Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Published in a Sunday edition of the Washington Post in August 2005.

"Defendant after defendant has discovered that a long-forgotten internet search has left an indelible record sufficient for a conviction under the profoundly disturbing section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows prosecution for simple possession of an item likely to be useful to terrorists, and carries a sentence of up to 10 years' imprisonment," wrote Gareth Piece for the Guardian on the 21st.

Pierce is a well-known defense lawyer in England. Her firm was notably reponsible for the defense in the trial of the notorious so-called London ricin gang and she has represented many others in England's ongoing terror trials.

"While the record of use remains permanently, no equivalent reconstruction is available or even required of the mindset of the user at the time," she continued. "The common elements in each conviction have now become familiar: the defendant had not the slightest idea that such possession was inconsistent with the right to freedom of thought; was not remotely involved in any terrorist activity; and was Muslim."

This blog has repeatedly analyzed and published portions -- even entire copies -- of documents which are now, for practical matters in the UK courts, considered seditious publications. For the legal system, there are only two working justifications for having them: Being a jounalist or a professional tasked with analyzing them.

For the trial of Samina Malik, aka The Lyrical Terrorist, DD was asked by the defense to contribute a short analysis concerning the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook.

It was found in Malik's possession and is considered, wrongly, to be a document of potential use to terrorists. It contains many errors and some rather large fabrications which, while not obvious to laymen, are glaringly apparent to professionals trained in chemistry and biology.

DD has combed over it many times in the past year, tracing its origins and showing that it is fundamentally just an abridged and Bowdlerized copy of a pamphlet that had been published in the US in 1988, Maxwell Hutchkinson's The Poisoner's Handbook (Loompanics).

Samina Malik, from Southall, west London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of owning terrorist manuals," reported the BBC simply in November.

"The jury heard Malik had written extremist poems praising Osama Bin Laden, supporting martyrdom and discussing beheading ... Malik worked at WH Smith at Heathrow Airport until her arrest last October."

Malik was convicted for possessing records deemed to be of potential use to terrorists, including the document pictured above. It has been published many places on the web and the above snapshot was published in a Sunday edition of the Washington Post newspaper in 2005. Naturally, it is an object of great curiosity, and not just to aspiring terrorists.

However, if you reside in the United Kingdom, have downloaded it and are swept up in a counter-terror dragnet, you are in big trouble.

"[She] was acquitted on a more serious charge of possessing articles for terrorist purposes, a fact that the judge said he took into account when deciding on a suspended sentence," reported the Los Angeles Times in early December.

"Additionally, possession of the Channel 4 film Road to Guantánamo, or 21st-century Crusaders, a compilation of documentaries from the BBC and elsewhere, is currently being held to demonstrate 'radicalisation', a condemnation as conveniently imprecise as the label 'subversive' used in the postwar McCarthyite witch-hunts in America," adds Pierce in her Guardian piece.

David Mery discusses the issue on his blog here and the Guardian original by Gareth Pierce is here.

In November, I published more on this issue here at el Reg in "How just thinking about terrorism became illegal."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would it not be good idea for you to link to the text of any "seditious" material and encourage your readers to click? Then, there would be many thousands of downloads and having a copy on your computer would be less unusual.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous sam_m said...

Reading the Patriot Act when it came out, it was obvious the framers had no idea what a library was for.

The Govt's of the USA and the UK are in the hands of phillistines and their every policy reflects it.

2:45 AM  

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