Today's Boiling Over With Anger Moment/Barot Case
I was in a good mood after the fun from the US this morning, until I heard Simon Mayo on the Barot case (on the PMQ programme this lunchtime):
Well, excuse me, you sad Spurs supporting twat of an ex-disc jockey, it proves nothing of the sort. The case was much like the ricin case, the soldier's address case and the rolled-up-socks case - a lone nut with big ideas being puffed up into a Major Threat To Life And Limb.
The clue was in the 'dirty bomb' threat - the one weapon no one should be remotely worried about. If that's a major plank of the prosecution case, disregard it as a serious case and start considering it as a PR stunt.
The wankers went on to use the case as supporting evidence for 28 days detention. Barot was eventually charged with the non-terrorist offence of conspiracy to murder after exactly 14 days detention without charge, so I'm not sure exactly what Mayo's on about, but he seems anxious to puff the Home Office line, as does the whole BBC with their 'al-Qaeda Plotter Jailed' line. This in the same week as it emerged that the Madrid bombers were influenced by bin Laden, motivated by Iraq but *not* controlled by al-Qaeda. Much as anyone could have guessed, I'd be highly surprised if the London bombings weren't organised on similar lines. Quiet professional teams are much more dangerous than lone nuts with big ideas and no capability.
Mind you, he had apparently read some books - the police have helpfully released a lot of information for the press to gorge on and have rolled out Peter Clarke to intone in a stentorian manner how the Old Bill saved us all from certain death. The most laughable one here is the highly redacted section on radioactive material, which contains no information at all other than the actual isotopes:
This is apparently really frightening as:
What is so scary we're not allowed to see? Surely not that Am-241 is a synthetic radioactive isotope with a half-life of 432.2 years, created by beta decay of Plutonium-241 that subsequently decays either by spontaneous fission (if you have rather a lot) or alpha decay into Neptunium-237? Wikipedia will tell you that, probably making you the next putative Terror Mastermind in the process.
Surely not that alpha decay really isn't very scary unless you ingest the stuff, or that you can't really obtain Am-241 unless you already have some plutonium and a nuclear reactor, in which case there are a good many more scary things you can do, but is a bit beyond the reach of the average loner in London? Surely not that you've quite possibly got some as a harmless radiation source in your smoke alarm? You'd need to have a gram of the stuff, in which case you can possibly make life unpleasant for a couple of people in quite a small area until a man with a Geiger counter comes along and sweeps it up. See spyblog from the time here
or the story of the Atomic Man.
In fact, Barot was aware of the properties of Am-241 from a case in France where 900 smoke alarms went up in, er, smoke after a lorry crash. The
Guardian covers this part of the case - apparently the plan involved 10,000 smoke alarms being set on fire. That's about as serious as a Monty Python sketch. Quick maths on the volume of my smoke alarm:
15cm * 15cm * 4cm = volume of 900 cubic centimetres
10000 of those is 9000000 cubic cm or 9 cubic metres. So we're talking of someone spending £50,000 he didn't have piling up a stack of smoke alarms into a tower 1m square and 9m tall, then setting fire to it, in the middle of a city, without anyone noticing, releasing a total of 0.002 grams of a slightly radioactive substance which is only dangerous in gram quantities. Scared yet?
If anyone want to buff up their chemical knowledge of the other isotopes, feel free. I'll guess none of them are as easy/scary as a car bomb or other boringly obvious terrorist weapon.
Another thought occurs to me about Barot - the final sentence of life-with-40-years, which is in the ballpark of serial murderers, gun-wielding gangsters and child killers - i.e. actual highly dangerous individuals with a history of actual violence and murder. The fact that a thought-crime, some bits of paper and a bit of video is apparently equal in law to the Soham murders is quite, quite frightening.
The Lockerbie bomber (who's quite possibly innocent, of course), only got life-with-27, remember. Rose West got 25. Ian Huntly got 40. John Monckton's killer got 36. The three Asian men found guilty of a vicious racist murder in Glasgow today got 22 to 25 years. Yet a glory-seeking Muslim convert who thought he was James al-Bond but was actually a Muppet gets 40? He should have been laughed at and given five years. As it is, he's got 40 years to indoctrinate any impressionable youngsters he happens to meet inside and his Mr. Big fantasy has been reinforced by the acres of uncritical newsprint devoted to him. We can only hope this fellow inmates are laughing as hard as I am at this little git and his big ideas.
Spyblog has an excellent article up today going over some of the same ground, but in greater detail in some areas. Couldn't agree more, the theory that a lot of the prosecution case was actually a smokescreen and not a serious plot is intruiging.