Not Saussure

December 13, 2006

Rashid Rauf

Filed under: UK, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 11:41 am

Looks like the UK end of this prosecution may be going a bit pear-shaped. At least two of the eleven people originally charged here have had charges against them dropped.  Now, since the chap who was supposed to be a key player in Pakistan now seems not to have been involved…

The Times, August 12

THE capture of a British national in Pakistan was the trigger for the arrests of 24 men suspected of plotting to blow up transatlantic airliners.

Government sources indicated to The Times that the apprehension of Rashid Rauf was the key event that forced British police to raid addresses in London, Birmingham and High Wycombe. One of those arrested in Birmingham was Rauf’s brother, Tayib, 21.

Police brought the raids forward because they were concerned that the alleged plotters would realise they were under surveillance once they lost contact with a central figure in their plans, and either go into hiding or carry out an attack.

The BBC, December 13

A Pakistani judge has ruled there is not enough evidence to try a key suspect in an alleged airline bomb plot on terrorism charges.

He has moved the case of Rashid Rauf from an anti-terrorism court to a regular court, where he faces lesser charges such as forgery.

Pakistan has presented Mr Rauf as one of the ringleaders behind the alleged plan to blow up flights out of London.

The British authorities say they foiled it with Pakistan’s help in August.

The arrest of Rashid Rauf in Pakistan triggered arrests in the UK of a number of suspects allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic flights.

The Pakistani authorities described him as a key figure.

But an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities or that he belonged to a terrorist organisation.

As well as forgery charges, Mr Rauf has also been charged with carrying explosives.

But his lawyer says police evidence amounts only to bottles of hydrogen peroxide found in his possession.

Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant that can be used for bomb-making if other chemicals are added.

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  1. It always bugs me that you have a media circus every time there are arrests, but stuff like this barely gets a mention.

    It’s not how many people we arrest for terrorism-related crimes, it’s how many we *convict* in a fair trial that’s important.

    Comment by Matt M — December 13, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

  2. Indeed. In part it’s unavoidable, I suppose, since a co-ordinated anti-terrorist police raid is, in its nature, far more dramatic than is releasing most of the suspects in ones and twos over subsequent weeks.

    It’s difficult to find up-to-date figures (though I’m trying). For the time being, the Home Office Briefing Paper for for the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2005 (last year’s model, that is) said:

    From 11 September [2001, I assume] to 31 December 2004, 701 people were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000. Of these 119 were charged under the Act, with 45 of them also being charged with other offences. 135 were charged under other legislation – including charges for terrorist offences covered in other criminal law such as the use of explosives. And 17 have been convicted of offences under the Act

    So that’s 701 arrests under the Terrorism Act 2000, 119 charged under its provisions and 102 of them acquitted or not proceded against. It’s not completely clear whether the 135 ‘charged under other legislation’ includes the 45 also charged with other offences or is in addition to them (since they’re trying to make a case for the Bill, they presumably want to make the figures look as good as possible so I suspect the 135 includes the 45 also charged under the Terrorism Act, but I may be mistaken). Nor is it clear how many of these 135 (180?) were convicted of anything — I suspect not many, or we’d presumably have been told.

    The BBC, however, went on to do some further research about the 17 bods who were actually convicted under the Terrorism Act 2000:

    Information gathered with the help of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Institute of Race Relations provided details of 13 convictions.

    It emerged that three of the convictions related to Irish republicanism and four to the Irish loyalist movement.

    Two stemmed from a Sikh terrorism case and one involved Tamil terrorism.

    Only three related to some form of Islamic terrorism.

    It’s hardly a very impressive track record, is it?

    Comment by notsaussure — December 13, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

  3. Line ball this one. Judicial procedure is judicial procedure but this one seems to stink.

    Comment by jameshigham — December 13, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

  4. Certainly, as the case of Mirza Tahir Hussain demonstrated, Pakistan’s judicial system is a bit odd, to say the least. However, that leaves us knowing nothing about the case — if any — against the man other than that a court which has investigated the evidence doesn’t, rightly or wrongly, think very much of it.

    What is certain, though, is that this is very likely going to cause problems for the prosecution here. It can hardly help their case that a supposed key figure in the alleged plot has — or so it seems — had the charges relating to his alleged role in the conspiracy dismissed.

    It may be that they can produce for a British court the evidence that led to his being arrested and charged in Pakistan and convince a jury there’s something in it, but I’d think it would be very difficult to pursuade a judge to let it in; quite apart from any worries about the circumstance in which it may have been obtained, it’ll be very difficult for the defence to challenge and test it; judges tend not to like that sort of thing very much.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 13, 2006 @ 7:34 pm

  5. This reminds me of the cases against the bloke shot in Forest Gate, where he was convieniently accused of possesion of child porn after being found completely innocent on terrorism charges and then the child porn charges were dropped with no near as much fanfare as they were announced. Then the so called Ricin terror plot in North London, all the blokes there were released without charge, with no where near as much attention as when they were arrested.

    Comment by english republican — December 14, 2006 @ 4:10 pm

  6. That’s not quite accurate, English Republican. Nine of the blokes were, in fact, tried at the Old Bailey for their alleged role in the supposed plot. One, Kamel Bourgass, was convicted of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance, four were cleared of all charges (though some were convicted on passport offences) and, after the jury were unable to reach a decision about the other four, the Crown decided not to go for a retrial, so Not Guilty verdicts were recorded.

    As to Forest Gate, I seem to recall the charges being dropped received quite a bit of publicity. The Sun devoted an editorial to the subject, for one thing. I agree it’s very questionable about whether the charges should have recieved so much publicity in the first place, though.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 14, 2006 @ 4:46 pm

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