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More idiocy from the British Home Office
May 26, 2008 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Article in UK newspaper The Independent about two members of Nottingham University, U.K., Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza, who were arrested last week on terrorism charges and held for six days before being released without charge. The reason was that they had downloaded a terrorist manual from a US government website, which MA student Sabir needed for his research into terrorism, and which was approved by his supervisor. His friend Hicham Yezza, former student and current administrator at the university was arrested for helping to print out the 1500 page document. On release Yezza was then immediately rearrested on immigration charges and now faces imminent deportation, despite being a resident of the UK for 13 years and currently in the process of applying for citizenship. A campaign is currently underway to prevent this.

Also see articles in the Guardian and the Herald Tribune. There's even a facebook society page about it.
posted by leibniz (84 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Academic freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!

We are at war with terrorism. We've always been at war with terrorism..
posted by DreamerFi at 1:36 PM on May 26, 2008


Nation states suck.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:44 PM on May 26, 2008


Y'know... by no means am I saying this is right or that he brought it on himself, but... if I'm an Algerian immigrant, living in a country that's notoriously paranoid and irrational about immigrants from my part of the world and about terrorism, I probably want to pick something other than terrorism to do my research on. Not that that's how it should be, but it's how it is.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:53 PM on May 26, 2008


That's very brave of you DecemberBoy.
posted by ryanhealy at 1:59 PM on May 26, 2008 [12 favorites]


It's the one who printed it out, Hicham Yezza, who is original from Algeria. I'm not sure whats the nationality of Sabir, the one doing the research. He may well be British born and bred which is probably why he isn't being deported.
posted by leibniz at 2:01 PM on May 26, 2008


That came out a lot more snarky than I intended. Regardless, Sabir and Yezza are victims and shouldn't be chastised for their decision to study something so totally and completely relevant to our lives.
posted by ryanhealy at 2:03 PM on May 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this doesn't sound like idiocy to me at all. A couple of Muslim students print off all 1500 pages of an Al Quada training manual, and they get investigated as a consequence? I think it would be more idiotic if nobody had bothered to look into what was going on here.

Legitimate student gets released when enquiries are found to be ungrounded. Dubious character with no right to be in the UK gets deported. All of that sounds pretty much exactly how it should be.

Why the hell did they need a hard copy anyway? I don't know how much photocopying costs these days, but say it's 5p a page. 1500 pages at 5p a page will cost you £75. If I didn't have the right to live in a country, I'd be thinking that ripping off my employer for £75's worth of photocopying was a seriously bad plan. You could end up getting deported for something like that alone.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:07 PM on May 26, 2008


13 years and then applies for citizenship? so the country jumped on his weak spot and used it to deport him. Easiler than if he were a citizen, but they would have him then in some manner too.
posted by Postroad at 2:10 PM on May 26, 2008


I'm with DecemberBoy on this, for two reasons. One, I know a lot of U.S. cops, if no British ones, and they are, as a class, among the last people on earth to be "embarrassed" by their professional activities. In fact, they're pretty used to being wrong, quite publicly on occasion, and have the whole judiciary mechanism tell them that they are. So, a newspaper report charging that a main reason for a fast track on a deportation hearing is due the desire of police to avoid embarrassment just sets off my BS detector.

Two, if the "researchers" needed this material for legitimate academic reasons, there are better ways of obtaining it than downloading it off a U.S. honeypot.
posted by paulsc at 2:14 PM on May 26, 2008


I wonder if the manual in question is this one (first page of Google results for "department justice terrorist training manual")

Some highlights:

"The brother traveling on a "special mission" should not get involved in religious issues (advocating good and denouncing evil) or day-to-day matters (seat reservation,...)"
"When cabs are used, conversation of any kind should not be started with the driver because many cab drivers work for the security apparatus."
"[The member should ] Not meet in places where there are informers, such as coffee shops, and not live in areas close to the residences of important personalities, government establishments, and police stations."
"The vehicle should not be left in suspicious places (deserts,mountains, etc.). If it must be, then the work should be performed at suitable times when no one would keep close watch or follow it."

It's kind of cute. Those silly terrorists are as scared us as we are of them! (And, informers in coffee shops? The profusion of Starbucks suddenly seems a lot more creepy...)
posted by a young man in spats at 2:15 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Y'know... by no means am I saying this is right or that he brought it on himself, but... if I'm an Algerian immigrant, living in a country that's notoriously paranoid and irrational about immigrants from my part of the world and about terrorism, I probably want to pick something other than terrorism to do my research on. Not that that's how it should be, but it's how it is.

Someone always says something like this when there's a clearly tyrannous action being perpetrated, and that sickens me. The only resistance to government oppression of this sort is widespread civil disobedience, which makes bad laws irrelevant. If the well-meaning reliably take the "blame the victim" tack, it makes it that much easier for oppression to become accepted and legitimate--"be careful" shades easily into "you are an idiot for doing that in this political climate," which turns into "you are dumb and I have no sympathy for you."

If we all try our hardest not to rock the boat, that makes us all Good Germans.
posted by nasreddin at 2:15 PM on May 26, 2008 [26 favorites]


paulsc says: a newspaper report charging that a main reason for a fast track on a deportation hearing is due the desire of police to avoid embarrassment just sets off my BS detector

I don't think they are trying to cover up their embarrasment so much as get rid of someone who is potentially troublesome given his long standing (legitimate and moderate) political activities.
posted by leibniz at 2:22 PM on May 26, 2008


Look, people. There are zero tolerance policies in place, and we have them for a very good reason. They're here to protect us. And by "us," I mean the various faceless paperpushers, assistant principals, desk clerks, and the like. Our lawyers have advised us that, by having zero tolerance policies, there's no "decision-making" to be made, and therefore no responsibility or blame. This means no lawsuits.

We have these policies clearly posted in a subdocument of a PDF, located in an obscure website that we will be sending out links to whenever Ted figures out how the mailing list software works. Ignorance of the laws we just made up is no excuse!

If the wheels of justice happen to grind along, very finely, in a tank tread in some vast legal machine that is bearing straight towards your house, well, we can't make omelets without breaking a few eggs, and we do like some omelets.

After the United States completes its trial run of shock collars for airline passengers, we'll be shortly distributing collars to the rest of you that will grant you access to all of your ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and anyone else who likes rolling over without due legal process. This is a joint project of the UK, the US, and all right-thinking countries. Should our traffic-sniffing software, happily installed in innocuous white rooms near hubs all along our major routers, detect that you are downloading incorrect material (this utility brought to you by Cisco, Nannyware, and Taser International), you will be zapped into unconsciousness while police forces are dispatched via SCP (Shock Collar Protocol). If some of you have heart or seizure issues, might we suggest that the internet is too exciting for you, anyway? In any case, if a few citizens guilty of suspicious behavior happen to croak, it is certainly better than our faithful boys in blue possibly suffering a hangnail while they drag you away to Gitmo II, located in a private island far beyond the reach of SCOTUS.

This message brought to you by the protectors of freedom, everywhere, whether you like it or not.
posted by adipocere at 2:23 PM on May 26, 2008 [13 favorites]


From the Guardian article:

but Yezza, who is Algerian, was immediately rearrested on unrelated immigration charges and now faces deportation

Cops arrest guy, find out he's in the country without a visa, turn him over to immigration to get booted out. Wouldn't the story have been basically the same if the original arrest was for smoking pot rather that terrorist whatnot? (That is, aside from the handwringing?)

At least the Guardian mentioned the 'unrelated immigration charges' bit. The other articles left the details of the deportation even more vague, and I'm sure the manufactured outrage as gotten them plenty of pageviews....
posted by a young man in spats at 2:29 PM on May 26, 2008


What I want to know is how the authorities were alerted to this thoughtcrime.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:29 PM on May 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Six days to work out it was for academic research - no wonder these guys want 42 days if they work that slowly. Whether or not you agree with the original investigation this seems like something that could have been sorted out in hours.
posted by cluck at 2:31 PM on May 26, 2008


This looks like it might be the manual. Let's all visit it and give the US a scare!
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:32 PM on May 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Even if the verdict is unjust, which seems unclear (what's the status of this alleged research?), I can't really see that being sent back to your home country is a violation of your human rights. The authorities are tough on signs of terrorist sympathies these days? Blame Osama.
posted by Phanx at 2:32 PM on May 26, 2008


Yeah, this doesn't sound like idiocy to me at all. A couple of Muslim students print off all 1500 pages of an Al Quada training manual, and they get investigated as a consequence? I think it would be more idiotic if nobody had bothered to look into what was going on here.

Sure, and the only way to 'look into something' is to lock them up for six days and then deport them if possible. After all everyone knows all Muslims have Al Quada sympathies and just because the U.S. government makes something available in order to keep its citizens informed doesn't mean that "those kind" of people ought to be looking at. Just because they're not terrorists doesn’t mean they shouldn't be locked up for looking at publicly available information! Everyone knows "public" means "non-muslim"!

So, a newspaper report charging that a main reason for a fast track on a deportation hearing is due the desire of police to avoid embarrassment just sets off my BS detector.

Are you fucking kidding?
posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on May 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Seems not unreasonable - bad people access manual, possibly inciting bad things. What did they think would happen?
posted by triv at 2:39 PM on May 26, 2008



Our descendents that don't despise us for pillaging the earth's resources and despoiling the earth's environment will surely love us for our wholesale embracement of a legal and moral system constructed around being able to lock each other up for reading a book.
posted by lalochezia at 2:43 PM on May 26, 2008


Seems not unreasonable - bad people access manual, possibly inciting bad things. What did they think would happen?

How are they "bad people"? Or did you just mean everyone from Muslim countries?
posted by delmoi at 2:44 PM on May 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Terrorism is relevant to our lives? Maybe in the same way that lightning hitting us is. Speaking as someone who lives in North America.
posted by illiad at 2:49 PM on May 26, 2008


I would argue they aren't bad people for being Muslims. They are bad people for being elitist academics and intellectuals. See? Another thing they have in common with that American, Obama.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:52 PM on May 26, 2008


"... Are you fucking kidding?"
posted by delmoi at 5:39 PM on May 26

Not anymore than you are.
posted by paulsc at 2:55 PM on May 26, 2008


One, I know a lot of U.S. cops, if no British ones, and they are, as a class, among the last people on earth to be "embarrassed" by their professional activities. In fact, they're pretty used to being wrong, quite publicly on occasion, and have the whole judiciary mechanism tell them that they are.

Paulsc, with all due respect, that's one of the strangest takes on cops I've heard. Cops are never wrong in their own eyes, and the judiciary system is usually there to protect them at all costs. As a cop, you have to get way way way out of line, preferably on video, before you even get your wrist slapped (leave with pay).
posted by king walnut at 2:56 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


delmoi - no, not the chaps who were arrested.
posted by triv at 2:57 PM on May 26, 2008


It's fine. He'll probably apply for judicial review due to violation of his art.6 ECHR rights to fair hearing/due process, and probably win, and in the mean time he'll be granted an injunction against the immigration services.

You may also find that taking into account his downloading activities when deciding to export him was an irrelevant consideration, and so will render the decision void.

Whenever this type of thing is raised, I really just want to point to this and then wait for the outcome (which tends to be less reported on that the initial activity).
posted by djgh at 3:32 PM on May 26, 2008


this is my seething outrage.
posted by quonsar at 3:38 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"... Cops are never wrong in their own eyes, and the judiciary system is usually there to protect them at all costs. ..."
posted by king walnut at 5:56 PM on May 26

Where I live, prosecutors drop charges on 1/2 the cases they get. Flat out of the gates, the DAs are telling the cops they're wrong, 50% of time. For cases that are adjudicated, including plea bargains, the county conviction rate on murder prosecutions is only about 41%, and I live in one of the tougher counties in Florida. So, through to conviction or plea bargain, there is about a 1 in 4 chance of a first time felon being doing any prison time.

Cops around here are told they are wrong, publicly, all the time. They wouldn't be police if they were easily embarrassed. I stand by my assertion, but things may be different in the UK. Can't imagine that cops over there frequently act out of embarrassment, however.
posted by paulsc at 3:40 PM on May 26, 2008


They are fast tracking a deportation despite the fact that this man was found blameless of any terrorist charges and despite the fact that he already had a proper immigration hearing scheduled for leave to remain. So in other words, they're pulling out all the stops to deport a harmless university administrator who's lived here for 13 years, who did nothing more than print out appropriate and legal research material for a postgraduate student doing legitimate research. What are people working academically on radical Islam meant to read in order to do their research? Milly Molly Mandy? My Pet Goat? The Daily Mail?

If this kind of harassment is allowed to stand, it will have chilling effect on much-needed academic research. Come from a background where you might have the languages and insight to tackle this kind of subject? Well, better do a doctorate in flower arranging or the anti-terrorist police will throw you in jail and immigration will be desperately reading your papers looking for loopholes to chuck you out of the country in a hurry, before you can get a proper hearing.

Nottingham University have turned in two members of their academic community to harassment by police and immigration when they could have checked with the supervisor and department that this material was a legal and appropriate part of a dissertation. What are they doing accepting research topics like this if they cant protect and supervise their scholars and staff, without lunacy like calling the police because someone has looked at necessary research material?
posted by Flitcraft at 3:44 PM on May 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


Some notes from some stuff I was doing on sentencing in the UK - a few months old now, but maybe interesting from a few. Excuse me if I just pull out the money quotes from my notes, rather than just paste them up. (And the rubbish citations)

Noted from the Oxford Handbook of Criminology, 4th ed.:
Searches with no requirement of reasonable suspicion are even less efficient, only 3% leading to arrest (Ayres & Murray 2005). However, Home Office likes stops to be used for intelligence gathering, and crime control model prefers populace to be stopped even if they're doing nothing wrong.

re: interrogation
Most effective police tactic - threat of cells, or use of cells. Psychologically effective. Also, 'informal' interrogation - 'scenic route' on way to station, chat before tape switched on, 'welfare visit' in cells. (Maguire & Norris 1992, McConville 1991, Dixon 1990).

Prosecutions to cautions 3:1. Increase in cautions. Cheaper than prosecution.

Police concerned with legal truth rather than actual truth - i.e. is the case strong enough? (McBarnet 1981). CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] rarely drops even weak cases, esp. in areas of 'public interest' - e.g. domestic violence, sexual abuse (Cretney & Davis 1996).

60% in Crown Court and 92% in Magistrates either plead guilty or fail to appear and are held to be guilty.

Standard disclaimer - obviously these quotes don't show the whole picture, various factors involved, yada yada. Interesting talking point only, as paulsc seemed to be interested in the UK situation.
posted by djgh at 3:54 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


The subtlest poisons are the best. We sip a little at a time, thinking "something's off" but never questioning it enough. Some even come to savor that bitter taste. Some think they're better off because of it.

In the end, we'll all be dead or close enough.
posted by muzzlecough at 3:56 PM on May 26, 2008


OK, on one hand I'm appalled that people may be arrested for such stupidity, and that deportation can be so sudden and without appeal.

On the other hand, I suspect that what we read here may not be the whole story. It may be my memories of student politics, or my knowledge of how journalists allow themselves to be manipulated by such activists, but I'm pretty certain there's more to it than that...
posted by Skeptic at 4:02 PM on May 26, 2008


Some of the replies to this are downright stupid; blaming these individuals, not holding the government accountable, etc. But, let's face it. The governments of places like post-911 USA and England RELIES on people like you to do what they want.

Seriously, you are facilitating the loss of rights and the mistreatment of fellow human beings when you refuse to even consider questioning why and what the government wants to do.

Show me history that backs up your point of view here. Because there are so many examples of the consequences of NOT holding the government accountable that you could spend the rest of your life reading about them.

I am sorry to say that many of you really resemble sheep in my eyes. I try not to think it, but I read some of these posts and I hear bleating. And it makes me sad and angry.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:06 PM on May 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


Crap. In my first comment, I meant to point to this, not specifically the bit on ouster clauses. D'oh.
posted by djgh at 4:11 PM on May 26, 2008


There isn't anyone better placed, and better motivated, to help defend the UK from Islamic terrorists, than an English Muslim who is committed to the safety of the people of his adopted country. He understands the grievances of Islamic terrorists, their language and idioms, their religious beliefs, their internal tensions; and yet he himself does not share their goals. Why? This is the kind of guy the Home Office should be recruiting, should be making more of, not deporting.

The smart response would have been to tell them both, "send us a copy of your academic paper; if we find your analysis to be intelligent and thorough, we've got some more documents we'll actually pay you to analyse". Somewhat more cynically, Hicham's immigration issues should have been used as a test of his loyalties, and resolution of them as a reward for his assistance. If they have gotten any intelligence at all in the past few years, it needs analysis. He is a political science student, active in the peace movement, and moderate, anti-terrorist, pro-peace, political groups. He could have been of immense value. The people the Home Office needs to be investigating are this guy's political enemies within the Islamic student political groups. Now, he might not be up for that, which would be a sign of good character; but people of good character tend to oppose mass murder. In the end, it would have been more than sufficient to visit him at work, ask him a few questions about his politics and his associations, read his publications, ask him "what should we be doing to reduce the risk of terrorism, specifically student visa terrorists", actually give some thought to his answers, remind him "if you hear anything about any actual terrorism, let us know", and let him go. He, and people like him, are the people to whom the Home Office most needs to prove both competence and goodwill.

But this sort of idiotic fuckup has become not just typical of the "War on Terror", but iconic of it. Even if this one individual man is saved from deportation--and deporting him should never have been seriously contemplated at all--he's probably thinking, "The radicals I used to argue with, the ones who said we were six months away from being marched into death camps ... maybe they have a point after all." And other moderate Muslims will be thinking the same thing. And they will be right.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:17 PM on May 26, 2008 [20 favorites]


"... "The radicals I used to argue with, the ones who said we were six months away from being marched into death camps ... maybe they have a point after all." And other moderate Muslims will be thinking the same thing. And they will be right."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:17 PM on May 26

Would those be the radicals whose ideological brethren are abducting teenage boys to brainwash into becoming suicide bombers?
posted by paulsc at 4:30 PM on May 26, 2008


It's the "Kip Hawley is an idiot" thread all the fuck over again, with the same players under different names.

"He had it coming" is perhaps the most dangerous sentence in the English language.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:47 PM on May 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


paulsc, how is putting pressure on moderates going to help in combatting radicals?

Seconding Flitcraft and aeschenkarnos.
posted by russilwvong at 4:48 PM on May 26, 2008


"paulsc, how is putting pressure on moderates going to help in combatting radicals? ..."
posted by russilwvong at 7:48 PM on May 26

I haven't the foggiest notion that it would. I believe it was aeschenkarnos who was trying to make that dubious linkage. I think reasonable people understand that Yezza is in deportation hearings on unrelated immigration charges. The schedule may have been advanced on those hearings as a result of this kerfuffle, but I doubt moderates see any "pressure" in that at all.

I don't.

And I doubt radicals are likely to make much traction of this, among moderates, at all. After the 2005 London bombings, and the 2007 Glasgow Airport attack, I think moderates are willing to remain moderate, in such circumstances.
posted by paulsc at 5:16 PM on May 26, 2008


We kill people in foreign countries and then we fear the outraged survivors.

Who among you is too stupid to see the connection?
posted by muzzlecough at 5:23 PM on May 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


paulsc, you seem to be having some reading comprehension problems with aeschenkarnos' comment, as he was suggesting the opposite: that putting pressure on moderates might very well turn them into radicals. Even "moderate" immigrants don't automatically have faith in the workings of the state, but those are the hearts and minds we can actually win.
posted by mek at 5:29 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


paulsc: I think reasonable people understand that Yezza is in deportation hearings on unrelated immigration charges.

No, that's not correct. According to the first article, Yezza sought legal advice and a hearing was scheduled for July. He's been informed by the Home Office that he's to be deported tomorrow, without a hearing.
posted by russilwvong at 5:33 PM on May 26, 2008


mek: paulsc, you seem to be having some reading comprehension problems with aeschenkarnos' comment--

No need to be insulting.
posted by russilwvong at 5:35 PM on May 26, 2008


The schedule may have been advanced on those hearings as a result of this kerfuffle,

And that's exactly what's poisonous about this. If much-needed academic research into terrorism puts scholars and innocent ancillary staff at risk of grossly-mistaken police action, followed by immigration trying to cash in and rush a deportation, this will discourage people from undertaking that research. You'd need to be impeccably white, called something like Mr Cholmondeley-Warner and come from Saffron Walden before you'd dare scrutinise an Al Qaeda manual. Somehow I think it might cut the pool of researchers somewhat...
posted by Flitcraft at 6:04 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"paulsc, you seem to be having some reading comprehension problems with aeschenkarnos' comment, as he was suggesting the opposite: that putting pressure on moderates might very well turn them into radicals. ..."

I don't think I'm having any comprehension issues at all. I think aeschenkarnos is flat wrong in trying to establish some linkage between moderates and radicals, or to suggest that moderates will be so easily radicalized. I don't think there is much evidence that moderates are easily converted to radicals, or that radicals routinely share operational intelligence with moderates in trying to recruit them, as aeschenkarnos contends. If there is credible factual support for that argument, I'm willing to consider it. But much of what we know of al Qaeda's operatives suggests that they were never "moderates" at all, and, in fact, eschewed contact with moderate Muslim elements as they moved into training and operational phases of their missions. In fact, I think the response of moderates to such actions on the part of government is more likely to be that of Na'eem Raza, President of the Islamic Society of Britain (Glasgow), who wrote last July:
"... We need to educate each other, we need to get to know each other, we need to work together. No more cups of tea and smiley faces, it really is time for action. ...

Action together at a time when we are all facing similar issues, whether it is the climate change, secularisation of our society, terrorism, illegal wars, women's rights, discrimination, politics or homelessness. Cups of tea are not enough!

This autumn, a Christian colleague and I plan to tour Scotland's congregations to promote "tea with a Muslim" and help CAIRS interfaith work flourish.

The Islamic Society of Britain's flagship project, Islam Awareness Week (www.iaw.org.uk) ran with the theme of "One World" recently, focusing on our joint responsibility to the planet.

Let us continue on this journey together, let us bring change in our world, let us be real friends, but without tea!"
That doesn't sound like a man who is going to be easily radicalized by a deportation, to me. Moreover, I don't see anything in these articles that is at all troubling, in terms of government actions. I'm surprised others do.
posted by paulsc at 6:06 PM on May 26, 2008


aeschenkarnos didn't contend there was any linkage between moderates and radicals, apart from suggesting that a moderate could become a radical, as a result of being unfairly pressured by the state, like the men chronicled in this FPP. You may disagree in this particular instance, but in many cases, like moderate Iraqi civilians who lose loved ones as a result of the war, it is hard to make a case that this is not happening. You continue to misrepresent him to discuss tangential issues, which I will charitably, rather than insultingly, interpret as a reading comprehension problem. I fail to see how a quote of Na'eem Raza can provide any insight into the actions, politics and intent of two completely seperate persons. And finally, nowhere was it suggested that intelligence-sharing is occurring, simply that academics engaged in a study of terrorism may be assets to the state, rather than its enemies.

At least we can all stop worrying about the terrorist threat, as according to you al-Qaeda agents "were never moderates at all," so they can never possibly recruit new members, as it's apparently impossible to radicalize moderates. (I guess the racidals just materialized into existence, fully-formed and determined to destroy the West.) I presume that all we have to do is kill all the radicals, and the moderates will put flowers at our feet.

Oh, and when I am being insulting, russilwvong, I assure you you will know it.
posted by mek at 6:22 PM on May 26, 2008


"... And finally, nowhere was it suggested that intelligence-sharing is occurring ..."
posted by mek at 9:22 PM on May 26

Really? I think its not an unfair reading to see the following as exactly that suggestion. Otherwise, how could any mere former Ph.D. student, hanging around his school in some kind of staff position, be of "immense" value?

"... He is a political science student, active in the peace movement, and moderate, anti-terrorist, pro-peace, political groups. He could have been of immense value. The people the Home Office needs to be investigating are this guy's political enemies within the Islamic student political groups. ..."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:17 PM on May 26

As aeschenkarnos clearly understands, any value he has, particularly if it is to be "immense," is going to be contingent on his ability to rat out his political enemies by supplying operational intelligence on their identities, associates, and activities. If he's unwilling to do that, and has stayed past his student visa terms, he should, I would think (and as an American, I'm assuming that UK deportation requirements are substantially similar to ours, but recognize that they might not be) be deported. And, perhaps, that is exactly what is happening, as a result of status admissions he made voluntarily in this investigation.

If so, there is nothing sinister in that action, by the government, at all. It is even incumbent upon the UK government to act expeditiously, to maintain fair treatment, compared to others found in similar situations, in the future.
posted by paulsc at 6:42 PM on May 26, 2008


Unfortunately, none of us can say if there is anything sinister in the government's actions or not, as due process has been denied, and the charges will not be presented in a hearing. Though some of us may suggest that that, in itself, is sinister enough. The original hearing for July 16th was cancelled as his deportation was "fast tracked" to June 1st. Your comments continue to exist only as long, tenuous strings of unfounded suppositions.

Hich’s MP, Alan Simpson, has written to Liam Byrne Minister of State for Borders and Immigration to express his concerns at what he decribed as an “arbitrary deportation with no right to a proper hearing.” Nick Palmer, MP for Broxtowe said, “I hope that Mr Yezza will have his case fully and fairly considered without any rush to deport him before all the facts are clear.
posted by mek at 7:28 PM on May 26, 2008


Unfortunately, none of us can say if there is anything sinister in the government's actions or not, as due process has been denied, and the charges will not be presented in a hearing. Though some of us may suggest that that, in itself, is sinister enough.

I was gonna say, that is the very definition of sinister.
posted by breath at 7:55 PM on May 26, 2008


If you want to see the sort of light that good academic research can shed on modern day terrorism, then I suggest looking at the work of someone like Scott Atran.

Given a choice between that kind of insight and internet tough-guy posturing about how right police and immigration are to harass academics working in that field, I know which I think is more valuable.
posted by Flitcraft at 8:04 PM on May 26, 2008


Sounds like Norsefire will be doing well in the next elections.

Stay tuned, folks!
posted by Avenger at 8:24 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously, you are facilitating the loss of rights and the mistreatment of fellow human beings when you refuse to even consider questioning why and what the government wants to do.

You know what, you're absolutely right. I felt wrong about that comment shortly after posting it. I guess it's just that I've been living in this 1984-lite society for long enough that I'm starting to subconsciously accept it as The Way Things Are.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:35 PM on May 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


DecemberBoy, I think you've forgotten the first rule of PoliticsFilter: never, under any circumstances, yield an inch, or concede the tiniest point. Please turn in your snark ration voucher and report to MeTa for political re-education.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:04 PM on May 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


mek aeschenkarnos didn't contend there was any linkage between moderates and radicals, apart from suggesting that a moderate could become a radical, as a result of being unfairly pressured by the state, like the men chronicled in this FPP. You may disagree in this particular instance, but in many cases, like moderate Iraqi civilians who lose loved ones as a result of the war, it is hard to make a case that this is not happening.

Even if a moderate does not personally become radicalized by unfair pressure from the state, the state's demonstration of its willingness to unfairly pressure moderates is a clear demonstration to moderates that they have been wrong about the state's intentions, and have been making excuses on the state's behalf. When a moderate is proven wrong, in a way that publicly makes an absolute fool of him and his fellows, and the radicals are proven right about the goodwill and rationality of the state, it seems reasonable to expect that this will radicalize the population concerned. It'll weaken moderates' arguments, make moderates shut up, strengthen radicals' arguments, radicalize semi-moderates, and further radicalize radicals. The Home Office is demonstrating to Hicham, and everyone else like him, that they do not value justice or take any serious account of a person's actual character, preferring to merely categorize him as "Muslim + Terrorist Information = Terrorist", which is what the radicals have been saying all along.

The thing that needs to be done is, moderatize radicals. This is the complete opposite. Treating this guy in this way, aside from any of the legalities of it, is stupid. Stupid people mindlessly follow the law and to hell with the consequences. Inability and/or unwillingness to consider consequences is a good definition of "stupidity" as a concept.

paulsc As aeschenkarnos clearly understands, any value he has, particularly if it is to be "immense," is going to be contingent on his ability to rat out his political enemies by supplying operational intelligence on their identities, associates, and activities.
Possibly. Some of his political enemies, people who are Islamist radicals but not terrorists themselves, may know actual terrorists. He could provide names of people whom the Home Office could have quietly watched, and their contacts watched, which would have a chance of finding an actual terrorist.

However, he'd have been more valuable as a source of information, a political analyst, a political opinion-swayer. Bear in mind who this guy is. He was active and apparently well-regarded, from the way the reaction's going, in Muslim integration and the peace movement. He could, had they treated him properly, have served as a salient example of Home Office competence. He could have said "They investigated me, and, guess what, they followed a sensible process, asked me some questions, and because I was innocent, they let me go. They didn't make an example of me like X says they do to people." Except no, now he won't say that, it'll be X saying "They investigated Hicham. You know Hicham. Hicham the collaborator, Hicham the excuse maker, Hicham the friend of the Brits. Because he helped some guy print out a publicly available document that he needed for an assignment, you know what they're doing to him? Do you think you're safe? What are you going to do to protect your family, when they come for you?"

"Don't help the enemy." That's a maxim that hardly needs Sun-Tzu or Machiavelli to attribute it to, does it? Restraining the "War On Terror" to killing active terrorists is like restraining the "War On Cancer" to cutting out tumors. The idea is, you stop doing things that help make more terrorists, and start doing things that help make more moderates.

If he's unwilling to do that, and has stayed past his student visa terms, he should, I would think (and as an American, I'm assuming that UK deportation requirements are substantially similar to ours, but recognize that they might not be) be deported. And, perhaps, that is exactly what is happening, as a result of status admissions he made voluntarily in this investigation.
There is no way that the Home Office can deport him now for breach of his visa conditions (the man was employed, he's probably not on a standard student visa) without looking for all the world like they're deporting him as a scapegoat for their hamfisted investigation and their stupid overreaction. That they're not following due (appeal) process and are trying to deport him ASAP makes it obvious that this is the case. It makes it foolish to believe otherwise. If they had nothing to hide, if their reason for deporting him was legally sound, then they would let him go through the appeal process, confident that they would win. Rushing the deportation implies that they believe they will lose, which is an extremely unsound position for a government agency to be in.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:54 PM on May 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


Yezza is in deportation hearings on unrelated immigration charges. The schedule may have been advanced on those hearings as a result of this kerfuffle, but I doubt moderates see any "pressure" in that at all.

Are you saying that the risk of being deported (or having your deportation fast-tracked) for doing legitimate academic research won't feel like pressure? Are you daft?
posted by delmoi at 12:03 AM on May 27, 2008


aeschenkarnos, that's one of the most lucid and cogent things I've heard on the topic. Thank you for that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:39 AM on May 27, 2008


"... The thing that needs to be done is, moderatize radicals. ..."

So you think Mohamed Atta could have been talked out of 9/11? You think that the people that planted bombs on the London Tube in 2005, killing 52 people and wounding 700, were reacting rationally to continued slights against their religion? You really think the people who drove a Jeep into the Glasgow airport in 2007 were just trying to further some public dialog?

If there were any evidence that your methodology could, in fact, "moderatize radicals," maybe your strategy would deserve consideration. If you have any evidence that your theory that real moderates become threats because of government actions to limit terrorism, please cite it.

Because I've linked public comments from a recognized Islamic moderate, and lifelong UK resident, that say the opposite. The word we have from many Islamic moderates is that they see radicals as threats to their welfare and safety, too, because suicide bombers and terrorists don't check carefully who their victims are. Moreover, what we've come to understand about the methods al-Qaeda uses to recruit new operatives suggests they look for people pre-disposed to radical thinking (or otherwise not able to resist indoctrination rationally), not moderates. In fact, a 2006 BBC report citing student sources at Nottingham University says:
"... Abida Malik, from Nottingham University's Islamic Society, believes it has an effective way of fending off infiltration by extremists.

"We can't fully guarantee that it would never happen but one of things we try and promote is getting to know our members one to one.

"So we have a lot of social events, a lot of things that integrate all our members - we have lots of circulation of e-mails to get people involved."

On a national level, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) denies there is a problem.

Faisal Hanjra, head of FOSIS student affairs, said: "Following 7/7 there have been a number of accusations made by a number of individuals that there is this widespread radicalisation taking place.

"We ourselves have conducted a survey and we found no evidence of this... on campuses.

"Obviously we can't account for every single one of the 90,000 Muslim students that are studying in higher education, and one or two may slip through the net, but this general notion of radicalisation taking place is a notion that we firmly refute."
Other reports from 2006 and later, by Islamic moderates in the UK, speak of similar actions and trends. Recent actions by the Manchester police and British counter-terrorism agents against Hassan Butt make it clear that the actions at Nottingham are not unreasonable, at all.
"... Last month, with his book’s publication shelved [Mr Butt’s autobiography, Leaving Al-Qaeda: Inside the Mind of a British Jihadist, had been due for publication this month.], Mr Butt spoke of his fears that police in Manchester suspected that his renunciation of violence was bogus and that he was secretly still a jihadist. He offered to plead guilty to former crimes and said he was willing to go to prison if that was his only chance of being allowed to start with a clean slate. “I’m not asking for immunity or favours. I just want to be able to get on with my life and undo the work that I did,” he said.

“I’ve fundraised for terrorism, I’ve trained in a training camp and I’ve sent other people to train. I am willing to plead guilty. I’m not looking to get locked up, but if I have to, I have to.”

The suspicion among some of those close to the case is that police were concerned that Mr Butt was still mixing in dangerous circles.

Mr Malik said that this was inevitable. “It’s rather like trying to take people off drugs. By the very nature of your work, you have to associate with people who take drugs, so there are going to be drugs around.

“Hassan is associating with radicals. That’s what he’s intending to do and that’s the community that he’s in. He’s trying to unwind it, but to do so he still needs to be in those places.” ..."
I think reasonable people look at someone like Hassan Butt, and think to themselves that he must be as nutty as the philosophy he espoused for so long. How in the world could he not think he would be prosecuted for his actions, or that his continued association with young Islamics would not be seen as a threat, by the rest of society?

Finally, here is a report from an Iraqi observer of the recent and ongoing operation in Mosul against al-Qaeda in Iraq, indicating that the military operation which uncovered the operation al-Qaeda was running to turn teenage boys into suicide bombers against their will, is being successfully disrupted, not by conciliation, but by concerted government action, including armed men going house to house. And that kind of pressure can, and is making moderates out of militants, at least temporarily:
"... As in Basra, the government gave an ultimatum for militants to hand in their weapons and offered amnesty to those not involved in crimes involving murder in order to make the operation as bloodless as possible. And indeed reports indicate that scores of militants have already handed in their weapons - an encouraging sign in a turbulent city that hardly ever trusted the government. ..."
Whether in the U.S., the UK, or Iraq, truly moderate people want effective government action to quell terrorism. Your suggestions to the contrary aren't supported in the least, by what I read, and are actually refuted by many in Islamic youth organizations.
posted by paulsc at 3:21 AM on May 27, 2008


So, a newspaper report charging that a main reason for a fast track on a deportation hearing is due the desire of police to avoid embarrassment just sets off my BS detector.

Really?? I think you need to recalibrate that detector because it is not functioning according to specifications. Likely you've never heard of Mohammed Haneef, whose fast-track deportation (from Australia) was sure as hell to do with the desire of police to avoid embarrassment.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:28 AM on May 27, 2008


"Are you saying that the risk of being deported (or having your deportation fast-tracked) for doing legitimate academic research won't feel like pressure? ..."
posted by delmoi at 3:03 AM on May 27

I'm saying that downloading supposed al-Qaeda material from a U.S. honeypot, and passing it along to another person, supposedly for free printing, is a set of actions so dubious as to be unreasonable to be seen as "academic research," period. Real academic research, particularly at the post-graduate level, places a high premium on the authenticity of source materials, and their provenance. Nothing about the actions of either man in the Nottingham case was unimpeachable, period. Accordingly, the actions of the authorities seem reasonable, and the police obtained warrants from judges who agreed. Due process in the initial investigations was provided, according even to other reports as critical of government action as the AgendaFilter links provided in the FPP.
"... A spokesman for Nottingham confirmed that the police had been called after material was found on the computer used by a junior clerical member of staff. “There was no reasonable rationale for this person to have that information,” he said. “The police were called in on the basis of reasonable anxiety and concern. In response to that, the police made a connection with a student who, we understand, was impeding the investigation and arrested that person.”

He added that the edited version of the al-Qaeda handbook was “not legitimate research material” in the university’s view.

A Nottinghamshire police spokesman said the police had applied for a warrant to extend the detention. “The judge was satisfied with the evidence presented and granted the extension,” he said."
Furthermore, as I've said, we don't know that the advance of deportation action against Yezza isn't resulting from statements made during the investigation. If Yezza was in the UK on a student visa, but had ceased student work, and was working as a staff member at Nottingham, and intended to use his July appointment to apply for a change in status, but it became clear during the investigation that he was no longer a student, his deportation at this point might be germane, simply on the basis of his mis-representation being discovered, before he'd had further opportunity to build his case for change in visa status.

Sucks for him, but that is no reason to postpone deportation, if those are the underlying facts, and it would have nothing, whatsoever, to do with suppression of academic freedom.
posted by paulsc at 3:46 AM on May 27, 2008


"Really?? I think you need to recalibrate that detector because it is not functioning according to specifications. ..."
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:28 AM on May 27

I read your link, and grepped the page, and the word "embarrassment" does not appear at all. Whatever motivations anybody in Australia had for deporting Dr. Haneef, nobody in your link is citing "embarrassment" as one of them.
posted by paulsc at 3:53 AM on May 27, 2008


this whole thing is ridiculous. How can a document be illegal? we are truely livign in a police state these days. it really scares me.
posted by mary8nne at 3:59 AM on May 27, 2008


paulsc, it seems you're wilfully distorting the facts so that the support your worldview, Republican Style.
I haven't seen any mention of "honeypot", on the contrary:
Sabir's academic adviser, Bettina Renz, said Saturday that the manual — freely available on the U.S. Department of Justice Web site -
posted by vivelame at 4:07 AM on May 27, 2008


"I haven't seen any mention of "honeypot" ..."
posted by vivelame at 7:07 AM on May 27

Honeypot is my term for the U.S. Department of Justice Web server from which this material was apparently downloaded. I think it is apt, because I feel sure that the U.S. government is logging connections to their Web servers, and would cooperate with British authorities in verifying connections made for the purpose of retrieving that material, but I have no knowledge of that, nor have I claimed such.

I fail to see how I could be accused of "distorting facts" when I never claimed anyone else was referring to that source by that term. But I do think it is pretty reasonable characterization of that resource.
posted by paulsc at 4:16 AM on May 27, 2008


The word 'embarrassment' doesn't appear in the article from the Australian, but I think it's at least implied by passages like this:

The release of the emails, three months after the case against the exonerated Dr Haneef collapsed in disgrace amid disclosures in The Australian of serious errors by police and prosecutors from the Commonwealth DPP, comes amid continuing calls for a royal commission-style inquiry.

There's more information on the Wikipedia page about Haneef.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:19 AM on May 27, 2008


If there were any evidence that your methodology could, in fact, "moderatize radicals," maybe your strategy would deserve consideration. If you have any evidence that your theory that real moderates become threats because of government actions to limit terrorism, please cite it.

How about you provide cites for the crap you're spewing? I mean it's a bit ridiculous for you to go on making all sorts of ridiculous claims, and then demand that everyone who disagrees with you cite studies and whatnot.

According to you, people who are moderates can never become radicalized regardless of how harshly you treat them, and furthermore, radicals can never be convinced to give up their radicalism regardless of how well things are working out for them. I don't think you need a study to see how stupid that is, but since you think studies are so important in terms of argumentation, why don't you go find some that actually prove what you say is true, rather then just demanding 'cites' from others.

I wonder if you're trying to convince anyone of anything, but all you've convinced me is that you're delusional.

And by the way, you seem to misunderstand the word 'moderate', moderate means that you are in between two extremes, such as pro-terrorism, or anti-terrorism. A moderate would be someone who was ambivalent about terrorism. The people you cite are die-hard anti-terrorists and thus not 'moderates' in any sense of the word.

Honeypot is my term for the U.S. Department of Justice Web server from which this material was apparently downloaded. I think it is apt, because I feel sure that the U.S. government is logging connections to their Web servers, and would cooperate with British authorities in verifying connections made for the purpose of retrieving that material, but I have no knowledge of that, nor have I claimed such.

You really are delusional. You think the US government put the documents on it's own website .gov in order to 'lure' terrorists into downloading it? While they may be doing some type of honeypot style intelligence work, the idea that they would do it in such a stupid and clumsy way is hard to buy. And in any event, you've now gone way beyond the facts presented in the story and are flat out making shit up in order to make the people involved look worse then they are. And sorry simply saying "I never claimed anyone else said it" isn't true. By using the word, you are implying it's true, which you could only know if someone had told you.

So you're a total liar, making stuff up, making all sorts of absurd and counter factual claims, all to defend the incarceration and deportation of people who are totally innocent of any wrongdoing, simply because someone somewhere got suspicious. That's pretty pathetic, frankly.
posted by delmoi at 4:34 AM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


"... There's more information on the Wikipedia page about Haneef."
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:19 AM on May 27

The word "embarrassment" doesn't appear in your Wikipedia link, either, ATBH. Nobody in Australia appears to be embarrassed about the Haneef affair, although many public officials appear to acknowledge mistakes were made in his arrest and deportation, and actions have been taken to restore his visa. And as the Wikipedia link concludes, "The Australian Federal Police continue to investigate Haneef but will not disclose why."

I think you're kind of making my case for me, however, on the issue of "embarrassment" being much of a motivation for police actions :-)
posted by paulsc at 4:34 AM on May 27, 2008


paulsc:

1. The idea that islamic radicals are specially selected as weak-minded to be easily radicalised, yet strong minded enough to stay radicalised is not very psychologically plausible.

2. It is plausible that moderates are afraid of radicals, but the sources you quote don't further your argument at all (or least its completely unclear how it might). It seems likely that moderates will come into contact with radicals just because they live in the same areas.

3. The source you quoted about Hassan Butts refutes the argument you gave rather than supports it. He is a radical who has become moderate, therefore such a transformation is possible. Furthermore, I recall that one of the failed terrorist attacks in london (21/7?) involved one of the men deciding not to go through with it.

4. Armed forces disrupting recruitment networks may help to prevent people being recruited, but the obvious point everyone makes is that when you and the people you identify with are being attacked and killed it would have a tendency to make you hate the attacker.

5. Downloading and printing a document off the internet is hardly academically dubious, it is standard practise. Moreover, it seems obvious that downloading it from a US government website would be a more legitimate method than obtaining it through a radical website, firstly because it has been 'sanitised' to some degree, and secondly because it is from an official source. The 'university's view' was by the way, not the view of the MA student's supervisor.

6. You seem to be pushing this view that people are born radicals. There is no evidence for this, and merely confirms the right-wing line that its about the clash of civilisations with completely entrenched opposition on either side; the only solution to which is annihilation of the opposition. Yet on the contrary, there is evidence that suicide bombers are less motivated by religion than very practical concerns about territory (foreign soldiers on their land, losing their homes) and attacks on their people.

7. We shall see if Yezza's leave to stay is legitimate, although it is British law that whilst an application is in process, one is allowed to stay in the country. The point is that it is a independent issue that has been exploited for political reasons.
posted by leibniz at 4:44 AM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"... And in any event, you've now gone way beyond the facts presented in the story and are flat out making shit up in order to make the people involved look worse then they are. ..."
posted by delmoi at 7:34 AM on May 27

You know, delmoi, in a thread that starts out with a report suggesting that police are acting on motives of "embarrassment," I think exploring other motives that could be suggested by the same facts is pretty relevant. But I did miss one link for the 2006 BBC story containing the pull quote from Abida Malik, so thanks for reminding me to cite more sources than I already have :-)
posted by paulsc at 4:51 AM on May 27, 2008


Maybe the embarrassment (back to the Haneef case) is only apparent to Australians who have been following the case. Because when you watched the endlessly hamfisted attempts by the police and the relevant Minister to pretend that there is nothing to see here, move along (after the government tried to beat it up into another scary muslims wedge issue at the recent election and failed) it's not easy to see it any other way.

I don't know whether Haneef is guilty of anything or not. But the police either badly screwed an innocent person, or actively helped an incompetent and malicious government ruin any chance of conducting a proper investigation into an actual terrorist and set back the general anti-terrorist cause by years in this country. Either would be embarrassing. But let's just call it 'disgrace' (after the article) instead of 'embarrassment', because there was plenty of that as well.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:53 AM on May 27, 2008


"... He is a radical who has become moderate, therefore such a transformation is possible. ..."
posted by leibniz at 7:44 AM on May 27

Whether Butt is now truly a moderate, or not, is hardly, yet, evident, and police who have investigated him, and who may be involved in his subsequent prosecution, seem unconvinced. He might be more credible to many if he withdrew from further public activity on the issues, stopped trying to influence Islamic youth, and produced an unassailable body of work supporting peace in the larger world. Instead, he seems pretty focused on maintaining a high public visibility, staying in touch with impressionable young people, and getting his book commercially published. These hardly seem the actions of a reformed man, or one truly penitent for past harm he has had a hand in furthering.
posted by paulsc at 5:05 AM on May 27, 2008


So you think Mohamed Atta could have been talked out of 9/11?

Of course not. But you can try to make sure there's no support for him or his organisation anywhere in the world. And that's where it helps to make sure no community "hates" you - for your freedoms if you want to look at it that way, or more likely for bombing the shit out of them because your leaders lied to you.
posted by DreamerFi at 5:17 AM on May 27, 2008


"... . The point is that it is a independent issue that has been exploited for political reasons."
posted by leibniz at 7:44 AM on May 27

You're entitled to your opinion on this leibniz, but I don't know that anyone can yet know, for sure, from publicly available information, that this conjecture is true. If Yezza has not maintained his qualifying status for his visa, deportation on those independent grounds is not exploitation of his involvement in the reproduction of the material passed to him by Sabir.
posted by paulsc at 5:19 AM on May 27, 2008


"... And that's where it helps to make sure no community "hates" you - for your freedoms if you want to look at it that way, or more likely for bombing the shit out of them because your leaders lied to you."
posted by DreamerFi at 8:17 AM on May 27

I agree with you, DreamerFi, and whoever is bombing Nottingham University, or is perhaps inciting others to do so, ought to stop immediately. Let us stand together in solidarity on this small patch of moral high ground.
posted by paulsc at 5:28 AM on May 27, 2008


Concur - and it's not a job that is easy, or done quickly. It'll take decades.
posted by DreamerFi at 5:37 AM on May 27, 2008


Paulsc: so you don't think that Butt publishing a book that explains and (in line with his statements of the last few years) denounces terrorism, represents sufficient evidence that he is not a radical terrorist?? Even if he were some kind of unprecedentedly blase double agent, that book would still be pushing a moderate view and have more authority and influence than his spoken word.

As regards Hicham Yezza, this is the information on the campaign website (presumably a sympathetic POV)

Hicham was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. He sought legal advice and representation regarding these matters whilst in custody. On Friday 23rd May, the Home Office informed his solicitor that he was being removed on Sunday 1st June and Hicham was moved to an immigration detention centre...

Hicham was prepared to contest immigration charges in a court of law, and had a hearing date set for 16th July. The immigration services have since announced that they have dropped charges and intend to deport him on Sunday 1st June. Consequently he has been denied the right to a hearing.

posted by leibniz at 5:54 AM on May 27, 2008


> I wonder if the manual in question is this one (first page of Google results for "department justice terrorist training manual")

Man, I just had a sobering moment. I was going to click on that link, as it'd be interesting to read a terrorist's manual.

Then, I didn't think a rational language-thought, but my gut kind of pushed me away from not clicking on it.

And I realized it was because I was afraid of The Government doing something to me if I clicked that link.

Evidently I've internally acquiesced to living in a police state without even realizing it.

Of course, now that I've said this aloud, I suppose pressing the "Post Comment" button on this comment might be a small amount of redemption ...
posted by WCityMike at 8:38 AM on May 27, 2008


Except you didn't really "say it aloud" you typed it.

Anyway, I think what's missing from paulsc's insane ranting is how these two got 'caught'. I seriously doubt the U.S. DOJ is looking into everyone who downloads the manual from their site, but rather someone probably saw them with a copy and informed the police. When questioned, they said they got it from the DOJ website as a way of explanation. Paulsc makes it sound as though the DOJ setup the site to 'lure' terrorists (anyone who might be curious what's in the manual, and happens to be a Muslim, of course), which is absurd.

Anyway, I would be surprised if something like this happened in the U.S. There is far less antipathy and alienation between U.S. Muslims and non-muslims as there is in the U.K. The UK is much, much worse when it comes to civil liberties. You've got cameras everywhere, suspension of habeas corpus, etc, etc, etc.
posted by delmoi at 12:44 PM on May 27, 2008


I'm saying that downloading supposed al-Qaeda material from a U.S. honeypot, and passing it along to another person, supposedly for free printing, is a set of actions so dubious as to be unreasonable to be seen as "academic research," period. Real academic research, particularly at the post-graduate level, places a high premium on the authenticity of source materials, and their provenance.

I rarely use this phrase, but WTF?

I'm sitting across the room from a POST-GRADUATE who does this little thing called ACADEMIC RESEARCH (for a UK university, no less), in SECURITY STUDIES, with 90% of his PhD based on ACADEMIC SOURCES, from a US GOVERNMENT WEBSITE.

It's not a honey pot. It's academic materials being made available by the US gov't specifically for academic researchers, just like the CIA Electronic Reading Room.

Are you an academic? If you are, have you been living in a hole since the early 80s? Academics get data and sources online all the time. Even the early modernists have laid down their quill pens and embraced Early English Books Online. It's why they invented the (academic half of) the internet.

By the way, said post-graduate has steam coming out of his ears, not least because this is directly attacking desparately needed research, along with being a disgusting attack on academic freedom.
posted by jb at 9:18 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh - and an attack on his colleagues. This will have a chilling effect on research in this area, especially on those who are ethnic Arabs or from a Muslim country.
posted by jb at 9:19 PM on May 27, 2008


Or, as my husband says: it would be as reasonable to arrest the DOJ -- clearly they have some 'splaining to do, seeing as they are hosting Al Quaeda material.
posted by jb at 9:24 PM on May 27, 2008


Update: Yezza was going to be deported today (1st of june) but this has now been delayed. There is also more media coverage (including video) here.
posted by leibniz at 3:13 AM on June 1, 2008


MeTa
posted by grouse at 12:48 PM on June 10, 2008


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