El Reg Effect
au.af.mil is down.
Ooooh, you're in trouble now!
Paris, cos she goes down sometimes too.
If you download "the al Qaeda manual," never share it, even if you're a scholar-in-training studying terrorism. Especially if you and the recipient go by the wrong kind of names. In mid-May, University of Nottingham master's student Rizwaan Sabir apparently sent the electronic manual to a school clerk, Hicham Yezza, for …
Could some kind freethinking soul stick this on WikiLeaks please? I think that this is going to be one of the most Streisand Effect files yet.
I will be downloading, but I don't want to get it from the DoJ, because the hot Cuban sun will play havoc with my skin.
The best way to prevent this sort of thing happening again is to make the file so ubiquitous that twitchy curtained neighbours will be laughed at. I call it civil disobedience, YMMV.
Anon Coward because I'm a coward. I'll join in, but I ain't principled enough to start the revolution, just yet. Help me.
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And Who in their Right Mind, let all the Cats out? :-) MIGeneration? Which is a Putinism too?
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Something from the Vaults of Thames House, or just Known to them, is a wonderful wander to ponder.
How is it that the Reg is writing with a completely straight face about how the only reason not to arrest these guys is because they had a "good reason" to have the document?
Have we gotten to the point where we're not even questioning the government arresting us for merely possessing the wrong document?
In other news:
"...and a grisly example of the organization's methods, specifically pointing to the chapter entitled "Guideline for Beating and Killing Hostages.""
Well... I've got that same chapter in my company manual. Nothing wrong with that.
Given that this manual was put together during the years of the Afghan war against the Ruskies and that the US pumped in $500m of funding, training, hardware etc, isn't this just a classic case of Chicken's coming home to roost!
It wouldn't surprise me if the if original manual originated in Langley and was disseminated among the noble Afghan Freedom Fighters...
Would it be paranoid of me to think that the US DOJ are now going to send my IP address to the UK authorities because I accessed and read these documents? Time to un-secure my wifi, I might need a get out clause. Perhaps it was silly of me not to go through a chain of proxies and anonymisers.
Seriously there is not a great deal in the pdf's I read that could not be determined with some thought experiments and a little common sense. I am not a criminal nor terrorist. I have an active interest in many areas of security, mainly computer security, I sit a CISSP exam later this year. I am merely curious and curiosity only kills cats right?
As these pdf's have been "sanitised" to remove poison making instructions and the such, I fail to see where the problem with possessing these particular pdf's lies. Other than it being hard to control the sheeple if they know the truth or get a glimpse of the other side of the coin. Maybe the government are worried that reading this document could give certain people ideas. Well, the behaviour of the government in turning this country into a police state could also give certain people ideas. Was not Guy Fawkes motivated by the behaviour of government rather than a manual?
There are many sources online that provide instruction for making all sorts of nasty substances and devices. Even my memory of 'O' level chemistry and physics is enough for me to cause a serious problem in a crowded place if I was psychopathic. I would much rather hug someone than blow them to bits I should add. I am almost a nice person, most certainly benign.
Does the UK government think that making the possession of such manuals/documentation illegal would deter a real terrorist? Are not guns, drugs, fraud etc, etc also illegal? Why not make the possession of books on hacking, reverse engineering, self defense, in fact anything that could be used to the detriment of the status quo or another person illegal too? Maybe they are working on it.
I await the arrival of an armed anti-terrorist squad.
This made me want to vomit even before the Reg spelled out why it's legitimate research material. Everything is legitimate research material, the idea that some knowledge is forbidden is supposed to be confined to religions, not universities!
Tell everyone you know not to go to Nottingham University. They don't "get" the pursuit of knowledge.
I wonder what's actually in the manual. Obviously I'm not going to look now, even on the US site. But I imagine it's mostly stuff about politics, psychology and combat that if you published it separately would be perfectly legal. Even the apparently most unpleasant chapter, about beating and beheading hostages, is preumably about the psychological effects of being kidnapped, the medical details of how to cut through a spine (it's a lot more difficult than it is in films), etc - all stuff that thousands of psychologists and doctors know, and don't even consider that they might be committing a crime in knowing.
But collect this knowledge in a book and slap the word 'Jihad' on the front, and without altering the knowledge at all, that knowledge suddenly becames illegal. That goes beyond irrational. It's basically saying that black becomes white when the government says so.
While I feel that there has been a certain over-reaction to this by the authorities I do have to wonder whether the DoJ obtained the necessary permissions from the author(s) to re-publish their IPR!
Or maybe that was their sting - "if you feel you are the owner of the IPR of these documents please contact us so we can take the appropriate actions..."
If, as @adnim says, these pdf's have been "sanitised" to remove poison making instructions and suchlike, then they'll be like "modern" science lessons. Once the pongs and whizzbangs are removed they often become rather boring. .
More to the point, if Reg readers can't keep fully informed and up to date, it's a poor lookout for national security. No one else seems to have much of a hold on it.
(Icon in memory of 'chemistry lessons' which fortunately did not cause major damage, at least in part because we knew what we were doing.)
"Hang on - who owns the IPR on this?" .....By Julian Cox Posted Friday 30th May 2008 15:41 GMT.
Probably the same people who host its downloading although will probably always deny it, but not all the people are as stupid as some would wish them to be, so that they can rule ignobly.
"Tell everyone you know not to go to Nottingham University. They don't "get" the pursuit of knowledge."
Congratulations on falling for media hype. I went to Notts Uni, and it's a fantastic University. This is their take on the matter, issued on the university intranet:
1. A member of staff conducting everyday university business discovered that an individual within the School’s administrative team - who is not an academic and not a registered student - was in possession of the ‘al Qaeda Training Manual.’ In any circumstances and in any organisation (including our University) discovery of such material -being held for non-academic purposes by a clerical member of staff - would prompt reasonable anxiety.
2. Given the University’s public duty and its duty of care to staff, and students, this material was quite properly brought to the attention of the Registrar by the member of staff’s Head of School.
3. The Vice-Chancellor, Registrar and senior management of the University decided the police were the only appropriate investigating authority to determine why this material was being held by a non-academic member of staff.
4. Despite numerous assertions to the contrary in recent emails and statements to the press issued by individuals both within and outside the institution, the police inquiry was measured, thorough and low key. From the outset the police described it as a low-level operation, but one judged necessary in law. There was no armed police involvement.
5. The first arrest made by police involved a student (from another School in a different Faculty) who attended the scene and was, in their view, impeding their inquiries. This student, it was later established, had sent a copy of the ‘al Qaeda Training Manual’ to the member of clerical staff in question. When the latter was eventually traced by the police, he too was arrested.
6. The police spent six days investigating this matter. They had to examine substantial quantities of information and also establish the nature and scope of the relationships and sequence of events. The University had no formal power to speed up or end this process. The investigations concluded with police satisfied they understood why this material had been sent to a clerical member of staff. Both individuals were then released without charge.
7. The administrative member of staff was immediately re-arrested in connection with immigration laws. As an overseas national he has failed to produce evidence of his eligibility to work in the United Kingdom. The University is no different from other employers and is prevented in law from employing foreign nationals who do not have permission to work here. The institution has contacted him, and his defence team, to request any information which contradicts evidence that he was working at the University whilst ineligible for employment. The University is continuing to liaise with the immigration authorities and making efforts to maintain contact with the individual.
8. Much has been said on the matter of academic freedom, and whether recent events are in conflict with it. The University has always fully embraced the principle and continues to do so. The University is already addressing issues raised by these events through the ongoing work of the Research Committee.
Perfectly reasonable viewpoint to have, I think. They found something suspicious and reported it to the relevant people, I think it is the police who are to blame for why it took so long to get them out again.
... Let's face it, the internet is full of dodgy material, you typically only come across it because a) you're looking for it on purpose or b) you've ended up with some malware on your PC.
Ergo, all the "terrorists" have to do is deliberately infect themselves with malware and they've got plausible deniability :)
Christopher Emerson's comments are unfortunately very illuminating. Because of the shallow version of analysis and ethics which he has been taught by this institution, he is unable to see the shameful paucity of their self-serving statement.
Their statement shows little concern for academic or personal freedom, or for their own responsibility towards the staff & student/s they grassed up for the terrible thought-crime of possessing a document which the US DOJ publishes worldwide.
They positively defend the duration of the detention (note that, Christopher - they defend and praise the Police), and express no concern for the personal or academic impact of this. A plain example of "chilling effect" in action, but they're just grateful that it was all dealt with quietly. Eg they "embrace the principle of academic freedom" only while no one attempts to practice it.
I'll close by Godwinning myself with one last uberflame.... The same statement could've been issued by Hamburg University in 1936, explaining why the Gestapo had been so reasonable in *quietly* dragging away a couple of shifty-looking Jewish students who were asking too many nosy questions.
I have UK security clearance and CTC clearancec: ironically, while this entitles me to know many things which would get me arrested for disseminating highly confidential informaiton if posted here (I can't even think of anything I can vaguely allude to without getting in trouble), downloading this would get me in extremely serious trouble!
I'm AC for obvious reasons
...yep if the authorities know which people are in posession of this type of material then that makes me feel a lot safer as I sleep at night.
I think I'd rather have a Goverment that knows everything about everyone rather than a Government knowing nothing and my friends and family not returning home one day.
University --> book --> prison --> ups, no terrorist (certainly did sound like one!) --> aaah, found something else --> deportation, problem solved.
No problem, surely, for Nottingham University, Nottingham Police, the Upright Nottingham Student Body. But maybe a little problem for some innocent foreigner who may, or may not, live a happy life ever after.
"yep if the authorities know which people are in posession of this type of material then that makes me feel a lot safer as I sleep at night.
I think I'd rather have a Goverment that knows everything about everyone rather than a Government knowing nothing and my friends and family not returning home one day."
But the reality of a fascist state (which is what you have described) is that the government knows everything and your friends and family still won't return home. Try googling 'Stasi" ,"Baath party" etc.
Because one day it will be you and your family who own the "wrong" material.
I'm a PhD and BSc graduate from the University of Nottingham, and I'm disgusted by the actions of the local police and the University's disregard for academic freedom. I'm very disappointed by the actions of my (supposed) "alma mater", both leading up to the arrests and in their subsequent arrogant press releases. It's also a shame that Alan Simpson will be stepping down soon. I'm glad I live in France now, and I'm very worried about the direction the UK is heading; hence I support liberty, No2ID, and similar organisations.
Paris, because I live in France...
Congratulations Alpy - now you can have both!
The Goverment that knows everything about everyone
- AND will deport your friends and family one day.
But don't worry.
Only people who have something to hide needs to worry.
So if you worry you obviously have something to hide.
And hiding stuff is a crime (at least if it is encrypted on your harddisk).
"A naked man has little to hide - A flayed man has less"
... and only a dead man has nothing.
"I think I'd rather have a Goverment that knows everything about everyone rather than a Government knowing nothing and my friends and family not returning home one day."
Alpy I dont think you understand how opressive regimes work.
When the goverment know nothing you are free to go about your business and be content in the knowledge that you, your family and friend are safe and will return home when you wish to.
When the government knows everything is when people start dissapearing because they dont agree some aspect of the opressive regime.
The law that caused all this problem is absolute bollocks, of the sort that only a politician can manage.
If being in posession of knowledge that could be useful to a terrorist is illegal then you need to round up everyone with an A level in chemistry, anyone with a train timetable, and youd better shut all the public librarys as they have a wealth of information you could use for evil.
I wonder how long before they come for me because I have a copy of "the art of war" by Sun Tzu - the ancient chinese version of the Al Qaeda^H^H^H Mujahideen training manual.
You can no more ban knowledge useful to a terrorist than you can legislate against the tide coming in, its been a while but I assume they still teach redox chemistry in science class at school? Perhaps they should ban rugby, that teaches you to avoid being tackled to the ground while carying an object (be it a ball or a bomb) to your intended target (be it the try line or target) although admittedly it doesnt teach you to avoid being shot in the head for having a suntan.
Still theres light at the end of the tunnel, once the lethal skunk smoking hoodie wearing yoofs realise that knowledge of chemistry is illegal and subversive they will likely pay more attention in science class.
It makes me ashamed to be British.
"....a collection of terror methods, some of them collected from the American neo-Nazi and survivalist right...." Oh dear, Mr Destiny's left-wing views are showing again! A quick review of survivalist history shows an input from both ends of the political spectrum (for example, many American Communists returning from the Spanish Civil War brought back military knowledge that filtered into the survivalist arena post-war). Linking all survivalists with neo-Nazis is a ludicrous stretch, bit like me taking that comment and labeling you just a urban Liberal Dummicrat with typical prejudices against rural peoples (did you find yourself nodding in agreement with Obama when he warbled on about rural white Pennsylvanians clinging to guns and bibles?)..... I particularly like the way you instantly try and make out the whole episode was just rampant Police racism by trying to assert that it was the names of the two individuals concerned which got them attention ("....Especially if you and the recipient go by the wrong kind of names.....") when the evidence shows it was the Uni's own staff that fingered them to the Police. Obviously, political story-telling has long since replaced real journalism at GlobalSecurity.org if they still employ Mr Destiny. A shame that El Reg hasn't thought it better to filter out such obviously political bilge.
RE: Just watch Charlie Wilson's War...
"....It wouldn't surprise me if the if original manual originated in Langley and was disseminated among the noble Afghan Freedom Fighters..." Yes, the CIA did supply a lot of training to the Afghanis resisting the Soviets, but it went mainly to the Northern Alliance who are still our allies in Afghanistan, and to the Pakistanis. AQ was already operating in Afghanistan as a conduit for Sunni money to Taliban-like groups in the South, via Pakistan. The more extremist Pakistanis inevitably fused a combination of CIA training, Sunni Muslim extremism and Sunni money which led to some CIA techniques reaching AQ. But, a large majority of the AQ technical training came from the Pakistanis, who got their original grounding from Chinese Red Army guerrilla-training manuals similar to those supplied to the Viet Cong in the sixties and seventies, and the Chinese got the base of their training from Soviet-supplied manuals dating from just after the Bolshevik revolution. So, in a way, the AQ using these guerrilla techniques against the Soviets at the time was just the Commies getting their own back in the ass.
RE: "not legitimate research material"
"...I wonder what's actually in the manual...." The technical parts are mainly a hodge-podge of many other bits of similar training materials from other guerrilla/terrorist/"freedom-fighter" manuals, but the majority of it is an eye-opener into the very disturbing mentality of the Islamist, with lots of justification from the Koran as to why lopping of infidels' heads and the like is a good thing. One of the reasons it was decided to host the cut-down version on the DoJ website was to show the world what that warped view is. Obviously, anyone downloading it to "train" others is going to be the type of nutjob that is likely to think flying airliners into tower blocks or blowing up commuter trains is a good idea and should be traced and checked on. This will inevitably lead to some innocents who download it out of curiosity or for research being arrested and questioned by the Police, but if they are innocent then they will be released as were the two in this story. The fact that one appears to be an illegal immigrant is just an unfortunate and unrelated fact for him.
RE: Christopher Emerson
Don't confuse them with facts, then they have to do their own thinking!
Your name says it all - you need to work on your thinking. Try taking your nose out of your Trotskyist/Maoist/Lenninist/<insert-name-of-any-left-wing-nutjob-here>ist manuals and reading some real history, then formulating your own ideas and opinions rather than just letting those already shown by history to be loons spoon-feeding you.
If you are interested, I have a paper copy of the manual brought back to the UK from Bosnia by a forces chum. Copies on paper and floppy disks and even on video had appeared with lots of cash from a number of Mujahadin types who were recruiting in Bosnia for the global jihad. The local Muslims had handed it in to his UNPROFOR patrol as they just wanted to get on with rebuilding their shattered country. I'm also told it has been found in various "editions" as far afield as Oman and Kenya. So, thanks, Dick, but once again your eagerness to accuse the Police of institutional racism has clouded your view of what is really out there.
Do you really think that Nottingham University has no means of regulating the conduct of its employees and students other than calling in Special Branch? So if Yusuf bin Walahi, mythical employee of a suspiciously dark complexion who has a distinctly sinister foreign accent, turns up late for a work a few times (in his role as Bolt Twiddler Third Class at Nottingham University's School of Advanced Psychoplastic Post-Modern Engineering) then his boss, the Bolt Twiddler General, will get on the blower to the Grand Wizard Witchfinder at MI6 to fit up poor Yusuf and failing that get him deported?
And now for news back in the real world...UK Universities have disciplinary procedures, bye-laws, codes of conduct, etc. coming out of their highly educated butts. Apparently though even the Vice Chancellor at Nottingham University (http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/vice-chancellor/vc.html) with his his fat >£100k salary does not have the common sense to say: "Has anyone actually asked this chap why he had this document and checked if his story stands up?" He was obviously too busy screaming and drooling in a mad panic when he heard someone say: "al Qa'eda".
Of course this isn't his field, Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Colin Campbell, he's...ermm...oh...a lawyer! Right...well I guess this isn't his area of expertise in the law, I doubt he's served on any bodies that would give him any insights into this kind of matter...ahhh....*ahem*...like the Standing Advisory Committee for Human Rights on Northern Ireland...oh...I see. Of course, he must be new in his job and still finding his feet, that'll be it...ummm...you say he's been the Vice Chancellor at Nottingham University since 1988...well...indeed.
So Mr Emerson: FUD or Troll? :)
"In any circumstances and in any organisation (including our University) discovery of such material -being held for non-academic purposes by a clerical member of staff - would prompt reasonable anxiety... the University decided the police were the only appropriate investigating authority to determine why this material was being held by a non-academic member of staff."
Umm... This is the killer mistake by the Vice-Chancellor. If you come across, for example, a highly classified document describing British military defences where you do not expect it, there might be a valid reason for calling the police. If you come across a publicly available document where you do not expect it, there is NO reason for calling the police.
Under these circumstances, the Vice-Chancellor might have a duty to investigate - to see, for instance, that university resources are not being wasted and internal regulations are observed. By not doing this, and by taking the course of action he did, he has contributed immeasurably to the current mad panic, and, I hope, laid himself open to a variety of legal charges. People in his position are meant to exhibit leadership and run their University from a position of knowledge, not to cravenly run with the mob while mouthing excuses which are more appropriate for a politician.....
"So what would happen if this gets on to slashdot....?"
More to the point, what would happen should I download these documents, print them out and send them to my local Member of Parliament and Traffic Enforcement Officers?
They'd have to read them to know what they are and once they've read them, they'll be terrorists because of the thought crimes that they'll have just committed.
"In any circumstances and in any organisation (including our University) discovery of such material -being held for non-academic purposes by a clerical member of staff - would prompt reasonable anxiety."
The press reports indicate that Yezza had the manual because he was printing it for a student -- surely that's an academic purpose? Surely that's something University officials could have easily determined BY TALKING TO THE MAN?
At any rate, you're making the exact mistake that Nottingham Uni made, and which is the subject of this article: you're prejudging the motive. How do you know why that individual had that document? Even "clerical members of staff" can study and learn, you know -- that's a key part of the "academic freedom" you claim your University embraces.
Now thats great what a clear path of thought they had, just a pity they're a bit challegend with the thinking
- student sends it to a non-student to print out, who then is the culprit
- student explains the police what the situation is, and gets detained not for sending around the manual, but for obstructing their investigations (by trying to explain them what they couldnt figure within a 6 day investigation)
- the uni doesnt even find anything wrong with taking them to jail to establish they're innocent, they're just a bit unhappy it took long (maybe because the clerc didnt show for work, being halfway to gitmo)
- the uni doesnt even remotely care about the threats to their student.
- the uni is to clueless to just even figure someone has a research project on this
and then here comes mister I-studied-there who doesnt even GET what shocks people about this. I dare say this is proof that uni isn't the best suited for a thorough education.
Of course, yes, studying radical islamic groups and a uni cleric could be just another camouflage for a terrorist cell.
But, being as braindead as police acted in this encounter they could as well take the manuals printout and look inside, and see if it's covered in there.
Remains the final question: Why would the terrorists not know whats in that manual, why would they read a version seized years ago and why do the idiots that set up a scanning of every damn email NOT involve some brain to think of situations like this, especially with a (back then) widely published piece of evidence.
imho funniest thing about it is that the DOJ publishs it, and most of the info comes from CIA agents training the afghan resistance. Yet again, you'd think they knew what's in it...
(and yes, i read that thing back then, too. and it was interesting, i.e. if you're in an area with such idiots trying to make a revolution never keep guns + ammo in the same place, so they can't restock on the people they killed. i can't see how it is bad to know what training they act by, it probably works better for stopping them than, well, sending researchers to jail)
inflammable because it's bad to see a hole school administration being just as dumb as a bunch of AK-47 waving idiots...
"As an overseas national he has failed to produce evidence of his eligibility to work in the United Kingdom. The University is no different from other employers and is prevented in law from employing foreign nationals who do not have permission to work here."
So we can expect the police to start arresting senior members of staff who authorised his employment then?
is it available for download on an American Government Agency's site if the content can get you arrested in the UK? or is it some kind of honey trap like they set up for paedophiles?
I think I'll download it anyway, as having been taught by the British government to make bombs, lay booby traps, covert operations etc (They drew the line at beating and beheading prisoners), I can claim it's for comparative research for a book I'm writing. ('cause I am).
P.S Why can't we have an icon of Feurer Braun in a Braun shirt?
Ok, I downloaded and had a quick scan, It's very similar to a document issued by the IRA in the mid 70's but with a lot of religious preamble. A lot of it is common sense if someone wants to set up some sort of covert operation. In my opinion arresting these blokes is typical overreaction caused by ignorance and fear. Ah! must go there's someone hammering at my door and I think i can hear a helicopter
In-frigging-deed! I personally thing they should have given the guy a break, but say for a second that I was of an oversimplistic / kneejerk reactionary / daily mail reading persuasion and I thought they should turf him out regardless of facts and ethics... they should shurely inflict the harshest sanctions on his employers too, yes? Can some of the misanthropic boo-yah biggots here please clarify where you stand on that?
a) Yes, burn them, burn them all!
b) Mumble mumble, bloody gypsies!
b) Yes (assuming they're all foreign and/or poor!)
As far as I understand it, he was in the process of applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, which I believe is the standard next step once you've had a sanctioned presence in the UK for a number of years. The right to work is part of both these statuses (or stati, my Latin not being what it was).
And no, I certainly will not be going anywhere near those sites, living as I do in a Muslim (yet not Islamic) country. I do want to come back to Blighty at some point, along with my Muslim wife and kids.
I am becoming increasingly ashamed of being British. This nonsensical one-size-fits-all approach to counter terrorism smacks of nothing more than fishing.
A bastion of freedom of speech and democracy? You must be thinking of another nation.
To all the so called security experts, please get a grip on this non-information. I was making TNT in my secondary school lunchtime science club when I was 14 years old, and was only stopped from making Fulminate of Mercury because my physics teacher thought I was going to far (retrospectively a fair point). This stuff is trivial to anyone with a modicum of Chemistry knowledge.
More people will die from the British Governments in-action in Burma than will ever die from some idiot wannabe terrorist playing with chemicals he doesn't understand.
Oh and I'm not an Anonymous Coward, because if the "British Government" want to infringe any more of my civil liberties I'll be delighted to see you in court. Assuming you don't try and blow my brains out first of course.
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I too was at Nottingham Uni (at the same time as Jon Grattage -- commentor above -- I think, name seems familiar... Comp Sci 99-02?).
And, the level of acedemic rigour taught to us by the lecturing staff is pretty much summed up in Emmerson's deeply analytical approach to this debacle. Yup, that's right. We were pretty much spoon fed the facts, and expected to take them at face value.
Nottingham Uni is a once-great institution, that now appears to be more interested in attracting as many fee-paying foreign students as possible. Frankly, all students (UK-based or otherwise) were given the distinct impression that they were getting in the way.
Paris, 'cos even she could get a degree these days.
"...and frankly the Hov would be a tad hard pressed to link me to Islamic Terror.
Ergo you have a funny non-British name and face, don't believe in Jesus as the son of God and have been circumcised. I'm sorry, but I can easily see how our "intelligence" people might mistake you for a Muslim.
And if you're not convinced, four more words:
Jean Charles de Menezes.
And he wasn't even circumcised!
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