Socialist Worker

Do you know who was convicted of terror?

Issue No. 1916

YOU PROBABLY know that very few people have actually been convicted under the new terrorist laws. But you might also assume that those who have been found guilty are all Muslims.

You’d be wrong.

A new report from the Institute of Race Relations looks at the tiny number of convictions under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. It finds that those convicted are mainly white right wingers.

Since 11 September 2001, 609 people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act. Only 99 were charged with terrorist offences and just 15 convicted.

But of the 11 convictions examined by the Institute of Race Relations only three involved Muslims, two of whom have since been given leave to appeal.

Twenty one other cases against Muslims were dropped or failed.

Six of the convictions were of white members of illegal Loyalist organisations.

They were convicted of displaying flags or wearing insignia of banned groups like the Ulster Freedom Fighters or the Ulster Volunteer Force.

The other two were also white and were found guilty of organising a race hate campaign which included sending letters containing “substances claiming to be noxious” to Labour MP Mohammad Sarwar.

THE HOME Office have served up a new insult to Muslim detainees fighting extradition to the US.

They were served “spicy pork chops” at Belmarsh prison in south east London. Pork is an anathema to Muslims. The chops were labelled “suitable for Halal diets”.

In this week - 90 years ago - 1914

THE FALL of Belgium to the German army during the First World War saw the birth of one of the most famous fake “war atrocity” stories.

In order to whip up patriotic fervour and boost recruitment to the army, British sources put round accounts of “bayoneting of babies” and “raping of nuns” by the Germans.

It took years for the myths to be disproved.

This technique has been repeated in every war since in order to demonise enemies and make them appear as subhuman monsters.

‘Here’s another voter we’ve found, sergeant’

THE UNITED Nations claims that 9.6 million Afghans have registered to vote, out of an eligible population of 9.8 million.

The Afghan president, Karzai, says that 42 percent of those registered are women.

That would mean 5.63 million men had registered to vote—higher than the number of eligible males, which is around 5.12 million.

At a press conference on 11 August Karzai said, “If Afghans have two registration cards and if they would like to vote twice—well, welcome!

“This is an exercise in democracy. Let them exercise it twice.”

US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was also at the event, made no comment.

Witnesses treated like murderers

BEING ACCUSED of terrorism in the US is bad enough. But being a witness in a terrorism case can be even worse.

The FBI is increasingly using powers to detain witnesses in order to hold suspects in custody for long periods of time.

Jamie Fellner from Human Rights Watch in the US says, “Material witnesses have, ironically, fewer protections than people charged with a crime.”

Abdullah al Kidd was snatched by the FBI while making his way through Dulles airport in Washington.

He was there to catch a plane to Saudi Arabia, where he had won a scholarship to work on his doctorate in Islamic studies.

He was handcuffed, marched across the airport, and taken to a detention centre in Alexandria, Virginia, where he was held in a cell known as “the fishbowl”.

Then he was shackled and flown to Idaho, stopping in Oklahoma, Arizona and Wyoming.

“I was made to sit in a small cell for hours and hours and hours, butt naked.

“I was treated worse than murderers,” says Kidd.

Kidd, who was never charged with any crime, was held as a witness for 16 months. During this time he lost his scholarship and his marriage fell apart. He now moves furniture for a living.

Kidd’s plight is shared by at least 60 other witnesses.

Pikachu for protesters?

PROTESTERS HEADING for the Republican convention in New York were shocked by the latest attempt by the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to dampen down the expected demonstrations.

Bloomberg has already been involved in protracted negotiations to decide when and where anti-war activists can protest.

Now he has negotiated a special deal for demonstrators—provided they demonstrate in the “right” way.

Those who behave will be awarded with a “Peaceful Political Activist” lapel badge.

This will get them discounts at Broadway plays, hotels, cathedrals and the Pokemon shop at the Rockefeller Centre. For those who don’t “behave”, there’s presumably a discount at the hospitals.

THE FBI has also been thrown into a panic by planned protests in New York.

Sarah Bardwell, an intern with a Denver anti-war group, was visited by six investigators a few weeks ago. She says, “The message I took from it was that they were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know, ‘Hey, we’re watching you’.”

Civil rights groups in the US believe that around 50 people have been contacted by the FBI and questioned about protests at the conventions.

From the swamp in Bush’s Florida

AUTHORITIES in Florida have sent state troopers into the homes of at least 50 elderly black voters to “examine possible electoral fraud”.

Yet the same department which now leads the investigation had found earlier that there was “no basis to support the allegations”.

The troopers are in plain clothes and armed.

“These guys are using intimidatory methods to try and get these folks to stay away from the polls in the future,” says Eugene Poole, president of an organisation that tries to increase black electoral participation.

Florida was, of course, a key state in the last presidential election, and could be again.

Figure it out - 3.8 million

The number of “hidden unemployed” in Britain according to new research by the Elizabeth Finn Trust. It found most wanted work but couldn’t get it.

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 28 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1916
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