Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monty Python's Scotland Yard

So, like, a couple of days before Easter, the whole of British law enforcement swoops down and arrests 11 Pakistani nationals and one British citizen in what the police call a "major terrorist plot." The police had to advance the timetable for their arrests because the Metropolitan Police's counterterrorism chief accidentally held a report on the plot in a way that let a press photographer get a clear and readable picture of it.

And now? 12 arrested after alleged 'Easter bomb plot' released without charge.
Eleven of the men - all Pakistani nationals - now face being deported after they were transferred into the custody of the UK Borders Agency.

They were released after investigators spent 13 days searching for evidence following the arrests from a number of addresses in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Lancashire under the Terrorism Act.

Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith had previously claimed the operation had uncovered a "very big plot" against the UK, and police chiefs defended their actions yesterday.

However, questions are being asked as to the timing of the raids and the basis for the alleged intelligence of a plot given that no evidence was found.

The operation was run by Greater Manchester Police, together with MI5, but it was ultimately authorised by the then natonal head of counter-terrorism, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick.

The raids led to his resignation, after he inadvertently allowed details of the operation to be photographed.

So the police believe that these men are a clear and present danger to Britain's security, but after 13 days of searching, they can't come up with concrete evidence to support that belief. Of course, Muslim advocacy groups in Britain are quick to point out that this is just more official harassment of their co-religionists:
Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "Instead of releasing them with good grace and making clear a mistake has been made, the government is seeking to deport them, citing a very vague national security threat. That is a very dishonourable way of proceeding."

Turn a terrorist plot into a propaganda victory against British counterterrorist operations. Brilliant.

It almost has me expecting the Spanish Inquisition.

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