Friday, September 16, 2011

7/7: Crime and Prejudice

With the 7/7 inquests having concluded with the most ridiculous and predictable of judgments the responsibility of ordinary citizens to investigate and ask questions about the London bombings has grown. In solidarity with the July 7th Truth Campaign's excellent research and analysis on their dedicated 7/7 Inquests blog, Howard Beale's News Hour is pleased to present the sequel to 7/7: Seeds of Deconstruction, 7/7: Crime and Prejudice.

The first film, 7/7: Seeds of Deconstruction largely focused on the history of covert operations and official deceptions as a context for understanding the failings of the Home Office narrative, the aim in this film was slightly different. This two-hour production explores not only the crime of the bombings in London in July 2005, but also the police investigation of that crime. The context for this exploration is threefold: the role of the British police and security services in different kinds of covert actions; the post-7/7 miscarriages of justice and instances of police violence against predominantly Muslim 'terror suspects'; and the various simulations of terrorism both before and after 7/7 that helped conditioned people into accepting one or another narrative of what happened.

The film begins by looking at the case of Victorian Anarchism, in particular the tale of the Walsall Anarchists, who were set up by Special Branch via an agent provocateur. You can find further information in a previous essay on this blog. The plot appears to have been masterminded by William Melville, who went on to head up the Secret Service Bureau, which then became the original MI5. Through his proxy provocateur, Auguste Coulon, Melville succeeded in obtaining convictions of four innocent men, three of which were sentenced to ten years hard labour. At the trial the lawyers for the defence asked Melville about Coulon, but the Special Branch man refused to answer the questions, and the judge ruled in his favour. This is an early example of how the spying game, which at that time was reviled by the population as underhanded and not becoming of gentlemen, affects the integrity of the justice system.
Coulon was a police spy, paid from July 1890 until some time in 1904, with the Walsall case coming in the spring of 1892, when he received extra money. The suspicions were well-founded, and confirmation at the time could have exonerated the men on trial, but that was of less concern to the judge than preserving the ability of the police to run or 'handle' such spies. According to Andrew Cook's excellent book on Melville called M: MI5's First Spymaster, the Walsall case was the only time that Melville practised such dark arts but Alex Butterworth's The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists and Secret Agents illustrates how the anarchists were frequently infiltrated and manipulated. The Walsall case was not exceptional.

By the time of World War 2 MI5 had grown into a significant organisation, usurping the police Special Branches in secrecy, and hence in what they could get away with. 7/7: Crime and Prejudice details the example of Mutt and Jeff, two Norwegians who were sent to Britain by the Nazis to be spies and saboteurs. Upon arriving in this country they gave themselves up and quickly became double agents. They participated in deception operations, sending back disinformation to their Nazi handlers.

The security services also carried out false flag sabotage attacks, making the Nazis believe that Mutt and Jeff were still loyal and following orders. On one occasion a firebomb attack on a food depot was bungled. Security Service operatives snuck in and set off a couple of incendiary bombs, but the fire was quickly spotted by the local police, who were of course 'compartmentalised' and 'out of the loop'. The police called in the fire brigade, who put out the fire and discovered the remains of the bombs, which were of the type used by the British Security Services. The now-declassified files available at the National Archives record how 'This led to a very delicate situation in connection with the inquiry being made by Scotland Yard. Ultimately the inquiry died out.' Clearly MI5 trumped Scotland Yard by this time. Once again, the integrity of the justice system (the police, the prosecution service and the judiciary) was compromised so that the integrity of the secret National Security State could be maintained.
This same phenomenon was evident in Northern Ireland, where for years collusion between militants and the security services was a popularly believed 'conspiracy theory', now confirmed as historical fact. There is some reason to be cheerful - there have been a number of pretty hard-hitting inquiries into the issue of collusion, though there is still plenty of resistance to investigation and we're still waiting for even one member of the FBI, MI5, RUC Special Branch or FRU to be prosecuted for their role in the atrocities. The Pat Finucane Centre has obtained some very telling paperwork in this regard, detailing a meeting in 1971 between the Attorney General and 'J.M. Parkin, Head of C2' at the British army's Northern Ireland HQ. The documents note how Parkin had, 'no doubt the Attorney General is doing all within his power to protect the security forces against criminal proceedings in respect of actions on duty.'
We can see much the same process going on in today's War on Terror. Inasmuch as there is an international radical Islamist movement, some members of whom are willing to carry out acts of violence, it is riddled with informers, double agents and provocateurs. From Omar Saeed Sheikh to Ali Mohamed to Luai Sakra to Junaid Babar to David Headley to Edwin Angeles, from the Philippines to Algeria the unifying factor in these disparate militant and radical groups is the infiltration by those in the pay of the security services. The violence seen in Mumbai, Istanbul, Manila and beyond is one result of this covert policy. The other is miscarriages of justice.

Several significant incidents are examined in 7/7: Crime and Prejudice, all of which happened after 7/7. There are two reasons I chose post-7/7 events - firstly, to show how the attacks made it easier for the judiciary to obtain ridiculous and obscene convictions against innocent people, and also to show how whatever failings and corruption existed before 7/7 continued to exist after 7/7. Nothing has fundamentally changed. The murder of Jean Charles de Menezes by British security forces was followed by one of the most obvious attempts at a cover-up ever witnessed in this country. The have simply got away with gunning down an indisputably innocent man and then repeatedly lying about it.

Months later, in Forest Gate, the police shot another indisputably innocent man, Mohammed Abdulkahar. He survived, only to face accusations of being a terrorist. The police were forced to admit their 'mistake' but when the IPCC published a laughable disgrace of a report saying that the shooting was accidental, the police just so happened to choose that very same day to re-arrest Mr Abdulkahar on child pornography charges. These were also dropped due to lack of evidence. At no stage has anyone been held responsible for the 'intelligence failure' that led to the raid, which led to the shooting, which led to the trumped up charges. Indeed, we still have no real idea what information MI5 and Special Branch had in the weeks leading up the raid, or who took the decision to mount the 'robust operation'.

Though 7/7: Crime and Prejudice did not make this explicit, the case of Mohammed Hamid et al is in many ways comparable to that of the Walsall Anarchists. The defendants were (and are) fundamentally innocent, and yet one of them confessed for reasons that aren't particularly clear. The case against them was bolstered by the use of an undercover policeman known as 'Dawood. He made covert recordings of the defendants, Hamid in particular, saying some admittedly unwise and insensitive statements, though nothing substantially different to what anyone else has said in private conversation. By maintaining that the undercover policeman was not actually an undercover policeman when he met Hamid, the prosecution argued that Hamid's statements were effectively made in public and hence constituted incitement to murder.

The other part of the trial was the charge of providing or receiving terrorism training within the UK, which only became a crime after 7/7. Hamid was accused of running training camps during several trips he and his friends made to countryside areas, and on one trip paid for by the BBC where they went paintballing. As far as terrorism or guerrilla warfare goes, one could learn a lot more from playing games like Call of Duty: Black Ops than one could from going camping with Mohammed Hamid but that didn't stop the 'independent' judiciary deciding to prosecute a group of men for playing with sticks, jumping over rivers, and slicing a melon.

A wider issue that I have with this case is that even if Hamid were providing jihad training then prosecuting him would be an enormous hypocrisy, as the primary trainers of Islamic militants over the last 30 years or so have been the military and intelligence services of the Western powers. When Abu Hamza and 'ex' British army soldiers were training recruits in the Brecon Beacons in the 1990s to help fight the dirty wars in the Balkans, the authorities did nothing. But when one small and independent group of men who have nothing to do with the security services go to the woods and jump over rivers shouting 'Allah Akbar', somehow it is a crime.
7/7: Crime and Prejudice also covers the case of Khalid Khaliq, arrested and prosecuted because a terrorism training manual written by a CIA double agent was found in his house, and that of three men accused of being co-conspirators in the 7/7 plot. Waheed Ali, Sadeer Saleem and Mohammed Shakil were subjected to two trials, on the barely-even-circumstantial evidence of them having visited London about 8 months prior to the 7/7 bombings. The prosecution maintained that the sites they visited - The London Eye, the London Aquarium and the Natural History Museum - bore a 'striking similarity' to the targets on 7/7, which were of course three tube stations and a bus. How a 443 ft ferris wheel resembles an underground railway station is not clear to me, and obviously wasn't clear to the juries in the trials. The men were eventually found innocent, but like so many others will have to live with the stigma of accusation for the rest of their lives.

As such, the judiciary cannot be seen as independent from political influence, or from the machinations of the National Security State. For over a century, and continuing right up until the present day, innocent people have been wrongly convicted for serious crimes, or seriously convicted of trivial non-crimes. Those who are most consistently responsible for the most horrific crimes are almost invariably state actors and agents, and virtually without exception they have got away with it. And so, prospects for the 7/7 inquests did not look good. Five months of hearings recorded the testimony of hundreds of witnesses, and vast quantities of information was adduced as evidence. However, the most basic requirements of establishing who died, how and whether their deaths could have been prevented were ignored or categorically fudged.
The process by which bodies were recovered from the explosion sites and then identified was ruled to be 'outside of the scope of these proceedings'. This is extremely fortunate for proponents of the official narrative because of 56 people who died in the attacks, only 15 were pronounced dead at the scenes, and those 15 did not include any of the alleged bombers. The question of how the people died was inevitably answered with a verdict of 'unlawful killing' (a verdict denied to the jurors in the Menezes inquest), and the medical cause of death listed in each case as 'injuries caused by an explosion'. The problem is that precisely what exploded is not a question the inquests could answer, as no trace of primary explosive was found at any of the bomb sites. Nor were any bomb cases or bomb initiators found. Nor was any forensic evidence adduced that linked the alleged bombers to the tubs of allegedly explosive sludge found in the alleged bomb factory.

The question of preventability was dealt with by portraying the London emergency services as hopelessly incompetent and mismanaged, but failing to name even a single policy or budgetary decision or specific official as responsible. A few recommendations were made but even the mainstream media recognised that it is highly unlikely that any of them will be adopted. The other aspect to the 'preventability' issue is examined in some detail in 7/7: Crime and Prejudice. Among the findings outlined by J7 and presented in the film is that the security services did not tell the truth about the pre-7/7 intelligence when asked about it by the Intelligence and Security Committee. They had a phone number connected to alleged 7/7 ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan several months before the ISC's report claims they had it. They came across the number during phone surveillance of Q, a supposed Al Qaeda facilitator who, like Auguste Coulon, the police refuse to answer questions about. According to a Security Service document made available at the inquests a subscriber check on the phone was carried out on March 11th 2003. According to the ISC's second report ('Could 7/7 have been prevented?') the British Security Services didn't start monitoring Q's phone until 'late March 2003' after receiving a tip-off from the National Security Agency about him. So where did they get the number from, and why were they doing a subscriber check on it before they had any reason to care about who was using it? The implication is that they were monitoring Mohammed Sidique Khan, and possibly others around him, more closely and for a longer timeframe than they've admitted.

Of course, this could just be covering-up for incompetence, but this is doubtful for two reasons. Firstly, it is not what the government and their friends have used as their excuse. According to them, and repeated in the inquest verdict, there was no intelligence failure. As far as they are concerned, they did everything right. Rather than make a half-assed confession of incompetence, but fail to fire anyone or change anything (the preferred PR response to questions about 9/11), the British cover-up strategy has been to deny that there's even been a cover-up, or that anything went wrong. This bizarre and implausible argument has, in the manner of doublethink, been used alongside the strategy to say that things did go wrong, that there was an intelligence failure, but that the only answer is to give more power, funding, resources and protection to the Security Services. So we go round and round, caught in a dialogue between two (likely) false propositions, having an argument that takes place in terms defined by the very people we're trying to hold to account. If we lack the vocabulary to even ask the questions in the right way then we've got no chance of ever getting a proper answer.
The same is true of the battle between conspiracy theories. The official conspiracy theory of 7/7 is a joke, indeed, it doesn't really exist. The conspiracy theory told by the police that they claim to have derived from investigating the crime contradicts the conspiracy theory told by the anonymous Home Office civil servant who wrote the official narrative. But many people take these two stories as being only one story, and reject it wholesale in favour of alternative narratives, usually revolving around terrorism training exercises and patsy suicide bombers. The 'independent' media has uncritically accepted and promulgated the alternative narratives, subjecting them to almost no scrutiny whatsoever, let alone the crackpot Jesus-freak cross-dressing intelligence agents who promote them.

In doing so, all of these supposedly independent researchers remained ignorant of the fact that in the couple of years before 7/7 there were numerous training exercises, films and TV shows that simulated terrorist attacks and helped establish this polarised dialogue about such attacks. The exercises are the only thing that have been considered, and only in the context of whether they were practice runs for the real attacks. The psychological effect of these attacks, their role as simulations (bridges between the real and the paranoid nightmares inflicted on us by the ruling class) has been under-examined, and 7/7: Crime and Prejudice seeks to put that right.
A quick run-down of events looked at in the film goes as follows:

17th June 2002 - Spooks episode shows MI5 staging a fake attack on a London train station. 
9th June 2003 - Spooks episode shows Muslim suicide bombing. 
7th July 2003 - Spooks episode shows bomb attack on London at the same time as a security service exercise. 
7th September 2003 – 'Osiris II' exercise based around chemical attack on London underground. 
3rd February 2004 – BBC broadcasts Crisis Command pilot episode featuring attack on Waterloo underground station and a plane crashing into the houses of Parliament. 

11th March 2004 - 3/11 bombings in Madrid. 
16th May 2004 - Panorama episode 'London Under Attack' features attacks on three underground stations and a large road vehicle. 
16th May 2004 - 'Operation Transit Safe' exercise in New York based around multiple bombings on the subway. 
24th September 2004 - BBC/HBO production 'Dirty War' is broadcast, featuring two pairs of Muslim suicide bombers, one pair attack Liverpool Street station in a suicide bombing, the other pair are shot dead by police.
13th December 2004 - Spooks episode shows Muslim 'proxy bomb' and shows terrorist mastermind being shot dead by special forces.
5th to 8th April 2005 - Atlantic Blue exercise based around bombings on London trains and buses. US exercise includes fake news footage and a fake terrorist suspect who is a Muslim.
June 2005 - Spooks episode filmed based around attack on London train station, also shows terrorist being shot dead by special forces. 

12th June 2005 - Emergency service training exercise at Tower Hill underground station. 
Early July 2005 - Tabletop exercises based on multiple bombings on the tube run by the Metropolitan Police and Deutsche Bank. 
7th July 2005 - Actual attacks in London on multiple tube trains/stations and on a bus. Training exercise closely replicating real attacks takes place in London shortly after the tube train explosions. Training exercise based around attacks on subway take place in New York.
As detailed in 7/7: Crime and Prejudice, however, this conditioning did not end on 7/7. The simulations continued.

21st July 2005 - Four men set off fake bombs in rucksacks on three tube trains and a bus.
22nd July 2005 - 'Police' shoot dead Jean Charles de Menezes, apparently because they thought he was a suicide bomber.
8th January 2006 - 'Northstar V' exercise in Singapore, based on 7/7. News broadcasts carry images of the arrest of a mock suicide bomber. 
25th September 2006 - Spooks episode features Islamic 'unwitting suicide bomber' duped by terrorist mastermind. Also features a terrorist being shot dead by police. 
16th October 2007 - Spooks episode shows Muslim MI5 agent planting bomb underneath a train in a false flag attack. 

30th October 2007 - Spooks episode features unwitting suicide bomber from Sept 
2006 episode, who has been turned into an MI5 informant. He is again duped into being an unwitting suicide bomber by a terrorist mastermind.
5th November 2007 - Internet documentary 7/7 Ripple Effect claims 7/7 was a inside job, with patsies believing they were taking part in a training exercise who were then shot by police snipers, and that the bombs were planted underneath the train, probably by MI5.
28th October 2008 - Spooks episode features quadruple Muslim suicide bombings on London. Four men, one of whom is an undercover MI5 agent, are watched closely by the security services. An informant in Pakistan intelligence tells MI5 that the men are only doing a practise run, with dummy bombs, and that others will carry out the real attacks. The informant double crosses MI5 and the men are given real bombs, One of the would-be bombers is shot dead by police, two of the bombs are stopped, and the fourth bomb is detonated by remote.

When considering all this it may also be illuminating to throw in the cases of Nicky Reilly and Taimur al-Abdaly. Reilly is a young white convert to Islam who apparently attempted a suicide bombing in Exeter in May 2008. His mother has said that he must have been brainwashed and given help putting his device together, citing his having Aspergers syndrome, which would make him an obvious target for provocation. His device went off in the toilet of the restaurant he admits to having targeted, injuring him seriously, though not grievously, and causing no other injury or loss of life. Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly was 'Sweden's first suicide bomber', though as with 7/7, and Martial Bourdin, it is far from clear whether he intended to kill himself. In December 2010, right in the middle of the 7/7 inquests, there were two explosions in Stockholm. The first, in a car, caused two people minor injuries and didn't even destroy the vehicle. 

The second, about 12 minutes later, killed al-Abdaly and caused no other injuries. You can watch not-particularly-revealing CCTV of the second explosion here. What is obvious is that if al-Abdaly had been a conventional suicide bomber, i.e. one who is trying to kill members of the public as well as himself, then he failed miserably. Despite this, the mainstream media are unanimous in saying Reilly was a failed suicide bomber and al-Abdaly was Sweden's first suicide bomber. The independent media have had little to say about either case.
Looking to the future the hope for an official but independent public inquiry into 7/7 may be optimistic, but it remains a possibility. The Gladio case, and the investigations into the collusion in Northern Ireland both found that the suspicions about state involvement in terrorist crimes were well-founded. Many of those who were wrongly imprisoned during the Irish War on Terror and the Europe-wide Strategy of Tension are now freed and exonerated. Vindication and true investigation is possible. Rather than taking the easy and lazy route of propagating our favourite conspiracy theories we should find ways to apply pressure on the state and to feed information to the growing number of sceptical people.


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