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This morning, a year-long trial in the Old Bailey came to a conclusion. A jury found five of seven Muslim men guilty of conspiracy to detonate bombs intended to kill hundreds in targets as varied as one of the largest of the UK’s shopping malls and one of its largest night clubs, the Ministry of Sound. Sentencing will occur this afternoon. Speculation is that this will be up to forty years for some and the judge has already indicated that there will be no remission.

The seven defendants were arrested in March 2004 following the discovery of more than half a ton of chemical fertiliser in storage in west London. Links with al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan have been established.

The cost of the trial to British taxpayers is estimated at over $100m.  The outcome is seen as a success for international co-operation, with security services in the USA, Canada and – in the shadows – Pakistan all being involved.

There is no doubt that MI5, the British counter-intelligence service, with their colleagues in other countries, have averted a serious disaster. One of many, they claim.

There are serious questions, however, over the conduct of the investigations. This group had contact with fifty-five other targets, of which fifteen were designated as high priority. Those designated as "clean skins" or low priority included two of the July 7th bombers that were to kill fifty-two people in London. This was despite some four of five meetings taking place and listened in to by MI5 officers. The lack of resources to track all these people is one concern (it is estimated that to keep tabs on one person for twenty-four hours takes fifty agents). The monitored conversations between the two groups were concerned with committing bank fraud to raise money, hence the low priority allocated to the 7/7 bombers.

Both Conservative and Liberal Democrat spokesmen are demanding a public enquiry as to why the 7/7 bombers were not kept under surveillance. The politics will be to downplay a security success by highlighting a security failure -–a deadly security failure.

Like all security operations, there are ludicrous errors. An example was when one of the group was under surveillance, but on 2 August 2004 the New York Times published his name, citing Pakistani sources. The leak caused police in Britain and Canada to make arrests before their investigations were complete. The U.S. government later said they, in their haste to gain political advantage, had given the name to some journalists as background, for which Tom Ridge, the U.S. homeland security secretary, apologised.

We should make no mistake, a bomb plot that threatened hundred of lives was averted. There are cells in our countries that are determined to take lives of the innocent in exchange for what they perceive as a war on their religion. The outcome will be more resources for our intelligence services, more resources for the war on terror.

As a Liberal Democrat I cannot deny the need for this, nor for an intensification of our efforts to combat the terror that others want to propagate on our societies.

The tragedy can be seen in one of the two young Muslims who have been found not guilty. He was recorded on MI5 tapes arguing that the taking of innocent lives was wrong. "Why is it necessary?" he is shown as asking. Why indeed.

The power of our nightmares will continue and increase until we can reach out to these young men who ask this question as to why innocents should die – give full voice to a fundamental part of their religion that demands that they should not. This is really what we should hold public enquiries about.

Originally posted to Welshman on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 06:05 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You can consider this story to be about... (41+ / 0-)

    ..the UK or about Europe. It is really a story about us all.

    The Power of the Nightmare affects all of us engaged against our wills in a deadly struggle where we seem powerless to dialogue, to negotiate, to reach compromise.

    Somewhere, somehow, we must find common ground for the sanity and safety of our children. And "our children" means those on both sides of this global conflict. We can start right now in Iraq.

  •  To answer the question (14+ / 0-)

    "Why do you hate America?" I'll boxquote:

    The U.S. government later said they, it their haste to gain political advantage, had given the name to some journalists as background, for which Tom Ridge, the U.S. homeland security secretary, apologised.

    That's why. Death by political advantage. They are the worst scum that exists.

    btw, typo alert: it=in

  •  On this side of the ocean (8+ / 0-)

    we will reach out only when this Administration is consigned to history...and only if the American people make the right choices in 2008.

    Until then, in places like Gitmo, we'll be creating terrorists, not helping young men and women choose a different path.

    •  I still hold out hope... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Welshman, kraant, TDE

      that it might happen before this administration is consigned to history, especially since I don't think impeachment is likely (although I still hold out hope for that too).

      I hope that we can do something about Guantanamo and the black sites around the world before then.  I don't know how likely this is either, but I still hold out hope.

  •  Good news, bad news. (6+ / 0-)

    This:

    The tragedy can be seen in one of the two young Muslims who have been found not guilty. He was recorded on MI5 tapes arguing that the taking of innocent lives was wrong. "Why is it necessary?" he is shown as asking. Why indeed.

    is the real way we will see an end to international terrorism of this sort. Occupying an Arab country while all sides kill one another will not help young Muslims reach this point of view.

    And this:

    The U.S. government later said they, in their haste to gain political advantage, had given the name to some journalists as background, for which Tom Ridge, the U.S. homeland security secretary, apologised.

    makes me want to scream, I cannot imagine the frustration MI5 must have felt when this went down. Also, the Republicans must be challenged with this sort of item every time they trot out the tired 'Dems are weak on terror meme'.

    The Pendulum "All movements go too far" - Bertrand Russell

    by TDE on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 06:48:24 AM PDT

    •  Yes (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      inclusiveheart, kraant, dolphin777, TDE

      My fear is that the comment of the young guy who was found not guilty - that I picked up from Sky News - will go unreported in the rest of the media.

      Within this simple minor detail of the whole story is our future hope. It will be overwhelmed by the TV pundits of security experts and the jostling for nay political advantage that can be taken from highlighting mistakes in the investigation.

      (An incidental: it is an extraordinary fact in the UK that 24 hour news on events - including Iraq coverage - is by far best done by Rupert Murdoch's Sky News. An oddity that may not be allowed to last).

      •  Fox is an odd convergence of reporting standards. (4+ / 0-)

        Here in the US, I would say that as far as depth and breadth of coverage they are actually the best out of all of the other networks.  They really do cover a lot more stories - particularly international stories - than anyone else.  The problem with Fox, as we all know, is how they cover and spin the stories.  I was saying to someone not to long ago that if Murdoch was a "liberal" (in the sense he would allow reporting that was unfettered by ideology) who demanded unbiased reporting, Fox would probably be the best of all of them from a news standpoint.  

  •  I think reaching out in general is what is... (7+ / 0-)

    called for.  We in the US have done exactly all the wrong things, manufacturing ten thousand new Bin Ladens in the process.  We need to reverse course and see if we can't reduce the numbers of those who would blow us all to hell....without having to track them all down and wipe them out.  Diplomacy anyone?

    Imagination is more important than knowledge - Einstein

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 06:53:27 AM PDT

  •  Interestingly, I've seen nothing about this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lilyvaldem, kraant, DBunn, dolphin777

    story here today.  Maybe I've missed it, but I've seen no mention of this important case.  I wonder if that is because your guys are putting our guys to shame.  We have invested all of our resources in Iraq randomly engaging in an age-old civil war while you guys are doing the gum-shoe investagative work at home finding real terrorist cells.

    If I was a part of the White House communications team, I wouldn't want this story to take hold here in the US either.  Especially since all our guys have come up with here since 9/11 was a bunch of mixed up Hatian teenagers who had to ask the entraping FBI officer for money to buy a gun because they couldn't afford one (in Florida no less).

  •  Thank you for highlighting this story (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Welshman, dolphin777, nodular

    One of the things that comes out is that surveilance can only go so far.  From what I have read there are thousands of people under surveillance by UK security.  This places huge demand on police and security.  I am sad to say that I can see a point where those under surveillance, because they are radical islamists, will have to have their freedom of movement curtailed.  This will likely involve deporting radical islamists as a matter of policy.  That will be a bad development for our democracies, but there are few choices left.

    •  Agreed. Rule # 1 is survival. Rule #2 is a good (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard

      quality of life, including freedom, for most of the people in society.  

      Somewhere lower on the list (but still highly valued) comes the value of tolerating the opinions of those from outside  your society---even if they vehemently disagree with what you are about.  But when some add a desire (and plans) for mass murder into the mix, tolerance is going to fade in deference to Rule #1.

  •  On Sky News (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dolphin777

    I would disagree that Sky News is the best 24-hr news service in the UK: BBC24 is excellent, as most of the BBC is.

    The reason that Sky might be good is that it has to be, because BBC24 is there, and Sky must raise its game to survive.

    This is one of the reasons, of course, that Rupert Murdoch has conducted a sustained campaign against the BBC over many years in his newspapers. It forces him to be reasonably fair and balanced.

    In Britain people basically trust the BBC: at least, far more than government sources, etc.

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