internet company.

Smith, publishing a consultation paper detailing the private sector solution, said: "Advances in communications mean that there are ever more sophisticated ways to communicate and we need to ensure that we keep up with the technology being used by those who would seek to do us harm."

She said it was essential that the police and other crime-fighting agencies had the tools they needed to do their job. "However, to be clear there are absolutely no plans for a single central store. We recognise that there is a delicate balance between privacy and security, but to do nothing is not an option as we would be failing in our duty to protect the public."

She argued that more privacy concerns were raised by the proposal to store all the personal communications data in a state-run single database than individual private companies retaining the information for access by the police and security services as and when they needed it.

The home secretary said the cost of the project was around £2bn over 10 years, far short of speculation that it could be as high as £12bn.

The Home Office consultation paper published today was originally expected in the early new year but has been delayed by an intense cabinet debate over whether or not to go ahead with the state database.

The paper makes clear that the Home Office regards it as technically the best option, describing it as "the least challenging technically to implement and the cheapest to build and run".

But it adds that the government "recognises the privacy implications in holding all communications data from the UK in a 12-month period in a single store. The government therefore does not propose to pursue this approach."

Instead communications companies are to be required by legislation to ensure that all traffic data – who sent a text to whom at what time and from where – is collected and kept in Britain. They will also be asked to store additional third-party data crossing their networks including phone calls and internet use from outside Europe.

This goes far beyond the current data collected for billing purposes. The companies will also be asked to organise the data – for example, matching it where it relates to the same person so that the authorities can access it in a form that is immediately usable.

Smith said that while the new system could record a visit to a social network such as Facebook, it would not record personal and private information such as photos or messages posted to a page.

"What we are talking about is who is at one end [of a communication] and who is at the other – and how they are communicating," she said.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said the details of the policy remained unclear. "The Home Office has been sending out conflicting signals on the superdatabasefor some months, frantically briefing journalists in private but failing to publish any detailed proposals," she said. "If this statement from the home secretary marks a genuine change of direction on privacy policy, we will welcome it. However, it might be wise to read the small print first," she said.

BBC : Brown urges firmer Pakistan links

Monday, April 27, 2009

Brown urges firmer Pakistan links

April 27, 2009

Gordon Brown has called for a "stronger relationship" between the UK and Pakistan to fight the threat posed by extremism and terrorism.

Speaking in Islamabad, the prime minister said a "strategic dialogue on all the issues" was needed.

Mr Brown, standing beside Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani, pledged £10m to fight extremism in the country.

Earlier, Pakistan's president pulled out of a joint news conference, amid tensions over recent anti-terror raids.

Sources suggest Asif Zardari was unhappy with the fallout from operations in the UK earlier this month, in which 11 Pakistani nationals were arrested.

Mr Brown still met the president but his press conference instead took place with Mr Gilani, with whom he also held talks.

'Not disrupted'

Operation Pathway - the anti-terrorist operation which took place recently in Liverpool, Manchester and Clitheroe - saw Pakistani nationals arrested and later released without charge.

Ten of the them are in Britain on student visas but are now facing possible deportation proceedings, something which has already been criticised by Pakistan's high commissioner in London, who said they should be allowed to complete their studies.

At the press conference, this was echoed by Mr Gilani, who said: "I think the law will take its own course and I would also request of the prime minister that their studies should not be disrupted."

Mr Brown said: "Today we have agreed a new and stronger relationship between our two countries - vital and urgent work we will undertake together which sets out our shared priorities of tackling violent extremism.

"We will support each other more strongly on counter terrorism activities. We will engage in a strategic dialogue on all the issues surrounding this and we will consider task forces and work streams that will deliver that strategic dialogue for us.

"And we will support this close co-operation immediately by the UK delivering a £10m package of counter terrorism capacity giving assistance to Pakistan's agencies."

'Chain of terror'

Mr Brown earlier went to Afghanistan's Helmand province, where he met British troops.

After talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, he announced a new strategy for dealing with terrorism across border areas with Pakistan.

Mr Brown warned of a "chain of terror" starting in the mountainous region and ending in capital cities worldwide.

He said the UK wanted provinces to be handed over to government control one by one - similar to the process in Iraq.

Mr Brown said he also wanted to see the Afghan army expanded from 75,000 to 135,000-strong by the end of 2011, as well as seeing thousands more police.

Meanwhile, US general David McKiernan, in charge of NATO's operation in Afghanistan, has warned of rising military and civilian casualties.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute, he said the arrival of thousands of additional US troops in the coming months would probably lead to "another sizeable increase in kinetic activity" in 2009 "as the new troops move into new areas to help protect the population and engage the enemy."

He called the likely increase in civilian and NATO casualties "regrettable", but said it would not indicate deteriorating security.

The general said the insurgency was not spreading, noting that 70% of the violence in 2008 took place in 10% of the districts.

He added: "It is imperative that all NATO nations strongly consider how they can help us to fill the manning and capability shortfalls".

He condemned the practice of countries applying so-called "national caveats" to their NATO contributions in Afghanistan.

And Pakistan's military had to "take the lead" in removing extremists from "insurgent sanctuaries" on its territory, he said.

Police One : Disruption vs. prosecution and the Manchester plot

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Terrorism Prevention and Response Article: Disruption vs. prosecution and the Manchester plot

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart | | April 26, 2009

On April 8, British authorities mounted a series of raids in Merseyside, Manchester and Lancashire that resulted in the arrest of 12 men suspected of being involved in a plot to conduct attacks over the Easter holiday weekend. In a press conference the following day, Prime Minister Gordon Brown noted that the men arrested were allegedly involved in “a very big terrorist plot.” British authorities have alleged that those arrested sought to conduct suicide bombing attacks against a list of soft targets that included shopping centers, a train station and a nightclub.

The searches and arrests targeting the suspects purportedly involved in the plot, which was dubbed Operation Pathway, had to be accelerated after Bob Quick, the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in charge of terrorism investigations, inadvertently allowed reporters to see a classified document pertaining to the operation as he was entering 10 Downing Street to brief Brown and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on April 8. An embarrassed Quick resigned April 9 over the gaffe.

In spite of the leak, the British authorities were successful in detaining all of the targeted suspects, though the authorities have reportedly not been able to recover explosive material or other bomb-making evidence they were seeking. British authorities arrested 12 suspects, 11 of whom were Pakistani citizens. Smith told British Parliament on April 20 that all 11 of the Pakistani nationals entered the United Kingdom on student visas. The youngest of the Pakistani suspects, who is reportedly still a teenager, was remanded to the custody of British immigration authorities to face deportation proceedings April 9. The rest of the 11 suspects were released by British authorities April 21, though ten reportedly were placed in the custody of immigration officials.

Many of the specific details of the plot have not yet come out, and due to the sensitive nature of the intelligence sources and methods involved in these types of investigations, more details may never be fully divulged now that there will be no criminal trial. However, when viewed in the historical and tactical context of other terror plots and attacks (in the United Kingdom and elsewhere), there are some very interesting conclusions that can be drawn from this series of events and the few facts that have been released to the public so far.

This case also highlights the tension that exists within the counterterrorism community between advocates of strategies to disrupt terrorist attacks and those who want to ensure that terror suspects can be convicted in a court of law.


Among of the most significant things that have come to light so far regarding the thwarted plot are the alleged targets. According to press reports, the British MI5 surveillance teams assigned to monitor the activities of the purported plotters observed some of them videotaping themselves outside of the Arndale and Trafford shopping centers in Manchester, as well as at St. Ann’s Square, which lies in the center of Manchester’s main shopping district. Other reports suggest that the plotters had also conducted surveillance of Manchester’s Piccadilly train station, an intercity train station that is one of the busiest in the United Kingdom outside London, and Manchester’s Birdcage nightclub.

These targets are significant for several reasons. First, they are all soft targets — that is, targets with very little security. As STRATFOR has pointed out for several years now, since counterterrorism efforts have been stepped up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and as the tactical capability of groups like al Qaeda has been degraded, jihadist operatives have had less success targeting hardened targets and have turned instead to striking soft targets.

While authorities have moved to protect high-value targets, there simply are far too many potential targets to protect them all. Governments are stretched thin just trying to protect important government buildings, bridges, dams, nuclear power plants, airports and mass-transit systems in their jurisdiction. The reality on the ground is that there are not nearly enough resources to protect them all, much less every potential location where people concentrate in large groups — like shopping centers and nightclubs. This means that some targets are unprotected and are therefore, by definition, soft.

The selection of soft targets in this case indicates that the alleged Manchester plotters did not possess the operational capability to strike more strategic, high-value targets. While attacks against soft targets can be tragic and quite bloody, they will not have the same effect as a successful attack on high-value targets such as Parliament, the London Stock Exchange or a nuclear power station.

It is also very interesting that the plotters were purportedly looking to hit soft targets in Manchester and not soft targets in London. London, as the capital and a city that has been the center of several plots and attacks, is generally on a higher alert than the rest of the country and therefore would likely be seen as more difficult to target. Additionally, many of the suspects lived in the Manchester area, and as we have previously discussed, grassroots operatives, who are not as well-trained as their transnational brethren, tend to “think globally and act locally,” meaning that they tend to plan their attacks in familiar places where they are comfortable operating, rather than in strange and potentially more hostile environment.

In addition to targeting locations like shopping centers and the train station, where there were expected to be large crowds over the holiday weekend, the alleged plotters also apparently looked at the Birdcage nightclub, an establishment that is famous for its “flamboyant and spectacular” shows featuring female impersonators. This is a location the alleged plotters likely considered a symbol of Western decadence (like establishments that serve alcohol in Muslim countries).

Flawed Tradecraft

As noted above, the alleged plotters had been under surveillance by MI5. This indicates that their operational security had been compromised, either via human or technical means. Furthermore, the suspects did not appear to possess any surveillance detection capability — or even much situational awareness — as they went out into Manchester to conduct pre-operational surveillance of potential targets while under government surveillance themselves. Furthermore, the suspects’ surveillance techniques appear to have been very rudimentary in that they lacked both cover for action and cover for status while conducting their surveillance operations.

This aspect of the investigation reinforces two very important points that STRATFOR has been making for some time now. First, most militant groups do not provide very good surveillance training and as a result, poor surveillance tradecraft has long proven to be an Achilles’ heel for militants. Second, because of this weakness, countersurveillance operations can be very effective at catching militant operatives when they are most vulnerable — during the surveillance phase of the terrorist attack cycle.

Media reports indicated that during Operation Pathway, British authorities intercepted a series of Internet exchanges between the suspects suggesting a terror strike was imminent. Furthermore, among the locations raided April 8 was the Cyber Net Cafe in Cheetham Hill, an establishment where British authorities observed the suspects using computers to communicate. Not only is this electronic surveillance significant in that it allowed the authorities to surmise the approximate timing of the attack, but perhaps just as important, this ability to monitor the suspects’ communications will allow the authorities to identify other militants in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Indeed, in several previous cases related to the United Kingdom, such as the investigations involving the U.S. arrest of Mohammed Junaid Babar and the U.K. arrest of Younis Tsouli, authorities were able to use communications from militant suspects to identify and roll up militant cells in other countries. Therefore, we will not be at all surprised to hear at some point in the future that British authorities were able use the communications of the recently arrested suspects to tip off authorities in the United States, Canada, other European countries or elsewhere about the militant activities of people the suspects were in contact with.

Links to Pakistan

And speaking of elsewhere, as noted above, 11 of the arrested suspects were Pakistani nationals who entered the U.K. on student visas. At this point it is not exactly clear if the British believe the 11 suspects were radical militants specifically sent to the United Kingdom to conduct attacks or if they arrived without malicious intent and were then radicalized in the Petri dish of Islamist extremism that so rapidly replicates inside the British Muslim community — what we have come to refer to as Londonistan.

Many British lawmakers and media reports have made a huge issue out of the fact that 11 of the alleged plotters entered the United Kingdom on student visas, but even if the suspects were radicals who used student visas as a way to enter the United Kingdom, this is by no means a new tactic as some are reporting. STRATFOR has long discussed the use of student visas, bogus political asylum claims and other forms of immigration fraud that have commonly been used by militants. In fact, there have been numerous prior examples of jihadist operatives using student visas, such as the following:

* While Sept. 11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi initially entered the United States on tourist visas, they were approved for M-1 student visas shortly before carrying out their attacks.

* Youssef Samir Megahed, who was arrested in possession of an improvised explosive device (IED) in August 2007 and later sentenced to a 15-year prison sentence, was a Kuwaiti engineering student who entered the United States on a student visa.

* Mohammed Aatique, a convicted member of the “Virginia Jihad Network” who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiracy and weapons violations, also entered the United States from Pakistan as an engineering student.

In some ways, connections between the alleged plotters and militant groups in Pakistan such as al Qaeda or the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would be more analytically significant than if they turn out to be grassroots operatives. The operational security, skills and terrorist tradecraft exhibited by the plotters are about what one would expect to see in a grassroots militant organization. This level of sophistication is, however, far less than one would expect from a transnational organization. Therefore, if this was an al Qaeda operation, it shows how far the group has fallen in the past eight years. If it was the TTP, it means that our previous estimate of their operational ability outside of Pakistan was fairly accurate.

Lack of Evidence

To date, the British authorities have not been able to find the explosive material and IED components they were expecting to find. This might mean that the materials may still be hidden somewhere and could be used in a future attack. It is also quite possible, and perhaps more likely, that this lack of evidence is an indication that the plot was not quite as far along as the British authorities believed. Perhaps the references the suspects allegedly made to launching the attack on a bank holiday pertained to a holiday later in the year.

While the plot as described by the British authorities would not have been a significant, strategic threat to the United Kingdom, it could have been quite deadly and could very well have surpassed the July 7, 2005, attacks in terms of final body count. Because of this potential destruction, it is quite possible that the British government decided to err on the side of disruption rather than on the side of prosecution. This is something we have seen in the investigation of several other plots in recent years in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, perhaps most notably in the August 2006 Heathrow plot, in which a cell of operatives was preparing to bomb a series of trans-Atlantic airline flights using liquid explosives.

It is much more difficult to obtain a conviction for a conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism than it is to obtain a conviction for an attack that was successfully conducted. Once the attack is executed, there is no longer much room to wrangle in court over things such as intent or capability. Governments also frequently know things via intelligence they cannot prove to the standards required for a conviction in a court of law.

This was seen in the Heathrow case, where only three of the eight suspects were convicted of the main charges during that trial, which ended in September 2008. (The other five suspects had pled guilty to lesser charges.) During that case there was reportedly some tension between the U.S. and British authorities over when to wrap up the Heathrow plotters — some of the British apparently wanted to wait a while longer to secure more damning evidence, while the Americans were reportedly more interested in ensuring that the plot was disrupted than they were in obtaining convictions. It is likely the same dynamic was at play during the investigation of the Manchester case.

Although Quick’s disclosure did hasten the launch of Operation Pathway by a few hours, it did not significantly alter the timing of the investigation — the British authorities were preparing to execute an array of searches and arrests. From an ethical standpoint (and, not insignificantly in this day and age, a political aspect) it is deemed better by many to disrupt a plot early and risk the terror suspects being acquitted than it is to accidentally allow them to conduct an attack while waiting to gather the evidence required for an ironclad court case. Disruption can have an impact on the success of prosecutions, but in the eyes of a growing number of policymakers, that impact is offset by the lives it saves.


Fred Burton is one of the world’s foremost authorities on security, terrorists and terrorist organizations. In his capacity as Vice President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security, Mr. Burton oversees Stratfor’s terrorism intelligence service and consults with clients on security-related issues affecting their organizations or personal safety. He leads a team of terrorism experts and a global network of human intelligence sources to analyze and forecast the most significant events and trends related to terrorism and counterterrorism. Before joining Stratfor, Mr. Burton served as a special agent in counterterrorism for the U.S. Department of State, where he was involved in many high-profile operations. He orchestrated the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing, and investigated cases such as the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane, al Qaeda’s New York City bombing plots before 9/11, and the Libyan-backed terrorist attacks against diplomats in Sanaa and Khartoum. He has also served as the U.S. liaison officer to several international security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, providing consulting on global intelligence and threat identification. In addition, Mr. Burton has revolutionized the field of security by designing a unique and specialized protective program to safeguard CEOs, their families, employees and physical facilities. His strategy is highly valued and has been implemented by governments and a number of the world’s leading corporations. For a special offer to get a copy of GHOST, and to read additional information about Fred Burton and his role at Stratfor, please click here

Pakistan Daily : How to Tell I'm Not a Terrorist

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How to Tell I'm Not a Terrorist

April 25, 2009

So it turns out that the 12 Muslims arrested two weeks ago - you know, the ones who, according to ­Gordon Brown, were planning a "very big terrorist plot" - were ­doing nothing of the sort. The ­arrests and subsequent release highlight how, in a time of heightened concern, anyone who is male and Muslim - and, even worse, happens to have ­Pakistani heritage - can get mistaken for a potential terrorist. It isn't just the police who have a problem telling the difference. The trouble is that it isn't obvious who is a benign, peace-loving Briton who happens to be Muslim, and who is a rage-filled Islamist intent on causing mayhem.

It used to be simple to spot the fundamentalist: they would have tell-tale signs such as metal hooks and carry a charred copy of The Satanic Verses or a "Death to Israel" placard. It isn't so easy now. What does a moderate Muslim look like? How to tell if a bearded neighbour is a pious believer or plotting to blow up the local shopping centre? How to distinguish between the student who is taking photographs to send to relatives and the jihadist on reconnaissance?

If only these were theoretical dilemmas. Last week I was detained at JFK airport in New York. At the end of a lengthy grilling the officer turned to his colleague and said: "We have a 37-year-old male who has been to Pakistan in the past three years - shall I deport him?" The fact that the Pakistan trip was for a Radio 4 documentary, or that I had written a book which devoted a chapter to my fascination with the US was irrelevant. I was Pakistan-born and had a funny name so I was suspicious. It isn't that I don't understand the concern, or that some of it isn't legitimate; I wish I knew what I should say next time to prove I don't want to blow anyone up, and just want to spend a few days visiting galleries.

British Muslims are constantly called upon to denounce the extremists, to distance themselves from their ideas and actions. This leaves them forever on the defensive, having to react to the actions of the militant minority. So perhaps it's time to get proactive. That in itself is controversial: the standard response from British Muslims is to say that they shouldn't have to apologise for the actions of the extremists, that those Islamists are as Muslim as the KKK are Christian. But that theory doesn't help much in practice.

So here are a few suggestions for how to help the police, airport immigration and anyone else who finds it hard to differentiate between liberal and extremist Muslims. All Muslims who consider themselves liberal and tolerant could apply for a special card which when presented would show the holder was a "pre-approved Muslim", thus saving time at airports. Sure, some may say that such a card would represent a gross violation of human rights but I think it could be marketed like a credit card: membership has its privileges - in this case not being indiscriminately arrested or held up when travelling. Those who feel uncomfortable carrying a card could be offered an alternative - a white girlfriend perhaps, someone to vouch for the fact that they have successfully ­integrated into society and have no immediate plans for a holy war.

Perhaps I could carry a sandwichboard with the slogan "I Love John Stuart Mill". That may prove too subtle, maybe something more permanent is needed to convince the sceptics. How about all moderate Muslims having "Don't panic - I'm Islamic" inked on their forearms by a government-approved tattoo artist. That way, the next time extremists march in Luton against returning British soldiers, the moderate Muslims would only have to walk around in a T-shirt and everyone could breathe easy ­knowing they were not the bad guys.

There is one other possibility: that Muslims are presumed innocent, unless there is evidence to the contrary. S M

The Nation (Pakistan) : MCB for review of anti-terrorism legislation

Saturday, April 25, 2009

MCB for review of anti-terrorism legislation

By Asif Mehmood | April 25, 2009

LONDON - The Muslim Council of Britain has written to Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of Britain’s counter terrorism legislation, commending his initiative to launch an inquiry into ‘Operation Pathway’.

The resentment and anger caused by this particular case of 12 innocent men’s detention and trial by media should not be underestimated, but the MCB’s is particularly concerned that this is not an isolated case and incidents damaging to community relations are being repeated, with the lessons not being learned.

Dr Bari, MCB Secretary General in the letter said: “While the media coverage may bring kudos in high circles, it is Muslims in Britain who bear the consequences. It is they who are emerging as the ‘suspect community’ and who are viewed with suspicion by their neighbours. The reports are exploited by the extreme right wing and fascists. Each time there are tabloid headlines demonising Muslims, verbal and physical attacks follow. There is a real human price being paid”.

In the letter, the MCB which is an umbrella body of some 500 mosques, charities and schools in the UK also urges Lord Carlile to critique the ‘intelligence gathering’ aspects of counter-terrorism.

Operation Pathway it is believed, involved members of the public who had “undergone a crash course in surveillance techniques”. Affiliates of the MCB have confirmed the climate of snooping. Are not the authorities mindful of the breakdown of trust and the impact on matters of ordinary civil policing? The MCB also hoped that his inquiry would analyse the flawed nature of recent anti-terrorism legislation, such as the reduction in the burden of proof and the provision for blanket stop and search powers.

Guardian : Letters: Trial by media for Pakistani students facing deportation

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Letters: Trial by media for Pakistani students facing deportation

April 25, 2009


After days of slurs and speculation and a fair number of government media interviews, no charges have been brought against any of the men arrested in Liverpool and Manchester on suspicion of ... well, who knows quite what? Being seen in or near shopping centres and nightclubs while Pakistani? We have been told that international student visas have been subject to abuse, that universities need to do more and that the whole system needs to be tightened up. Now the arrested men are facing deportation on the grounds of "national security" (Lord Carlile calls inquiry into terror bomb plot raids, 23 April). I take it this means their immigration status has been in order.

This year the government has tried to force colleges and universities to become another arm of immigration control. We are being asked to snoop on students or lose our ability to recruit internationally because the Home Office will take away our "licence". They should stop worrying. When the rest of the world realises how dangerous Britain has become for its young people, they won't want to come here to study any more anyway. So much for our place in the knowledge economy.

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya


Once again the lynch mob is out. Trial by media, not only of the 10 hapless Pakistani students but the Pakistani nation, maligned again. From the prime minister, the home secretary and every politician and his dog, the cries of TERRORIST resound in the corridors of Whitehall. Not only did Gordon Brown join in pronouncing the guilty verdict hours after the arrests, the Pakistan ambassador called for more to be done to keep such people out! New laws have already been drafted to ensure that the Pakistani student, starved of quality education at home, is kept at bay, possibly reflecting on other outlets for his intellect.

This kind of trigger-happy reaction from the security forces and wailing of politicians is fodder for the real terrorists. And the Pakistani community, once the workhorse of British industry, a peace-loving, timid people, now cowering in corners, castigated by the media and even the friendly neighbour who no longer hangs over the fence to talk about a curry. Where do they go to seek refuge? What are the risks such policies can instigate? Some food for thought for the home secretary and the prime minister.

Arshad Chaudhry
Chairman, Pakistan Forward


Why do the media refer to Lord Carlile as the "independent reviewer of terrorism legislation"? Carlile, a QC, parliamentarian and former MP, is the government-appointed reviewer of such law. So why not refer to him in those terms?

John Elder
Devauden, Monmouthshire


Daily News (Pakistan) : ‘Do More’ mantra

Friday, April 24, 2009

‘Do More’ mantra

Khalid Khokhar | April 24, 2009

THE linking of most recently alleged terrorist plot with Pakistan unearthed in UK, is the manifestation of old-aged archetypal apprehension that “the imprints of every major act of international terrorism invariably passes through Pakistan”. The westerners believe that virtually all the participants of 9/11 tragedy had been trained, resided or met in, coordinated with, or received funding from or through Pakistani seminaries called as “Madaris”. The spat started with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accusing Pakistan of not doing enough to control terrorist acts. The Britain police arrested 11 Pakistani-born nationals on student visas in UK on the alleged planning to attack shopping centres and a nightclub in Manchester. However, after the examination of computers recovered from raids in Manchester, Liverpool and Clithere and their hard drives, MI6 cautiously admitted that there is no evidence of ‘Pakistan connection’ with the actual plot, thus causing a deepening sense of embarrassment to the worthy PM of a most technologically advanced country. It forced the Britain police to deport the arrested Pakistanis rather than charging them in a court. The father of one accused (Abid Naseer) in the alleged plot, attributed the charges to Western Islamophobia, saying his only crime is to have a beard and pray five times a day. As perceived by many in Britain and other Western countries, youth having long and untrimmed beards are viewed with suspicion as potential terrorists and extremists. To be sure, such labialization is unfair and uncalled for.

In 2005, Pakistani seminaries came under severe scrutiny when possible links of these religious Madaris have been alleged in 7/7 London bombings. During the course of investigation, it was revealed that at least two of the bombers had visited Pakistan in the months before the attacks. In the aftermath of the deadly attacks, the then, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on Pakistan to crack down on extremist madrassas. There are lots of attack threats and signals rumbling all round the western circles from time to time. Again in 2009, Pakistan has been accused of not doing enough, whereas it is doing enough despite limited resources. What is the myth of al Qaeda “sleeper cells” in European countries? Are these alarms emanating from jihadist propaganda videos, coded message to al Qaeda cells, or just hoax? The Government is well set on its course to ascribe a more meaningful role to the madrassas and developing the madrassa students congruent to cultural norms of Pakistani society. After reviewing the veracity of these alarms, one is left with many unanswered questions. A global dragnet has tightened around al-Qaida, made possible by a broad coalition of 84 nations, all focused on the common goal of eradicating the terrorist threat that endangers all civilized nations. Since September 11, 2001, 70 percent of al-Qaeda senior leadership and more than 3,400 lower-level al-Qaeda operatives have been detained or killed in over 100 countries. The al-Qaeda organization has been gravely wounded and is on the run. Pakistan has deployed up to 120,000 military and paramilitary forces in FATA and killed/captured hundreds of suspected al Qaeda operatives. Pakistan has made “significant” progress toward eliminating the safe haven for foreign fighters in the FATA over the past seven and a half years, capturing scores of key leaders. Pakistan, being the frontline state in the war on terror, is committed to weed out terrorism of all sorts from its soil. The objective was to deny a safe haven to al Qaeda and Taliban elements inside Pakistan. Despite substantial sacrifices rendered by Pakistan, still US counter-Terrorism department believes that “Washington rarely gets all of the help it wants from allies like Pakistan in efforts to hunt down violent extremists”.

In assessing al Qaeda and its cohort’s capabilities, many believe that US counter efforts have weakened al Qaeda’s central leadership structure and capabilities to the point where al Qaeda can not coordinate attack of 9/11 magnitude. Therefore, counter-efforts should focus more intently on homeland security, stressing such measures as improving airline security, establishing enhanced security measures for passenger train travel, and expanding security of western ports. The Britain’s Terrorism Act-2000, which authorizes indefinite detentions of immigrants; search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s permission or knowledge; allows to search telephone, email and financial records without a court order; and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, can auger well with the objective of combating the scourge of terrorism. However, the Britain’s student visa system has some bugs. It is appropriate to mention here that more than 2,100 universities, independent schools and colleges normally apply to accept international students. Each institution was supposed to be assessed or visited by UK Border Agency officers as part of the vetting process. Foreign students bring with them 10 billion pound boast to the economy which the Government is keen to encourage. This leads to soft visa policy and thousands of bogus students were free to enter Britain despite new laws aimed at tightening controls on immigration. The British government issues around 10,000 student visas a year to Pakistanis, and over 50, 000 Pakistani students are presently in Britain, ostensibly studying. It was revealed that hundreds of colleges approved by the Home Office to accept nonEuropean Union (EU) students have not been inspected by it’s officers. It has also emerged that the vast majority of non-EU students would not be interviewed by the Home Office but admitted on the basis of written applications and evidence of sponsorship, educational qualifications and bank statements. They then register at the college or university that originally gave them admissions to enable them to apply for visas. However, the reality is that in a large number of cases, these institutions are little more than fronts that function only to make money from these young men and women who are seeking jobs for a better life in Britain. Another reason may be that the Europeans allow “rogue element” to seek shelter in foreign countries on the pretext of “political asylum”. The European countries, being the staunchest ally in the US-led war on terror, are unwittingly protecting and harbouring such dangerous terrorists wanted in many terrorist acts in Pakistan. Today, the continuation of militancy is a devastating outcome of western’s “human rights” policies.

The International terrorism, no matter when, by whom, where, and in what form, is a dangerous threat to the world peace. This requires mutual cooperation from all peace-loving countries. Every country should adopt “uniform strategy” in condemning and fighting terrorism resolutely. Since 2005, UK took into account how terrorism in Pakistan may affect Britain and its Muslim population. The British Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command arrested some UK nationals of Pakistani origin on the charges of “commissioning, preparing or instigating acts of terrorism”. Consequently, most of the terrorist organizations closed their offices in UK and fled away to some soft destinations, like Sweden, Italy, Norway, etc. Now, there is a strong need to take appropriate programmes and initiatives to reach out to people/organizations harbouring terrorism. All the foreign-based organizations should be taken to the task by the counterterrorism authorities of the respective country. All the websites operating in western countries responsible for fanning extremist sentiments should also be banned. The western democracies have to set aside their soft policy and should be more aggressive to conduct covert operations against masquerade terrorists exploiting the western doctrine on human rights to their benefit. International terrorism has jolted the whole world which is faceless and has no territory and is fighting its own war against terror. Pakistan itself has suffered from terrorism. Pakistan condemns terrorism in its all forms and manifestations. The public blame game only sours relations. The UK officials are equally irritated by High Commission’s statement as Islamabad is not happy with the statement of Prime Minister Gordon Brown because despite providing full co-operation in the war against terrorism, his attitude was not fair. Nevertheless, it calls for collective efforts by the international community against terrorism, instead of seeking scapegoats and blaming each other. UK and Pakistan should not worry about who is to blame, and more about how to rectify the emergent problem.

UPI : Britain's terror cop to review April raids

Friday, April 24, 2009

Britain's terror cop to review April raids

April 24, 2009

LONDON, April 24 (UPI) -- Britain's terror watchdog will review the police operation that resulted in the arrest and subsequent release of 11 Pakistani nationals and a British Muslim.

Lord Carlile, the man who keeps watch over Britain's terror legislation, said he decided to review the raids that took place across Liverpool and the Northwest earlier this month, the Liverpool Echo reported Friday. Carlile said the review was part of his continuing oversight of terrorism laws and how they are applied, the Guardian Web site said.

"I do not believe a mistake was made," said Peter Fahy, chief constable for Greater Manchester, in the Guardian. "We were faced with a very difficult decision."

Eleven of the 12 men police arrested were in Britain on student visas and have been turned over to immigration officials for deportation.

The 12th suspect, Hamza Shenwari, 41, is a British national believed to be a member of an Islamic group called Tablighi Jamaal that is accused of radicalizing young Muslims.

Carlile says he will review the raids that were coordinated by counter terrorist officers from Manchester, London and MI5, the Guardian reported.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

APP : MCB writes to Lord Carlile on Pak students issue

Friday, April 24, 2009

MCB writes to Lord Carlile on Pak students issue

April 24, 2009

LONDON, April 24 (APP)-The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has written to Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of counter terrorism legislation, commending his initiative to launch an inquiry into “Operation Pathway” that led to the arrest of 12 persons including 11 Pakistani students on terror suspicion and their subsequent release without charge.

“The resentment and anger caused by this particular case of 12 innocent men’s detention and trial by media should not be underestimated, but the [MCB] is particularly concerned that this is not an isolated case and incidents damaging to community relations are being repeated, with the lessons not being learned,” MCB Secretary-General Dr. Abdul Bari noted.

“While the media coverage may bring kudos in high circles, it is Muslims in Britain who bear the consequences. It is they who are emerging as the “suspect community” and who are viewed with suspicion by their neighbours. The reports are exploited by the extreme right wing and fascists. Each time there are tabloid headlines demonising Muslims, verbal and physical attacks follow. There is a real human price being paid”, said Dr. Bari.

In the letter, the MCB also urges Lord Carlile to critique the “intelligence gathering” aspects of counter-terrorism. Operation Pathway, it is believed, involved members of the public who had “undergone a crash course in surveillance techniques.”

Affiliates of the MCB have confirmed the climate of snooping. Are not the authorities mindful of the breakdown of trust and the impact on matters of ordinary civil policing? Dr. Bari asked.

He expressed hope that this inquiry would analyse the flawed nature of recent anti-terrorism legislation, such as the reduction in the burden of proof and the provision for blanket stop and search powers.

“Much rests on Lord Carlile to bring back our law enforcement agencies back into line, restore public confidence as a matter of urgency, and ensure that the lessons are being taken on board,” said the MCB official.

Independent : Matthew Norman: Another police fiasco to divert attention from the last one

Friday, April 24, 2009

Matthew Norman: Another police fiasco to divert attention from the last one

What is unforgivable is that the Pakistanis haven't been released but held for deporting

April 24, 2009

Seldom since September 11 2001 has there been a better day than Wednesday for the burial of bad news. With the Chancellor borrowing from compatriot Private Frazer, an undertaker himself, to tell us we're all doomed (I paraphrase the Budget very slightly), the announcement that a huge meteor was on course to disrupt the London Marathon on Sunday would have passed by barely noticed.

If Jacqui Smith had coughed to claiming £120,000 for being impregnated with a foetus cloned from Osama bin Laden in a Torinese clinic, it would have been lost. Had it emerged that Gordon Brown has signed up for a sex change, followed by extensive cosmetic surgery and the loss of his legs below the knee, in the cause of becoming a Susan Boyle tribute act (the only way, according to leading pundits, he could win an election), it might have made a two-paragraph brief on page 27.

Consider yourselves forgiven, then, if the trumpets of the Four Horsemen of the Fiscal Apocalypse drowned out the noise of a less sensational news cadaver being lowered into the ground with half the ceremony lavished on Eleanor Rigby... the very bad, if unstartling, news that the British police have contrived another colossal fiasco.

As it proudly takes its place on the honours board of terrorist-related policing calamity, alongside the "Ricin plot" sans Ricin, the "airline bomb plot" involving no airliners, the "London Underground cyanide plot" devoid of cyanide and aimed at no Tube trains, and the shooting of an innocent Muslim in east London technically known as Forest GateGate, please give a warm, Independent readers' welcome to the "Easter bomb plot" with nothing to do with Easter and not the hint of an explosive.

The special appeal about this one is its exquisite symmetry. The arrests of a dozen Muslim men, 11 Pakistanis here on student visas and a lone British national, were rushed through on 9 April in the wake of former Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick's little faux pas with that top secret folder as he strode manfully towards Number 10.

Given that all 12 have now been released without charge, we ask ourselves why Mr Quick was in Downing Street at all. And the odds-on 2-9 favourite, we answer, is that the Government and Scotland Yard were desperate to flam up a "police triumph" story to divert outrage from the possible manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protest.

And a triumph, for a while at least, it was. Gordon was thrilled to bits by Operation Pathway, lauding the police for foiling what he assured us, with neo-Blunkettian contempt for the basic precepts of natural justice, was a "very big terrorist plot". So big, it transpires, that the police and security services, these brethren defenders of life and liberty now engaged in a ferocious game of buck-passing, had amassed zero evidence. Houses, cars and computers were searched, and not a carrot found.

Apparently there'd been a tip-off from our spooks in Pakistan, which is nice, although ever since MI6 failed to predict the collapse of Soviet Communism, common sense suggests their intelligence be handled with giant tongs. One person's common sense is another's venal cynicism, of course, and the security world's faith in its own competence does credit to its trusting nature, if only towards itself.

Now although we cannot be certain that these men were harmless, their release after less than a fortnight, when the law now allows suspects to be held for 28 days, entitles us to make the presumption; just as we may assume that they were arrested, despite being under 24-hour surveillance that had unearthed no imminent "bomb plot", to remove Mr Tomlinson's death from the front pages; and just as we must suspect that the timing of their release, on the eve of the Budget, was more than coincidence.

The creation of a fresh policing catastrophe in the attempt to divert public fury from a previous one is, as I said, gorgeously symmetrical. If royal protection officers had shot Prince Philip to deflect attention from their failure to keep Michael Fagan out of the Queen's bedroom, that would have done the trick too, but again you'd have wondered whether the game was worth the candle.

Yet however inured we've become to ministers and a frighteningly politicised police force crying wolf (you will recall the pre-election ringing of Heathrow with tanks for no other apparent reason than electoral gain), we cannot become blasé about the blithe vindictiveness that underscores this case.

Bending over backwards to be charitable, one might read the "Easter bomb plot" arrests as nothing more sinister than a loss of nerve... the blind terror, in a risk-averse world, that waiting to collect some evidence could lead to loss of life. It's very easy to be smug, sat behind a computer screen, about the nervous nelliedom of those responsible for keeping us safe. It isn't so easy, in truth, to imagine how men being followed round the clock, their phones and emails perpetually bugged, could hurriedly activate the plot to detonate so much as a stink bomb.

Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, has promised a "snapshot review" of Operation Pathway, and if he sees fit to publish it perhaps we will learn more about the mechanics of this cock-up. Whatever his findings, however, and without excusing the evidently political nature of the timing or ignoring the damage all this premature incarceration does to relations with a justifiably livid and suspicious Muslim community, one does understand the general temptation to err on the side of caution.

What is utterly unforgivable is that the 11 Pakistanis have been released into not freedom but the unlovely arms of the immigration service, which will seek to deport them on the familiar catch that they are, in some nebulous manner of which they have no legal right to be informed so that they might defend themselves against the charge, a threat to national security. Having tainted them with the McBridean smear that they are would-be killers with his "very big terrorist plot" gibberish, in other words, Gordon Brown means to use their deportation as no-smoke-without-fire cover for a grave mistake in which he was complicit.

If an apology and compensation for their wrongful detention is an outlandish expectation from a government whose paramount concern remains the opinion of right wing tabloids, is it too much to ask that these chaps be spared the persecution they can, having been condemned as terrorists by a British PM, count on back in Pakistan?

Apparently it is. For far too long, idiots like myself have given Gordon Brown the benefit of every doubt, ever qualifying attacks on his abysmal leadership, relentless machine politician bullying and abundant cowardice in the line of fire with the rider that at least he, unlike his predecessor, is at heart a well-intentioned man. The sacrifice of these innocents to spare his blushes makes this a very good day to bury that credulous misjudgment in a concrete-lined coffin, never to be disinterred.

Irish Independent : 'Major terrorist plot' amounted to one email and some phonecalls

Thursday, April 23, 2009

'Major terrorist plot' amounted to one email and some phonecalls

By Jonathan Brown in London | April 23, 2009

The case against 12 Muslim men involved in what UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown described as a "major terrorist plot" amounted to one email and a handful of ambiguous telephone conversations, it emerged last night after the men were released without charge.

Eleven Pakistani students and one British man were freed after extensive searches of 14 addresses in north-west England failed to locate evidence of terrorist activity, according to security sources.

Yesterday, the UK government's own reviewer of terrorism legislation said he would investigate the case.

According to security sources, the operation was launched after the interception of telephone calls and emails which pointed towards a bombing campaign orchestrated by al-Qa'ida.

But yesterday a senior Pakistani defence official said the UK authorities had failed to consult them adequately before carrying out the arrests and greater co-operation would have avoided "embarrassing mistakes" for the government.

Muslim groups and lawyers for the 12 men arrested two weeks ago said the police operation had been a fiasco.

(© Independent News and Media)

Asian News : Community not surpised by release of terror suspects

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Community not surpised by release of terror suspects

April 23, 2009

PEOPLE in Cheetham Hill reacted with dismay but not surprise at the news that 11 terror suspects had been released without charge.

Locals say the raids by armed officers - and the apparent lack of evidence against those arrested - had blunted their confidence in the police.

For more than a century, the district has been the first port of call for thousands of migrants, from Manchester's cotton mill heyday to the present day.

Those who know the 12 men who were arrested two weeks ago said they were not surprised by their release.

Takeaway worker Hamza Gilazi, whose own house on Abercarn Close was investigated by police, said he knew four of the arrested men.

Mr Gilazi, 31, who was not questioned or arrested, but had to stay at a friend's home for five days while officers combed his home, said the men involved had never expressed extreme views. He said: "The guys came here a couple of times. I guess the police thought something was hidden here.

"I've known them about a year. Two of them are not really religious and I was always confident they had nothing to do with a plot, because they never spoke about anything political or suggested anything violent."

Officers searched the house and removed items, including music CDs and DVDs, which have still to be returned.

The area has been used by people linked to extremist terror - notably al-Qaida fanatic Kamel Bourgass, who killed policeman Stephen Oake at a flat in Cheetham Hill in 2003. And last year local taxi driver Habib Ahmed was jailed for 10 years for his role in a plot to build a terror cell in the city.

However, residents point to other terrorism raids which have proved fruitless. In 2007, two men were arrested at a house on Heywood Street, but released without charge.

Manchester University student Tariq Khan, 30, who knew one of the men held, said: "When the first raids happened, we thought the police must have had some evidence. But when we found out who they were, we realised there must have been a mistake, because the guy is a peaceful person.

"A lot of international students live around here. Many now feel very uncomfortable and worry that something like this could happen to them."

One shopowner, who declined to be named, said he was fed up with the area being linked to extremism.

He said: "People from all over the world live here: Pakistanis, Jews, Arabs and Africans. This gives us all a bad name.

"The police have got to do their job, but the fact that they were so heavy-handed and still got nothing will make people trust them less."

At Galsworthy Avenue, where three of the arrested men lived, residents were `quietly angry' about the level of force used in the raids.

Housewife and mum-of-four Bushra Majid said: "Policemen with machine guns came to our street at 5 o'clock in the afternoon when children were playing out and told us to get inside.

"If it happened somewhere else, then there would have been some sort of inquiry."

Sales assistant Fatima Jamil, 25, said: "I'm frightened we are getting labelled as an extremist neighbourhood because this is a mostly Muslim area.

"People going to mosque regularly, and some men having beards, is quite normal here - it doesn't mean that they are plotting terror."

Manchester Evening News : Terror raids 'lessons' warning

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Terror raids 'lessons' warning

Exclusive | David Ottewell | April 23, 2009

THE Muslim community's confidence in the police is heading for crisis point following the release without charge of 12 men arrested in anti-terror raids, says one of Manchester's leading politicians.

Coun Afzal Khan, a former Lord Mayor, said confidence could be lost because 'too many times the police are getting it wrong.'

Eleven of the 12 men, who are Pakistani nationals in Britain on visas, face deportation after being handed over to the UK Borders Agency. The twelfth is a British citizen from Cheetham Hill.

Lord Carlile of Berriew is to carry out an independent investigation into the case and will interview `all concerned' - including those arrested.

Senior security sources told the M.E.N they remained 'absolutely' confident the men, arrested in a string of armed raids in Manchester and other parts of the north west, had posed a real and immediate threat to Britain.

Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said he did not feel embarrassed or humiliated by the lack of charges – adding that he would do the same again.

Police sources said that while the intelligence against the men had been ‘compelling’, it was not matched by evidence gathered from searches of properties, computers and mobile phones.


Coun Khan – a councillor for Cheetham where four of the raids took place – said: “The Muslim community has always been supportive but we need to make sure that support is not lost. We are reaching a point where there is a danger of that.

“I am not saying the police should not act. I fully support the police and want them to protect us. My concern is that too many times they are getting it wrong. That is affecting the confidence in the relationship between the police and the public – particularly the Muslim community.

“It is having an adverse effect on internal community relations. An independent inquiry must look at the way the police are working and dealing with terrorism. If there are lessons to be learned, they need to be learned quickly.”

Martin Pagel, another Cheetham councillor and former deputy council leader, said: “We all support the police but by the same token there has to be some explanation to people so they can be assured the police are not getting it wrong.”


The men were arrested on April 8 after co-ordinated raids on 14 addresses in the north west, including the four in Manchester. The British citizen was arrested in a car on the M602.

He is understood to be a member of Tabligee Jamat, an Islamic group which goes door-to-door in local communities visiting Muslims to reinforce their faith by getting them to pray and attend the mosque.

A Pashtun speaker, he was active in the group in the Cheetham Hill area, according to locals, and has been in Britain for up to nine years. He worked as a delivery driver and regularly attended his local mosque.

Mr Fahy – asked if the arrests had foiled a terror attack – admitted: “We do not know that. We cannot say that. That starts to imply guilt against those people involved.”

But he said that 68 people nationally are on trial or awaiting trial for alleged terrorist offences.

“This shows there’s a real threat to this country,” he said.

Mr Fahy said the police’s actions had been right, given the intelligence.

“I do not feel embarrassed or humiliated by what we have done because we have carried out our duty to protect the people of Greater Manchester,” he said. “I have to put the safety of the public first.

“We do not carry out this sort of operation on a wing or a prayer or on a whim.”

Cheetham has long been the focus of anti-terror measures. The area is a mile from the Crumpsall Lane flat where Det Con Stephen Oake was stabbed to death during an anti-terror raid.

And late last year, Habib Ahmed, a taxi driver from Cheetham, was jailed for 10 years for his role in a plot to build a Manchester terror cell.

Nelson Mail (NZ) : Police defend terrorism raids as suspects freed

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Police defend terrorism raids as suspects freed

Reuters | April 23, 2009

British police have denied making an embarrassing mistake after releasing all 12 men seized in raids to foil a suspected al Qaeda plot that were brought forward due to a security breach.

The 11 Pakistanis and one Briton were arrested around northwest England on April 8 as part of an operation against what Prime Minister Gordon Brown called at the time a "very big terrorist plot."

Police said all the suspects had been released although 11 had been handed over to immigration officials and face deportation on national security grounds.

Prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to justify holding them any longer or bringing charges, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

"This is not a mistake. I do not feel embarrassed or humiliated by what we have done because we have carried out our duty," GMP Chief Constable Peter Fahy told reporters.

"We do not carry out this sort of operation or make these sorts of arrests on a wing or a prayer or a whim. We can only operate to one standard, and that standard is that people are innocent until they are proved guilty."

The raids were mounted several hours ahead of schedule after a blunder by Britain's top counter-terrorism officer Bob Quick.

A document on the operation was photographed by journalists as Quick carried it to a briefing for Brown. Quick resigned a day later but Fahy said the mistake had not compromised the operation.

Police have been on high alert since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and especially after four young British Islamists carried out suicide bombings on London's transport network in July 2005, killing 52 people.

Dozens have been convicted of plotting bombings since 2001 and currently 68 people are on trial or awaiting trial for terrorism offences, said Fahy.

However, it is not the first time that suspects have been freed after claims that a major terrorism plot had been foiled.

In 2004, GMP arrested 10 people in raids involving some 400 officers amid media speculation of a plot to blow up Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium during a high-profile game.

They were all freed without charge.

The most notorious case occurred in 2006 when officers, some wearing chemical, biological and radiological protection suits stormed a house in east London looking for a suspected bomb, and shot one of the occupants.

No bomb was found and police later admitted their intelligence had been faulty.

"When we look at the record of the anti-terrorist police across the whole country but especially Scotland Yard, their record is actually very, very good," said security consultant Peter Ryan, a former national director of UK police training.

The Muslim Council of Britain said arrests were understandable but criticised Brown, who had also angered Pakistani officials by calling on Pakistan to do more to "root out the terrorist elements in its country."

"We would hope that senior ministers and the Prime Minister will understand that it is completely unfair to make prejudicial and premature remarks in cases like this," said spokesman Inayat Bunglawala.

He added the decision to deport the men following their release was "very dishonourable."

Mohammed Ayub, a defence lawyer for some of the suspects, said: "This seriously damaged police credibility. The arrests happened in a blaze of publicity but finally amount to nothing."

The Stirrer : A Study In Terror

Thursday, April 23, 2009


April 23, 2009

Released without charge after nearly two weeks police interrogation over an alleged terror plot, nearly a dozen Pakistani students are now being further detained by immigration officials pending deportation as ‘a threat to national security’. Legitimate incarceration or just the State trying to cover it’s back asks Steve Beauchampe?

All twelve men arrested in a blaze of publicity over what quickly came to be known as the ‘Easter Bomb Plots’ (aka Operation Pathway) are innocent. We know they are because despite a huge and unparalleled raft of anti-terror legislation (much of it introduced in recent years) which allows the police to press charges for activities with only the most tenuous of links to the planting of bombs, or to killing or maiming, the twelve have been released without charge.

This after thirteen days of what will undoubtedly have been intense and repeated questioning. Indeed, Greater Manchester Police, who carried out the arrests on behalf of MI5, didn’t even consider it necessary to apply to a High Court Judge for an extension of the mens’ detention of up to 28 days, as the law allows.

From start to finish this case has been an embarrassment and PR disaster for the police, senior politicians and the security services, an expose of their incompetence from the moment Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner for Special Operations Bob Quick exited a car brandishing a document showing details of the counter intelligence operation, a gaffe for which he quickly resigned.

Within hours the media were carrying claims that the arrests had foiled a massive terror attack designed to bring Eastertide carnage to the North West, with shopping meccas such as Manchester’s Arndale and Trafford centres and the city’s Birdcage nightclub said to be the prime targets.

Unnamed police sources were quoted as saying there was an ‘imminent and credible threat’ and that ‘these are the most significant terrorism arrests for some time’. In the headlong rush to publish the most lurid scare stories few stopped to consider the chronology. Apparently the arrests had been brought forward following Quick’s unwitting expose. Really? By how much? It was all but Easter anyway!

Meanwhile Prime Minister Gordon Brown, having claimed that, “we are dealing with a very big terrorist plot”, was issuing stern warnings to Pakistan to stop sending would-be terrorists to Britain under the guise of being students, while the Pakistani High Commissioner to Britain was telling the UK to tighten who it issues student visas to.

So where exactly did the media get their stories from, given that specific details of the case had not been officially released? The Met? MI5? Greater Manchester Police? the Home Office? Downing Street?

We may never be told, but many of these organisations have form when it comes to information leaks and there are plenty of jobbing journalists and editors around, increasingly used to simply reproducing press releases, who are more than willing to parrot such ‘information’ seemingly without question in order to make good copy.

So are the arrested men, all but one of them living in the UK on student visas, allowed to return to their studies? Like heck they are!

Instead, they are summarily passed to the Borders and Immigration Service (BIS) in readiness for deportation (eleven of the twelve are Pakistani nationals) on the grounds that they pose a threat to national security.

This vague, indefinable piece of legalese jargon provides the security services with an escape clause, a way of avoiding their culpability for yet another security cock up. Kick out the Muslims while labelling them as terrorists who got away with it. Ruin their reputations and damn the concept of innocent until proven guilty, anything to avoid admitting failings and offering redress.

No one disputes that the police have a duty to arrest and question those whom they believe may be engaged in criminal activity, but it is the spin and politicking that so often accompanies high profile cases that leaves such a sour taste. Because the State and its servants are rarely honorable enough to say sorry, acknowledge their mistakes and recognise the impact these have on innocent lives.

Ask the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four, still waiting to hear for the ‘s’ word for the gross crimes committed against them by the British judicial system. Ask Barry George; when George was cleared of murdering of Jill Dando in 2008, following many years in prison, the Met pronounced themselves, not contrite, but ‘disappointed’.

Ask the Forest Gate Two, shot at and nearly killed during a bungled police anti-terror raid at their home and who eventually successfully sued the police for damages. Ask the student arrested and interrogated for a week in 2008 (and recently interviewed on Radio 4) after downloading a ‘terrorist’ training document (having first received authorisation from his university) and then warned that if he did so again, despite their being no grounds on which to charge him the first time, he would be re-arrested.

And ask the doctor cleared in the 2007 Glasgow bomb plot, lurid and wholly inaccurate stories about him repeatedly splashed over the newspapers, yet when declared innocent last autumn also subjected to deportation attempts by the BIS, a body seemingly more interested in pandering to tabloid immigration fears than overseeing a fair and equitable public service.

And ask Colin Stagg, cleared of the murder of Rachel Nickel. Stagg did get an apology but only after waiting many years before someone in the Met finally acknowledged how their incompetence had ruined his life and reputation.

Arguably worse is what increasingly appears to be the police and security services’ default position of covering up failings by ‘leaking’ erroneous or irrelevant information about innocent victims in an attempt to sully their good character, as in the case of John Charles De Menezes, or newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson, who died following a police assault at the recent G20 protests.

Still, out of sight, out of mind. The twelve former Easter terror suspects may still be alive, but back in Pakistan, they’ll be less of a thorn in the British Government’s side, less able to sue the newspapers who so readily defamed them, less able to challenge or disprove the unsubstantiated allegations inherent in their deportation, less able to talk about their no doubt terrifying experiences as innocent men in custody.

Meanwhile, community relations particularly in the North West where the men resided, are further set back, diplomatic relations with Pakistan placed under strain. And the next time we read of a major terror threat being plotted or foiled, a few more folk will be just that bit more sceptical and unbelieving. And that could be dangerous or it could be healthy, but if you cry wolf enough times...

The Sun : Apology Call Over 'Terror 12'

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Apology Call Over 'Terror 12'

By GUY PATRICK | April 23, 2009

THE last of 12 suspects held over an alleged Easter bomb plot were freed without charge yesterday.

Their release came as Mohammed Ayub — lawyer to three of the men — said the men should receive an “unreserved apology”.

He said: “Our clients have no criminal history and were here lawfully.

“Our clients are neither extremists nor terrorists.”

All the men have been transferred to the UK Borders Agency — and 11 face deportation back to their native Pakistan.

Opposition politicians called the release an “embarrassment” to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Police swooped on them two weeks ago after ex-terror chief Bob Quick was pictured carrying documents about the raids.

The Muslim Council of Britain accused Gordon Brown of “dishonourable” behaviour for saying the authorities were investigating a major terror plot.

Chicago Tribune : ENGLAND: Last of 12 terrorism suspects freed

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ENGLAND: Last of 12 terrorism suspects freed

Authorities claimed at the time of the arrests that police had disrupted 'a very big terrorist plot'

April 23, 2009

LONDON -- British police released the last of 12 suspects rounded up in a series of dramatic anti-terrorism raids earlier this month, without charging any of the men, authorities said Wednesday.

The news was an embarrassment for British authorities, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who claimed at the time of their arrests that police had disrupted "a very big terrorist plot" that had been monitored "for some time."

The arrests were rushed in part because a police commissioner inadvertently exposed details of the operation to a photographer outside the prime minister's office.

Police had to scramble to catch the suspects before they learned of the leak, forgoing their usual dawn raids for a dramatic series of daytime operations across northern England on April 8.

Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, one of the country's top counterterrorism officers, resigned after he exposed details of the operation.

Most of the men taken into custody were Pakistanis in Britain on student visas.

British officials have said they want to deport all but one of the men on national security grounds, but that may be difficult. A lawyer for three of the men said his clients would fight to continue their education in the United Kingdom, while Islamabad opposes deportation.

Times : Inquiry to be held into anti-terror operation which caused Bob Quick's resignation

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Inquiry to be held into anti-terror operation which caused Bob Quick's resignation

Sean O'Neill and Russell Jenkins | April 23, 2009

The anti-terrorist operation that led to the resignation of a senior policeman, armed raids, the search of 14 properties but ultimately no charges, is to be the subject of an independent inquiry.

Lord Carlile of Berriew, the reviewer of terrorism legislation, said that he would carry out “a snapshot review” of the detention of 12 men picked up a fortnight ago in Manchester, Liverpool and Lancashire, amid claims of an Easter bomb plot. Gordon Brown said at the time that the authorities had foiled “a very big terrorist plot”.

The release of the final two suspects yesterday means that all 12 have been freed without charge. However, 11 of them, Pakistani citizens in Britain on student visas, face deportation on national security grounds, a process that is likely to spark lengthy legal challenges.

Lord Carlile said that he had personally decided to review Operation Pathway, details of which were accidentally disclosed to Downing Street photographers by Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick of Scotland Yard, forcing the arrests to be brought forward. Mr Quick resigned, admitting that he had compromised the operation.

Lord Carlile said: “I shall be requesting input into these events from all involved as soon as possible. This will include those arrested and their legal representatives.”

The only British citizen among those freed was named locally as Hamza Shenwari, 41, a delivery driver, from Cheetham Hill, Manchester. Neighbours said that Mr Shenwari was staying at a hotel while police restored his home to the state it was in before extensive searches.

Afzal Khan, a local Labour councillor, described Mr Shenwari as an “ordinary guy who goes to the mosque to pray”. He added: “I am deeply concerned. On the day of the arrests, people on the streets were saying straight away that they will find nothing, and that it is all political. This has only reinforced that view.”

A Greater Manchester police spokesman said there was insufficient evidence to justify extending the detention of the men. Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable, said that his force was involved in a complex investigation and had acted because of a threat to national security. “When it comes to the safety of the public we can’t take any chances. We must act on information we receive,” he added.

“We don’t take these decisions lightly and only carry out this kind of action if it was wholly justified.”

There are growing recriminations, however. Security sources say that the 12 men were under round-the-clock surveillance and were arrested on the basis of intelligence “chatter” alone. It was hoped that searches might unearth bombmaking equipment or that computers would yield evidence of terrorist planning but no evidence to support a prosecution was found.

The failure of the operation raises questions about the level of co-operation between different anti-terror agencies. MI5, Scotland Yard and Greater Manchester are said to have had angry disagreements about the timing of the arrests. Mr Fahy denied that there were disputes between agencies that were supposed to work together. He said: “I do not feel embarrassed or humiliated by what we have done because we have carried out our duty. There’s been no disagreement between us and the security services.”

Sindh Today : Pak asks Britain to not deport students caught during anti-terror raids

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pak asks Britain to not deport students caught during anti-terror raids

April 23, 2009

Islamabad, Apr 23 (ANI): Pakistan has asked the British government not to deport its citizens who were rounded up on suspicion of links with terrorists, but were later released, as the UK Police could not produce evidence against them.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said students had to undergo a harsh time behind bars and now it is up to the UK Government to compensate the students.

Earlier, a lawyer for the three Pakistani men facing deportation after being arrested in anti-terror raids earlier this month said his clients will fight to stay on in Britain.

Mohammed Ayub said the men are in Britain lawfully on student visas, are not extremists and have done nothing wrong.

The men were among a group of 12 swept up in a highly publicised counter-terrorism operation across northern England earlier this month, the Dawn reported.

British police on Tuesday released nine of the arrested men into the custody of immigration authorities. The men, aged between 22 and 38, are now being held by the UK Border Agency, which controls immigration into Britain, and face deportation.

They were originally arrested in the raids on April 8. One man was released into the custody of the UK Border Agency three days later.

The government has come under pressure to strengthen its visa rules after it emerged that 10 of the 11 arrested Pakistani men were in Britain on student visas, while one was a British national.

The raids had to be brought forward after Britain’s top counter-terrorism policeman was photographed holding clearly legible briefing notes on the operation. He resigned over the gaffe, although Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told lawmakers this week the investigation had not been compromised. (ANI)