Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Find your polling station ( London)

Polling station finder here

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What Terrorists Want

One man from Manchester says that in 2006 he was beaten, whipped, deprived of sleep and had three fingernails slowly extracted by ISI agents at the Rawalpindi centre before being interrogated by two MI5 officers. A number of his alleged associates were questioned in Manchester at the same time and two were subsequently charged. This man's lawyers say his fingernails were missing when they were eventually allowed to see him, more than a year after he was first detained. They say they have pathology reports that prove the nails were forcibly removed.

Guardian today

How can you win against people who are motivated by ideology and idealism? For these people who attack us are not mad, however monstrous and wicked their plans to attack innocent civilians; they honestly believe that they are acting in the name of God to help and revenge their suffering brothers and sisters?

You can only claim to have the moral high ground and to act in the name of freedom and democracy and justice if your deeds bear out your words.

That there are appalling regimes in this world, that there are men who do not scruple to cause innocent blood to flow is not in doubt. But this is not a war that can be fought with armies. It is not even really a war. It is a battle of idealogies, of liberal democracy versus fundamentalism. Tactics and strategy and intelligence to isolate those who wish to cause harm whilst bringing all together in pursuit of our common humanity are our best assets; this conflict plays out in hearts and minds. And in the media headlines. And by stooping so low, by all the acts of wickedness and injustice that we commit, which are then reported around the world and used as propaganda against us by our enemies, we make things worse for ourselves. Much worse.

Revenge, renown, reaction; the unholy trinity that terrorists want.
To commit acts of terrorism, you need a disaffected individual, a legitimising ideology and a supportive group. ( See What Terrorists Want: Louise Richardson)

If you want to fan the flames of hate and rage, today's story gives you more fuel for the bomb makers, if not their bombs.

Sometimes I despair of what we are doing in the name of a 'war on terror'.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Wedding anniversary

Can't believe it was a year ago today. We went to Norwich for the weekend and spent Saturday in a haze of golden sunshine, ( the weather just as beautiful as it was a year ago), then had a sumptuous meal and stayed over at the same place we spent our wedding night.

I'm so lucky to have this wonderful man at my side; I don't think I could have got through the last nine years without him.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Jewish Chronicle on Kollerstrom

The Jewish Chronicle has picked up the Koller-storm. Meanwhile, over in la-la land everyone and anyone criticising Kollerstrom's views is a pro-war Nazi. * Yawn*

update: excellent comment by Elmondohummus in the original post about Kollerstrom after Blairwatch broke the story, with all the links needed to debunk the Holocaust-deniers. Thank you Elmondohummus.
I decided not to go into a great huge point by point rebuttal about why Kollerstrom is wrong in a follow-up post on here since it would only encourage the likes of Kollerstrom to try and use my blog as a platform to push their own preposterously skewed, evidence-free, hatefully-distorted 'research' findings in response, and because this is quite obviously not a blog for that sort of thing, so I am not giving Holocaust deniers and racists a platform on my personal diary website. They can go somewhere else to chunter on, I don't really see why I should have to host their lunacy and inflict it on my readers.

Comment moderator goes on until they have got the message and departed

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tagged...! Jamieson Wolf, six random things about me and then tag six other bloggers. Oh, grrrr.
1. I hate ironing 2. I like the smell of petrol 3. I can't believe I've been married almost a year
4. When I was small I skidded playing chase at school and accidentally smashed my head into a wall, a year later, I crashed into a door, also playing chase; both times I had to have stitches on exactly the same place and so now I have a T shaped scar on my forehead 5. I have no fillings
6. I'm a very accurate shot with a 12 bore.

Tagged: Hendo Dave Hodgkinson, Sage, Rachel, Jane, Nicey.

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MSK on video

The BBC has a link to what was shown in court again today, the farewell video of Mohammed Siddique Khan ( MSK) to his daughter. I saw some of it when I was in court for the prosecution's opening speech.

Yesterday the court was shown police surveillance footage ( see BBC link) of MSK, Tanweer ( two of the 7/7 suicide bombers), walking in East London with a man the jury was told was a ''committed terrorist'' ( Ausman is what he is referred to in court) and Waheed Ali, one of the defendants, plus others walking about in East London. It was in colour, perfectly clear and shot in March 2004.

There is a lot I want to say about this but I can't, until the trial is over.

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Two new book reviews

Thanks very much to Ms Mac and Old Fogey.

Book available here and from book shops.

(For now).

Blackstock Rd raid - a top cop responds

There has been some grumbling about whether the Blackstock Rd police raid at the end of March featuring 600 officers in riot gear (plus plain clothes officers) was 'heavy handed'. I know from speaking to people who have shops in the road that it was intimidating and a shock, and that it was hard for the innocent parties involved, although the area is bouncing back.

It was meant to be a shock. If you have to simultaneously arrest 52 people in 19 properties, some of which are three stories high with several rooms and back yards to search, plus you have to block the road and keep the public safe during the operation, then 600 officers is not actually that many - it works out at about 9 officers per arrestee, or 26 officers per building, plus officers blocking the roads. You also have to also factor in that some of the men arrested may be carrying knives ( given the spate of stabbings in the area and the stabbing to death of a police officer in 2005 during a raid by a man with links to the area) .

There is a lot more that I could say about what was going on in some of the cafes of Blackstock Rd, and where some of the money from stolen goods, drugs and forged passports and documents was flowing to, but I had better not, until after the trials. There are plenty of law-abiding Algerian families who have been here for a long time and who run perfectly respectable businesses in the area and are a valued part of the community. The lively mix of the area, especially the shops and cafes selling delicious bread and olives and spit-roast chicken is one of the reasons why I like living here so much.

But there has also been an influx of people from Algeria in the last few years, who are members of organised criminal gangs. Some of them were Islamist fundamentalists fleeing the military government in Algeria. Some of them were members of the Armed Islamic Group, the GIA and the GSPC. They mixed into the crowds of their fellow-countrymen, picked up the false documents that they needed to 'disappear', and set about making money illegally. They had begun to grow increasingly bold in the last 18 months. The street harassment of unveiled women was a symptom of something much worse.

Anyway, I was surprised but pleased to find a comment left by a police officer who registered and left a comment yesterday on the blog entry about the raid.


Thank you for your positive comments regarding Operation Mista and for those made by your contributors. I am pleased that we are winning the support of the local community following Phase 1 (Home address raids) and Phase 2 (Blackstock Road raids) on 27th March. We are now engaged in Phase 3, which is the long-term policing solution to eradicate organised crime and anti-social behaviour in your community.

I manage a pro-active team of undercover police and immigration officers (OP Swale) with the sole aim to remove foreign nationals from the UK who cause harm to our communities because of their criminal activity. If we cannot remove them (some nationalities are extremely difficult to deport) we will do our best to put them in prison for their crimes whilst working on a deportation solution.

OP Mista was 18 months in planning and 12 months was spent gathering evidence against 52 of the most harmful criminals. During the operation I have witnessed the harassment of females by these local youths, seen the blatant robbery of people going about their daily business, dealt with the aftermath of the stabbings and been amazed at the volume of stolen property that has passed through Blackstock Road. For each item of stolen property from a burglary, robbery or theft there was a story of loss, fear and violation of somebody’s life.

Nothing has pleased me more in my 21 years in the Metropolitan Police than to see a grown man cry for joy when he re-united with his stolen laptop containing all his family photos, emails, downloads, bank accounts and work all intact (none of it backed up!). The arrested suspect who decided to deprive this man of his memories is in custody awaiting trial.

OP Mista continues, only yesterday we executed search warrants at two more Cafes in Seven Sisters Road (3 arrests made, now a total of 97) as we spread the net to improve the quality of life for residents in the community. I can assure you that more raids will happen as and when we get the intelligence to justify them.

This is where we need your support. If you are not happy with what you see in your community just get in touch with us, you can always contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or contact my team directly. No doubt other criminals will try to fill the gap, so it is important we identify and remove them before they get a chance to embed themselves again.

I also acknowledge from the postings there are legitimate Cafes and businesses in the area who have welcomed the police action. We have done our best to target the premises who gave the criminal gangs refuge to operate within the area, but I am getting to know the good guys too as we sweep through the area. I do not want to upset the decent folk who just want to make an honest living, but in my experience some of the more overtly friendly café owners have turned out to be the worst offenders! I welcome your views on who you think we could work with in the future.

I assume you don’t get many posts direct from the police but I came across your blog by chance today whilst searching for a newspaper article. I think it is important to feedback what we are doing and what we want to achieve on your behalf.


Mike Duncan
Detective Inspector
OP Swale
Metropolitan Police

I hope the area stays calm, and the criminals don't come back. I hope business picks up for the shop keepers who have had problems. I know several local women friends have said that they are doing more shopping, not less, in the area now, because it is much more pleasant to walk to the shops without groups of men blocking the pavement, and I'm pretty hopeful that after everything that has gone on here in the last few years including the arrest of Abu Hamza after the trouble at the mosque, and the stabbings, and the gang problems, and the 7/7 bombs, that we might get a bit of peace and quiet at last.


Spot the fake smile

This was interesting.

How did you do with the test?


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

News link roundup

Too much work and too many emails to get through on to comment properly today so here are some links.
1. Sunny on Quilliam in the Guardian
Only time will tell whether yesterday will be a significant day in the struggle against al-Qaida-inspired terrorism in Britain. Nevertheless it is should be clear by now that the July 7 bombings, rather than leading to complete polarisation and an impenetrable siege mentality amongst British Muslims, has opened up diverse voices among them. This needs to be recognised. Nevertheless the duo will face some challenges

Sunny also has some interesting comments on Pickled Politics
2. Al Qaeda get annoyed with 9/11 conspiracy theories

In response to a question about persistent rumours in the Middle East that Israel was involved in the 9/11 attacks, Zawahiri said the rumour had begun on the Hezbollah television station, Al-Manar.

"The purpose of this lie is clear - [to suggest] that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no-one else did in history, he said.

"Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it."

Blairwatch comment

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quilliam launches today

Today I'm going to the launch of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank. Musa Ahmet and Dave Bones are coming with me. Speakers include Lord Paddy Ashdown, Jemima Khan, Timothy Garton Ash, Dr Musharraf Hussain, Dr Ali al-Saleh, Shaykh Abdul Aziz Bukhari, Dr. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Ed Husain, Dr Usama Hasan, Arsalan Iftikar, Mohammed Ali Hee, and er, me.

Quilliam's advisors here

BBC News
The Times
Seumas Milne is cynical ( comments better than article)
Asim Siddiqui

Ed Hussain gets a lot of backlash ( as people who write books about their experiences seem to do. A previous member of Hitz ut Tahir , he has criticised the organisation with zeal. I hope the storm and fury abates enough for people to actually listen to what is being said, rather than assuming they can guess - and condemning it out of hand.

Me, I'm hopeful. I always try to be hopeful.


Amnesty's waterboarding video: warning - shocking

Amnesty International has today (22 April) launched a hard-hitting new film about “waterboarding”, the practice of torturing prisoners by partially drowning them.

Amnesty’s film, called “Stuff Of Life”, is set to be one of the strongest campaign films ever seen by cinema-goers when the film is shown from early May. What adds to the Stuff Of Life’s “shock value” is that it is effectively “disguised” as a bottled water or vodka advert, filmed in the “glossy” style usually seen in luxury consumer goods advertising.

The short film, which launches online today (at and will be seen on some 50 UK cinema screens from 9 May, portrays a torture technique that is currently the subject of intense controversy in the United States, where CIA officials have recently admitted that their operatives have waterboarded “war on terror” prisoners in secret interrogations.

The waterboarding admissions, alongside revelations that videotapes of CIA interrogations have been destroyed, have fuelled intense debate about US treatment of prisoners in fighting terrorism. However, despite growing concern about waterboarding and other abusive practices, US President George Bush recently vetoed a bill that would have outlawed such so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Our film shows you what the CIA doesn’t want you to see - the disgusting reality of half-drowning a person then calling it ‘enhanced interrogation’.

“For a few seconds our film-makers did this for real - they poured water up the nose and into the mouth of someone who was pinned down with his head tilted back. Even for those few seconds, it’s horrifying to watch - the reality, in a secret prison with no-one to stop it, is much, much worse.

“Everyone who sees this terrifying film ought to take action to stop it happening in the real world - they should support our ‘Unsubscribe’ campaign.”

Malcolm Nance, a US security expert familiar with waterboarding as a counter-insurgency training technique, said:

“Having trained American operatives to withstand waterboarding, I can assure you that this truly scary film is right on the money - this is what it’s like.

“Let’s not mince words - waterboarding is out and out torture, and I’m deeply ashamed that President Bush has authorised its use and dragged the USA’s reputation into the mud.”

The film is part of the organisation’s “Unsubscribe” campaign, mobilising support for human rights in the “war on terror”. It comes after a similarly powerful film about “stress and duress” torture called “Waiting For The Guards”, released in October. Both films were the joint work of media agency Drugstore and acclaimed film-makers Marc Hawker and Ishbel Whitaker (DarkFibre films), and both feature the performance artist Jiva Parthipan.

Also see this post

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Monday, April 21, 2008

More of Musa and me

Some more of the interview with Musa Ahmet and me talking about what it was like in Belmarsh is now up on Dave Bones blog.

Musa is talking to me about being inside with the 'Operation Crevice' fertiliser plotters - how they played jokes on each other inside Belmarsh. It's hard to connect these descriptions of blokey jollity with what the men were planning before they were jailed. I remember talking to fertiliser plot ring-leader Omar Khyam's family outside the court last April, whilst they were waiting for him to be sentenced. His dad said that they had tried to bring him back from Pakistan when he went on a trip to a training camp there, and that the family had gone to the police for help because they knew he was becoming radicalised and they were very worried. But the police said they couldn't do anything because he went willingly and going to Pakistan wasn't illegal.

The big interview with Musa ( which I did for the Sunday Times)and the aftermath of us talking, when Atilla his brother, who is serving a sentence for incitement to murder apologised from inside prison for preaching hate and said he wanted to get involved in deradicalisation work on release caused quite a reaction and made the Mirror.

Tomorrow I'm going to the launch of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank. Musa and Dave are coming along too. With speakers include Lord Paddy Ashdown, Jemima Khan, Timothy Garton Ash, Dr Musharraf Hussain, Dr Ali al-Saleh, Shaykh Abdul Aziz Bukhari, Dr. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Ed Husain, Dr Usama Hasan, Arsalan Iftikar, Mohammed Ali Hee, and er, me.

Quilliam's advisors here

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The Conspiraloon Holocaust Denial Exposure

...continues over at Blairwatch, with further updates about Conspiraloons in a Panic, feeble legal threats from Nick Kollerstrom, Bloggerheads on the case, Indymedia ( with comment from Kollerstrom blaming the Jews and deciding it is all a conspiracy involving the BBC) and The Void also commenting. Update: and Jewcy and Chicken Yogurt as well

Just in, a blinding bit of research ferreting through far-right grimness from Unity at Ministry of Truth - now also on Liberal Conspiracy.

Why all the fuss? It's not the one man, Kollerstrom and his horrible views that bothers me. There will always be nutters, after all.

It's the fact that Kollerstrom - and people like him, with similarly extreme views fit so very comfortably into the so- called '9/11 Truth/7/7 Truth Movement'. They post on their forums. They come to their meetings. They fit right in.

And that's scary.

The '9/11 Truth' forum, for example, recently had pages and pages of discussion threads about holocaust with contributors busily denying it happened. Only when the blog-storm about Kollerstrom broke did they take any action. They hid the threads and belatedly banned discussion of the subject, as it was felt to reflect badly on their 'Truth movement'. Some might call that cynical.

The man who owned the site '' has announced that he is kicking them off in June and retaining the URL so the '9/11 Truth' contingent can't use it any more. His reason? Anti-Semitism posted on the site.

You see, the reason I am disturbed by so many of these '9/11 Truth and 7/7 Truth' people is that it so frequently seems to come down to 'The Jews/Mossad/Zionists' are behind everything stuff - the same old lie, the same old libel, that found its expression most hideously in the made-up antisemitic propaganda The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - which Hitler went on to use as his justification for genocide. That lie is still being pushed, and people who push it are using 7/7 and 9/11 conspiracy theories as cover to give their hateful views contemporary relevance.

Sadly, many of the ''Truthers'', instead of waking up to the people who associate with them and their campaigns, and questioning their agenda are instead attacking the bloggers who outed Kollerstrom, throwing about personal abuse, calling them 'Nazis' and 'dictators, whinging about 'free speech' and generally being in denial about it all. Others have gone very quiet.

By the way, UCL, where Kollerstrom is ( or was) an honorary research fellow, knew nothing about this man Kollerstrom and his views until they were told on Friday by bloggers who contacted them. Everything I hear suggests they are on the case, and they are wholly blameless in this matter, and that they are investigating as quickly and as fairly as they can.

UPDATE: And Kollerstrom has already vanished from their pages where he was listed as a research fellow. Blimey, that was quick. Well done UCL.

Further update: 7/7 'Truth' campaigners complaining that they are being smeared as 'conspi-racists ( whilst making no effort whatsoever to distance themselves from Kollerstrom's views might like to ponder why Kollerstrom, using his online ID of 'astro3' replies to Blairwatch with a link to the '' site in his name. Three times.

Two of the 7/7 site owners, 'Kier' and 'Bridget Dunne' also posting at the same time, also linking to the site, seem perfectly happy about this and of an accord with Kollerstrom in what he says
( which is about 7/7).

Now, I'm sure if you consider yourself to be a nice, well-meaning person with 'questions about 7/7' it must be horrifying to find that your movement contains people who are raging anti-Semites and holocaust-deniers, who happily count themselves as fellow travellers with you. The July 7th conspiracy theorists cry foul when antisemites in their number are pointed out, and say piteously there is no Holocaust denial on their site
( unlike the nineeleven site, which the site owner is closing because of the antisemitism and holocaust denial on it, which the moderators have belatedly decided to stop since the Kollerstrom story broke). But the julyseventh site has private, secret forums - we don't know what goes on in there, what they discuss, and given their associations with the likes of Kollerstrom, we can only guess. So until they actually come out and say it, which they haven't done, instead preferring to go on the attack - as well as publishing foul abuse of anyone criticising conspiracy theories - I'm assuming that they have been caught with their pants down.

If the 'July 7th Truth' people want to show that they are not conspiracy theorists with Holocaust deniers, Jew-haters, Zionist-bashers and racists among them - RELEASE THE EVIDENCE! A slogan they are very familiar with. Until then....questions must remain. Without evidence, how can we trust their 'official explanation'?

UPDATE: Back of the net

Dr Nicholas Kollerstrom

22 April 2008

UCL has been made aware of views expressed by Dr Nicholas Kollerstrom, an Honorary Research Fellow in UCL Science & Technology Studies.

The position of Honorary Research Fellow is a privilege bestowed by departments within UCL on researchers with whom it wishes to have an association. It is not an employed position.

The views expressed by Dr Kollerstrom are diametrically opposed to the aims, objectives and ethos of UCL, such that we wish to have absolutely no association with them or with their originator.

We therefore have no choice but to terminate Dr Kollerstrom’s Honorary Research Fellowship with immediate effect


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Death Star Canteen

Hello, I'm, back from Preston visiting the in-laws. I've read all the frankly woo-woo comments in the moderation queue, left by conspiraloons demanding *free speech for holocaust deniers. To which I reply: Nope, no chance, not on my personal blog. Instead, I decided, hey people, perhaps it would be more fun to put this up instead. Because, you know, guys, life is short - often unexpectedly so. And we all need a laugh. And stuff. And sometimes I can't be arsed: so hey, yeah, whatever, send me stupid anonymous messages but don't expect them to be published. Or read. Actually, don't bother. Anonymous comment facility is off.

Oh, and while we're at it


Friday, April 18, 2008

7/7 trial day 6

Mohammed Junaid Barbar was cross examined from New York via videolink.
I'll have to write this up later as I have to pack to go away for the weekend.

BBC in the meantime

Comment moderator on due to recent influx of trolls: comments will be put through on Monday.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Newsnight on Abu Izzadeen & the Al-Muhajiroun group

Today, Abu Izzadeen, a self-styled preacher was found guilty of terrorist fundraising and inciting terrorism overseas. Also found guilty of terrorist fund-raising were Simon 'Sulayman' Keeler and Abdul Muhid, 25, both of Whitechapel, east London.

There were not guilty verdicts on the same charge against Abdul Saleem, 32, Rajib Khan, 29, and Ibrahim Hassan, 25, while the jury could not reach a verdict for 28-year-old Omar Zaheer, of Southall, west London.

Saleem, of Poplar, east London, and Hassan, of Leyton, east London, were found guilty along with Izzadeen and Keeler of inciting terrorism overseas.

The jury could not reach a verdict on that charge against Mr Khan, of Luton, Bedfordshire and Shah Jalal Hussain, guilty of terrorist fund-raising, remains missing after failing to appear at court on 8 April.

The men have connections with banned group Al-Muhajiroun ( which keeps re-surfacing under different names - now Al Ghurabaa). A very good documentary about Al-Muhajiroun ( made in 2004 by Newsnight) can be watched here ( featuring Sulayman/Simon Keeler who is one of the men convicted today).

Abu Izzadeen described the 7/7 bombers as 'completely praiseworthy' and I have to say that I am pleased that he has been found guilty because in my opinion he is a dangerous and hate-filled individual who encouraged young men to go and kill themselves and others in the name of God, which is shameful and wicked. Two of the 7/7 attackers are 'strongly suspected' of having Al Muhajiroun links. A collection of Richard Watson's reports on extremism are here

Anyway, off to do a pre-record for tonight's show.


7/7 conspiracy trial stops for technical reasons (again)

The 'Conspiracy to cause explosions' trial of three men alleged to have conspired with the 7/7 bombers report: technical problems with a key witness in a different country meant nothing happened today because whilst we could see and hear the witness, he could only hear, not see us.
Back on tomorrow from 1.00pm with the witness in a new location where the video link will (hopefully) work properly.

UPDATE: So we all left the annexe where the trial was being shown at 3pm, and now it appears they did get the camera working after all and the witness, Mohammed Juanaid Barbar, did appear for a while. Drat. BBC report


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Atilla Ahmet renouncing hate makes the Mirror

Musa Ahmet, has just called me sounding thrilled because the story I passed on to the Mirror about his brother Atilla speaking out against hate, and condemning the bombing of civilians has been published today.

When I interviewed him for the Sunday Times, Musa told me about how his brother had stepped in to protect a prison officer who was being threatened by another prisoner. (This was confirmed by the officer who made a statement to the court when Atilla was sentenced.)

When I managed to speak to Atilla in prison to check, he confirmed to me what Musa had told me after a phone call with his brother - that he wanted to apologise to the British and American people for the things he had said before he was jailed. Like this

This change of heart came about after Atilla got away from his extremist gang and began studying the Qur'an for himself in his cell. Musa had described when we talked to me how Atilla had often been heard been 'banging on the wall' of the adjoining cell to Musa, calling out to Musa how he was realising as he read that what he had been told was wrong, and there was nothing about killing civilians - especially women and children - or condoning suicide or suicide bombing in the Qur'an.

Yesterday I spoke to Atilla again. He said he was very keen to 'make things right' when he came out of jail; he hoped that he could get involved in anti-extremism work 'because I know how to get to them and say it, they will listen to me because I was there, I've done it, I was one of them'.
He asked me to come and visit him and I said I would do so as soon as possible.

Atilla is currently in isolation in the hospital wing for his own protection from the other Muslim prisoners, because of what he has said and done. It takes courage to apologise; it takes guts to say you are wrong and to try to make it right. Respect to Atilla for what he is doing.

The Mirror was the paper who outed Atilla as a hate-preacher when he was speaking at Friday prayers outside Finsbury Park Mosque, so he is really pleased that they have recognised his change of heart and reported it accurately.

Not quite as much space given to the new improved Atilla as the old scary ranting Atilla, but that it made it in at all is another hopeful sign.

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Kitchens Direct: the saga so far

Kitchens Direct came round in early March to give us a quote for a new kitchen. It was a reasonable price, better than the others we had quoted, and we managed to keep it down by just fitting new cupboard doors, not replacing the whole cupboards for the top part of the kitchen
( because there was nothing wrong with the cupboards, which were four years old, also from Kitchen Direct and covered by their 5 year guarantee. It was just that the doors wouldn't match the new kitchen).

The surveyor came round in mid-March and said what they had quoted wasn't do-able; the whole cupboard carcasses would need to be changed. I pointed out that they had drawn up a contract stating doors replaced only, and agreed a price with us, so if what they had quoted wasn't do-able, that was really their problem and they should have said so at the time. He agreed, called the branch who first demanded more money, then caved when I pointed out they had a contract with us, and said they'd replace the cupboards for the same price. Two weeks later, almost £1000 was removed from our account (the deposit), so we took up the floor and tiles as instructed a few days before the delivery of the kitchen on April 2nd and waited for it to arrive and be installed the next day.


Nothing the next day either.

I phoned them up-the branch said I needed to speak to head office, the head office said I needed to speak to the branch. Back and forth. Eventually I managed to speak to someone. They couldn't deliver, apparently, because they needed to get some more money off us - the price had gone up. Why? Because of the cupboards.

'But we told you we only wanted cupboard doors, and you said fine, signed a contract to that effect with the price broken down and then agreed that you'd made an error and said you would stick to the contract price after the surveyor came round. And you've taken nearly a grand off us, and failed to deliver the kitchen, and not got in contact with us, and in the meanwhile we have no floor and the kitchen tiles are all taken off so the kitchen is a mess and is damaged. And now you're holding us to ransom and demanding more money.'

Claims that they called us. Oh no you didn't. Claims they will call back. But they don't.
More chasing. The amount of money they are demanding goes down, but they still want more money.

'Is this good business practice, drawing up contracts, taking nearly a grand out of customers' bank accounts, getting people to rip up floors and then demanding extra money after failing to deliver kitchens without explanations?' I ask them.
No, they say.
'Is it your normal business practice?'
No, they claim.

Eventually they agreed a new price with us, and promised to get in contact about a new date to deliver and install the kitchen .

That was on Friday.Nothing happened and nobody called.

Yesterday, someone called from Kitchens Direct. Was he arranging a delivery date? No, he was asking for more money - the extra that we had finally agreed with them in order to replace the cupboards and deliver the kitchen.

I explained that they had already had the best part of a grand off us, that they had made an error in pricing which was technically their problem and failed to deliver a kitchen on April 2nd with no explanation for not doing so and I was buggered if I was going to give them any more until they delivered the kitchen. They could add the extra we had agreed onto the delivery price, at which point we would pay the balance.

He called back to say this had been agreed and someone would call with a new delivery date that day. Did they call back? Nope.

Last night I was down the pub with Kings Cross United and the phone rings. It was Kitchens Direct.

Would I like a surveyor to come round and give me a free design and quote for a lovely new kitchen?

I laughed hollowly.

'You have no idea, do you?' I asked the salesgirl.

'No' she said.

I explained, she went away.

I have given up waiting and managed to chase them and they have agreed to install and deliver the damn kitchen. In mid-May.

We shall see what happens next.


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Monday, April 14, 2008

Nick Kollerstrom, mainstay of the 'truth movement' is a holocaust denier

Via my Blairwatch feed I find some very interesting - no, sickening - information about this man, who thinks the story of 7/7 is a lie (and much more besides). He turned up to Kingston court today and hassled a man who was in the Aldgate bombings. Not the first time he's done something similar Sadly, what Blairwatch have found out does not surprise me. Go and read.

And people wonder why I have problems with these ''Truth-seeker'' people?
Now you know. (And it's not just him with these repellent views).

Enough of this rubbish. Enough.

Update: Back of the net

Dr Nicholas Kollerstrom

22 April 2008

UCL has been made aware of views expressed by Dr Nicholas Kollerstrom, an Honorary Research Fellow in UCL Science & Technology Studies.

The position of Honorary Research Fellow is a privilege bestowed by departments within UCL on researchers with whom it wishes to have an association. It is not an employed position.

The views expressed by Dr Kollerstrom are diametrically opposed to the aims, objectives and ethos of UCL, such that we wish to have absolutely no association with them or with their originator.

We therefore have no choice but to terminate Dr Kollerstrom’s Honorary Research Fellowship with immediate effect


Off to Kingston for day 2 of the trial

...the prosecution's opening speech continues so I will report back when I return, which won't be 'til late afternoon/early evening.

UPDATE: The morning consisted of Neil Flewitt ( Prosecution) going through mobile phone data relating to the three defendant's trip to London on 16-17 December in the company of Hasib Hussein, who went on to bomb the number 30 bus and kill 13 people, plus himself on 7/7/05. The prosecution explained that 'due to the passage of time we don't have complete records' ( or CCTV) to present, and that 'mobile phone network cell site analysis can't pin point the exact location where calls where made'. However it is a 'useful tool' and an expert witness and a police analyst had provided data (maps and tables) to show the jury.

Later on we were told of evidence concerning the DNA of the defendants which was found at the bomb factory, the nature of the bombs used on 7/7. We watched CCTV of three of the 7/7 bombers doing a four-hour reconnaissance trip on 28 Jne 2005, less than a week before the bombings.

The Times , Telegraph, BBC and Express have covered this part of the trial and saved me the work. I will note without comment what the defence said after the prosecution opening speech ended ended. (I only comment on things which are not disputed and I only report on what was said in court. And if you want to comment, please be aware of the usual contempt of court laws - otherwise I will have to start moderating comments.)

Mr Wolfkind said about Waheed Ali that he was '24, Muslim, not guilty', that he 'didn't set off the 7/7 bombs, enter the bomb factory, touch, carry, handle or see a device'. He made 'an innocent visit' went on a 'small adventure' to London to see tourist attractions and his sister. 7th July was the 'awful background' to the trial and he acknowledged the 'deaths and devastated lives', but said to the jury that they were not called to make judgment on that day and the 'terrible films'
[ i.e: the CCTV of the explosions and the bombers final journey to London] we had seen were 'not relevant to this case'. He said the prosecution had 'gathered up political opinions, books, activities far away from London'. That this was not a 'popularity contest' and whilst the jury might feel 'hostile' to some of the CPS discoveries, the prosecution are selling... make-believe'. 'Mindset is a substitute for absent evidence' and 'only plotting to cause explosions equals guilt. The jury were urged to 'ignore the noise of easy prejudice and listen for the evidence....Listen carefully - you won't hear a sound'

Mt Hall (representing Sadir Saleem) said that the case was 'not about guilt by association.' 'Association is one thing, association with the plan to bomb London is different'. Because the 7/7 bombings were suicide attacks they 'led to no prosecutions' and there was 'pressure on the authorities to bring someone to trial.' After the 7/7 bombings, Tony Blair had said that 'the rules of the game had changed'.
'Anyone close to the bombers was a potential suspect.' This had had a 'significant impact on Muslims - and Beeston' There had been lots of arrests, raids, searches, theorising about who knew of the plot'. It was 'common ground' that the defendants were known to the 4 bombers. They came from a 'tightly knit community' - the 'same schools, mosques... families knew each other'. The defendants 'participated in political views, especially regarding Iraq' which 'some of you may disagree with or find offensive' The defendants were 'not on trial for being the bombers friends or associates' and their 'views on Iraq' were 'miles away from evidence regarding the London bombs'.

He said that a visit eight months before the bombings couldn't be reconnaissance'. He said (of the London bombers) that 'four men bent on carnage, determined to kill, to make bombs - had they any need of these men ( the defendants) to tell them tube trains are crowded?' [and that many people could be killed at rush hour] And of Sadir Saleem - he queried whether he was 'the calibre of man anyone would choose for a bombing campaign'

Mr Bennathan talked about evidence [re.7/7 ie the CCTV] being like a magicians 'sleight of hand' - a distraction, then said the prosecution were not trying to trick the jury - the 'evidence[of 7/7's atrocities] can distract all of us. He queried whether his client Shakeel was still close to Mohammed Sidique Khan in December 2004 ( Khan and Tanweer were by then in Pakistan, having flown out on November 18th 2004). He said that his client had attended a camp in Pakistan which was 'the opposite' of the 'big training camps' that people may have heard about on the news - that he spent 'two days in tents' in the 'beautiful countryside', attended Islamic lectures and 'at the end they got to go into a field and fire guns'. Regarding books and literature that the CPS say his client may have 'touched', he commented that 'young Muslims in West Yorkshire' were 'reading about the war on terror' and wanted to read about 'both sides'. 'Does his reading change an innocent rip into a guilty one?' Bennathan queried, adding concerns about whether Hasib Hussein was recruited in February 2005 to be a suicide bomber[MSK and Tanweer returned from Pakistan in February 2005] and raised the point that he had rung the college he was attending to make excuses for no-attendance on the day of the alleged reconnaissance trip to London in December 2004

Like I said - no comment.

update 2: some extra added. I have to work today and tomorrow so will not be back watching the trial until Thursday.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

You gotta Rick-roll with it

Iain Dale has just reminded me...
I wondered what the flip was going on when I kept getting Rick rolled - now the internet phenomenon has PWNED the zeitgeist.

Channel 4 explains

Rickrolling involves creating an internet link that purports to be on one topic but in fact takes browsers through to another altogether - a YouTube video of Astley in full flow.

Victims of the jape so far mainly include other music videos, but its most famous uses were in sending up the Church of Scientology and the New York Mets baseball team.

It is claimed that over 13 million people have seen the video for Never Gonna Give You Up thanks to the Rickrolling phenomenon.

BBC on the Astley tribute flash mob
Sunday Times on the whole silly saga.
More here

And now this...Lord, help us.


Looking for Paradise: Musa Ahmet's story

This is the original Sunday Times article, before editing. The link to the ST and discussion of the article is in the shorter post below this one

Ever since I was caught up in the London bombings of 7 July 2005, I have tried to learn more about terrorism. To understand is not to condone, nor to forgive. But I believe that by studying the roots of radicalization, we have a better chance of preventing atrocities in future.

Last year, I read about Hassan Butt, an ex-jihadi who has renounced extremism and is now engaged in de-radicalisation work. A fortnight ago I participated in a Newsnight discussion about whether Butt, who was co-authoring a book with journalist Shiv Malik about his journey, until police seized the manuscript and notes, should be prosecuted for his past fundraising for terrorism and radicalizing British youths. I argued that if Butt’s outreach work could stop potential suicide bombers, he was more useful to us outside jail.

April 22 sees the launch of Quilliam, a new counter-extremism think-tank, created by former activists of radical Islamist organisations, who are familiar with the mindset and methods of extremist groups. Another hopeful sign. But sometimes I still want to weep.

On Thursday I sat in Kingston Crown court with some of the families bereaved by the London bombings, watching the trial of three men alleged to have conspired to cause explosions on 7/7. The court was shown CCTV footage of the 7/7 bombers’ journey from Beeston to Kings Cross underground network. We saw footage of two of the explosions and pictures of the devastated carriages and bus. We saw a home video of lead bomber Mohammed Siddique Khan kissing his baby daughter, telling her ‘I have to do this thing for our futures’ as he prepared to head off for martyrdom. It was shattering to watch.

Researching extremism led me to blogger and independent film maker Dave Bones, who has spent five years filming the men who used to gather outside Finsbury Park Mosque listening to Abu Hamza preach. A few weeks ago, Dave introduced me to Musa Ahmet, who spent nine months in Belmarsh with some of the UK’s most notorious terrorists and terror suspects before being found innocent and released in May 2007. Musa’s younger brother Atilla is still inside Belmarsh. Formerly the bodyguard of radical cleric Abu Hamza, he is serving 6 years 11 months after pleading guilty to incitement to murder. After Abu Hamza was jailed in February 2006, Atilla led Friday prayers in the streets outside the Mosque. He was dubbed ‘Hate Preacher Atilla the Scum’ by the media. In an infamous interview with CNN in August 2006, Atilla said Bush, Blair, the army, police and banks which charged interest were ‘targets’ and that 9/11 was a ‘deserved punch in the nose for America’.

Musa tells me how his brother has changed inside Belmarsh, stepping in to protect a guard from another prisoner, studying the Qur’an properly for the first time. Atilla says he now understands that the words of the Prophet should not be used to justify violence against innocents. He is being kept in the hospital wing for his own safety. Later, I manage to speak to Atilla on the phone in prison, and he confirms to me that he wants to ‘say sorry to the British and American people for what he said’.

I ask the engagingly friendly Musa, who is smartly dressed in a suit with a shaved head and neatly-trimmed goatee, why his brother said such incendiary things to the cameras.

‘He likes the limelight’ explains Musa, who loves his younger brother, but is of the opinion that his previous business partner and ‘closest person in the world’ ‘lost it’ when he became part of a radical group.

Settling down on my sofa, Musa tells me his family’s story.

Born in Islington in 1959 to ‘strict’ Turkish Cypriot parents who moved to the UK in the 1950’s, Musa was the second of five brothers, with two sisters. Atilla is the youngest brother, (‘he looks older because of his big beard’), and closest to Musa. Their father worked hard to support the family, taking a job as a chef at the Savoy, then working for British Rail, before becoming a textile designer. Musa enjoyed primary school, but his eldest brother had a bad reputation. Aged 11, Musa had his first experience of getting into serious trouble because of one of his brothers when he was falsely accused by the primary school headmistress of letting down her car tyres. His father gave him ‘a right good hiding’.

'I couldn’t believe it. I begged. It was a shame, when you’re a kid and you’re telling the truth and your parents don’t believe you – it hurts. It’s sort of a double smack. But there was nothing I could do, so I had to take it’. But the unfairness rankled, and he began to play truant from school. Aged 13, he and his best friend managed to get work loading scrap metal onto ships at Greenwich Docks, passing themselves off as 18 year olds. Musa gave most of the money he earned to his Mum. ‘I loved it. I preferred working to going to school. I was earning three or four times my father’s wages’. The job ended abruptly when the school found out and threatened to sue the company if the boys did not return to school.

Musa got into gang fights in his teens, and aged 14, spent two years in a young offenders institute. He worked in his father’s textile factory on his release, but another fight aged 17 saw him put into Borstal. Released at 19, he decided he had ‘learned his lesson’. He and his brothers – including Atilla – lived for the weekend, when they would ‘get done up all nice, go clubbing… rock and roll. I loved Elvis and all that, I grew up doing the bop, and I used to pull a big crowd when I danced'

Unlike many of his school friends, he had always avoided hard drugs, and although he considered himself a Muslim, he knew little about Islam. ‘I classed myself as a Brit, doing what everyone else was doing’. Lacking qualifications, Musa and his brothers found themselves unable to get steady jobs. They began working as minders for a Turkish gangster family. Violence, drinking, late nights and girlfriends were a way of life. ‘Me and my brothers, we were well-known to the police’. Then Atilla’s older brother was shot through both legs in the early nineties. Did that feel like a message? ‘Yes’

Both men settled down with women they loved. Atilla married and had four children; Musa's first son was born when he was twenty-three, and he went on to have four more children with his partner.

One day an old clubbing mate came to the café the brothers ran in London’s Old Kent Rd and urged them to join him in embracing Islam. Atilla ‘loved it. He grabbed it straight away. He changed within weeks’. Musa felt that he could not be a ‘strong Muslim’ as he sold alcohol in his club. Meanwhile, Atilla, who had begun praying five times a day and had given up drinking, smoking, swearing and ‘naughty stuff’ was upset that the police seemed to have not noticed his new sincerity. ‘Now Atilla’s become a good guy, but he still wasn’t accepted. That’s why he said in one of his speeches ‘I owe this country nothing. What has this country done for me apart from mixing me with drug dealers, killers…? They’re trying to protect young impressionable Muslims from me… but where was my protection from the likes of the extremists?’

Soon after, Atilla was asked by his new friends to manage security for Abu Hamza at Finsbury Park Mosque. Musa had by now embraced Islam himself, but was not part of the radical group.

Journalists, police officers, spooks and crowds of young men would hang around the mosque watching Abu Hamza talk. The controversial cleric’s speeches were headline news, and soon Atilla began to notice the cameras were trained on him too. ‘Him getting into the papers gave him a buzz. It gave him a big head, because he would run out and get all the papers. He loved the limelight.’

Encouraged by Abu Hamza, Atilla began to give impromptu sermons of his own He copied Abu Hamza’s style of fiery rhetoric, mixed with conspiracy theories and angry condemnations of British and US foreign policy. Musa thinks it unfair that his brother was thrust into such a high profile position, although he admits that his brother did not keep his mouth shut when journalists encouraged him to deliver the controversial quotes that make good copy.

‘There was people behind it, they put him up front…he said at first ‘I can’t do it’. He wasn’t an expert on the Qur’an. He was under a lot of pressure to get a Friday speech together… I know there was a few knowledgeable people behind him, that wouldn’t go up front, wrote for him, said, look, speak on this subject. … Where are these people now? Where were they when my brother was arrested?’

After Abu Hamza was jailed, Atilla became even more outspoken. Musa was horrified when he saw Atilla boast to journalists of his ‘thousands’ of followers and being the 'Number One Al Qaeda in Europe'.

‘He lied. He put himself right in it. Because he didn’t have followers. He didn’t have anything. He said some really stupid things’. Musa tried to get his brother away from the cameras. ‘Me and my friend Kem asked Atilla, what did you go and say that for? And Atilla said ‘I’ve had enough.’ He was giving it up anyway. You know, that was his last media thing.’

Musa maintains that pressure from Hamid, who could be charming but who also 'wound people up', combined with the volatile environment of the group, the increasing media interest and the paranoid fears about police surveillance and infiltration was causing Atilla to become unstable. In August 2006 Musa decided to take his brother to Cyprus, away from the group, to start a new quieter life. But time had run out.

On September 1st, 2006, Atilla asked Musa to accompany him to a Chinese restaurant where he was meeting ‘some of the brothers’. But Musa was decorating his house and had his family with him. Finally Atilla tempted him with the £5 Buffet Menu. It was to be the costliest meal of Musa’s life.

Musa and Atilla were swept up in a huge police and security services operation to smash an Al-Qaeda-inspired UK recruitment network meeting at the restaurant. The group attended Friday ‘Islamic chat nights’ at the Hackney home of a 50-year old man nicknamed ‘Osama Bin London’ - Mohammed Hamid. Hamid also ran paint-balling and para-military training sessions in the English countryside, which were attended by young men - including 4 men later convicted for trying to bomb the London transport network a fortnight after 7/7. The group had been infiltrated by an undercover police officer, and the Friday meetings bugged. Last month, Hamid and some of the men received sentences of between five and seven years for terrorism offences.

Atilla never went on the training weekends, though he did attend nineteen of the Friday night meetings over two years. Although the prosecution maintained that Atilla was the ‘amir’ – commander- of the group, Musa disagrees. ‘You can’t be the amir in somebody else’s house’.

Musa describes the police raid on the restaurant. ‘All of a sudden, there was vans, cars, coppers, you name it, all running in. The place was filled. ’ Musa watched, ignoring a warning to move on. ‘I thought, well, I haven’t done anything, and this is exciting to me.’

Several police officers then arrested a startled Musa, punching and kicking him to the pavement ‘I’ve been in some rows, but this really scared me. They sat on my neck’.

He was taken to Paddington Green station, hoping he would be released once the police realised that he was not on the list of men to arrest. But the police kept him in, angry and distressed, whilst they searched his house for a week. They found a flare signal kit in his wardrobe, which Musa had confiscated from his son years before. The flare was classed as a ‘firearm’. The police also claimed that they had found a copy of the Anarchists’ Cookbook, which Musa denies owning

Charged at the secret court inside Paddington Green police station, and then locked up in Belmarsh, Musa tried hard not to worry too much about his five children and his future. He describes the atmosphere amongst the Muslim inmates as friendly and brotherly, with people playing practical jokes ‘like the Marx brothers,’ at association time. He became very close to several of the young men convicted for plotting to set off a huge fertilizer bomb in a London nightclub and shopping centre, particularly Anthony Garcia, who was jailed for life in May 2007.

I asked him if the young radicals who had been convicted of plotting the deaths of civilians preached extremism inside, or vowed to continue the struggle on their release.

‘People just want to forget. They just want to have a laugh. They want to phone up their mum, they want to speak to their wife, they’re having a game of pool, having a laugh and a joke.’

Those who planned to hurt innocents, he says, ‘will have to answer to Allah for their actions, for what they’ve caused – and for what they haven’t done.’

Whilst Atilla struggled inside Belmarsh, and suffered claustrophobic panic attacks, Musa says that the knowledge that he was innocent and would eventually be released kept him sane. ‘The thing is with the police, yeah, I was bitter. I am bitter. But I’m not telling them not to do their job. If you look at it, they’ve done a really good job. Look at how quiet it is…you’ve got no one out there screaming, you’ve got no one out there really saying anything anymore.’

Why was he kept inside for nine months?

‘I wasn’t mixing with anybody bad outside. The undercover cop, he knew I was nothing to do with the group. He could have got me out. But he didn’t.’ He frowns. ‘No, I don’t blame them, because they do have to do their job – fifty two people dead. But nine months, I feel it’s too much.’

‘I think they was hoping to find something – thinking ‘if we look hard enough, long enough, we will get this guy.’ It’s possible that they may have just locked me up with my brother to keep me out of the way of the investigation. Or they thought I was financing terror.’

Musa thinks that the hyped-up intensity in radical groups creates the problem with young Muslims ‘This isn’t a Muslim country, you’ve got to follow the laws of the land, like it or don’t like it, that’s they way it is.’ Of the fearsome boasts and the bloodcurdling speeches that landed his brother and so many others in jail he says ‘Sometimes I think, was it just kids, trying to get a buzz, trying to feel big‘

I asked him whether he had listened to the tapes of his new ‘brothers’ inside jail that were played in court and on TV – of them discussing gruesome attacks on UK soil. He has. ‘It sounded like two little kids in cuckoo land, dreaming up something that could never be. I looked at it and I thought ‘Idiots. It sounds like a load of bull’

But the men who bombed London on 7/7 seemed like normal British guys until they murdered dozens.

The subject clearly makes Musa uncomfortable. He maintains of his terrorist friends that he ‘finds it hard to see beyond what I knew of them. It’s strange, because I was with them all my time in there, and I got to know them so personally. I never got to see that side to them. They seemed so bright, they was fun loving…’

What is the magic ingredient, that turns ‘fun-loving lads’ into jihadi warriors on a suicide mission?

‘I think as soon as they get into extremism, if they don’t come out of it, over time it can build up. They get it instilled into them and these youngsters, if they can’t see a future, if they haven’t got anything going for them, and they’re down – it could be any one of those reasons, and they just think – what is there for me? And if you’re promising Paradise, and dreams like that, and they’re in dreamland thinking, Paradise, wives…it could be anything that could turn a person’

He thinks ‘a good percentage, maybe 25%, 30% of the brothers inside would rejoice if there was another 7/7 or 9/11 There is arguments about this subject, we used to discuss this kind of thing in there’. He remains adamant that whilst his brother may have spoken favourably of those training to fight abroad, Atilla has never approved of attacking civilians on UK soil.

How do people who have prepared to kill themselves and others cope with facing the rest of their lives in jail? Musa describes talking to a remand prisoner who surprised him by saying ‘If I’m in here and Allah has decreed that for me, I’m better in here than out there. What am I going to do out there?’ He didn’t mention attacking. He just mentioned that there’s so much sinning going on out there, he would rather be banged up away from it all, being cleansed for 35 years. Lo and behold, the guy’s smiling at me having a laugh and a joke - and then he went and got sentenced - 35 years. And when he came back, he was the same, he still had this smile. For me personally, I don’t think I could cope with that.’

‘There’s a lot of them like that, they believe so much. You have to have strong beliefs… I told you, I’m just a Muslim who does his prayers… I ain’t strong; I would love to be strong. Not like that way, not in the way that I’d want to do some flipping atrocity, just in myself, you know, to be better than I am, to have that kind of faith. There are these guys doing these years and it don’t seem to bother them’

‘I think he’s looking for Paradise, because that’s what he said. He’s being punished now – they always say its better to be punished whilst you are on earth than God punish you there, because the punishment there is going to be totally different to here. Whatever befalls you, you’re still meant to praise Allah.

So people accept it as their fate?

‘Yeah, a strong believer will say this was written for me’

Do you think the bombings were ‘written’?

‘No! No, because that isn’t written…you have the free will to do it or don’t do it. You could have changed it. You could have said no, I’m not doing it. It’s wrong.’

Do many people in Belmarsh advocate bombing civilians?

‘I believe after a taste of prison, a lot of people have come to their senses’

Musa was released after the jury found him not guilty of the firearms charge. The terrorism charge relating to the Anarchist’s Cook book was dropped. When he finally came out, he cried with relief. He was particularly worried about his five children, who had ‘gone haywire’ whilst he was inside.

I ask Musa if he thinks his brother was preaching hate ‘outside’. Musa says no, then talks about the pressure of the media wanting controversy, and Atilla playing to the cameras. ‘When you are new to Islam, you take what knowledgeable people say. If you don’t have the knowledge, you have to take it from these people, and if it’s the wrong knowledge…he’s at the learning stage still, he hasn’t studied himself to know this is wrong…. So all of a sudden, he’s there, he’s doing security, the media are there, things are getting out of hand… ‘

I ask Musa if he thinks it would make a difference if the people teaching Islam were more experienced, given that a lot of people who get involved in extreme Islam, like Atilla, know very little about theology. Musa agrees that is it is easy ‘to put people on the wrong road, that people new to Islam are vulnerable to the wrong messages.’

‘Knowing what you know now, would you let your kids listen to Abu Hamza?’


Musa is visibly shocked when I tell him that the security services say there are a couple of thousand people believed to be actively involved in attack planning. ‘Where are they then?’ he asks. ‘Because it’s so quiet. Why has not one or two of them succeeded?’

As we talk, sirens blare outside Finsbury Park mosque and the Muslim cafes outside my flat. I wonder how hard it is being a young Muslim these days.

‘There are loads of Muslims, they get raided because someone’s phoned up intelligence or M15 and said, look, this guy’s bad. And they find some kind of literature. That’s enough to warrant the police putting them in prison. And they’re going, look , you had jihadi material, you had extremist material. And yet the person isn’t [extremist]. You can always find extreme material, like in Hadiths and this and that, even some verses in the Qur’an. And people think whoa, don’t like the sound of that. But the police are arresting them. There are so many people like that, they don’t deserve to be in jail. Not everybody in there is having that view of ‘let’s go and bomb someone.’

But you have to stop the people who want to detonate bombs. Musa agrees. I ask him if he has a message for people.

‘Yes. Ask for evidence. Even a newcomer has the right to be shown the evidence’

‘Learn from your teacher, but be careful who your teacher is?’

‘Yes. Definitely’.

I guess that is all we can hope for. That people will realise that self-righteousness and rhetoric is not the same as discovering the facts for yourself. That submission to God is not the same as vengeance against unbelievers. That some dreams of Paradise lead to hell on earth.

I hope that Musa ‘s fierce brothers do temper their anger in future. Without figureheads, and cameras, and column inches, with time to study and learn from those who have renounced violence and hate, they have a chance. I’m crossing my fingers.

Additional Research – Dave Bones

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sunday Times Interview

Reforming the Radicals - originally called 'Looking For Paradise: Musa's Story' (I might put it up for comparison tomorrow) - is now online. The original was much longer and had more of Musa and much less of me in it, but there you go.

Be interested to know your thoughts

UPDATE: Some of the 4 hour interview is on Dave Bone's blog, along with archive footage of Atilla and others from the Abu Hamza/Finsbury Park Mosque days

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Gordon Brown and 42 days's turning into a right mess.

Well, I did say so.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Lunch with a Truther

Twenty-first century etiquette conundrum: what do you do when an important American man invites you to lunch in their private members club to discuss business...and then you find out that they are a raging conspiracy theorist and you disagree with almost everything they say
( and you've heard it all before and read the silly arguments and websites - as well as the rebuttals).

It was my fault. I should have realised that there might be problems when he refused to meet anywhere that had CCTV. Hence the club, which he joined to avoid the problem.

Do you...

a) Smile politely and try to change the subject (that didn't work)
b) Get stuck into a debate and try not to jump up and shout 'House!' or 'Mornington Crescent!' when he mentioned chemtrails, WTC7, lizards, UFOs, Prison Planet, JFK , the moon landings and sheeple all in the space of fifteen minutes?
c) Fake an attack of gout to disguise your mounting hysteria?

I managed a combination of a) and b) then managed to get him onside temporarily by asking (with a serious face) if he believed Bush worshipped a Satanic owl god at Bohemian Grove.

'No, it's just a networking thing' he replied.

I agreed that this was the case, and we basked in the warmth following the sudden cessation of hostilities. But we were right back on it again when lunch arrived.

I deployed my standard anti-conspiraloon tactic, nicked off the Best Page in the Universe of letting him go on and on explaining how we were all doomed because of the nefariousness of our rulers, and finally asked him if the New World Order really was all- powerful.

'Oh yes. Totally powerful across the globe'

'They can do anything they want? They'll stop at nothing? Even killing their own citizens?'


'So how come are they completely powerless against bloggers then? I mean, surely Alex Jones and Dylan Avery should have been vapourised by now?'

He looked cross. This is because he didn't have an answer apart from the completely lame 'they haven't worked out how to stop that yet'.

'What, they can't even track down IP addresses?

I thought that our entrenched completely oppositional positions would lead to it being the shortest lunch ever, but we chatted on for nearly two hours. I managed to stop him taking me on a guided tour of truthseeker sites on his laptop by pretending I didn't have my reading glasses. He had the manners not to point out that I had read the menu perfectly easily.

In the end we parted amiably, and kissed goodbye. I agreed to watch some film on the internet called 'Zeigeist' - and he promised he would go read the James Randi Educational Forum. 'But Press for Truth and Loose Change didn't work on me', I told him. He looked gutted that the scales remained firmly over my eyes despite exposure to these two top Truther faves.

We'll see who breaks their mental chains first.


My first interview is out this Sunday

I've written a fair few articles in the last two years, done quite a few interviews and learned a lot from meeting some of the U.K's best journalists - now it's finally my turn to ask the questions!

See the Sunday Times News Review on Sunday (no pressure there at all then, writing your first big interview for the UK's biggest Sunday newspaper). Thanks to the lovely Eleanor, News Review editor for encouraging me, and to Dave Bones at Socialist Wanker for the intro, research and support. And thanks to M for being such a good subject.

This is a big moment in my writing career and I am already in a right state about it. I expect I will be up at midnight on Saturday waiting for it to come online, clutching a vodka tonic - and then up early waiting for the newsagent to open.

*I know I mentioned this before and then nothing happened. The piece was held back for two weeks due to new material being added in the light of recent terrorism-related events, sorry to everyone who's been emailing wondering where it is.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

'I have to do this thing for our future'

"Sweetheart, not long to go now. And I'm going to really, really miss you a lot.

"I'm thinking about it already. Look, I absolutely love you to bits and you have been the happiest thing in my life. You and your mum, absolutely brilliant.

"I don't know what else to say. I just wish I could have been part of your life, especially these growing up – these next months, they're really special with you learning to walk and things.

"I just so much wanted to be with you but I have to do this thing for our future and it will be for the best, inshallah, in the long run.

"That's the most important thing.

"You make plenty of Dua for you guys and you've got loads of people to look after you and keep an eye on you.

"But most importantly I entrust you to Allah and let Allah take care of you.

"And I'm doing what I'm doing for the sake of Islam, not, you know, it's not for materialist or worldly benefits."

The video shows a doting young father, kissing the head of his brown-eyed two-year-old baby girl, nestling in his arms in a pink dress. She is reaching for the camera with her chubby hands and kicking her legs with happiness. Her smiling 'uncles' laugh as the father records his farewell on a home-made video. One 'uncle picks her up, doffs his cap and places it on the baby's head, another flexes his biceps and grins for the camera.

'What's your words of wisdom?', the father asks the men.

' A few words of wisdom - kill everyone there is', another man replies. Smiling broadly.

I could barely make it out, but there it was. The video of a man going to Pakistan ,who at that point, in November 2004, did not expect to come back. The tapes were handed over by his wife to a friend, who passed it to the police after four bombs killed 52 innocent passengers and injured hundreds more.

The loving father was Mohammed Siddique Khan, the 'uncles', his fellow-suicide-bombers Hasib Hussein and Shehzad Tanweer. The other uncle, his alleged close friend and conspirator Wahid Ali.

I watched the video in an annexe to Kingston Crown Court with some of the bereaved families and it made me want to weep, because there was such love, and such hate, which became such murderous poison, as he cradled a sweet pink rose of a child, amongst his laughing friends.

It was one of the last videos shown after a day of the CPS's careful presentation in their opening speeches. We saw CCTV footage - never seen in public before - of the 7/7 bombers sky blue Nissan Micra, hired from a Leeds car rental firm, leaving for London in the early hours of 7 July 2005, departing from 18 Alexander Grove, (the bomb factory address.)

Stopping at Woodall Services on the westbound M1 at 4.53am, Shehzad Tanweer in white trousers and white branded sports top with a black coat stopping to put petrol in at 4.51am, then entering the petrol station shop at 4.54am, returning with a carrier bag of goods, ( sandwiches and snacks) - and the car driving away at 5.14am.

Then, fellow-bomber Germaine Lindsey, who bombed my train and killed 26 fellow-passengers, waiting at Luton station. Walking from the car park where he parked his burgundy Fiat Bravo near to the entrance of Luton station at 6.41am. Moving about, sometimes off-camera in the ticket hall for three minutes. Walking to the exit again, his mobile in his left hand, at 6.44am. Getting back in his car and repositioning the Fiat nearer the ticket hall.

At 6.51am the Micra arriving containing his three companions, his fellow shahid - and parking next to the Fiat in the wet, puddly car park. At 6.53 there is movement between the two vehicles and the boot is opened and closed several times. At 7.14am Lindsey goes back into the ticket hall, a minute later, he returns to the group and at 7.16am the men put on their rucksacks and leave the car park for the station. At 7.25 the men are on the concourse, getting onto a Thameslink train bound for London. At 8.25am the men arrive at Kings Cross station, move to the London Underground network and separate at 8.26am.

They apparently believe that the next time they see each other will be less than an hour later in the gardens of Paradise.

Next we saw footage of the exploded train at Edgware Rd. We saw footage of the Aldgate train explosion, seen from the Liverpool St platform it departed from. Passengers crouching in shock, smoke pluming and billowing, two police officers going to the platform. Then the same platform again from a different angle. Then stills of the exploded carriage are shown. Torn apart, as lives of the living and dead were torn apart.

Next, we are shown stills of the Piccadilly line train, the one I was on. I have seen the pictures of the inside of my carriage, but these were from the outside, and they were worse, because I could see how close I was to the bomb, and the debris on the tracks. Not bodies, just clothes. They had carried the broken bodies away. But I saw what I thought were clothes on the day; they were not piles of clothes, they were people. I remembered.

Then we saw the CCTV of teenager Hasib Hussein, who did not detonate his bomb at 8.50/8.51am as his 'brothers' had done.

We heard how witnesses saw Hussein waiting on a bench on the Northern line platform at 8.45am, exiting the Northern/Victoria line escalator,

We then saw CCTV of him exiting Kings Cross Underground station at 8.54am, then heading through Boots at 8.59am. Moving across the main railway station concourse at 9am, bending over outside next door shop WH Smiths where I have stopped so many times, and fiddling with his rucksack. Making a purchase, something that looks like a battery at 9.04am. (The woman serving him reaches down to the side of where the cigarettes are sold and hands him a small item; from memory, that is exactly where the batteries are. I cannot see what else it could be)

At 9.05, Hussein leaves the King's Cross concourse, heading out of the railway station, and by 9.07am he is out of the station, crossing York Way and heading into McDonalds at 9.15am , as rain falls. Two minutes later he is out of McDonalds and heading up Gray's Inn Rd, towards Euston Rd, making calls on his mobile. By 9.20am he is in Euston Rd, having slipped on a pair of sunglasses.

He took the 91 bus to Euston Square, where the driver told the passengers to get off. Hussein boards the number 30 bus, heading for Tavistock Square.

Then we saw CCTV footage of the exploding bus shot from inside the reception of the British Medical Association. The man at the desk, a woman in reception, ducking for cover, as the explosion happens, then the receptionist man going to the door, where the red bus, torn apart is smoking outside. Thirteen more people are dead. Next we saw the footage from the bus in front of the No.30, the passengers jerking in shock as the bus explodes behind them.

For two years, conspiracy theorists have been saying there is no CCTV of the 77/ bombers save one grainy shot, (which they say is faked). There is, I have seen it played in a public court. They could have seen it too, if they had bothered to come. It is real, it was always real. Why do they peddle their lies about it?

The defence are not contesting it; they are not contesting these facts - that Khan, Tanweer, Lindsey and Hussein set off with home made bombs and met up at Luton and took the bombs in rucksacks to London where they split up and detonated them as you have heard and people have seen. And felt, and died as a result of them.

I hope that this will be an end to this filthy lie. That the 7/7 bombers did not do it. I am weary of these lies after over two years of hearing them and seeing them spread on the internet.

And we saw many other things presented by the prosecution, which the court was told helped to show the 'mindset' of the men who claim that their friendship with the 7/7 bombers was innocent, their reconnaissance trip to London a tourist trip, one of their number's association with a known terrorist merely a coincidence, their trips to Pakistan ...more on that next week.

The trial continues on Monday. I will be there.

There is more I could write, but I am so tired, and this is long enough for now.