Thursday, April 14, 2005

Before UK election - real terror?

Questions over ricin conspiracy.

Kamel Bourgass has been convicted of a plot to spread ricin and other poisons on the streets of Britain. A number of other men were cleared last week of taking part in a conspiracy. A second trial has been abandoned.

Police raided a flat in a north London suburb on 5 January 2003.

Soon the newspapers were full of stories about ricin.

There was mention of al-Qaeda.

A police officer was stabbed to death during a raid on a flat in Manchester a few days later.

In February 2003 Colin Powell said: "When the British unearthed a cell there just last month, one British police officer was murdered during the disruption of the cell."

According to the BBC: "The situation was never as black-and-white as those initial media reports suggested."

No ricin was actually found at the flat in 352B High Road or at any of the defendants' other addresses.

Police reportedly found, in another flat in north London, a CD-Rom showing how to make bombs "in the furtherance of the jihad".

Despite rumours there was no evidence of a plot to poison Tube passengers.

It was claimed that between January 2002 and the date of their arrest Bourgass and other north Africans were involved in a conspiracy.

One north African, Mohamed Meguerba, jumped bail and allegedly went back to Algeria.

Defence lawyers claimed throughout the trial that Meguerba was a police informant.

Marguerite Russell, representing David Khalef, told the jury they were bound to be influenced by the "daily diet of terrorism, asylum-seekers and immigration" which had been on TV, radio and in the newspapers in the last two years.

She said her client worked in a pork factory, which suggested he was not an extreme Islamic fundamentalist.

"The prosecution haven't called one word of evidence about Khalef or his lifestyle to suggest he is the kind of man who would take part in this conspiracy.

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