Posts Tagged ‘legal’

A new piece for Jamestown looking at a case currently ongoing in the UK against a Bangladeshi chap who may or may not have been in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki. An interesting case, and I have a feeling the fact he confessed to the JMB charges will probably play against him.

Al-Awlaki Recruits Bangladeshi Militants for Strike on the United States

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 7
February 17, 2011 04:43 PM Age: 3 hrs

Rajib Karim, Bangladeshi national resident in the UK who pled guilty to charges of assisting Jamaat ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

Rajib Karim, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi national resident in the United Kingdom, pled guilty on January 31 to charges of assisting Bangladeshi terrorist group Jamaat ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Confessing to helping produce and distribute videos on behalf of the JMB, sending money for terrorist purposes and offering himself for terror training abroad, Karim’s admission was made public at the beginning of a trial against him at Woolwich Crown Court in suburban London (Press Association [London], January 31; [Dhaka], February 2).

Founded in 1998, the JMB is the largest extremist group in Bangladesh. The movement has expressed its opposition to democracy, socialism, secularism, cultural events, public entertainment and women’s rights through hundreds of bombings within Bangladesh. Though banned in 2005, the movement is believed to still maintain ties with various Islamist groups in the country.

On trial for further charges of preparing acts of terrorism in the UK, it has been suggested in the press that Karim was identified by the Home Secretary as a suspected agent for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) (Press Association, November 3, 2010). [1]

According to information released at the opening of his trial, Karim first came to the UK in 2006 with his wife to seek a hospital for their child who was sick with what they thought was cancer (Guardian, February 2). The child got better and by September of the next year Karim had secured a position in a British Airways trainee scheme in Newcastle. According to the prosecution, he established himself as a sleeper agent in the UK, making “a very conscious and successful effort to adopt this low profile.” He kept his beard short, did not become involved in local Muslim groups, did not express radical views, played football locally, went to the gym and was described by people who knew him as “mild-mannered, well-educated and respectful” (Newcastle Evening Chronicle, February 2).

Much of the prosecution’s information on Karim appears to come from electronic communications between himself and his brother Tehzeeb that the police were able to find on Karim’s hard-drive. According to the prosecutor’s opening statement, Tehzeeb was also a long-term radical for JMB who travelled in 2009 with two others from Bangladesh to Yemen to seek out Anwar al-Awlaki (Press Association, February 1). Once connected with Awlaki, Tehzeeb told the Yemeni-American preacher of his brother. Awlaki recognized the benefits of having such a contact in place and in January 2010, the preacher is said to have emailed Karim, saying “my advice to you is to remain in your current position….I pray that Allah may grant us a breakthrough through you [to find] limitations and cracks in airport security systems.” The preacher apparently found the brothers of such importance that he sent them a personal voice message to counter claims of his death that had circulated in December 2009 (Press Association, February 2).

It seems as though Karim was in contact with extremist commanders long before this. According to the prosecution’s case, anonymous “terror chiefs abroad” wanted him to remain in his British Airways job as far back as November 2007 and to become a “managing director” for them. In an email exchange with his brother at around this time, the two discussed whether a small team could also “be the beginning of another July Seven;” a supposed reference to the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks on London’s underground system (Press Association, February 2). It is unclear at the moment who these terror chiefs were, though it has been suggested Karim was in contact with Awlaki for more than two years.

By early 2011, Karim had become of greater concern to British police. His emails to his brother indicated that he was becoming restless and wanted to go abroad to fight. He had apparently spoken to his wife about this prospect, reporting to his brother that he “told her if she wants to, she can make hijrah [migration] with me and if the new baby dies or she dies while delivering, it is qadr Allah [predestined] and they will be counted as martyrs” (Press Association, February 2). He was also exchanging emails with Anwar al-Awlaki that indicated he had made contact with “two brothers [i.e. Muslims], one who works in baggage handling at Heathrow and another who works in airport security. Both are good practicing brothers and sympathize.” Awlaki was doubtless pleased to hear this, though he indicated, “our highest priority is the U.S. Anything there, even on a smaller scale compared to what we may do in the UK, would be our choice” (Daily Mail, February 2). It seems likely that the “brothers” referred to were those picked up by police in Slough a month after Karim’s arrest, though none were charged (The Times, March 4, 2010; Telegraph, March 10, 2010).

This message and others turned up after Metropolitan Police, with the assistance of Britain’s intelligence agencies, were able to crack the rather complex encryption system that Karim used to store his messages and information on his computers (Daily Star [Dhaka], February 15). Much of this now appears to be the foundation of the case against Karim beyond the charges he has already admitted to as a member of JMB. JMB has some history in the UK; acting on a British intelligence tip, Bangladeshi forces raided a charity-run school in March 2009 and found a large cache of weapons and extremist material. One of the key individuals involved in the charity was a figure who is believed to be a long-term British intelligence target. In another case, two British-Bangladeshi brothers allegedly linked to the banned British extremist group al-Muhajiroun were accused of giving the JMB money. [2] In neither case was there evidence the UK was targeted and it seems as though prosecutors in this current case are more eager to incarcerate Karim for his connections with Anwar al-Awlaki and AQAP than for his involvement with JMB abroad.


1. Theresa May speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), November 3, 2010,,/ref:N4CD17AFA05486/.
2. “The Threat from Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh,” International Crisis Group, Asia Report no.187, March 1, 2010,


A new piece for, exploring an issue I believe I have mentioned before, but not in any great detail. Since this was written, it now emerges that a chap who had been listed in the SIAC judgment as being under risk of torture if he was returned to Pakistan, has now in fact returned. All a real mess with no resolution on the horizon.

UK-US Face Problems in Terror Suspect Extradition

by Raffaello Pantucci

Monday, 19 July 2010

European court refuses to withhold suspects from going into US custody.

It is a strange quirk of fate that while on the one hand American and British security operators work hand in hand against a common threat, their governments seem unable to deport terrorist suspects between each other. As the UK marked the fifth anniversary since July 7, 2005 when an Al Qaeda trained suicide team attacked London, this reality came into focus as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) blocked one extradition request and the United States launched another.

The first case is one which has been winding its way through the British courts system since May 2004 when British police first arrested Abu Hamza in furtherance of an extradition request by the United States. His extradition was sought for his role in assisting a terror plot in Yemen in December 1998 which ended with the deaths of four hostages and the conviction of a group of British Muslims (two of whom were directly related to him), his role in facilitating introductions to the Taliban, and finally his role in attempting to organize a terror training camp in Bly, Oregon. Co-conspirator Haroon Rashid Aswat (who was brought into British custody on August 2005) is also wanted in connection to the charges surrounding the Bly, Oregon training camp case, while the other two, Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan (respectively arrested in August 2004 and July 2006), are instead wanted in connection to a series of websites supporting terrorism that they are alleged to have run.

Aside from Abu Hamza, none of the men have been charged with crimes in the United Kingdom – and at this point, Hamza has all but served the seven-year charge he was handed down for inciting hatred in the United Kingdom. They all remain in custody while their lawyers argue that the men cannot expect a fair trial if they are deported to the United States, that they might be subject to extraordinary rendition and that the terms under which they are likely to be detained in the United States (most likely in the Federal Supermax penitentiary ADX Florence in Colorado) would impinge on their human rights. Last week, the ECHR in Strasbourg dismissed many of the men’s complaints, but admitted “the applicants’ complaints concerning the length of their possible sentences,” and Aswat, Babar, and Ahsan’s concerns about being detained at ADX Florence, “cannot…be considered manifestly ill-founded.” Given Hamza’s infirmities and a letter from the prison warden, the court was prepared to believe that it was unlikely that he would be spending much time in the jail and would instead be moved to a medical facility.

The point of concern rests around the fact that it seems as though the court is unsure whether the men’s human rights are being breached if they are going to be detained at ADX Florence under stringent circumstances in which it can appear there is no possibility of parole or release. In essence the ECHR is determining whether the U.S. penal system is compatible with European human rights standards, something highlighted by one of the suspect’s lawyers in the Guardian newspaper. “It’s a very important test of whether the way the US treats its prisoners meets international standards.”

This something of a shift from previously, when the concerns were in part focused on the official upturning of international norms that the previous administration announced when President Bush declared that the “world had changed” after the September 11 attacks. The decision to carry out extraordinary renditions, abrogate the Geneva conventions for certain prisoners and the establishment of Guantanamo Bay all created a legal environment which might cast doubt on U.S. government reassurances. As the applicant’s case before the court put it, “It was not sufficient to rely on the history of extradition arrangements with the United States, as the [British] Government had done: the attitude of the United States Government had changed fundamentally as a result of the events of 11 September 2001.”

In a move which no doubt provided some reassurance to governments on both sides of the Atlantic, the court dismissed such concerns, stating, “Whatever the breadth of the executive discretion enjoyed by the President in the prosecution of the United States Government’s counter-terrorism efforts, the Court is unable to accept that he, or any of his successors, would commit such a serious breach of his Government’s assurances to an extradition partner such as the United Kingdom; the United States’ long-term interest in honouring its extradition commitments alone would provide sufficient dissuasion from doing so.”

This is in contrast to the case of Abid Naseer, who the British government has already tried to deport to more contentious ally in the fight against terrorism, Pakistan. Arrested on April 8, 2009 as part of a group of eleven individuals picked up as part of a counter-terrorism operation codenamed Pathway, Naseer has been repeatedly identified in the press and subsequent official reports into the plot as being connected to Al Qaeda. In a previous judgment which highlighted why he could not be deported to Pakistan, the judges concluded, “we are satisfied that Naseer was an Al Qaeda operative who posed and still poses a serious threat to the national security of the United Kingdom.” The same judgment concluded that due the high likelihood of mistreatment if Naseer was returned to Pakistan having been exposed as an Al Qaeda agent, the court “would not be willing to accept confidential assurances as a sufficient safeguard against prohibited ill-treatment in a state in which otherwise there was a real risk that it would occur.”

At the time of the decision, the government did not appear to react, failing to even put Naseer on a control order (something which would have been particularly awkward for the new government which had expressed a great concern with the tactic). It now appears that this might have been part of a knowing strategy to wait until the United States completed its superseding set of charges linked to the so-called Subway Plot allegedly led by Afghan-American Najibullah Zazi. It was already public knowledge that the initial lead to Zazi had come from the United Kingdom, but it now appears as though the United States has repaid the favor for the tip by using the connection as grounds to include Naseer in the indictment linked to Zazi’s plot. In a press release put out on July 7th, the Department of Justice alleged, “Naseer sent messages back and forth to the same email account that ‘Ahmad’ was using to communicate with the American-based al-Qaeda cell.”

Currently, all five men remain in British custody. While this may alleviate security services concerns, in the longer term it is not sustainable that individuals remain in jail without facing a jury. Officials in the UK believe that the men will be eventually deported, but as Babar Ahmad pointed out in an interview published the day after the decision by the ECHR, “whilst in prison I have outlived the the Blair/Brown Labour Government,” something which highlights how long he has been sitting in prison without having been convicted of any crime.

Raff Pantucci is an correspondent based in the UK

My latest over at Free Rad!cals, already attracted some remarkably insightful comments. I mean where do they come from? Of course, any thoughts or reactions hugely appreciated,  in particular from those at DSTL who produced this.

What do we think of CT legislation?

Filed under: Terrorism, UK

The UK is often seen at both the forefront of the violent Islamist threat and also the legislation that is being crafted in the West to counter it. Consequently, it was very interesting to see the Home Office publish a paper by DSTL (which I always thought was a more tech-based lab) that provides an overview and analysis of the current research that has been undertaken in the UK looking at counter-terrorism legislation and its impact on public opinion and opinion forming.

The conclusions are pretty bleak for those actually seeking to obtain useful information from the sea of research that has been produced on the topic (as someone in HMG put it to me late last year, much of what has been pumped out under the aegis of research on countering terrorism is “dross.”), but I suppose are quite positive for those who are in fact planning to produce more of this research: the report concludes highlighting “the need for further research”.

This would I suppose discount reams of speculative articles essentially re-treading what are believed to be public perceptions based on reading the press or Comment is Free (one can only hope that previous pieces I have done do not fall into this category, apologies if they do).

Here are a few quick points I took away from the DSTL paper:

Perceptions are at the heart of what this paper is trying to probe and government is clearly trying to understand: the very title “What perceptions do the UK public have concerning the impact of counter-terrorism legislation implemented since 2000?” shows this, but at the same time, the report highlights how this is something that has not been analyzed or measured effectively at all. In part this is a problem since more generally the report concludes this is a topic that is hard to measure.

But with regards terrorism legislation, it is an even harder thing to measure practically when we consider the low number of actual terrorist attacks (though this is a good problem to have), and thus measuring reactions to legislation which can appear to be targeting individuals who, in practical point of fact, have failed yet to carry out their murderous plans.

A big tangible take-away is that people don’t like stop and search and think that it is targeting groups unfairly, etc. In fact, according to the paper stop and search is the only demonstrable policy which can conclusively said to be unpopular in implementation (conclusions about reactions to other policies are mostly anecdotal). Hardly a surprising conclusion to reach, and one that increasingly makes me feel as though I need to see some conclusive evidence that it actually helps or does anything if we are to continue it – under certain circumstances maybe it is necessary, but blanket stop and search for terrorism issues cannot have stopped or disrupted many terrorist plots.

In a way connected to this, it seems as though the public has absolutely no faith in the government on terrorist matters, though this likely is exacerbated by my earlier point about perceptions. While apparently if something has a judicial stamp on it, it is seen in a more positive light, I have a feeling people are in fact equally skeptical about that if pushed.

I recall giving a presentation in which I highlighted that in fact police had to present a suspect before a judge every 7 days while he was being held in a pre-charge state on terrorism charges to present their case for keeping him longer, I was met with a wave of skeptical hems and haws about the fairness of this.

Two statistical details highlighted which I rather enjoyed: it turns out we really don’t like the government getting their hands on our DNA unless we have done something very naughty. An understandably high degree of paranoia I would have thought, but good to see in numbers. Secondly, and less amusing, apparently 45% of people think that denying people a trial for terrorism charges is a “price worth paying.” Admittedly the date the poll was taken is relatively soon after 7/7, but it seems to me that this is a fundamental thing that we need to hold on to if we are planning on marking long-term success in this conflict.

We will only do this if we fight it on terms that we have laid out before we step on to the battlefield, not making it up as we go along. We may have to build some flexibility into this in the long-term, but nonetheless there are certain key elements we have to establish agreement on before we proceed too far.

I have a book review in the latest issue of the Terrorism and Political Violence journal covering Stephen Grey’s fascinating and detailed book Ghost Plane. It is behind a firewall so I cannot simply post it, but as usual if you get in touch I can help out getting a copy probably..

The book is worth a read, and has stood the test of time thus far. It will be interesting to see if someone does an update of this story confirming whether it has been discontinued or is still going on. Any pointers for stories out there greatly appreciated!

The review can be found here:

My latest for the Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, looking at a different aspect of the legal problems that the British government is having with some of the cases they are pursuing in the courts. This looks in particular at the case against Mohammed Atif Siddique who was recently released in Scotland, and went on to do a series of awkward interviews.

U.K. Prosecutors Lose a Legal Option in Preventing Terrorism

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 8

February 26, 2010 10:22 AM Age: 14 hrs

On January 29, 2010 an appellate court in Scotland declared it was quashing a terrorism charge against 24-year old Mohammed Atif Siddique, the first person to be convicted on charges related to Islamist terrorism in Scotland. [1] Initially convicted on charges of disorderly conduct, setting up websites to disseminate extremist material, disseminating extremist material, and possessing items related to terrorism, the appeals court concluded that the conviction on the last of these charges was unsound, resulting in a “miscarriage of justice.” Siddique has at this point already served four years which the Crown Prosecution Service considered sufficient to cover the other charges and he was released on February 9 (BBC, February 10).

Reporting on the case naturally centered around the “miscarriage of justice,” though reports also pointed out that the convictions still stood on the other two terrorism-related charges and the disorderly conduct charge (Times, January 29; BBC, February 10; UK Press Association, February 9). In a series of interviews after his release, Siddique was unable to provide much explanation for the actions which led to his initial convictions, beyond that he was a “numpty” (a Scottish pejorative for a foolish person), and that he was bored and trying to find out “the other side of the story” (BBC Radio 5 Live, February 10; Scotsman, February 11). His justification for providing links to extremist material was that it was all “freely available” on the internet (he claimed to have obtained some of his material from the Israeli-based website run by Reuven Paz, former head of the Mossad research department) and that anyway, it was all in Arabic, a language he didn’t understand (BBC, February 10). He further dismissed statements he had made that he was planning to become a suicide bomber, by pointing out that he had also claimed to have met with Osama bin Laden – painting himself as a naïf eager to impress others (BBC, February 10). Siddique suggested he was a victim of racism and bad timing. “Had a white person downloaded this stuff, there would have been no prosecution… My trial came at a time when there was a lot of hostility – the Glasgow Airport attacks had just happened, my trial finished on the anniversary of 9/11″ (The Scotsman, February 11).

The reason for the decision to quash the conviction was based around a failure by the trial judge to instruct the jury that it had to be sure that the items Siddique possessed were intended for use in a terrorist act, according to section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000:

“A person commits an offence if he possesses an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that his possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism. [2]”

According to section 57, the jury must be sure that the intended possession of terrorism-related material is under “circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion” that they were part of a terrorist plot.  By failing to indicate this crucial point, the judge “misdirected” the jury, rendering their conclusion unsound. [3]

The case is not, however, without precedent. Siddique was part of an online sub-culture of individuals involved in At-Tibyan publications and their related websites. Individuals involved in this network, including Aabid Khan and Younis Tsouli are currently incarcerated on terrorism charges, while a separate group, mostly from Bradford, was released under circumstances similar to Siddique’s in February 2008. [4] In that case, the appeals judge concluded that the jury had been equally misdirected about the specific nature of the charges connected to Section 57 and that it was unclear whether the materials the suspects possessed were linked to planned terrorist acts. [5] The men were allegedly planning to join the mujahideen in fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan; Siddique was initially stopped after he attempted to board a flight going to Pakistan, claiming he was going to visit an uncle’s farm.

Later in 2008, Samina Malik, the self-described “Lyrical Terrorist” was cleared of a conviction under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (which states that “a person commits an offense if: they “collect” or “possess” “information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”). The conviction was overturned after the appeals judge concluded that it was too intertwined with the Section 57 charge of which she had already been cleared. [6]

The key prosecution charge in all of the aforementioned cases came under Section 57; the individuals involved possessed substantial volumes of radical material they had obtained online and were using in furtherance of terrorist plots. While all (aside from Samina Malik) were initially convicted on this charge, the government’s case was undermined on appeal by nature of the wording used in court around the charge, something which highlights the difficulty in bringing a conviction based on possession of extremist material as the main charge. The point is that the individuals were not caught in possession of weaponry or other clearly bellicose accoutrements, but rather online tracts and handbooks which, when taken in conjunction with other evidence, amounted  to, in the prosecution’s view, tangible evidence that a terrorist conspiracy was afoot. The defense instead painted these materials as merely evidence of youthful curiosity.

In all of the cases, other factors would appear to support the accusation that something suspicious was occurring: Mohammed Atif Siddique was initially interdicted as he attempted to board a plane to Pakistan, something he may have been inspired to do after online conversations with Aabid Khan (BBC, August 18, 2008). The Bradford group gathered with the alleged intention of going abroad to fight, and Samina Malik was passing information on Heathrow security to Sohail Qureishi, a dental technician who was arrested before ever reaching Afghanistan, where he had intended to fight. But in all three cases, the wording of the legislation resulted in a successful appeal mounted by the defense against the initial conviction.

Mohammed Atif Siddique is now likely to return to life as a young man in Scotland; but the implications of his release are hard to gauge. The government has faced criticism in the past over the heavy burden placed upon defendants to prove they are innocent under section 57 and has tried to soften this with later amendments to legislation. But more specifically, the problem of proving whether extremist material that is often widely available is going to be used in pursuit of a terrorist action is something that presents an ongoing problem for British authorities. In one recent case, an individual was picked up after gathering materials during the course of post-graduate research, and was later released with no charges against him. This was a public relations disaster, with the student’s professor declaring that he was no longer going to teach terrorism courses for fear that his students may be detained (Guardian, February 5). In another case, two individuals pled guilty to charges of possessing and disseminating terrorist material, though it was unclear whether they were involved in any direct plotting of attacks (Halifax Courier [UK], December 18, 2007).

With the threat of terrorism and radicalization in the U.K. remaining very real, the government continues to seek ways to intercept individuals before they move too far down the road to action. It increasingly appears that conviction on the basis of possession of extremist material is no longer an available measure.


1. The complete court judgment can be found at:
2. The complete Act can be found at:
4. For more on the Khan/Tsouli network, please see Raffaello Pantucci “Operation Praline: The Realization of Al Suri’s Nizam, la tanzim?,” Perspectives on Terrorism, vol.2, no.12, November , 2008; and Evan Kohlmann, “Anatomy of a Modern Homegrown Terror Cell: Aabid Khan et al. (Operation Praline),” September 2008,  – others from this network have also been incarcerated elsewhere around the globe.
5. Regina vs. Zafar & Ors, before Supreme Court of Judicature, Court of Appeal, handed down February 13, 2008.
6. Regina vs. Samina Hussain Malik, before Court of Appeal, handed down June 17, 2008.

My latest for the Jamestown Foundation which somewhat builds on previous work I have done for them about Abu Qatada. For those interested, I would naturally commend you to read my previous post looking at his “Comfortable British Jihad” (, and I am sure he will be a topic for future writing given the fact that I see no resolution to his current incarceration status (again, sorry for the links, still abroad).

British Hostage Threatened with Death Unless Abu Qatada is Released from British Prison

Raffaello Pantucci

Warnings continue to come from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that time is running out for the British government if it wants to obtain the release of a kidnapped British tourist by freeing imprisoned al-Qaeda ideologue Abu Qatada al-Filistini (Ennahar [Algiers], May 2). While Austrian and Canadian hostages were recently released, AQIM issued a statement on April 27 giving the UK government 20 days to release Abu Qatada before their British captive is killed (Guardian, April 27; BBC, April 27). Abu Qatada is currently awaiting possible deportation to Jordan, where he faces a variety of terrorism-related charges (see Terrorism Monitor, July 11, 2008).

This is a slightly older piece that I actually missed when it first ran, which I suppose is quite embarrassing. It was originally meant to run in the monthly magazine I write for Homeland Security today (, but in the end it got shunted to the website. It is in essence a counter-terrorism perspective from Europe on Obama’s first 100 days. Some of the information could do with a little updating, but frankly the things I would say probably appear in other things that I have written (or have coming up soon). I would be very grateful for any other thoughts on this one – especially from those who think I have left anything off.
European Views on the First 100 Days

by Raffaello Pantucci
Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Europeans view Obama’s change initiatives on counter-terror front with hopefulness, and caveats.

Prior to his election, European expectations of Barack Obama’s presidency were at almost stratospheric levels. Across the continent, European leaders and publics salivated in anticipation of the new president – and nowhere was this more true than in the United Kingdom, where celebrations of the Obama victory resonated on all sides of the political aisle.

More for Comment is Free for the Guardian (still burdened with that awful picture) – this time looking at the presentational problems which the British government is having with terrorist trials and cases. It is a problem since it is worrisome how much this is exacerbating a long-term problem – and it is very hard to definitively know one way or the other which way it goes. As is usual with CiF, some interesting comments and some which appear not to have actually read the text at hand. Charming.

More on this topic on the way with some other publications I write regularly for, as well as some longer academic pieces which will invariably take months to appear. Big editorial hat tip is owed to a friend and Institute member from Birmingham. As ever, thoughts, comments, links, etc are very welcome.

Appearance is key in tackling terrorism

The number of terrorist suspects cleared after blundered arrests provides a public relations disaster for the government

The conclusion of the trial of the three men accused of being co-conspirators of the 7/7 bombers means it is unlikely anyone is going to be convicted for that terrible crime.

Furthermore, the conclusion of the trial and a number of other recent events and trials in British counterterrorism all suggest one of two things: either the British government is chasing the wrong people, or the British legal system is unfit for purpose in effectively countering the terrorism the government thinks it is fighting.


Another epistolary contribution, this time in the Washington Post in reaction to an article in last week’s paper by Craig Whitlock on “Extradition of Terror Suspects Flounders” – I see they ran it after another letter by someone from Human Rights Watch so maybe I should’ve used my title. My original was a bit longer, but didn’t really say much more and editing probably did it some favours.

How to End an Extraditions Roadblock

Sunday, December 28, 2008; Page B06

The excellent article on extraditions highlighted an issue that quietly dogs the “special” Anglo-American relationship. But it missed a more atmospheric reason behind U.S. difficulties regarding extraditions.

In launching the “global war on terror,” the United States declared that the gloves were off and that the rules of the game were different. Yet it continued to expect its allies to adhere to the rules that applied before this new situation was declared. We may all agree that the current strain of terrorism poses a dangerous threat, but this disconnect provides lawyers with ample room for arguments that many European courts will permit.

This situation will fade in importance if the incoming Obama administration is able to live up to its many promises, including closing the Guantanamo Bay prison and realizing that the war on terrorism is a global criminal justice matter and one of many threats we face today, rather than the defining strategic threat.



A rather more modest contribution today, in the form of a letter in today’s International Herald Tribune, also since they chose to cut my initial text down, I am using this opportunity to publish the whole thing after the jump for those interested in reading the whole thing.

(and here is the article I was referring to:

Elisa Massimino forgets to mention that many Guantánamo detainees cannot go home for fear of reprisals or punishment by their home government. The case of the Chinese Uighurs is the best example of this.

Furthermore, what about those who have been involved in terrorist activity, but have also been tortured in Guantánamo, rendering evidence collected against them or others they have implicated problematic in U.S. courts? Are they to be turned loose? Maybe yes – they have been punished enough – but where would they be released?

Raffaello Pantucci, London