No Imminent Plot
On the basis of the "Terror Plot", Prime Minister Tony Blair is planning "to push through 90-day detention without charge for terror suspects." Home Secretary Dr. John Reid has ordered the draft of new anti-terror legislation that would suspend key parts of the Human Rights 1998, to facilitate the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects in the UK without charge or trial. The law is planned to apply also to British citizens. And since 10th August, Britain was on its highest "critical" state of alert, which indicates the threat of an imminent terrorist attack on UK interests. Only in the last few days was it lowered back down to "severe".
The stark truth is that the "Terror Plot" narrative has been thoroughly, hopelessly, politicized. There was never any evidence of an imminent plot. A senior British official involved in the investigation told NBC News on 14th August that:
"In contrast to previous reports... an attack was not imminent, [and] the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports."
If British security officials knew that an attack was not imminent, the decision to raise the alert level to critical, indicating an imminent threat, was unjustified by the available intelligence -- this was, in other words, a political decision.
Other British officials told NBC News that many of the suspects had been under surveillance for more than a year, since before the 7th July 2005 terrorist attacks. "British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence" -- as it was clearly lacking. But: "American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner." An American official also confirmed the disagreement over timing.
Brits Opposed Arrest and Torture of Key Informant
The NBC News report further reveals, citing British security sources, that British police did not want to yet arrest Rashid Rauf, the alleged mastermind, al-Qaeda facilitator and key informant on the details of the plot: "British security was concerned that Rauf be taken into custody 'in circumstances where there was due process,' according to the official, so that he could be tried in British courts. Ultimately, this official says, Rauf was arrested over the objections of the British."
However, the arrest of Rashid Rauf is at the crux of the case, as it purportedly triggered the ensuing wave of arrests, with Rauf providing in-depth details of the plot to his interrogators in Pakistan. Among the details attributed to Rauf is the idea that the plotters intended to mix a "sports drink" with a gel-like "peroxide-based paste" to create a chemical explosive that "could be ignited with an MP3 player or cell phone."
The problem is that several Pakistani newspapers reported on 13th August that "Rauf had 'broken' under interrogation." The reports were described by a Pakistani human rights group "as confirmation that he had been tortured." According to the Guardian, "Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that it was obvious how the information had been obtained. 'I don't deduce, I know -- torture,' she said. 'There is simply no doubt about that, no doubt at all.'"
That most of the details about the plot came from Rauf, who has been tortured and "broken" while under interrogation in Pakistan, raises serious questions about the credibility of the story being promoted by the British and American governments.
Torture Precedents: the "Ricin Plot"
The revelation bears hallmarks of a familiar pattern. It is now well-known that the interrogation of terror suspects using torture was responsible for the production of the false "Ricin Plot" narrative. In much the same way as Pakistan has done now, Algerian security services alerted the British in January 2003 to the alleged plot after interrogating and torturing a former British resident Mohammed Meguerba. We now know there was no plot. Police officials repeatedly claimed they had found plastic tubs of ricin -- but these claims were false. Four of the defendants were acquitted of terrorism and four others had the cases against them abandoned. Only Kamal Bourgass was convicted, but not in connection with the "Ricin Plot", rather for murdering Special Branch Detective Constable Stephen Oake during a raid. Indeed, the "rendition" of terror suspects orchestrated by Britain, the United States, and other western states, attempts to institutionalize and legitimize torture as a means for the production of fundamentally compromised information used by western states to manipulate domestic public opinion.
It is perhaps not all that surprising then to learn that, according to a Daily Mail headline, the Pakistanis have found "no evidence against 'terror mastermind'", despite two weeks of interrogation under torture and forensic combing of Rauf's home and computer. The plot "may not have been as serious, or as far advanced, as the authorities initially claimed", observes the Mail somewhat sheepishly, and belatedly. "Analysts suspect Pakistani authorities exaggerated Rauf's role to appear 'tough on terrorism' and impress Britain and America." I wonder if the paucity of evidence has something to do with why, as the Independent on Sunday reported: "Both Britain and Pakistan say the question of Mr Rauf's possible extradition [to the UK] is some way off." Indeed. A spokesman for Pakistani's Interior Ministry gave some helpful elaboration, telling the Mail that extradition "is not under consideration."
The extradition to Britain of the alleged chief mastermind of a plot to kill thousands of Americans and British citizens by simultaneously blowing up multiple civilian airliners has, in other words, been ruled out indefinitely.
Er, Still No Evidence...