back to article Panicked WH Smith kills website to stop sales of how-to terrorism manuals

Prominent British bookseller W H Smith voluntarily shut its website for emergency "maintenance" last night after being warned by The Register that it was selling a range of DIY terror manuals – such as the Improvised Munitions Handbook that offer procedures for making bombs and explosive booby-traps. The site also offered two …

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  1. AlexS
    Facepalm

    "The art of the deal" is still for sale I see.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Really WHS, don't ban knowledge, let it be used to illuminate the absurdity of hateful arguments.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      All are avalaible on Amazon

      In the US. But of course, we have a Freedom of the Press.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: All are avalaible on Amazon

        Errrr, "yay fox news?'

        For what it's worth, I agree with the non-censorship issue, but I hardly think American media is anything to gloat about.

        1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: All are avalaible on Amazon

          You don't really understand what the word "freedom" means do you? When applied to speech & the press, it means the government is not allowed to control either. That means lots of people & organizations you don't like or think are stupid, have as much right to say what they want as you do.

          1. Kurt Meyer

            Re: All are avalaible on Amazon

            @ The Man Who Fell To Earth

            You said: "But of course, we have a Freedom of the Press."

            Jamie Jones said: "For what it's worth, I agree with the non-censorship issue"

            Then you return with: "You don't really understand what the word "freedom" means do you? When applied to speech & the press, it means the government is not allowed to control either."

            FFS, pull your head out!

            He just got finished agreeing with you, and you're giving him the fail icon?

    3. macjules Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      ... and as for that other nasty terrorist manual

      Are you going to include The Bible by any chance? Might not tell you have to build a bomb but it repeatedly has clear instructions on how to bring down an administration by both passive and active resistance.

      Theresa May would not be amused.

  2. Andrew Jones 2

    I really wish the people in charge would stop making stupid panic decisions. No terrorist is making bombs while reading a "how to" guide. They either already have a background in it - or they are using this big network of computers we like to call "the internet" and very specific websites at that. They won't be browsing these sites on unprotected connections they will at the very least be going through a proxy server and a VPN.

    If we continue down this route in 10 years time you will need to have a license or video proof that you have a garden in order to buy some fertiliser.

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      wrong turn

      "If we continue down this route in 10 years time you will need to have a license or video proof that you have a garden in order to buy some fertiliser."

      Another 10 years after that and garden books will be censored. Growing your own food can easily be turned into a charge of interfering with commercial or government interests. And so on it goes. (sigh) Better to just not go down that road at all. Efforts to control information never lead to information going away, and only leads to freedom going away.

      1. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: wrong turn

        "Growing your own food can easily be turned into a charge of interfering with commercial or government interests."

        We already have that for gardening. It is already forbidden to use traditional techniques using household chemicals or substances derived from plants for pest control and as fertilisers. There was a commonly available book in the 80s which documented how to make pesticides from rhubarb leaves, tobacco leaves, soap etc. Removed from sale because it "advocated the use of unregulated pesticides". It's not permitted to sell seed other than via large commercial seed businesses that support agri-business and don't have much interest in the domestic gardener. Old, but tasty, varieties of plants are under threat because it's not permitted to sell the seed within gardening clubs.

        1. lnLog

          Re: wrong turn

          'it's not permitted to sell the seed within gardening clubs.'

          seriously? trick there is not to sell, if you want to ensure old varieties continue then be willing to provide cuttings and seeds for free

          1. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Re: wrong turn

            "seriously?"

            Yes, seriously it's another case of the law being an ass. Every seed variety offered for sale is supposed to be tested and registered. the cost is about £3k for the registration which is why people growing the seed would like some money back. At the moment, as you suggest, you can get around it by distributing for free but "they" want to make that illegal also.

            It just seems like madness. The rules are clearly set up to give big growers an advantage over small and amateur growers and are particularly biased to having a monoculture with little variation. That means that, as with bananas, a disease that affects one plant can probably infect all of them.

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: wrong turn

            'it's not permitted to sell the seed within gardening clubs.'

            seriously?

            The Woodland Trust in their work potentially fall foul of this regulation, as they are dedicated to protecting the UK's ancient woodland and creating new woodland from seed and cuttings sourced wholly from within the UK (and ideally reasonably locally to the planting).

            The mostly get around it by encouraging volunteers to go out each year and collect seed, which they then plant and distribute to organizations and community groups wishing to plant their own wood.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: wrong turn

        Already happened.

        Read up on the patent violation lawsuits some farmers have faced for violating their End User License Agreements when growing Monsanto seeds and daring to try to keep some back for sowing next year instead of buying more...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Growing your own food can

        has food barter not been proclaimed "illegal" already somewhere? Was it US, recently?

        1. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: Growing your own food can

          "has food barter not been proclaimed "illegal" already somewhere? Was it US, recently?"

          Probably. It's certainly true that the USA bans people trying to live "off grid" by misusing sanitation laws and by claiming that anyone who saves the rainwater from their own roof is "stealing" water that belongs to a private company. We can't have people living responsibly by sourcing their own water, disposing of sewage via a private water treatment system and generating their own off-grid electricity - that could hurt profits.

          1. Kurt Meyer

            Re: Growing your own food can

            @ Lotaresco

            "Probably. It's certainly true that the USA bans people trying to live "off grid" by misusing sanitation laws and by claiming that anyone who saves the rainwater from their own roof is "stealing" water that belongs to a private company."

            That would be you being completely and spectacularly wrong.

            Not only does the bartering of goods (including foodstuffs) and services happen every day in the US, but people collect and use rain water regularly for their own purposes.

            This doesn't take place furtively, in the shadows, but in broad daylight, right on Main street.

            1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Growing your own food can

              Not only does the bartering of goods (including foodstuffs) and services happen every day in the US

              USA HAD laws to prohibit that introduced by FDR during the war for obvious reasons.

              Some of these were repealed by court cases in the 70-es. I am not sure if this is valid of all of them.

              As far as rainwater collection, etc - all of these everywhere in the world need appropriate planning permission and legalization. This is not US specific. I cannot just hook up my rainwater to my water supply, I need to put certain things in place (non-return valves, etc).

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Growing your own food can

                The US law wasn't about protecting the water quality it was about downstream users.

                If you have a 2000acre farm in the midwest and build a dam to collect all the rain water that falls on it - the farms and towns downstream suffer.

                The story was that the law could be applied to regular houses with a rain barrel - it wasn't being but the media needed a silly season story

              2. Kurt Meyer

                Re: Growing your own food can

                @ Voland's right hand

                "USA HAD laws to prohibit that introduced by FDR during the war for obvious reasons."

                Thank you for the history lesson.

                The US also HAD laws prohibiting the manufacture or consumption of alchoholic beverages. The US also HAD laws prohibiting women from voting. The US also HAD laws enslaving the black portion of the populace.

                What exactly is your point in referencing laws the US HAD but no longer does?

                Barter occurs every day in the US, in every part of the US. Are you seriously attempting to dispute this?

              3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

                Re: Growing your own food can

                > "Not only does the bartering of goods (including foodstuffs) and services happen every day in the US"

                > USA HAD laws to prohibit that introduced by FDR during the war for obvious reasons.

                The only "obvious reason" is the enslavement of the population. Unless one is a complete retard in all matter economics as FDR was but wants to take decisions anyway. Fucking dirtbag, that guy.

            2. Lotaresco Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: Growing your own food can

              @Kurt Meyer

              "That would be you being completely and spectacularly wrong."

              No really, it isn't. I have friends who have been affected by this nonsense. It is down to US cities enforcing the "International Property Maintenance Code" in an arbitrary and unfair manner. Examples include a US Marine in Huntsville thrown out of the home he owns for the crime of existing on harvested rainwater. There's the case of a woman in Cape Coral, Florida evicted for the same crime of daring not to use city utilities and daring to tell people about it. There's a general assault against citizens who dare to have a lifestyle that doesn't fit with being good little consumers.

              The authorities in the United States and Canada appear to be misusing The International Property Maintenance Code which states that properties are unsafe to live in if they do not have electricity and running water. The interpretation being used by the authorities is that off-grid power and water that is harvested from the sky do not count as "electricity and running water".

              There's also this:

              "Collecting rainwater in barrels is a common Earth-friendly and off-grid living practice, but the sustainable existence chore is illegal in many states. Unless you own the water rights on the property, it is not permissible to salvage rainwater in barrels for future use. Western states where water is in high demand, like Colorado, Utah, and Washington, have laws which prohibit rainwater collection or diversion." Man Imprisoned For Collecting Rainwater

              So it's fairly clear that the statements that you made are incorrect. Maybe you should learn the facts before you spew your outrage? Just a thought.

              1. Kurt Meyer

                Re: Growing your own food can

                @ Lotaresco

                "No really, it isn't."

                No, really, it is.

                " It's certainly true that the USA bans people trying to live "off grid" by misusing sanitation laws and by claiming that anyone who saves the rainwater from their own roof is "stealing" water that belongs to a private company."

                You are spouting bullshit.

                I save the water off my own roof, and so do several of my immediate neighbors. In fact, a quick tour of the subdivision I live in revealed a couple of dozen rain barrels and/or water collection schemes. Not a single one of these home owners has ever been told that they are in violation of "The International Property Maintenance Code", whatever the fuck that's supposed to be.

                The city housing inspectors go through this neighborhood very frequently looking for violations of the local housing codes, and have never said a word to any resident about his or her collection of rainwater. Or the use they make of said rainwater.

                Municipalities have housing codes and other ordinances intended to provide a safe, healthy environment for their citizens? Who knew?

                If you desire to live in Huntsville, or Coral Gables, or Weston-super-Mare, you will be expected to be in compliance with the local regulations. What a surprise!

                Don't want to be on the grid? Move away from the grid. It is to be found in every city and many towns in the US, so your best bet is to move to a rural area, where there is no grid.

                A fair sized portion of my family are not on any water or sewer grid, none whatsoever. My brother isn't connected to any municipal water system, he gets all of his water from a combination of his wells, and collected rainwater. All perfectly legal, as much water as he needs to grow his crops and water his livestock. A sister in another state does likewise.

                "So it's fairly clear that the statements that you made are incorrect. Maybe you should learn the facts before you spew your outrage? Just a thought."

                No, my statements are correct.

                You mistake bemusement for outrage. Yet again I encounter on these pages a poster from another country who has no first hand knowledge of the communities where I live, but is bound and determined to tell me that I don't know, and he does know, how those communities actually work.

                I wouldn't presume to tell an Englishman what the "facts" were or how the governing was conducted in Kent, or Cornwall, or Yorkshire. I don't live in those places. I'll take him at his word, because he does live there.

                On a different note, I was sorry to read your post concerning gardening and the availability of seeds. I would think that HM government would strongly encourage the growing of as much fruit and veg as was possible by the citizenry.

                If you are interested, a book you might like to read is: "Cadillac Desert - the American west and its disappearing water." by Marc Reisner. Penguin Books, ISBN 0 14 01.7824 4

                Enough for now, I'm off to see if San Marino scored a goal in their match today.

                1. Lotaresco Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: Growing your own food can

                  "No, really, it is."

                  Well that really convinced me. Emboldening the word "is" is just so convincing, so much better than all that tedious evidence.

                  "You are spouting bullshit."

                  Well researched, accurate, referenced "bullshit" with plenty of examples of people who have been subject to action to prevent them living off grid in the USA. Of course this meticulously documented evidence is of no value whatever when someone can perform the perfect put-down by emboldening the word "is" and shouting "bullshit" without providing a single reference of their own.

                  <rolls:eyes>

            3. tlhonmey

              Re: Growing your own food can

              Depends on where and when you are. The Socialist State of Washington had a complete ban on collecting rainwater until just a few years ago. Furthermore, I may not sell or even give away any of the milk my goats produce unless I have it processed in a certified facility.

              Such practices were common on a national level under FDR. He packed the courts so they'd rule that growing your own food would cause you to purchase less and thus "affected" interstate commerce. He then used these rulings to justify seizing and destroying wheat, corn, and livestock produced by small farmers for their own use in an amazingly horrible scheme to kickstart the economy by making sure prices stayed nice and high.

              New York city has made it illegal for private citizens to give food to homeless persons.

              Basically insanity is the norm, not the exception where humans are concerned.

            4. veti Silver badge

              Re: Growing your own food can

              As usual in the US, the facts are a little more nuanced than that.

              There are some states that have laws about what you can do with rainwater on your own property. Some of them have complex regimes of 'water rights' and 'permits' to do things that would otherwise be forbidden.

              So yes, the story is wildly exaggerated, but it's not complete fantasy.

              1. Lotaresco Silver badge
                WTF?

                Re: Growing your own food can

                " the story is wildly exaggerated"

                Go on, I'll bite, how can a story that is supported by references be "wildly exaggerated"?

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: Growing your own food can

            @Lotaresco

            Probably. It's certainly true that the USA bans people trying to live "off grid" by misusing sanitation laws and by claiming that anyone who saves the rainwater from their own roof is "stealing" water that belongs to a private company.

            For real? And to think we used to joke about taxing the air we breathe!

            I know in the UK, trespass laws won't get you anything, but in America, if a private company owns the water, can't you prosecute them for trespass, or sue for roof/rust damage, or charge them rent, or legally confiscate assets sent to you u solicited? !!

            1. 404 Silver badge

              Re: Growing your own food can

              'For real? And to think we used to joke about taxing the air we breathe!'

              You do pay tax for the air you breathe - part of the Government package enforcing clean air laws.

              Just not directly.

      4. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: wrong turn

        Really genuinely puzzled why this fatuous remark has so many ups and so few downs. It obviously complete bollocks. What have I missed?

    2. Richard Jones 1
      FAIL

      @Andrew Jones 2

      So the fact (not supposition) that a certain Thomas Mair, 53 is stated to have used the contents of such a book to build a device to kill Jo Cox does not blow a hole in your weak arguement. It is not just stupid master mind terrorists but feable minded bigots and dopes we have to worry about. I realise you made a sort of Trump sound bite but is that all there is to life and death?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Andrew Jones 2

        So the fact (not supposition) that a certain Thomas Mair, 53 is stated to have used the contents of such a book to build a device to kill Jo Cox does not blow a hole in your weak arguement.

        And the fact that she was stabbed and shot blows a hole in yours?

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: @Andrew Jones 2

          No, it doesn;t blow a hole in his argument, because the gun was a home-made or adapted from a replica in the manner described in the books.

          See also the 7/7 attackers who killed rather more than one person using homebrewed explosives.

          1. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Re: @Andrew Jones 2

            " the gun was a home-made or adapted from a replica in the manner described in the books."

            That is supposition. The police have never published the evidence to support the claim, all that is known is that he used a gun of some sort. The most likely explanation is that it was a sawn-off shotgun. No one needs a book to tell them to saw the barrels and stock off a gun. All they need to do is watch a Guy Ritchie film.

      2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: @Andrew Jones 2

        Would you actually need a book to work out how to 'shoot and stab' anyone or would you just watch Rambo, Die Hard or any other Hollywood "blockbuster" produced since 1950?

        1. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: @Andrew Jones 2

          "Would you actually need a book to work out how to 'shoot and stab' anyone or would you just watch Rambo, Die Hard or any other Hollywood "blockbuster" produced since 1950?"

          And that is someone putting their finger firmly on one of the root causes of the problem, Mr Hat. But it's not just the block busters. The entertainment industry teaches children from an early age that violence is the solution to all problems. Starting with children's cartoons and shows such as "Power Rangers", children are exposed to the message that violence has no adverse consequences and that violence is the first response to anything that you don't like.

          The worst in this respect from my era was "The A Team" which showed every week that you can fire guns at people, throw hand grenades and explode bombs without any danger of killing someone or doing more than slightly singing their hair.

      3. Lotaresco Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: @Andrew Jones 2

        "So the fact (not supposition) that a certain Thomas Mair, 53 is stated to have used the contents of such a book to build a device to kill Jo Cox does not blow a hole in your weak arguement."

        No, it doesn't because it's not true. Thomas Mair killed Jo Cox by shooting her with a sawn-off shotgun and stabbing her with a knife. The only "devices" recovered from his home were "Nazi regalia and memorabilia". He bought books from National Vanguard Books that may have included details of how to improvise weapons. There's no evidence that he constructed such a device.

        More to the point is that Mair suffered from mental illness that was not treated and he was taken advantage of by American Neo-Nazis. Their techniques parallel those of ISIS, attracting individuals who are relatively easy to manipulate and feeding them a diet of mental filth in order to use them as murderers.

        Why state that something is a fact when it clearly isn't?

        1. Titus Aduxass
          Facepalm

          Re: @Andrew Jones 2

          "Why state that something is a fact when it clearly isn't?"

          It worked for Donald Trump.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Andrew Jones 2

          "Why state that something is a fact when it clearly isn't?"

          Haven't you been paying attention to the outcomes of recent political campaigns? People aren't interested in facts any more. The truth is a turn-off. Wild rhetoric, confidently asserted, is what the majority wants.

        3. Florida1920 Silver badge

          Re: @Andrew Jones 2

          Their techniques parallel those of Donald Trump, attracting individuals who are relatively easy to manipulate and feeding them a diet of mental filth....

          FTFY

      4. stu 19

        Re: @Andrew Jones 2

        The MP was shot, wasn't she?

        He was found to have the materials in his possession but had no device constructed from its content.

        As for any terrorist organisation buying its training materials from WHSmith - LMAO. They are pissing themselves laughing right now.

      5. Kurt Meyer

        Re: @Andrew Jones 2

        @ Richard Jones 1

        "So the fact (not supposition) that a certain Thomas Mair, 53 is stated to have used the contents of such a book to build a device to kill Jo Cox does not blow a hole in your weak arguement. It is not just stupid master mind terrorists but feable minded bigots and dopes we have to worry about."

        Thank you for your post. These forums need more people who are, as you seem to be, familiar with facts, weak arguement, and the 'feable minded'.

        I, for one, feel certain that a job in government is in your future.

      6. Fred Dibnah

        Re: @Andrew Jones 2

        "..is stated to have used the contents..." does not mean he actually used the contents.

      7. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: @Richard Jones 1

        Son, back in Ye Olden Daze, a few cousins and friends played with assorted chemicals and our high school chemistry books plus one or two historical novels. We made gunpowder, guncotton, nitroglycerin, really crude versions of dynamite and plastic explosives, napalm, several different organo-phosphate nerve agents (hint: start with roach-killer spray), ammonium tri-iodide, lots of similar stuff. We made a lot of explosions and came really close to killing ourselves several times. Y'all gonna ban chemistry books, laddie? How about historical novels; we first encountered ammonium tri-iodide in a book set in late 19th century Austria. And certain tricks involving potassium permanganate, petrol, and sulphuric acid were taken from another book, set in France in the summer and fall of 1944.

        Don't be more of a berk than you can help, laddie.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sites?

      What, like youtube???

      FFS, ANY first year chemsitry student has a knowledge of explosive chemistry that would rival any cottage industry bomb maker.

      Knee jerk reaction.

      Banning knowledge is NEVER the solution.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Sites?

        My daughter's school chemistry book has revision on the nitrification of benzene. It warns to keep the temperature low otherwise it makes TNT! Obvious terrorist training!

        BAN CHEMISTRY! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Re: Sites?

          Ban thinking! Think of the children!!

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: Sites?

            "Ban thinking! Think of the children!!"

            Ban children! Think of the thinking!

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Sites?

          BAN CHEMISTRY! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

          Labour government tried. And succeeded - it was discussed in the House of Commons at the time.

          I remember writing to my MP regarding Labour using court orders to prohibit potential subversives attending an adult education high-school level Chemistry course a few years back.

          So UK government has indeed tried and has successfully applied a CHEMISTRY BAN to suspect on the basis of the mere suspicion that said suspect may be dangerous.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          TNT

          My daughter's school chemistry book has revision on the nitrification of benzene. It warns to keep the temperature low otherwise it makes TNT! Obvious terrorist training!

          Complete nitration[*] of benzene would produce trinitrobenzene. This is however quite hard to achieve: each subsequent nitro substituent reduced the reactivity of the benzene core, so that fairly extreme measures are needed to make the third nitro group go in in a direct nitration of benzene. It is highly unlikely these reaction conditions will occur due to accidental overheating in a lab; Even then, the yields are very low, so this is not a very useful synthetic route.

          Because the presence of an aliphatic substituent enhances the reactivity of the benzene core, direct full nitration of toluene is possible (although the conditions are still quite harsh for a laboratory process; it requires several hours of boiling on an oil bath), leading to trinitrotoluene (aka TNT). A common mistake for rookie students trying to synthesize dinitrotoluene is to overheat the reaction vessel, producing an appreciable amount of TNT.

          Been there, done that, got a proper scolding from the lab supervisor :)

          [*] Not nitrification; Nitrification is oxidation of ammonia to a nitrate, a rather different reaction.

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