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):

Proof if any were needed that we still face a serious threat from Islamist terrorists

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:

Americium 241
Cesium 137
Cobalt 60
Strontium 90

This is apparently really frightening as:

The information that Barot collected over many years is so sensitive that the security services have censored large sections of documents released after the trial.

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.

I do not know why *all* the

I do not know why *all* the newspapers have done such huge spreads on this case in the last two days. None of the articles have any new information in them, and do tend leave out the fact that there were no means, no funding, no ability, and no technical merit to the plot. What is the point of the press if they don't ever bother to say: "Erm, excuse me, this really is a bit silly, folks."

I look forward to this plot being trumped up in every Gordon Brown speech from now on to prove that he is serious and hardline enough on security to play politics with this drivel.

I think you're

I think you're underestimating the links this man had and the training he underwent slightly, but you're entirely right that all his plans were complete and utter hot air. We've been scarily told that he had gone to Pakistan to submit his plans to "al-Qaida" leaders, yet if they had approved them, where was the funding? It seems unlikely they would have waited for months before providing the means for him to carry out his hilarious smoke alarm dirty bomb attack, described by the Sun as a "nuclear dirty bomb", and with much of the media ignoring completely what the actual details of his plot were. Yes, his plans were diabolical, and if carried out could have killed hundreds, but that's exactly what they were, just plans. The other men currently on trial, accused of plotting attacks on the Ministry of Sound amongst other places, apparently had ammonium nitrate. If they're found guilty, what sort of sentence will have to be given to them now this has set a precedent?

Yes, the connections with

Yes, the connections with Pakistan (again? Thought they were our buddies, did you?) probably have some basis in fact, but that doesn't mean the serious al-Qaeda guys thought he was worth backing or indeed worth anything. Putting myself in their shoes, I'd be inclined to be very wary of someone with such a limited grasp of real science but who spent so long writing a careful, well-researched pile of rubbish. Oddly enough, true fanatics are cold-bloodedly sane - whoever did the calculations for the WTC attacks knew exactly what they were doing. Why they'd trust a complex operation with a high degree of failure to someone with no track record and evidently extremely limited capability beats me. They're not the Bush White House appointing the head of FEMA, after all.

Barot reminds me more and more of the maniacs you occasionally meet in pubs who tell you they were in the SAS, or that the CIA control their minds. Pathetic, pitiable losers, in fact.

Nice wikipeding, goatchurch.

Burning "15cm * 15cm * 4cm =

Burning "15cm * 15cm * 4cm = volume of 900 cubic centimetres 10000 of those is 9000000 cubic cm or 9 cubic metres" of plastic could easily constitute more of a health hazard than the tiny amount of Americium-241, given the toxic combustion products like hydrogen cyanide and phosgene, and the chances of dioxin contamination.

However, surely even Islamic fanatics are likely to try to remove the Americium-241 from the bulk of each plastic smoke alarm first ?

Surface radioactive contamination is easier and cheaper to clean up than, say, a biological agent like anthrax spores or a persistent chemical contaminant like dioxin, or even something chemically inert but biologically active like white asbestos, simply because you do not need to make hundreds of thousands of biological cultures or chemical analyses to check if all the contamination has been washed away or scraped off the surfaces, you can measure it directly with a a Geiger counter.

Whichever way you analyse it, this is still a "movie plot" and not a real threat to the United Kingdom, and certainly not one that would cause "thousands of casualties".

This case was also used politically by the Republican administration in the USA, to artificially raise the Terror Alert to "Orange", on 1st August 2004, immediately after the Democratic Party Convention had slightly boosted Senator John Kerry's standings in the opinion polls. The terror alert around the financial districts of New York, New Jersey and Washington, implied that there was an imminent threat of attack, and was not relaxed until 10th November 2004 i.e. after the Republican Party Convention and after the Presidential Election polling day on November 2nd 2004. This was despite the video and other reconnaissance plans being over 3 years old, and the alleged terrorist masterminds already having been in custody in the UK and in Pakistan.

Tom. Superb post. The fact

Tom. Superb post. The fact that the man was charged and finally sentenced speaks volumes about the current reality, including of course, the justice system.

Truly, the power of nightmares is driving the agenda.

Logic, reason, actual guilt, dare I say it: PROOF?? So what - throw it all out of the window, lest it obscure the terrible view shoved in front of out noses.

The UK is dissolving into its own filth. The stench grows.

The oddest thing is that he

The oddest thing is that he actually pleaded *guilty*, thus depriving a jury of the chance to hear the evidence and ensuring that the prosecution case got the most coverage (since the defence couldn't really argue that he was innocent, merely over the sentence). Quite why he did that escapes me, the most plausible explanation, as spyblog suggests, is that he has a martyr complex and actually wants to go down as a Big Bad Terrorist (tm). The only people this actually helps are John Reid and co in the authoritarian wing of the British state, and of course actual terrorists who have a new poster boy. Both those reasons are why it's important to see the activities of Mr. Barot for what they are and importantly what the aren't.

My guess is, 'our boys'

My guess is, 'our boys' whispered some letters in his ear, like B - O - I - L - I - E - D - A - L - I - V - E or G - U - A - N - T - A - N - A - M - O - B - A - Y and something about a one way tickets!

I would say would 100%

I would say would 100% certainty that the timing of this trial and the sentence handed down were scheduled to coincide with another Rethug election win, which was over-run with corruption, pedophiles in Congress and gay evangelists.

Events, my dear boy....

PS: Mayo biased?

You bet he is.

Anonymous #1 has an

Anonymous #1 has an excellent point here - if he'd pleaded not guilty and a jury had acquitted, which is entirely possible given the thin prosecution case, he would have been on the next plane to the USA, where pain approaching but not exceeding that experienced during organ failure would be applied. In that context, he seems almost rational to prefer 40 years in the coop over here.

I find it amazing that in

I find it amazing that in the light of "corruption, pedophiles in Congress and gay evangelists." That the race was so damn close!

Says a lot about the US people mind.

Those plans they've released

Those plans they've released on the police computer looked amazingly well copy-edited, as if written by a civil servant. It's better laid out than I could have done. Did this guy send his manuscript to someone else to type it up, or has he had a lot of practice laying out documents in a wordprocessor without making too many misspellings? There must be thousands of rough drafts of it.

And another thing... If the plans ultimately can't work, or have been deleted, in what way are they "information likely to be useful to a terrorist"? If the defence case picked holes in their client's idiotic plans, they could have proved that it was information of no use to a terrorist, rather like a crap James Bond movie. It should not matter if their client was dumb enough to believe the information he was collecting was useful. Otherwise the law would say: "it is an offence to collect information which he believes would be useful to at terrorist", ie thought-crime.

Clearly, the published parts of the documents, and the videos are of no use to terrorists, otherwise the Met wouldn't have published it on their webpage.

Or maybe they would, like the White House publishing the complete functional designs for Iraq's 1991 atomic weapons all over the internet last week.

I think it's fair to say

I think it's fair to say that the guy has been stiched up to some degree. There are precidents out there. Must keep the 'terror nightmare' going at all costs, remember?

First of all, hasn't anyone

First of all, hasn't anyone noticed how similar the name "Barot" is to "Borat". Could there possibly be any relationship here? I think we should be told.

Second of all, I remember the classic period when people who were plainly innocent (of the charges against them, at least) used to plead guilty as a matter of course. I allude to the Soviet show trials. After a few days in the Lubyanka (great name!) they all seemed only too eager to cooperate in demonstrating their own guilt. Being shot in the back of the head as soon as the trial was over probably came as a great relief, after the suffering that preceded it.

Just one of the reasons why I object to the law letting police hold "suspects" for weeks. That's long enough to persuade virtually anyone to denounce their own mother, without necessarily using anything as obvious as physical torture. Just sleep deprivation, cold, shock tactics, and aggressive interviewing are quite sufficient.

Welcome to 1984. It's just a couple of decades late, but let's not complain. Just like the trains...

Pakistan is a recruing

Pakistan is a recruing ground for Patsies.It attracts gullible young Muslim men to go for "training".In reality they are being set up and sent back to the UK or US and used for propoganda purposes ie the war on terror.

Strike me that the majority

Strike me that the majority of "terror suspects" arrested are just fantasists. The July 7 bombers were a bit smarter, they didn't post details of their plans on the web.

"Must keep the 'terror

"Must keep the 'terror nightmare' going at all costs, remember?"

Indeed, although this was rumbled some time ago by H L Mencken, who said: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”