Torture may have been used to extract evidence for the weekend police raids which resulted in the arrest of 14 British Muslims, including Abdullah. Sources confirm that information came from detainees in Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, where interrogation techniques classified as torture under international law are routinely used.
The reluctance to take decisive action against the leadership of the extremist network in the UK has a long history. According to John Loftus, a former Justice Department prosecutor, Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza, as well as the suspected mastermind of the London bombings Haroon Aswat, were all recruited by MI6 in the mid-1990s to draft up British Muslims to fight in Kosovo. American and French security sources corroborate the revelation. The MI6 connection raises questions about Bakri's relationship with British authorities today. Exiled to Lebanon and outside British jurisdiction, he is effectively immune to prosecution.
Other London-based radical clerics with terrorist connections also had a relationship to the security services. Abu Qatada, described as al-Qaeda's European ambassador, was according to French sources a long-time MI5 informant. Pakistani government insiders similarly believe that Ahmed Omar Sheikh Saeed, the British al-Qaeda finance chief from Forest Gate, worked not only with the ISI, Pakistani's military intelligence service, but was also recruited by the CIA as an informant. Saeed, who reportedly wired several hundred thousand dollars to alleged chief 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta, is currently in Pakistani custody for the murder of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl.
Omar Bakri regularly uses the internet to communicate with his followers in Britain. On Sunday evening, 3rd September, Omar Bakri told participants in an online chat forum that he had been pulled in by the Lebanese authorities at the request of the US and British governments, and questioned in relation to the "terror plot". Although he denied involvement in the plot, he claimed that some of the 24 British Muslim suspects were known to him. When asked to confirm or deny whether Bakri had indeed been arrested at the request of the British, the Foreign Office had no comment. Bakri said that he was regularly questioned by Lebanese officials on behalf of the British government.
The official reluctance to act against Bakri and his active associates in the UK does not match the government's willingness to act pre-emptively to foil a plot of doubtful reality. Official reluctance to acknowledge the significance of the detonators used in the 7/7 terrorist operation suggests that the threat is far more sophisticated than authorities have admitted, and that emphasis on home-grown amateurs is mistaken. Lt. Col. Wylde's observations suggest that the terror-threat narrative is being manipulated for political expedience.
The evidence shows that the government continues to play political games with the terrorism threat, games that are undermining, not serving, our safety; while consolidating the unaccountable powers of a compromised "security" bureaucracy. What is needed now is not simply to throw more money and power at such a deeply-flawed system, but to hold an independent public inquiry into 7/7 that will facilitate the implementation of reforms that will protect the integrity of our intelligence services.
This is a Raw Story exclusive:
Thanks to Graham Ennis, Nigel Wylde and Glen Jenvey for their research assistance and contribution to this story. They bear no responsibility for any errors therein. An abridged version of this story will be printed in The Muslim News, UK on 29th September 2006.