back to article Did we say you can read that?

An issue that refuses to go away is whether some academic research now needs a license from the local police. Regular readers may remember the case of Hicham Yezza and Rizwaan Sabir, which we reported on in May. This kicked off when Mr Sabir, a postgraduate student at Nottingham University, asked Mr Yezza to help him out by …

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  1. reg

    Would make for good research

    Just have some professor (or several together) assign all types of possible dodgy books to stodents with the intructions on what police stations to go to to ask for opinnions if they are legal to own and then make a report.

    Say you have 100 books, spread out on 100 students, each book given to 3 students, and every student thus getting 3 differtent books over the course to ask the police about.

    Then write a research paper on the responses..

  2. Nick
    Black Helicopters

    Mind bleach

    I had the misfortune to do a chemistry degree, read Horowitz and Hill, and watch that 3 part Channel 4 documentary on the history of car bombing (which had some close ups of devices and discussions of tactics).

    Someone pass me the mind bleach before I'm arrested.

    Mine's the one with the lobotomy drill in the pocket.

  3. Mike Crawshaw
    Black Helicopters

    "Where's Wally?" - The Terryrist Training Guide!

    Well, it offers practical advice on camouflage in both urban and rural environments...

  4. Robin Bradshaw
    Flame

    Fourth Reich

    Wooooohooooo! We can have ourselves a good old fashioned book burning. I suggest we postpone this till the 10th of May next year though, as that has traditionally been the day to burn "bad" books.

    Instead of worrying what people of the UK are reading the government should be rejoicing that the people of the UK are reading anything at all.

    My money is on the first things to be burnt are all references to nu labours monumental cockups.

  5. Chris Holford
    Unhappy

    Standalone physics

    How things have changed!

    During WW2, a translated version of 'Mein Kampf" was freely available in the UK .(IIRC, profits went to the Red Cross.)

  6. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    "It is forbidden" vs "Academic freedom"?

    How can sir Colin state in the same paragraph that a historian or sociologist has no right to study a text which has direct connection to a phenomenon in his field (studying terrorism is part of history and sociology) and yet say he upholds academic freedom? You need a fully patched electric monk to believe that or even it will fry a bank of illogic circuits. Even in Germany where Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was banned, historians could read it.

    If this is the level of logic sir Colin Campbel can muster, he has no place in academia.

    Quite apart from academia, if I were a Muslim, I might well want to understand what drives these fanatics, if only to find counter-arguments (e.g. from the Koran, where you will find many) if you find some member of your family or a friend is coming attracted to the "ideals" of these terrorist. Of course, should you do so, you yourself become a suspect.

    <sarcasm>

    What an enlightened society we live in.

    </sarcasm>

  7. Chris Holford
    Unhappy

    How things have changed!

    How things have changed!

    During WW2, a translated version of 'Mein Kampf" was freely available in the UK .(IIRC, profits went to the Red Cross.)

  8. Roger Pearse

    Interesting inverted racism

    Curious to see your otherwise sensible article invoke the mantra that the safety of us all takes second place to ensuring that the privileged legal status of those "not quite white" skinned is maintained. Like most ordinary non-privileged people, I rather resent the fact that I must be subjected to irrelevant and unnecessary harassment in case other members of a privileged racial group responsible for repeated attempts at mass murder feel upset.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    memphis04

    Every god-damned aspect of our lives.

    Damned control freaks.

  10. JohnG

    I'm with the cops on this.

    How about someone having copies of launch codes for Britain's nuclear weapons "for research"? Or how about a manual describing how to make and use date rape drugs effectively? Someone involved in pharmacology might have a legitimate use for such information but it would probably depened on the context of their research.

    I don't see why books should have some kind of immunity. If someone has a slide-hammer and a screwdriver whilst working in their garage, that's perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, if someone is found to be carrying the same tools in a car park at 2am, they will probably be arrested for "going equipped to steal". If someone has a book providing instructions on how to make bombs from household materials, it doesnt seem unreasonable for them to explain the context.

    Given that Al Qaeda has used British citizens with origins in various Islamic countries to commit acts of terrorism in the UK and abroad, it would seem particularly stupid for someone of that demographic to be in possession of such material.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    that's the way, aha aha...

    So academic freedom means you can study whatever somebody else allows you to. Great idea. There is also no benefit in giving free access to the "dangerous books" out there as in order to better understand the motives of "evil". Authorities will want to know everything about you and they sure know best what you yourself should know and what not. In fact it would be even better if all those evil books were piled in the streets and set on fire. Autumn is coming anyway, it might get quite atmospheric... look at the decorative flame, makes you all warm and fuzzy.

    This is censorship. Why don't we name it so?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    A list!!

    We need a list of all the bad books. I can then check all my friends and families bookshelves to ensure they are not terryrists, paedos, or other scum of the state. If they are i can then report them for their crimes.

    Interestingly how can i be sure if a book is a bad book without a list? should i inventory all my books and present to the police just in case? what about the library, good grief I could have accidentally come into contact with one of these mind altering things...

    Maybe it would be best just to commit suicide in case I am already infected!!

    Anonymous because I dont want the special forces to get to me first, wait what was that knock at the door?

    Paris because she won't ever be arrested for reading a book..

  13. dervheid
    Unhappy

    Sir Colin's Arse...

    must indeed be very sore from sitting on the fence, and his fingers likewise from all the lilly-livered hand wringing.

    Spineless Git.

  14. Christoph Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Guilty until proven guilty

    You're entirely free to read what you want, but of course you may be held in custody for some time while you are investigated to see if there's any way to twist the law to do you.

    Have academics really been reduced this far trying to curry favour with NuLab?

    And an open-ended definition of what is forbidden. Even the Catholic Church at least produced an Index of Forbidden Books so you could tell what you weren't allowed to read.

  15. Tam Lin

    The Bible

    - The world's favorite terrorist manual since 4000 BC!

    - Recommended by monarchs, popes and presidents for all your inquisition and invasion needs!

    - Learn the amazing secrets of slaughtering impure heretics from the originators of stoning - don't accept crude Islamic imitations!

    - Free bonus! Torture, maim or kill anyone, anytime with the included 'god told me to' justification! (For those special occasions, try all three - we call it the 'holy trinity'!)

    - And much, much more!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    the daily mail

    in my view is incitement and inspiration for terrorists, now can we lock up all daily mail readers under their much loved terrorism laws.

  17. IHateWearingATie
    Black Helicopters

    I have in mind a protest march....

    .... where each person has a copy of the Jihadi HandbookR, Jolly Roger Cookbook (which incidentially I had a copy of when I was a teenager) and some of the more interesting chemistry textbooks.

    We then march to Scotland Yard and dare them to arrest us all.

    The 'reasonable' defence for possessing said materials? Why taking them on a protest march of course. We'd fill up the court system with cases for months and months!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    And then there's "Art"

    Similar pushes are occurring Down Under to have "controversial" art pre-approved by some authority not only before publication but before working with the material (or models) in the first place. We've already had the police raid a gallery only to have the material eventually released as it was rated "PG" (which is safe for any age, but recommended for 12 years or older). You'd think that would be enough, but no - now there's a push to replace the people on the classification board with neo-cons.

    A slippery slope indeed.

    And there are rumours of certain books quietly disappearing from library shelves ...

  19. Dave Ross
    Unhappy

    Indeed...

    we are truly becoming the type of society that Islamic fundamentalists "claim" to hate so much.

  20. David Cornes
    Unhappy

    The extremists are winning

    If you think that one of their aims is to undermine our 'free' society, then by the actions of a very small number of people they've provoked disproportionate reactions from the authorities, effectively slowly but surely turning us all into suspected terrorists, simply based on what we might be reading.

    Congrats Bin Laden and co!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Tube maps

    were useful to the planners of the 7/7 bombings, and to the individual "mules" much more useful than a chemistry textbook (unless they all made whatever it was that went "boom").

    This could make all the public literature on public transport and other utilities dangerous to have (Guide books to historic buildings like the Tower of London also have building plans in, and even tell you how thick the walls are and all about their defences, but not I concede about the CCTV). A bored or vindictive plod could make merry with any number of citizens or tourists (especially the non-pink ones).

    Although if you have a London Bus Timetable you are more likely to be prosecuted for possession of a "false instrument" (fraudulent document)

  22. David Simpson
    Coat

    well

    I've got a copy of

    1. the anarchists cookbook

    2. the al-Qaeda training manual

    3. the Times obituary of a printer

    of the three the last is most useful for terrorist purposes because it describes in sufficient detail how to make a diffusion grating for the purposes of concentrating U235 by means of gas diffusion.

    I also have a full set of physics undergraduate text books, including those pertaining to radioactive thingies.

    Mine the one that says "come and get me you stupid ephing plod"

  23. P. Lee Silver badge
    Pirate

    re: I'm with the cops on this.

    I think the point has been missed with this.

    Possession isn't enough to infer intent, as with the slide hammer and screwdriver.

    If there is possession and a large amount of fertiliser or ammonia, several trigger mechanisms and a map of London with an X on the Palace, then there is some indication of intent.

    Possession of the documents alone don't tell you enough to make a judgement.

  24. Mickey Porkpies
    Unhappy

    rights or wrongs?

    Am I the only one wondering if the Country is sleeping through further erosion of our rights in the name of "Security" ???

    Government Control in the name of the terrible acts of few have done more to reduce our democracy than any Facist Leader would have hoped. I despair at the ingnorance of our society and wonder when I shall get a call for daring to think for myself!

    The very core of our justice system "innocent until proven guilty" fades with every hacker and book that has to prove they are not evil or terrorists. I shall get rid of all my cutlery as that scould be used to take over a plane much as it was in 911 oh and my shoes.

  25. Magnus Egilsson
    Thumb Down

    Travel plans

    Sounds like UK is already onboard the Mediaval Time Travel Express embracing mind control, paranoia, ignorance and apathy. Wonder if they can catch up with the Stone Age Express from USA.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    They've already won

    Acts of terrorism are so called because they are intended to induce terror.

    Since 9/11 (and probably before but I wasn't as cynical back then), our own governments have kept us in a perpetual state of terror. It seems there's a terrorist round every corner, a paedo in every second house (everyone lives next door to one), the threat that you could be held without charge for 7, 14, 28, 42 days without charge, not to mention that we're all going to die if we don't pay extra for the carbon we emit into the atmosphere (reduction is the key, government-folks!!!). And now the possibility that if you read a chemistry book, which is every day in my job, you may be arrested and held until you provide a legit. excuse! ie guilty until proven innocent! Terrorism indeed.

    The terrorists have already won, and our own "elected" spokespersons have become the very thing they say they're fighting (ably assisted by the media, of course).

    Tux? Because soon even the penguins will be against us.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    wanna ban what you can read?

    Missed in the article was the fact that the "Al-Qaeda manual" was downloaded from the US Department of Justice website, from a PC on the university website. Hardly what you'd do if you had "intent". The guy all of this quite openly, there was no secrecy surrounding his intentions. At a push, an interview or surveillance might have been justified, but no more.

    Other books to ban, even for research purposes? Here's my list:

    Lolita (incitation to paedophilia)

    anything by George Orwell

    Brave New World

    all the SAS series and anything by Tom Clancy (military equipment described in detail!!! should be covered by the secrets act!)

    ANY philosopher/poet/artist (might make you think)

    and so on...

    Let me tell you, book banning/limitation of research are the FIRST THINGS fascists do. In my home country of France, when several cities got a majority National Front council, on of the first steps they did was remove books they didn't like from the public library. They sneakily started with children's books that had images of black/brown people, then moved on to stuff written by foreigners or jews, until the local librarian noticed what was going on (they hadn't told her of course) and she kicked up a stink over it.

    Be forever vigilant

  28. Gianni Straniero
    Black Helicopters

    I'll read whatever I bloody well please, thank you

    Every time I hear of some document or other that we're not supposed to have, in case it can "provide assitance to terrorists", I obtain a copy immediately. I double-dog-dare the Police to arrest me, no returns.

    Sadly John Ozimek hits the nail on the head. Unless you are of Pakistani or other unsavoury extraction, you will not be busted for possessing a copy of the US COIN manual.

    Sir Colin's remarks are indeed depressing, coming from a senior academic. Why should I have to be engaged in a programme of research to read the documents? A valid defence to a charge of possession should be "Because I wanted to know what was in them".

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police mind.

    This is a classic example of the police mind set, a sort of hierarchic brotherhood. Where all are equal at each rank, and the word of a higher rank is full authority.

    (Guess what rank the citizenry is..)

    >"The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is

    > not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it

    > legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes."

    But the guy is doing a Phd, any method, materials or time taken is his choice, he is judged on the results. While he can get guidance, he doesn't have to get it, or act on it.

    In the Police mind though, the university is the higher authority for him, so if they say he doesn't need it, then in their minds he doesn't need it - he's outranked. However it isn't for the university to say whether or not it is required at all. It's not a taught course.

    The law is that _he_ must have a "reason", not that the university must give him or validate the reason just that _he_ personally has one. No hierarchy applies, the police are unable to comprehend that there is no superior officer.

    Really the CPS should give the pigs a right old bitch slap when they pull this kind of stunt.

  30. Andy

    @Roger Pearse

    Wow I never thought that I was part of a "privileged racial group"! I must remember to tell that to people next time I get racial abuse hurled at me and threatened with extreme violence. They'll back down for sure!

    Laws unfortunately have to apply to everyone regardless of their colour or religon. Go back a few years and you'll find that Irish people were targeted because of the IRA and they didn't like it much either. Sure you could just search every brown person in the airport but wouldn't serious terrorists cotton on to that fact and plant explosive devices on other people?

    Just because I'm a bit brown I shouldn't have more laws against me than everyone else. I'm tempted to read the Koran just to see what all the fuss is about, but better not do that in public though eh?

  31. spiny norman
    Stop

    @JohnG

    Reading a book, whether it is "Mein Kampf", "Terrorism for Dummies" or the complete works of the Marquis de Sade, harms no one and it would be impossible to prove "beyond reasonable doubt" what anyone's intention was in reading such books. That is why the government have overturned the fundamental principles of English law, which have served us well for centuries, and put the burden of proof on the defendant.

    Your car thief analogy doesn't work, because someone in a car park with the tools for car stealing is in the same position as someone with a bomb in Waitrose. The analogy you are looking for is a student downloading "The Zen Guide to Car Breaking". Should that be illegal?

    The current wave of terrorism has killed less people in this country than a fortnight of traffic accidents, yet the government is prepared rip up the rules of evidence and send the police out looking for people with books.

  32. This Guy

    @ "I'm with the cops on this"

    That's the point: there is the "going equipped" law (fuzzy though it may be). There's the similarly open-ended "loitering with intent." The anti-terror laws SHOULD have been drafted in similar language; there's a large body of case law, it would have removed the hand-wringing over the word 'reasonable', and it likely would have been clearer all round.

    So why didn't they?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Fahrenheit 451

    Just burn all the pesky books...

  34. Frederick Karno
    Paris Hilton

    Whats that smell ???

    Lets just burn all books........then there is no chance of reading the wrong ones.

    I read about that happening somewhere ......now where was it ???

    Paris?? no but it was somewhere in Europe........

  35. Master Baker
    Pirate

    corrections

    "that the Act is likely to be applied in a selective and racist fashion – with individuals whose skin is not quite white being far more likely to be asked to justify what is on their bookshelves or hard drive"

    Islam is not a race - it's a religion. Therefore applying this law to Muslims is not racist.

    It's a fact that most muslims are non-white. And most muslims are terrorists :-)

  36. Tawakalna
    Black Helicopters

    The particular irony being...

    ..that the *Al-Quaeda Training Manual* in question was originally downloaded from...

    the U.S. Department of Justice website.

    I've been following this case since it came to the fore some time ago, and have a friend at Nottingham Univ who keeps me informed of developments. The gist of the matter running on for so long is that the Univ over-reacted and abdicated their academic responsibility by handing the matter over to the Police, who also over-reacted, then when it was discovered that there was no actual case to answer, couldn't bring themselves (either of them) to admit that there'd been a mistake. Shamefully, habeas corpus seemed to be asleep at the time.

    But, as has been noted several times already in the UK media

    http://www.ukwatch.net/article/rushing_to_nottingham039s_defence

    if the two concerned didn't have brown skin and Middle-Eastern sounding names, no-one would have batted an eyelid as the material was perfectly legitimate and being used for appropriate research purposes. The non-issue of Yezza's immigration status in the UK was cynically used by the authorities to *muddy the waters* as the University were fully aware of his staus as was later confirmed. The real issue here is not one of terrorism or its prevention, but of quasi-institutionalised racism, and personal and professional freedom. Having said that. at least neither of them had a pistol emptied in the back of their heads whilst on their way to work....

    A very shameful reflection on the current state of affairs in Nu-Labor's gulag island.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    heh

    I for one welcome our book burning overlords!

    Now excuse me it'll take me a while to get into these boots.

    @JohnG

    Fear not your perfectly reasonable and seamingly sensible logic shall continue to see our nation go down the road of xenophobic hate and ineffectual restriction of intellectual freedom and interest. As those things just serve to fuel the hate, and extend it. Soon the Governments of the west wont just have Islamic Jihadists to fear, but intellectuals and free thinkers too. When pushed into a corner any person can commit acts thought impossible.

    No one in this nation (or any free and just society) should ever go to prison unless it can be proved beyond any reasonable doubt that they commited or intended to commit a crime, and there should be harsh punishments for those who bring frivilous charges on the innocent.

  38. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Stop

    Before all those sitting too high on their morale horses to see the ground get going....

    When it was brought to the Police's attention by the Uni, it was the fact that Mr Yezza was the one downloading the material - someone who DID NOT have a reason to be doing so. As soon as it became clear that that the material had been downloaded at the request of Nr Sabir, who DID have a reason to download it, the case was closed. The subsequent investigation of Mr Yezza for immigration issues is completely separate, and the vague and libelous linking of the two is just blatent opportunism by the liberal-minded, desperate to find something so they can scream their second favourite accusation("Racist!") seeing as they have a real problem formulating a reasoned argument against "The Man". Should this be shown to be as empty an accusation as their usual bleating, I'm sure Mr Ozimek will fall back on the liberal's number one favourite bleat - "Fascist!"

    So, let's not waste too much time on Mr Ozimek's bleating, let's just focus on one or two of his more farcial statements in order to show his weak train of (group)thought.

    "....First, the law: If you possess dodgy material, it is for you to explain why...." And why not? If the Police find you carrying a gun or an explosive device, would you expect them to say "well, that's OK, we have to first prove you mean to shoot/blow-up someone"? No, it is simply illegal. Likewise, the law states that it is illegal to be in ownership of certain prohibited materials UNLESS you have a valid reason such as academic research. Mr Yezza did not have such a reason until it was explained he was merely fulfilling the request of someone who DID have such a valid reason. UK laws are largely set by the UK government, so if you don't like the law then please feel free to vote for which ever lunatic fringe group you think will give you the anarchic rights you wish for, just don't expect the rest of us to. We're a little more capable of realising a balance needs to be struck, and at the moment the balance seems quote fine to the majority, despite Mr Ozimek's alarmist bleating.

    "....What the Police appear to be saying is that you can be given the all-clear as a bona fide researcher of terror material in the morning – then re-arrested the same evening for the same offence. Surely not, one might think, but that possibility is within the bounds of the Law...." It is also quite possible the Police could investigate someone for drug-smuggling, prostitution, fraud or any one of a dozen illegal activities without proof beforehand, that is the reason for the investigation, to find evidence. And whilst the Police may decide not to pursue an arrest in the morning for any of those said crimes, should new evidence or the significance of evidence found in the morning lead to a re-think, they can also turn around and arrest for the same illegal activity in the afternoon. Mr Ozimek's wild accusation is that the Police will do this on some whim, no doubt driven in his eyes by their "blatent racism/fascism". Excuse me, but I think someone here is being a bit prejudiced, and so far it's not the Police. Oh, and I do not deny being prejudiced against the liberal-minded as I find their idiocy irritating.

    "....This has therefore provoked the accusation, in some quarters, that the Act is likely to be applied in a selective and racist fashion – with individuals whose skin is not quite white being far more likely to be asked to justify what is on their bookshelves or hard drive..." Ah, here we go - "Racist!" Can you provide proof of such bias? Before you start bleating about racial profiling, please can you also admit as to which racial group the July 7th bombers belonged to? Which religion they espoused, whether you contend it was a "corrupted" version or not? If I do a network security threat analysis I would prioritise my likely attackers into groups such as disgruntled employees, recent students (yes, the young and knowledgeable are more likely to try hacking before the experience of age adds a little wariness, I can vouch for that from personal experience), so am I being prejudiced against these groups? No, I am just being realistic. Whilst it would be unfair to say the only threat to us is coming from the Asian Muslim community, it is also head-in-the-sand liberalism to ignore the fact that the next suicide bomber in the UK is more than likely going to come from that group, and I do expect the Police to be expanding the majority of their anti-terror investigations into the Asian Muslim community. Not to do so would be to avoid their main reason for being - to protect the general public, which includes the rest of the Asian Muslim community - in favour of moronic political correctness.

    "....Yes, this is the law, but one might have hoped for greater insight into the question of whether it should be so from a senior member of a university. Sir Colin is buying into the notion that there are “dangerous books” out there – and the only way to avoid danger is to check with authority first. But once the authorities start to dictate what books or documents we may possess, we are on a slippery slope...." It is a simple reality that danger does not only come in the physical form of weapons, but that the written (or typed) word can be even more dangerous when the idiotic/dupeable are exposed to them. Would the author contend the banning of "Mein Kampf" in Austria is unfair? Unlikely. So, if Sir Colin had been dean of a Austrian university that found a student downloading "Mein Kampf" - an illegal act in Austrian universities without an explicit Austrian government licence for historic study - would you expect him to not refer the case to the local Police? Ah, but then anti-Nazism is cool with the groupthink of liberalism. It is also an accepted common thought in UK society that Nazism is bad. So, would Mr Ozimek be writing such drivel if Mr Yezza had been a skinhead from Essex calling himself Adolf Smith, and he had been caught downloading something like "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion"? I suspect not. So I suppose what Mr Ozimek is saying is that we shouldn't trust the authorities as qualified to say what is a "dangerous book" but he feels just fine in telling us what he thinks is "dangerous". Whilst Mr Ozimek gets down off his horse he may want to look into both some head deflation, the realities of the terrorist threat to the UK, and the dificult job faced by our Police and intelligence services in trying to detect and defeat that threat before it kills again.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @ JohnG

    You describe arrest on indication, not on proof. I can carry as many screwdrivers, glass cutters, crowbars, hammers etc. as I wish as long as my location is not a designated "no screwdrivers" zone or you actually catch me in the act of breaking into a car that is not mine or belonging to someone who told me to open it up for him.

    Also, I was under the impression that I could acquire any knowledge I deem interesting as long as I do not employ all those evil skills taken from evil books to actually commit some evil. As far as I know I could also cover myself in lard and prowl my premises at night with a running chainsaw as long as I did not cut anyone up and nobody complained about the noise.

    The point is: What I do at home (and to a lesser degree in public) and what I fill my head with is entirely my own business as long as it is not detrimental to others. If you find in my home on my desk a plan on how to make a bomb that's entirely my business. If I have a plan on where to place it / whom to kill with it right next to it, that is when you're allowed to ask questions. After answering my first question to you, namely "what the heck are you doing snooping around in my house and where is your court order?"

    The rights to personal freedom and privacy involve an element of risk. You cannot remove that element of risk without severe damage to freedom and privacy.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Roger Pearse

    'privileged legal status of those "not quite white" skinned'

    I think you'll find that there is no "privileged legal status" for non-whites in the UK; only a greater likelihood of being targeted by those paid to uphold the law.

    Your remarks seem to be a bit "Daily Mail"...

    Anon, because I've been on holiday and now have a bit of a tan...

  41. Tony

    @JohnG

    What a load of rubbish.

    The thing about information is that sometimes people are just interested in it.

    Hell when I am waiting down the barbers and there is a copy of the Daily Mail sat there, I have been bored enough to read it. Does that automatically make me a hateful fascist idiot?

    I'm pretty sure that on one of my old scrap computers at home somewhere on the HDD will be a copy of the anarchist's cookbook - Something which is almost certainly on the watchlist of dodgy texts as it describes how to make improvised explosive devices. I have no good reason to have it - It was just there and I downloaded it because I was curious, but then this was back in the days before September 11th when we were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.

    I am also a hoarder of books and if you went through my bookshelves you would find books on cannabis cultivation and joint rolling although I've never grown the stuff and haven't smoked it since my wayward youth. Also a book by Alexander Shulgin that describes in great detail how to make dozens of class a drugs - even though I have never attempted to make or take any of them.

    So by your definition (and the state's) because I cannot give a good reason for owning those materials apart from 'I was curious' I must be a drug-dealing-pothead-terrorist. Oh wait - It's ok though isn't it - Because my skin isn't brown.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And eventually...

    "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face … for ever."

  43. Solomon Grundy

    @JohnG

    Thanks buddy. You are the type of person responsible for taking away people's freedoms "to protect yourself, your family" blah blah blah. Hope you sleep well at night knowing that the terrorists can still kill you, but your fellow countryman can go to jail for reading about it.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Everyone who values freedom should download at least one book

    This country has really gone to the dogs. Part of the reason for such a gulf betwen the would be terrorists and the rest of the population is too little is understood of each sides views.

    This is really becoiming a police state when the police tell us what we can or cannot read. Or is it a catholic state? Burn books, burn people who don't conform to the doctrines of the state and church.

    Where are the libertarians they are very quiet?

    Policemen search my coat pockets to see if I have any banned books on me.

  45. Steve

    So the US govt are now terrorists

    After all, Sabir originally downloaded the document from a US govt website. Surely they are guilty of disemminating material that could be of use to a terrorist.

    Where would the SAS Survival Handbook sit in all this - I still have a copy from when I was in the scouts. I reckon 90% of the copies sold were to young teenage boys. Just to be on the safe side, we'd best lock up everyone who was in the scouts for 42 days while we check they haven't been using that orienteering and fire-lighting knowledge for terrorism.

  46. Adam Foxton
    Thumb Down

    This sucks

    I'd suggest moving to another country, but can't think of one off the top of my head that won't be full of the same sort of crap in a few short years.

  47. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Moving Onto Higher Ground and Into dDeeper Spaces.

    John,

    I think that you may have missed the point and not Sir Colin Campbell, although that also may be too harsh as you have carefully caveated your argument without stating facts, and suggestably posing questions that are debatable. Bravo. ......... "Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? But perhaps, by opting for what might be considered the “Nuremberg Defence”,....."

    I thought the Bold Knight hit the nail Right on the Head but then one can expect such from an Academic Environ Offering, thus to Deliver, Mastery in CyberPsychology with QuITe Necessary and Whitty Repartee ..... http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/08/13/uk-offer-masters-cyberpsychology.

    And how Refreshingly Bold of El Reg to be so Actively Engaged. Bravo, Bold Damsels and Brave Knights of the Virtual Realm.

    And Paris because Love Springs Eternal there, and in the Spring time too .....

    "I love paris in the spring time

    I love paris in the fall

    I love paris in the summer when it sizzles

    I love paris in the winter when it drizzles

    I love paris every moment

    Every moment of the year

    I love paris, why oh why do I love paris

    Because my love is here"

    ................................................................Cole Porter

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    To sir Colin

    I was considering taking up a position at Nottingham uni. when this story broke.

    Needless to say, I didn't.

    That's mine. The one with the P45 in the pocket.

  49. breakfast
    Happy

    Rhyme of the morning

    With each authoritarian law

    The terrorists win a little more.

  50. dervheid
    Unhappy

    @ "Index of Forbidden Books"

    Oh, mark my words, that'll be coming soon, although it's likely to be the inverse, an "Index of Permitted Reading".

    And it'll be very, very short.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    uni reading list

    I was a student at Notts Uni when this was happening and:

    "Following Mr Sabir’s release, the police wrote to him. Allegedly, they warn that he risks re-arrest if found with the manual again and add: "The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes.""

    That is a true WTF.

    The reason he was possessing that material was because it was ON THE COURSE READING LIST.

    Simply amazing.

  52. Matt Eagles
    Stop

    @Roger Pearse

    And not very interesting normal racism from you.

    "privileged legal status of those "not quite white" skinned"

    Are you deluded enough to really think that non-whites in the UK are the ruling elite? The belief that ethnic minorities have it easier than the white majority is a classic racist screed from the BNP et al.

    "I rather resent the fact that I must be subjected to irrelevant and unnecessary harassment in case other members of a privileged racial group responsible for repeated attempts at mass murder feel upset."

    What are you on about? Do you imagine that after arresting two "not quite white" studends, the police will roam the streets looking for two white students in order to even things up? What kind of cretin are you?

    The point being made was that it is likely to be mostly "not quite white" people being asked to explain their books on physics and biology, not white skinned people.

  53. Solomon Grundy

    @Matt Bryant

    Jesus man. You need to slow down a bit. And read the comment I made earlier. You sound like you've been up waaaay to long, your crazy, or you're a plant working for the Govt.

    Many of your arguments are the same used by the Nazi's - that some "badguy" is threatening us and we must surrender to the will of the state if we are to overcome this menace.

  54. Phil
    Pirate

    Civil disobedience is the only method left.

    Oh dear, I'd better not read any Chemistry books then, and certainly not tell you about http://www.philsykes.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/smbf/smbf.html as that would be very naughty indeed... All the info is in the public domain, and for information purposes only!

  55. Dave Bell

    US Army: Guitars more dangerous than machineguns

    Things have changed, and I don't have current URLs, but the US Army made many of its training manuals available in the Internet.

    This was post 9/11

    The manual for the M2 Heavy Machinegun was available, no limits.

    They also had a manual for electric guitars (think military bands providing music for the officer's mess--they've been in dance bands since the days of Glenn Miller). This, along with several others for musical instruments, was restricted to those who had the id/password combination provided by their military superiors.

    Clearly, the US Army thinks that guitars are more dangerous than machineguns.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: A list!!

    An Anonymous Coward wrote: “Interestingly how can i be sure if a book is a bad book without a list? should i inventory all my books and present to the police just in case?”

    A fine idea, but rather impractical. In the case of the “Extreme Pornographic Images” Act, opponents of that legislation have taken material to the police, only to find the police didn’t have a clue. That was only possible because the material isn’t yet illegal. You can’t ask the police for help with your list. If there’s the merest whiff that your material would be on the list, should it be imagined that such a list exists, you risk being arrested. This rather defeats the purpose of asking in the first place. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act also has similar sorts of is-a-defence clauses.

  57. chris
    Flame

    @Roger Pearse

    "a privileged racial group responsible for repeated attempts at mass murder feel upset."

    Would this be the "privelege" of risking being shot in the arm at 5am then smeared as a paedophile on the word of 1 individual with a dubious motivation? (Forest Gate Met FTW!)

    You're a fucking moron.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Index of Forbidden Books

    However, the Roman Catholic Church's Index of Forbidden Books was itself a Forbidden Book (and listed in the Index), so, if you were an ordinary civilian, you couldn't tell what you were allowed to read.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Following

    what some people say here (Roger, Johnwhoever) I am a highly likely terrorist suspect. I mean I'm educated (PhD in bacteriology), have easy access to chemical/physical/biological science textbooks and to sources of quite nasty material (B&Q, Wickes, labs...). I can also isolate fairly nasty bacteria without killing myself. To top it all off I'm a despised immigrant come to your shores to steal your jobs, women and live off the NHS (no quite, I'm French). Add to that the fact that I'm a convert (and therefore fanatical extremist) to Islam, and I wonder why I haven't been arrest yet.

    Actually, I wonder why the people who know all this about me haven't called the cops yet, what is wrong with them? Oh yes I know, they all think the Daily Fail isn't even worth wiping your bum with.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    @AC @JohnG

    > "I can carry as many screwdrivers, glass cutters, crowbars, hammers etc. as I wish as long as my location is not a designated "no screwdrivers" zone or you actually catch me in the act of breaking into a car that is not mine or belonging to someone who told me to open it up for him."

    I wish that were true, but reality is a little different. Recently I went for a walk in my suburb, mostly for exercise, but I took my camera with me since the route winds back along the foreshore with a nice view. I was in a track suit and sunglasses (it was sunny) and baseball cap (I'm going bald - it keeps the sun off my head). I got about 500 metres from home on a typical suburban street and was stopped by two plain clothes police who pulled up in an unmrked car (they had badges). They were not polite at all and very demanding - do you live here? where have you come from/are you going to? photo ID? no, why not? name/address/DOB? what's in the (camera) bag, do you always wear cap and sunglasses? how often do you walk on this street? point to your house from here? and so on ..... Very much "Guilty until proven innocent". Had I a toolbag on me, I'm sure they would have taken me in for questioning - according to them, the camera was suspicious enough!

    Other than a couple of speeding tickets, that was my first dealing with police - I have to say, I'm not at all impressed.

  61. Sillyfellow
    Alert

    it's not the information

    that is 'evil'. There is not ANY information that is evil. it is the things that some people do that is evil.

    information and learning is always beneficial to better understand things. to progress and move forward/evolve. this is a basic principle called EDUCATION.

    stopping anyone from learning anything is not going to prevent some people from doing evil things if they choose to.

    understand clearly that this here is a double standard (like so many).. so it's ok for some people (like military and security agencies) to do whatever they want (including shoot people), but it's not ok for anyone else to?

    it's ok for the good ol USA & England to have nuclear weapons, but it's not ok for anyone else to have them? WTF !!! bloody self interested idiots are running this world, and we are the 'common people' who have no say, no rights, and little value, and are certainly expendable.

    people are bad. information is not.

  62. Gianni Straniero
    Stop

    @Matt Bryant

    I could not disagree with you more.

    "If the Police find you carrying a gun or an explosive device ... it is simply illegal"

    Possession of the Al Qaeda training manual is manifestly not the same as possession of a firearm or explosives. It is simply preposterous to link the two. But our government got there long before you did. Take a look at the Terrorism Act (2006) Section 2, subsection 3, from which I quote:

    "A publication is a terrorist publication ... if matter contained in it is likely—

    "(a) to be understood, by some or all of the persons to whom it is or may become available ... as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism"

    This is so ludicrously wooly that you could quite easily contend that the Quran is such a publication.

    If anyone is charged with dissemination of terrorist material, by any of dozens of different mechanisms, including "transmit[ting] the contents of such a publication electronically", he has but two valid defences:

    "(a) That the statement [i.e. the document] neither expressed his views nor had his endorsement ... and

    "(b) that it was clear, in all the circumstances of the statement’s publication, that it did not express his views and ... did not have his endorsement."

    This does not mean that the defendant has to have a "valid reason" for possessing the document. It means that he has to prove that it does not express his views or have his endorsement.

    If our legal system were still worth the name, it would be incumbent on the prosecution to show that it did express the defendant's views AND have his endorsement.

    You go on to say:

    "It is a simple reality that danger does not only come in the physical form of weapons, but that the written (or typed) word can be even more dangerous when the idiotic/dupeable are exposed to them."

    Then I suggest you bring an action against the US DOJ for exposing the "idiotic" and "dupeable" to such horrifying material. Or perhaps they would point out that if "you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."

    You have fun on Airstrip One, Matt. Me? I'll live free or die.

  63. William Boyle

    slippery slope

    Pertaining to the closing sentence "But once the authorities start to dictate what books or documents we may possess, we are on a slippery slope". It is clear to me that (formerly) Great Britain has already slid well down that slope, and fallen over the precipice. The US is also falling, hand-in-hand, with GB over that edge. Too bad, as I used to have a great deal of respect for the British people, but you seem to have let the inmates take over the asylum.

  64. Jamie Bowden
    Paris Hilton

    What's up with you kids across the pond?

    You lived with IRA extremists for decades without self destructing, and now a few middle eastern fuck ups, who can't even manage to be half competent have your kickers in a twist?

    It's pretty fucked up over here too, but we're new to this terrorism thing (with one or two minor exceptions), and the idiots across the Potomac are finally realizing that they might have over reacted just a wee bit and are starting to scale back the idiocy finally (that, and the courts are still mostly sane and stomping the more egregious crap into the ground).

    Where's the Paris angle?

  65. A J Stiles
    Flame

    Just remember .....

    Wherever they have burned books, they will end up burning people.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What's up with you kids across the pond?

    Well, we had internment without trial there as well for a bit.

    Basically our government are a bunch of cowards, and so they end up

    panicking over a bunch of witless loonies. If the IRA had been as thick

    as these Muzzos the whole of that thing would've been cleared up in the 70's.

  67. Chris G Silver badge

    Quick have a look at this!

    Gun cotton a powerful explosive is made by adding nitric acid to cotton wool,dropping sulphuric acid into glycerin will make a handy incendiary device.Now you are all guilty of having potentially terrorist usable info on your hard drives. you are all nicked. I learnt those 2 items in science class when i was 11 yrs old. I know the standards in schools and unis are getting worse , this will only help.

  68. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    What is text?

    As another (biological) boffin I would like to draw an analogy, with dna sequences. There are a number of organisms with bioweapons possibilities whose genome sequences are in the databases. I can download those sequences, they are texts (ACTG) and are dangerous. If made.

    I can legitimately obtain these and hold them, access them online (so can anyone with a net connection) etc. However the companies that make oligos (synthesised dna sequences) now search ordered sequences to make sure I am not collecting a kit of parts for some nasty virus. It is therefore not the text that is problematic, but the obvious intent of trying to build the beastie.

    Methinks a mite of hypocricy pertains here.

    Dead vulture for obvious reasons.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Slippery slope indeed.

    "But once the authorities start to dictate what books or documents we may possess, we are on a slippery slope"

    I would suggest that once it starts you are already screaming down the slope at a hundred miles per hour.

    Anonymous because I like my books.

  70. John Stevens
    Flame

    @Matt Bryant (are the Police really this incompetent?)

    According to Mr Bryant:

    "When it was brought to the Police's attention by the Uni, it was the fact that Mr Yezza was the one downloading the material - someone who DID NOT have a reason to be doing so. As soon as it became clear that that the material had been downloaded at the request of Nr Sabir, who DID have a reason to download it, the case was closed."

    Two probs, really, with this. First, Hicham Yezza DID have a reason to download the material: his friend asked him to. Seems like a pretty good reason to me. Or are the Police now also arbiters of when it is permissible to engage in acts of kindness towards friends?

    But actually, it is the timescale implied by your comment that leaves me cold.

    "As soon as it became clear...."

    Er, right. Mr Yezza's reason for downloading material was that someone asked him to and he was doing a favour.

    Mr Sabir's reason was that he was doing some research.

    Since possession of the material ceases to be an offence the moment someone can show they had a reasonable reason for possessing it....either the police are incredibly, mind-numbingly incompetent.....or actually rather vicious, holding people for six days over a matter that could have been resolved by means of a couple of phone calls.

    Mr Sabir. Why did u possess this material? Er, I'm a PhD student studying this subject. Here's the number and address of my supervisor.

    Either Nottingham Plod had other stuff to do....or it took them a week to make a phone call.

    Perhaps that's why the Police reckon they need 42 days to interrogate suspects.... Obviously, at the rate of six days per simple question, they are gonna need a lot of time.

  71. Mark
    Thumb Down

    re: What's up with you kids across the pond?

    Maybe the difference is that durring the IRA attacks, the MP's were trained in something else, or from jobs or workplaces.

    We now have career politicians. E.g. an ex-chancellor and current PM whose degree is "The labour party". Poli Sci.

    In those days, problems were to be solved. Now problems are to be taken advantage of.

  72. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Pirate

    RE: Solomon Grundy, Gianni Straniero and John Stevens

    RE: Solomon Grundy - sounds like the typical liberal squeal of "fascist!" I think you'll find restriction of reading materials has been just as prevalent amongst communist regimes, especially such noteable as Stalin, Mao and Castro.

    RE: Gianni Straniero - you misunderstood, but then maybe I should have used shorter words. The law, as set by members of the UK Parliament, says the Police should arrest anyone with a document covered by the mentioned Act, and then investiagte whether the owner is likely to be a threat. It is up to the Police to gather evidence by interview and seach as to the individual's state of mind and likely affilliations, after which the person is charged or released. It is not a case of the Police having to prove that you intend to use it before they arrest you, they can arrest first and then look for further evidence, as they did in this case. If you don't like the law, vote for someone who pledges to change it. That's called democracy. If you don't like democracy, then I suggest you move to the socialist paradises of North Korea, Zimbabwe or Cuba, but don't be surprised if you find your choice of reading material a bit more limited there.

    RE: John Stevens - Yezza and Sabir were originally released after the Police had not found enough evidence to ascertain that either was likely to use the manual for a terrorist purpose. This involved checking their social acquaintances, internet activites and background. I know all you paranoid libs think there is some massive, sinister and secret Guberment database somewhere that can dish out this info 24-7 at the drop of a hat, but the fact is it often involves a lot of intensive work. Personally I'm surprised it was only six days. But at least you admit they were released and not that the Guberment was planning to cart them off to Gitmo on the next available jet like some of the more strident libs were screaming.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC @AC @JohnG

    Come on, you actually had the nerve to be seen with camera? In public? In these times? No wonder.

    Yet as you stated, they merely inquired. It's a sad display of paranoia, yes, but they did not arrest you simply for "possession of suspicious equipment". Now if I did the "loaded with tools in the car park at night" stunt as described and some cops dropped by, I would wholeheartedly *expect* them to ask me about what I was up to, and maybe even to wait untill I got to my car and drove off or left the premises otherwise. After all I am a guy with lots of break-in tools in a car park at night. That's their job. It is not their job to arrest / taser the shit out of me simply because they thought I might be up to something as JohnG proposed.

  74. Snert Lee

    Obviously

    If it is "an offence to possess material that might be useful to someone planning to carry out terrorist offences", then the airlines should be prosecuted, because if they hadn't published flight schedules then 9/11 might never have happened.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the sublime to the ridiculous

    Go to Tesco, buy a bottle of Harpic & a bottle of Domestos.

    Don't let anyone know that you've read their warnings not to mix the two.

    Be sure to wear a gas-mask if you ignore the warnings.

    That combination will kill more than just germs.

  76. Robin Bradshaw
    Paris Hilton

    @Matt Bryant

    "Yezza and Sabir were originally released after the Police had not found enough evidence to ascertain that either was likely to use the manual for a terrorist purpose."

    So it took the police 6 days to find out the manual came from the US department of defences public website and had had all the naughty bits redacted?

    This law is so shot through with problems, the first being that our public library's are full of information "likely to be of use to a terrorist" that is such a wooly definition that it can be applied to almost anything from google earth to the highway code (lets face it you don't want to get pulled driving a lorry bomb because of a driving offence)

    "This involved checking their social acquaintances, internet activities and background."

    Since they had been arrested for suspicion of the offence of possessing information likely to be of use to a terrorist all the police had to do was find out if they had good reason for possessing this information, if they did there's no offence and they should be released, it doesn't take 6 days to ask why were you printing this? and make a few phone calls to confirm the given reason.

  77. Watashi

    I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition

    In 15th Century Spain, Tomas de Torquemada persecuted people who professed to be Christian (because Jews and Muslims were discriminated against) but who were actually Jewish or Muslim. The non-governmental Inquisition would keep an eye out for those who were acting in suspiciously non-Christian ways and then report them to the government for punishment.

    It is a tragedy that British Universities, once held up as the standard-bearers of free thought and open-minded intellectualism, have lowered themselves to the role of police informants. So what if someone doesn't act like a normal British 'citizen'? So what if they don't think in the same way that Blair, Brown and all the other 'right minded' people think? If we cannot rely on our Universities to stand up to though-police authoritarianism, then our society really has sold out.

    I nearly went to Nottingham to study a decade ago - now I'm glad I didn't.

  78. Andy Taylor
    Coat

    Re-arresting someone who has been cleared...

    "What the Police appear to be saying is that you can be given the all-clear as a bona fide researcher of terror material in the morning – then re-arrested the same evening for the same offence. Surely not, one might think, but that possibility is within the bounds of the Law."

    Imagine the scene:

    PhD Student: "Why are you arresting me again, officer? Just this morning you told me I was free to go."

    PC Dibble: "Well sir, you've had time to read the manual now."

  79. Stewart Haywood
    Black Helicopters

    My wife is terrified.

    We were thinking of returning to the UK for a vacation this year. My wife and I travel on British passports but our daughter travels on a US passport. My wife is terrified that our daughter will be taken from us and we will be arrested as perverts at Heathrow.

    We all have digital cameras and my wife is terrified that we may be stopped by the police for using them in public and held for over a month for no reason.

    My daughter is home schooled and her education continues while we are on vacation. My wife is terrified that some of the physics, chemistry and other texts that she reads may result in her arrest.

    My wife's terror has been induced by HMG, this surely makes the government a bunch of terrorists. Much more interesting is the fact that the laws enacted by HMG are all signed by the Queen herself. Does this make the Queen a terrorist? I think it does, and would like to know when the DPP is going to do something about it.

    Don't worry about the black helicopters, HMG can't work out how to test them yet.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Re: I'm with the cops on this.

    I can't say I agree with you JohnG. Firstly, you start your comment with a ridiculous example that is already covered under existing laws. If you had a copy of the launch codes for Britain's nuclear deterrent for anything other than legitimate reasons then you could be arrested and put away for a very long time under the official secrets act. If you hadn't realised, nuclear launch codes would be something like "Top Secret - Atomic". Now, let's take your next example about date rape drugs. Would someone who was going into schools and trying to teach kids about how to avoid drugs find it a legitimate read? Did you know for example that people have had drinks spiked with LSD by someone just pushing the LSD tab into the head. If you aren't allowed to read material that teaches you that, then you won't find out about it to protect yourself.

    For each and every book you can list, I can guarantee on finding a stack of reasons why I might have that book on my shelf legitimately. I can also find reasons for so many of my books to be illegal under UK law (chemistry and physics books, even Tom Clancy's Sum of All Fears that describes how to make a terrorist nuke). Given that Sum of All Fears was a bestseller, should we be locking up everyone who has that on their shelves? Clearly the answer is no, so it goes on to follow that the only way this law can be applied is selectively, and based on current trends, that selectivity is being applied racistly. Is that the sort of country you want? It isn't much of a step from 1930s German Facism where Jews were treated differently is it?

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Sir Colin Campbell

    This man has a very dubious relationship with academics at the University. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/aug/22/deannelson.theobserver. The University is a business not a place of learning and research.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Tube Maps

    It is also worth noting that for hanging around the public transport system, taking photographs one stands a pretty good chance of being regarded as both a terrorist and a paedophile.

    I don't think that it is so much that Bin Laden has won, it is more that this government has used him to achieve their aims. Those who are old enough may remember the student politics of most of the present government ministers. Were they hard left? Or were they HARD LEFT? I do not want to be nearby when Bin Laden finds out he has been taken for a fool by Jack Straw et al. I think the tantrum will put the telephone throwing atics of Gordon Braun into the shade!

    Mine's the one with the tin foil hat.

  83. Wally Ferrer
    Boffin

    @Matt Bryant

    Since you exhibit such a high level of understanding of this situation, one wonders where you gained your knowledge, and whether or not it involved reading anything... Personally, I suspect not- were you a reader, you likely would not want some anonymous government official to do your reading for you... Since you are obviously in favor of this strategy, I must assume that you are merely ignorant, and a puppet who will faithfully follow his fearless leader unquestioningly... Which, sadly, leaves us nothing further to discuss- Unless you can persuade your leader(s) to chime in and tell us what you think...

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It must be time for a spot of humour

    You must have heard the old gag about the time served petty burglar who was arrested yet again. But this time (a long time ago) it was for the then new offence of "Going equipped for burglary". The man protested his innocence to the Magistrates - he hadn't broken into anywhere that evening, it was all a malicious calumny by the Police. The Magistrate carefully explained that he, a man with "form", had been found with all the tools of his "trade" apparently ready to "go to work" and that was now a crime. The man gets the gist of it, and brightens up a bit. "Well in that case you'd better take the rape into account as well, Your Honour". Magistrate, confused asks for further clarification. "I haven't done anything, but I've got the equipment".

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    A modest proposal

    Let's start out by calling universities what they really are: ideolabs, where old ideas are examined and experimented with and, occasionally, new ideas are created.

    By analogy with biolabs, a grading system should be assigned to ideolabs based on the relative scarcity of Muslims and Marxists on the faculty. Level 1 would be 100% M&Ms with Level 5 M&M-free. Remember the glory days of Judenfrei institutions? Even the U.S. tried that to some extent at the university level, so there is local historical precedent for this kind of thing.

    An Al Qaeda training manual would be illegal outside of a Level 4 or above ideolab: simplicity itself.

    We could the have movies like "The Andromeda Strain" about a Level 5 ideolab meme that escapes containment and runs wild, something like the "WWII Kriegsentscheidende Killer Joke" or the Beat Generation.

  86. Pete "oranges" B.
    Stop

    A minor correction for Mr. Bryan

    "Not to do so would be to avoid their [in reference to the police] main reason for being - to protect the general public"

    The police are not officially there to protect the general public. They are members of Law Enforcement, which is (not surprisingly) solely concerned with criminal activity against the state (either directly or by proxy,through the breaking of the state's laws governing others). Through some mysterious (and dare I say arcane) system of abstraction, the state's laws theoretically protect the general public, through Law Enforcement.

    In essence, Law Enforcement is simply an internal military, protecting the state's interests (which are theoretically "the people's" interests) by force within just as national armed forces do abroad. If you want proof, consider that the two have been shown to be interchangeable: In times of internal violence, soldiers from the state's standing forces may be used to suppress it, while in times of great external threat, the police may be used to combat foreign agents e.g. terrorists.

    I don't mean this to offend any members of Law Enforcement, particularly those whose personal conviction is that they are protecting the public (based on what the state defines "protection" as at any given moment), but I am simply stating the facts as I understand them.

    On a lighter note, would material on the "Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development" be considered a threat? After all, we wouldn't want the terrorists to develop Flaming Rocket Wheels Of Exploding Doom would we?

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Wakey wakey time.

    "If you think that one of their aims is to undermine our 'free' society, then by the actions of a very small number of people they've provoked disproportionate reactions from the authorities, effectively slowly but surely turning us all into suspected terrorists, simply based on what we might be reading.

    Congrats Bin Laden and co!"

    I'm sure that most people who live in countries where oppression is rife are quite jealous of our way of life. The numbers of immigrants coming to these shores certainly goes along with this idea.

    Amazing isn't it, how Bliar and Co all stood there bleating about "they hate our way of life" (they don't, they hate US & UK Foreign Policies) and then proceeded to change our way of life beyond recognition.

    They hate our freedom so we're going to take it away from you and then maybe they wont hate us as much. - Doesn't really add up does it?

    All this "war on terror" is a smoke screen for the smuggling in of a totalitarian police state in the UK/US/EU. We are the ones now observed, snooped on, suspected, insulted, patronised, lied to and generally made miserable and this in the name of freedom?

    For goodness sake man wake up and go read what's really going on in the world and stop repeating state mantra's "bin laden & Co". Bin Laden & Co are US Gov' employees (Al Quaeda means "the database" and refers to the list of CIA trained and employed fighters from the Russian/Afghan conflict). And no, they haven't turned on us, they're being used to destabilise the world so the US can take over. All roads lead to the Pentagon on this one I'm afraid.

    Paris - cus even she could spot this one.

  88. This post has been deleted by its author

  89. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Pirate

    RE: Robin Bradshaw and Wally Ferrer

    RE: Robin Bradshaw - yes, and the idea that a terrorist might have a cover story like "I'm a student" would never occur to Al Quaeda? You obviously do not recall that the 9/11 attackers were mainly in the US on student visas, and they had enlisted in proper flight schools, the only give away which the FBI higher echelons seem to have dismissed out of hand was the clear eveidence they did not intend learning to land aircraft. A more thorough investigation beforehand was precluded by limited manpower and workload, but if there had been a more thoroguh FBI investigation into the 9/11 group their Islamist links would have become apparent. Hindsight is always 20-20, so I for one am reassured our Police are taking such an incident seriously. Student visas are also a common means of entry to the UK from Islamic countries, and I'm sure AQ have also checked out the possibility of sending people here as they did to the States as "students". And yes, our libraries are full of information that might be of use, as are our schools. But most of the public do not have any interest in reading such texts, any so it is quite right for the Police to check those that show such interest. If they are reading from innocent curiosity then it will son be shown. If they have a darker motive then they deserve all the attention they get. There are checks and balances in the system which, whilst not 100% perfect, do usually ensure the innocent go free. I'm sure you''l asnwer with some liberal whinging about the few highly-publicised cases of incorrect procsecutions, bu they are statisticly a very small group. The only other option is to tell the Police to do zero preventative action and merely wait until after the terrorists have killed members of the public they are trying to protect, just in case it impinges on the poor ickle terrorbabies's rights. Get real.

    RE: Wally Ferrer - forget reading, obviosuly all your thinking has been done for you.

  90. Philip
    Thumb Down

    To the unthinking libertards

    "An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." Some of the civil libertards commenting above could do to reflect on Churchil's wisdom, whilst railing against one our most important sovereign rights; that to remove those who hate us.

  91. Mark McC
    Coat

    Only Islamic terrorists, or what about the Irish?

    In Northern Ireland, I can walk into any bargain book store and pick up a shelf of biographies written by former IRA/UVF men, reminiscing about their 'glory days' within their respective organisations. I can also find many books covering the role of the security forces in fighting the IRA, all of which are chock full of tips for terrorists wanting to learn how other operations were foiled.

    Should I report these shops to my local anti-terrorist branch? They're not only making terrorist material available to the public - those carefully stacked displays are actively promoting it.

    /mine's the one with the Gerry Adams biography in the inner pocket.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About the Irish

    Something like 2 years ago an Irish friend was stopped by the British Transport Police and told to hand over two books (one Che Guevera, I forget the other) or spend the weekend in a cell.

    So yeah, being Irish is also still a crime.

  93. Danny Silver badge

    @JohnG

    "How about someone having copies of launch codes for Britain's nuclear weapons "for research"? Or how about a manual describing how to make and use date rape drugs effectively?"

    The date rape drugs are the same chemicals we give to young offenders to clear graffitti. They know this in prison so I feel there is no risk in mentioning it here. Kids who are made to clean graffitti are given gallons of date-rape chemicals. Doh! is an understatement.

    As to the nuclear codes, I don't know them but I do know (from a few old googles) what the current '4 minute warning' is and which BT engineers designed it - and Joanna Lumley is the last voice you'd hear. The BT engineers who designed the warming mentioned it on their online CVs. A few years ago I was briefly tempted to set it off just for the fun of it but I was talked out of it in case it triggered an accidental nuclear war.

    Not so much 'gathering information useful to terrorists', more spreading it about. I don't worry, I am white and too drunk to be muslim.

    Now, off to commit some other heinous crime...

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    I wish to as "terrorist-friendly"...

    ...the movie "A Hard Day's Night" report, in which Wilfrid Brambell's character (Paul's grandfather) is in positive light portrayed ("He's very clean") in spite of reiterated support for terrorist Irish rebels.

    Although this was later in popular mindset by portrayal of charm bracelet-wielding Irish terrorist Paddy O'Brien as villain in the first Austin Powers film corrected, we must our vigilance against the subversive wiles of Hollywood NEVER relax.

    Sieg!

    Rolm P. Pumphree

    Obergruppenfilmkritiker,

    Neues Amerkanische Jahrhundert-Projekt

  95. Ricki

    Why is it...

    ..that when the IRA were actually and regularly blowing places up, the only things they took away were the bins from the train stations?

    Now, when Al Q. is on the whole, not blowing things up, they feel the need to take away our freedoms (the same freedoms that were told Al Q hates so much).

    Tw@ts.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ By Pete B.

    "In times of internal violence, soldiers from the state's standing forces may be used to suppress it"

    Not everywhere. In some countries the use of the military for police duties is strictly prohibited by law. In some countries it is even prohibited by law to use the military for disaster relief. Germany is one such example.

  97. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Stopped by the police...

    "I wish that were true, but reality is a little different. Recently I went for a walk in my suburb, mostly for exercise, but I took my camera with me since the route winds back along the foreshore with a nice view. I was in a track suit and sunglasses..."

    Anon

    Ahh, but were you SUNTANNED? That is the critical issue...

  98. Graham Marsden
    Stop

    Slippery Slope...?

    "But once the authorities start to dictate what books or documents we may possess, we are on a slippery slope. "

    We are already rapidly skidding down that slope with the Government's Dangerous Pictures Act that makes it a criminal offence to possess so-called "extreme pornography" on the basis that owning it just might make us do bad things!

    Of course most people don't object because they don't like that sort of stuff and think that anyone who owns it can't be trusted, just as the Matt Bryants of this world think that you should be required to provide justification for owning (currently) freely available information in case you might be a bad person and could do something nasty if you get to see it, so anyone who wants to look at it should be arrested by the Department of Pre-Crime...

    PS @Philip referring to "libertards", perhaps you might also like to consider these words of Winston Churchill spoken in September 1939:

    "Perhaps it may seem a paradox that a war undertaken in the name of liberty and right should require as a necessary part of its progress the surrender for the time being of so many dearly valued liberties and rights. In these last two days the House of Commons has been voting dozens of bills which hand over to the Executive our most dearly valued personal liberties.

    "We are sure that these liberties will be in hands which will not abuse them, which will use them for no class or party interests which will cherish and guard them, and we look forward to the day, surely and confidently we look forward to the day, when our liberties and rights will be restored to us and when we shall be able to share them with peoples to whom such blessings are unknown."

    I think maybe he and the other authoritards ranting "Think of the TERRORISTS!" would do well to consider when, or indeed even *IF* the "dearly valued liberties and rights" that our Government is slowly but surely taking away from us will ever be restored!

    They might also like to consider the following quote:

    "[...] the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

    - Herman Goering.

  99. Gianni Straniero
    Stop

    @ Matt Bryant

    You, Sir, are an ass, Sir.

    "It is up to the Police to gather evidence by interview and seach as to the individual's state of mind and likely affilliations, after which the person is charged or released. It is not a case of the Police having to prove that you intend to use it before they arrest you ..."

    Congratulations on making a case AGAINST this particular law. Section 3, subsection 3 (a) makes it clear that the terrorist nature of a publication is defined by the opinion of a constable. Not by the CPS, nor by judicial review. By a copper. There is no mechanism in law by which the constable's assessment can be disputed.

    If the publication is not removed or amended within two working days, you can be arrested, after which you can be held for 42 days without charge. While *you* might think that six days in Paddington Green is like a trip to Butlins, the suspects in this case clearly didn't, and I'm sure even you would feel differently after *six whole weeks* in solitary.

    But if you cannot, or will not, see a problem here, God help you. And God help us all if you are even remotely representative of our populace.

    "If you don't like the law, vote for someone who pledges to change it."

    This should be the intention of any right-thinking person in this country. When the UNHCR objects to your government's legislation (as is the case here), then you know something has gone horribly wrong.

    You say elsewhere:

    "most of the public do not have any interest in reading such texts, any so it is quite right for the Police to check those that show such interest. If they are reading from innocent curiosity then it will son be shown."

    I ask again: who the fucking hell are the police, the government, or indeed you, to question my reasons for reading anything? It is up to the CPS to demonstrate the "mens rea" that leads to an "acta rea". Reading a document, of whatever stripe, is not an "acta rea", therefore there can be no "mens rea" in so doing. Quoting from the back of your Michael Howard tea-towel changes nothing, and convinces no-one.

  100. jack horner
    Black Helicopters

    Evil Lying Scum again

    How do we know when our glorious leaders are lying to us? < surely everyone knows this joke already?>

    But seriously, how would we (as responsible citizens, in a 'democracy') know that the 'al Quaeda' manual is a worthless piece of shit, rather than a v. scary manual of mayhem that could cause untold loss of life if it fell into the 'wrong' hands - without reading it ourselves?

    How would we know that official pronouncements about the difficulty/impossibility of making various kinds of IEDs without the help of the evil Iranians are complete and utter bullshit!!! - without reading the (US) patents on Explosively Formed Projectiles or even US Army Field Manual FM 31-20, Special Forces Operational Techniques (December 1965) which very helpfully provides a couple of (small) pages (281-283) describing their simple construction and the uses to which they can be put (by the forces of good in the battle against evil godless communism at that time, of course).

    Most people won't seek out and read this stuff for themselves because they don't give a shit and are happy to go on believing whatever our masters want to tell them.

    A few people who might suspect they're being fed bullshit everyday with their breakfast will be scared off by this Nazi crap. The rest (me?) can be picked off any time it's convenient. Actually I'm hoping that they don't really care whether I read this stuff, I'm not brown, don't have a beard etc - still, accidents can happen and I guess that if anyone in authority takes a dislike to me, I'm screwed!

    BTW - just popped into v. excellent local remaindered bookshop (~200m from local police station) and for £4.99 picked up a reprint of the 1941 Home Guard Manual - packed with useful (and tested) info on mounting an insurgency against an invading army - of much more practical use than any number of dumb-ass internet-obtained 'al Quaeda' manuals - and apart from the ubiquitous cctv coverage - I left no evidence trail in obtaining it (or did I?- arrggh!).

    Black Helicopter because - did you just hear a noise outside? (and you don't have an orange jumpsuit and nappy icon).

    Thanks

  101. Peter Mellor
    Pirate

    What the Al-Qaeda Training Manual is REALLY useful for

    I have waded through the Qur'an, sizeable chunks of the Hadith (traditions: sayings and acts of The Prophet), the Sirah (Life of the Prophet), plus assorted commentaries, etc.

    I rapidly came to the conclusion that the main problem is not the insanity of a few fanatics on the fringes of Islam, but Islam itself, or, to be more specific, the Qur'an.

    The Al-Qaeda Training Manual is useful because:

    1. For every conceivable kind of atrocity or other shenanigans that the fanatics might get up to, it provides a supportive quotation from the Qur'an, Hadith, or both. Crimes that can be justified by appeal to Islamic scripture include (but are not restricted to): murder (or even mass murder), theft, banditry, deception (including denying that one is a Muslim), kidnapping, killing of hostages, and torture.

    2. It clarifies the motives of the terrorists. These have little to do with the recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and everything to do with imposing a world-wide caliphate, by outright force or more insidious means.

    It contains little that is of much practical use to a terrorist, other than a few hints on cell organisation, counter-surveillance tactics, etc. (In fact the copy available from the US Dept. of Justice site has already been redacted to remove any information that would be directly useful.) However, for the insight that it gives into the terrorist mentality, and what they are likely to get up to, it is invaluable.

    It should be compulsory reading for anyone who is in favour of an open society, instead of being regarded as subversive literature.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    re: wanna ban what you can read?

    "... anything by Tom Clancy ..."

    When, during the mid-80s, I was providing research material on maritime matters to a well-known outfit in Virginia, they were indeed a bit grumpy about "The Hunt for Red October". But they (a) still worked within the constitution and accepted there wasn't a damn thing they could do about it, (b) didn't care to highlight what among clunky plot devices and piled-up factoids was too close to important stuff, and (c) actually had a sense of perspective, because they had an opponent organised on similar bureaucratic lines to their own.

    I suspect what's changed is (c). What terrifies the authorities about "terrorists" is not that they are a big physical threat (and they aren't, they really aren't) - but that the antinomian self-sufficiency and emergent networking is exemplary of a threat to *all* authority. Which is why the reaction is of a different, totalitarian, order, comparable to the routing out of heresy, suppression of self-will among serfs and slaves, annihilation of class-traitors or extermination of race-polluters.

  103. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Pirate

    RE: Gianni Straniero

    The Police were faced with the task of proving that Yezza and then Sabir did not intend to use the manual, not that it was a "dangerous document". Its status as a dangerous document was set by the Government, not the Police, so stop acting like the Police make it up on the spot, they don't, they get stuck with enacting the law as set by Parliament. Which takes us back to the democracy bit - you don't like the list of books/documents or feel that some other freedom is being trampled on, please feel free to vote at the next election for a member you feel will represent your views.

    The Police, under the Act in question, are tasked with proving the arrested had intent to use it. This boils down to being in a position to be able to provide evidence in court that Yezza or Sabir had an intent to use the material to commit a criminal and probably terrorist act. The Police released both when they decided they could not garner such evidence, probably because neither had such an intent. But I wish all the sheeple bleating here would realise the Police were just doing their jobs and acted reasonably. Under the 2006 version of the Act, they could have kept both locked up for 28 days whilst they looked for evidence, at which point six days looks a lot better.

    And did any of you libtards stop to think for a second the Yanks have the AQ manual up as a honey-pot for the very stupid AQ sympathisers? Do you really think any download of such material from a US Gov site is not very carefully tracked? Why? Because the history of many Western jihadis is they first get influenced by, amongst other stuff, online material. By tracking them early, the FBI and friends can get an early view of likely future idiots. Do you really think all those real jihadi sites have the muscle to get top of the Google search lists? I can guarantee you the top 100 Google hits for "Al Quaeda manual download" are being monitored. Maybe Sabir had this in mind when he asked Yezza to download it for him, after all he did have other options.

    In summary, sir, you are beyond an ass, sir, you are just one of the sheeple.

  104. Jon Kale
    Coat

    @Frank Gerlach, re. Margaret Thatcher

    Would that be the same Iron Lady who spent a large chunk of the 80s attempting to force football fans to carry ID cards: no card, no match. Yes? I thought so.

    Might it be the case that her antipathy to ID cards only stems from the fact that they might not only be applicable to the Wrong Kind of People: indeed, Our Kind of People would be expected to carry them too and, god forbid, but it might happen that a member of Her Majesty's Constabulary might (in error, obviously) demand that One Of Us present his or her ID card... the effrontery.

  105. Graham Marsden

    @Matt Bryant

    > you don't like the list of books/documents or feel that some other freedom is being trampled on, please feel free to vote at the next election for a member you feel will represent your views.

    What a marvellous idea. Unfortunately the rest of the sheeple (and those "authoritards", like you, who blindly think that simply owning/ reading something means you're going to do something bad) are quite happy in their blissful ignorance, to vote for someone who says they're going to make us all safer without the slightest clue of how this will actually be achieved or how they will lose basic rights and liberties that their forefathers fought wars to protect.

    > And did any of you libtards stop to think for a second the Yanks have the AQ manual up as a honey-pot for the very stupid AQ sympathisers?

    Ah, of course! It was all a cunning ploy all along! It was, indeed, so cunning, that you didn't event think to *MENTION* this in your previous "authoritard" rants about how someone didn't have a "good reason" to download "dangerous books" etc etc...

  106. michael

    @JohnG

    *breaths deap and used his mental fire extinguisher*

    how wrong can you be let me count the ways

    ""How about someone having copies of launch codes for Britain's nuclear weapons "for research"?""

    codes and passwords are not books codes , paswords , PINs etcare allways imune for free speech arguments

    "Or how about a manual describing how to make and use date rape drugs effectively? Someone involved in pharmacology might have a legitimate use for such information but it would probably depened on the context of their research."

    having the knowlage on how to make it and uning it are 2 diffrent things I know how to make gunpowder should I be arested?

    "I don't see why books should have some kind of immunity. If someone has a slide-hammer and a screwdriver whilst working in their garage, that's perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, if someone is found to be carrying the same tools in a car park at 2am, they will probably be arrested for "going equipped to steal"."

    again tools and knolage are not the same things and you would have to be doing soming suspisions.

    "If someone has a book providing instructions on how to make bombs from household materials, it doesnt seem unreasonable for them to explain the context." yes but the burdon of proof should be "prove I am going to blow somthing up" rather than "prove you are not going to blow somthing up"

    "Given that Al Qaeda has used British citizens with origins in various Islamic countries to commit acts of terrorism in the UK and abroad, it would seem particularly stupid for someone of that demographic to be in possession of such material." I call racisum on that!! seriousley it is that sort of profiling that causes a lot of hatrated in the first place

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Face it, folks...

    We're living in the new, improved version of the late 5th century CE, when what was left of a once-great civilization was put out of its misery. We can quibble over whether Brown or Bush is actually the one filling in for Romulus Augustus.

    The difference is, Middle Ages tech didn't reliably give the overlords total control, 24/7/365 like the well-heeled autocrat of today. No, back then, they had to appropriate and subvert a previously pacifist religion and use it to drive the fear of the Other into the minds of millions for a millennium. While that approach has been proven effective in modern times (e.g., what once was a constitutional republic known as the "United States of America"), combining it with the electronic and media technology available today gives even the most insecure dictator thoroughly reassuring levels of Total Control over His supine populace. Thus, the backward age that lasted a mere thousand years the last time 'round looks quite likely to go considerably longer under the New World Order. The optimist in me hopes it's 'only' ten times as long; in any event, I'm sure my (natural or other) death will long precede even the end of the beginning.

    The first performance as tragedy, the second as farce - though no less tragic or harmful.

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