Only 11 suspects charged in the "liquid bomb plot" - first use of the catch-all Terrorism Act 2006 section 5 , were too many computers and mobile phones seized ?

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The BBC reports on the press conference in which it was announced that only 11 of the "liquid bomb on aircraft plotters" have been charged, out of the 25 people who had been arrested.

Another woman was released today without charge - is this suspect "J", who applied for a judicial review on the grounds that the District Judge did not specify the reasons for her continued detention as he should have done ?

This appears to be the first time that the terrifyingly vague new Terrorism Act 2006 section 5 Preparation of terrorist acts has been used, which could attract a penalty of life imprisonment.

There seems to be an extraordinary number of computers and mobile phones which have been seized, far more than seems likely would have been actually used in any such plot.

Susan Hemming, from the Crown Prosecution Service said that only 8 people had been charged with Conspiracy to Murder and under the new Terrorism Act 2006 Section 5 Preparation of terrorist acts

This seems to be the first use of this frighteningly vague and "catch all" power:

5 Preparation of terrorist acts (1) A person commits an offence if, with the intention of- (a) committing acts of terrorism, or

(b) assisting another to commit such acts,
he engages in any conduct in preparation for giving effect to his intention.

(2) It is irrelevant for the purposes of subsection (1) whether the intention and preparations relate to one or more particular acts of terrorism, acts of terrorism of a particular description or acts of terrorism generally.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.

Two people appear to have been charged with the "brother's keeper" thought crime offence of "failing to betray members of your family" to the police, under Section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000, as amended by the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 section 117 Information about acts of terrorism

Only one person, who is just 17 years old, is actually charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 57 Possession for terrorist purposes

11 other people are still being held without charge until at least Wednesday, including the brother of man named by the the alleged ring leader of the plotters, who is under arrest in Pakistan, wher ehe has been for several years.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorism Unit did not mention the seizure of any actual viable bombs or ready to go dis-assembled improvised explosive devices, exactly as we suspected when the news of the arrests was announced.

He did mention "bomb making equipment" of an unspecified "electrical components" variety and

"chemicals, including Hydrogen Peroxide"

Note that there is no mention of how concentrated this H2O2 might be, or how much of it has been found.

The stuff you can easily buy over the counter is far too weak (less than 5 % solution) to be of any use in the "movie bomb plot scenarios" which the media were wittering on about with supposed "binary liquid explosives" which could somehow be mixed onboard an aeroplane (without any cooling) to magically create enough explosive to destroy the aeroplane, in the few minutes that someone could have to themselves in the toilets, before the rest of the passengers and crew became suspicious.

Some of the practical difficulties are outlined in The Register

Peter Clarke gave some other details of what digital evidence has been seized:

"more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones and 8,000 items of removable storage media, such as memory sticks, CDs and DVDs"

The Police have apparently

"removed some 6,000 Gigabytes of data"

It is at this point that we despair of the mainstream media.

Are they so innumerate that these figures do not immediately sound warning alarms to them ?

There were only 25 people arrested, including the 3 who have been released without charge, so that means that , on average, there are at least:

  • 16 computers
  • 8 mobile phones
  • 320 "memory sticks, CDs and DVDs"

for each of the alleged plotters who were arrested !

Are we seriously meant to believe that all of these computers and mobile phones have actually been used in this alleged plot ? We simply do not believe this.

Are these seizures, in fact, "collateral damage" to innocent people's computers and phones etc, which mostly have nothing whatsoever to do with the alleged plot ?

There are unconfirmed media reports, for instance of about 3 cyber cafés having been raided, but these seem to have been relatively small, with "only" 20 or so computers having been seized. Unless the cyber cafés operators and the alleged terrorist plotters are utter idiots, then the hard disks of these machines will not yield any useful information, due to anti-virus precautions , restricted customer access, except to specific shared areas, and the tendancy for such machines to be regularly re-built from the operating system upward from standard disk images, to counteract any viruses , porn and possible copyright infringements which the customers of cyber cafés or other public internet access points, tend to infect them with.

How can this really be "intelligence led" policing ?

Are these seizures really designed to attempt to re-make the case for 90 days detention without charge, which the NuLabour Ministers like Home Secretary John Reid and Chancellor Gordon Brown have been hinting at, but which did not impress the Home Affairs Committee very much according to their report on Terrorism Detention Powers ?

It is noticable that 11 people have been charged without the need to analyse "6,000 Gigagbytes of data", or "8,000 items of removable media" etc. using fingerprints, DNA and of course computer forensics.

It certainly does appear to be a plot of some sort, but we are still not convinced that there was such an imminent danger, which justified the raising of the national state of terrorist alert to CRITICAL, and which justified the millions of pounds of economic damage and the terrorist propaganda victory which resulted from the inept extra "security theatre" red tape which was inflicted on airports, on airliines, and on the travelling public.


The BBC report that J is Cossor Ali, who was charged today with failing to disclose information. I assume that this means her challenge to detention will be withdrawn.

Regarding the 8000 items of removable media, DAC Clarke stated that this included items "such as memory sticks, CDs and DVDs," and that there were 69 searches. This is an average of 116 per address - I expect that I have many more than this number of such items at home.

It would be be reasonable to assume that this includes many totally innocent DVDs, etc, given that US sources have been briefing that jihadi videos have been found spliced into these.

Clarke says "I can also tell you that since 10th August we have found bomb making equipment. There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items."

Does this mean that the the police have found cleaning fluid, bleach, nail polish remover, IPods and mobile phones?

Well, we won't know the answer to that question any time soon, as the BBC's Andy Tighe has stated that any prosecution may take up to a year to prepare. This sounds like internment to me.

@ ACM - There are 8 people, including Dhiren Barot who were arrested and charged, in August 2004 , who were also supposedly plotting an attack on Heathrow Airport (Or was it the Tube ? Or was it the financial districts of New Jersey and Washington ?).

They have still not yet come to trial, for Conspiracy to Murder, involving vague and unspecified Biological, Chemical, Nuclear or Radiological threats.

This case also involved an alleged "arrested too early" scenario, sparked off by an arrest in Pakistan.

This arrest, was also crowed about for political propaganda purposes during the US Presidential Election, thereby destroying any value the arrestee Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan had as a double agent.

See Terrorist suspects arrested too soon ?


This is an average of 116 per address - I expect that I have many more than this number of such items at home.

Do you have 16 computers and 8 mobile phones (not SIM cards, actual mobile phones) at home or even at work, to which nobody else has access, apart from possible co-conspirators ?

None of the press reports about the 19 suspects named by the Bank of England claimed that any of them were in jobs or businesses where one might expect to see so many computers e.g. computer repair or othe IT professionals.

Terrorists and criminals do use multiple mobile phones, but how stupid would it be for each plotter to keep 8 such phones in his or her possession, even cheap "disposable" ones ?

Would they not be far more likely to destroy such phones or throw them away or sell them on to someone gullible ?

There has been no suggestion in the press, that, unlike some of the initial suspects in the Madrid bombings, any of those arrested ran a mobile phone business. Even if they did, it would have to be wholesale rather than retail to justify the seizure of 200 phones.

The Times reports that the 17 year old (unnamed for obvious legal reasons) is charged with possession of "items", but these are neither weapons nor explosives nor even money etc.

The teenager is said to have had a book about improvised explosives devices, suicide notes and wills of co-conspirators and an annotated map of Afghanistan.

Why has he been charged with the Terrorism Act 2000 Section 57 offence of "Possession for terrorist purposes" instead of the Section 58 offence of "Collection of Information" ?

Could it be simply that the maximum penalty for Section 57 has been increased from 10 years to 15 years in prison, by Terrorism Act 2006 section 13 Maximum penalty for possessing for terrorist purposes , whilst the one for Section 58 has not ?

Abu "The Hook" Hamza al Masri is serving seven years in prison for incitement to murder, but he also is also concurrently serving three and a half years in prison, for a Section 58 offence.

This was for possession of a terrorist encyclopaedia, Encyclopedia of Afghan Jihad which may or may not have had such information in it originally (there was, apparently a missing volume), but which is still a book , nevertheless.

I love the huge figure of 6TB of data; suggesting that it would take ages to search through.

I will bet that most of this data is applications/operating systems and videos that can be reviewed in no time.

PS Can you now be chared under the terrorism act if you have a copy of the anarchists cookbook?

@ Jake Long - you can probably be so charged if all you have is a paper copy of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Bible or the Koran, it is all down to the "opinion" of a Policeman.

Presumbly all "dangerous intellectuals" with University Degrees in Science, Technology or Engineering or are
also at risk of a Terrorism Act 2000 Section 58 offence, or of a Terrorism Act 2006 offence, simply for the knowledge they have inside their heads.

You can be probably be charged for "thought crimes" e.g. not immediately suspecting members of your own family of terrorism and failing to betray them to the authorities, even when they and those authorities are physically in in a foreign country from you! This happened to the family of the the first two British suicide bombers who attacked a bar in Tel Aviv, with bombs they did not have when they left the UK.

You can be charged for attempting (and obviously failing) to obtain an entirely fictious substance which does not exist, from a con artist or an agent provocateur or through an alleged "journalistic sting" operation e.g. the "Red Mercury" trial.

It would be laughable if it were not so deadly serious for those people caught up in such nightmares, which should only be encountered in the writings of Franz Kafka ("The Trial") or Jaroslav Hasek ("The Good Soldier Schweik"), who wrote about the incompetent bureaucratic red tape under the Austro-Hungarian Empire Police State, around the time of World War 1.

Perhaps John Mortimer can do satitical justice to the topic in his forthcoming "Rumpole of the Bailey" book to be called "Rumpole and the Reign of Terror" ?

"Rumpole author claims UK is selling out to fascism"


Your figures are slightly misleading - the PCs and mobiles seized do not apply to the SUSPECTS they apply to the RAIDS.

If we assume that the three Internet Cafes have 20 machines each, that means an average of 5 PCs per address. Many are business addresses, so this does not seem unreasonable.

We also get an average of 3 mobile phones per address. This too seems normal.

So, the massive numbers paraded by the police seem perfectly normal!

@ ACM - Until more details emerge, then who knows for sure ?

Whichever way you look at the figures, it does appear likely that there has been "collateral damage" i.e. the seizure of computers and mobile phones and removable media belonging to people who are not involved in the alleged plot at all.

Taking the hard disks from the internet cyber cafés does seem like clutching at straws, assuming that their upstream traffic was being monitored and intercepted for website visits and email accesses etc. (not admissible as evidence in Court under RIPA).

One of the cyber cafés shown on the TV news had just the hard disk / systems units taken away, leaving behind the keyboards, mice and screens. Presumably there was video or informant based surveillance of the the fact that some of the suspects used those particular machines, otherwise, surely, there should have been fingerprint and DNA testing applied to tie in a particular suspect to a particular computer ?

Is it possible that one of the suspects works at Dixons and the police have simply raided a shop?

Is it possible the police think that commercial DVDs can contain secrets (remember the old days when people fussed about things hidden in JPGs? Or CDs - do you think some poor police person will have to listen to all the collected music of all these people?

@Jake Long - "PS Can you now be chared under the terrorism act if you have a copy of the anarchists cookbook?"


The media have been libelling an innocent person, by publishing her photo, and claiming that she is the suspect Cossor Ali.

[The Guardian]

The Sun published an apology today, while the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and ITV News apologised yesterday.

Hopefully she will get substantial financial compensation.

The brother of the alleged Al Quaeda mastermind whose arrest in Pakistan is supposed to have precipitated the arrests, seems to have been now released without charge, along with nother suspect.

25 arrests (one on the day after most of the others), 5 people now released without charge, 11 jave charged, and 9 are still being held without charge.

8 of these are being held under the new Terrorism Act 2006 28 days mechnism after a decision by a High Court Judge.


"were too many computers and mobile phones seized ?"

In the contents section of the book Psychology of Intelligence Analysis
Richards J. Heuer, Jr
, available from the CIA website, Chapter 5 is called "Do You Really Need More Information? (the answer is, no). A couple of quotes from the chapter: "This chapter questions the often-implicit assumption that lack of information is the principal obstacle to accurate intelligence judgments." And, "Once an experienced analyst has the minimum information necessary to make an informed judgment, obtaining additional information generally does not improve the accuracy of his or her estimates."

This begs the question: what intelligence analysis techniques are being used - if any? Prior to Richard Heuer, the CIA used something called 'prescient intelligence analysis': is this really the technique being used by the UK authorities in their War Against Terror? An outmoded and discredited technique?

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Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia


Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at

RIPA Consultations

RIPA Part III consultation blog - Government access to Encrypted Information and Encryption Keys.

RIPA Part I Chapter II consultation blog - Government access and disclosure of Communications Traffic Data

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For those of you who find it convenient, there is now a Twitter feed to alert you to new Spy Blog postings.

Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests.

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Monthly Archives

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UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

UK Legislation Links

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

intelligence_gov_uk_150.gif - Cabinet Office hosted portal website to various UK Intelligence Agencies and UK Government intelligence committees and Commissioners etc.

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protestClimate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

Serious Organised Crime Agency - have cut themselves off from direct contact with the public and businesses - no phone - no email

Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

netcu_logo_150.gif National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit
National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit - keeps a watch on animal extremists, genetically modified crop protesters, peace protesters etc.
(some people think that the word salad of acronyms means that NETCU is a spoof website)

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

FreeFarid_150.jpg - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."


Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme