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Hammaad Munshi when first arrested
Return of the Thought Police.

Hammaad Munshi, a schoolboy in Great Britain, has been convicted under Britain’s new anti-terrorism laws. Now 18, he was just 15 when first arrested, making him the youngest terrorist ever convicted in that nation.

He was charged with "making records of information likely to be useful for terrorism". What information exactly? Munshi downloaded "How-To" guides from the Internet on making napalm and other explosives, information on the use of poisons, and details about world airports.

Munshi will be sentenced next month. His attorney has been told prison time is "unavoidable".

For the record, I've long been critical of the United Kingdom's coddling of its radical Islamic minority. Munshi and the rest of his jihadist cell are clearly a threat to peaceful society.   I'm not concerned that action was taken, but rather the justification for that action. He wasn't charged, nor even accused of actual intent to commit a terrorist act. Rather, he was found guilty of possessing information -- of knowing too much for his own good.

In a modern society that runs on information, illegalizing the possession of certain kinds of knowledge is a very slippery slope. As a college student in the 1980s, I myself downloaded much of the same information Munshi did -- though it came from online BBSes rather than the then-nonexistent Internet. I certainly had no plans to kill anyone. If Munshi had such plans, he should have been charged with them, rather than what he was.

When arrested, Munshi was found to be carrying two packets of ball-bearings; the shrapnel of choice for home-grown bomb builders. A bomb-making charge could have been chosen. There was also evidence that he was guilty of incitement to violence. None of these charges were chosen though; the possession of information statute was selected as the one most likely to succeed.

Your average murder mystery novel contains a number of ideas on how to kill someone without leaving evidence. Many action novels have a wealth of information on knives, guns, and explosives.   By these new anti-terror laws, reading the wrong book can now be judged illegal. Britain -- the historical home of the humanist movement -- is revealed as a nation fast-retreating from individual liberties.   The thought police are back.

Germany and France have long had their own versions of censorship. Whistle a tune loved by the Nazis, or try to claim the Holocaust death count is overstated, and you can wind up facing prison time. But Britain has gone beyond this, in criminalizing knowledge, rather than specific actions.

Asia, Africa, and South America have never been especially known for their respect of human rights. If the Western world gives up on individual liberties, it seems unlikely that anyone else will carry the torch.

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I'll agree on one thing
By FITCamaro on 8/20/2008 8:52:04 AM , Rating: 2
They should charged him with intent to harm or something. Using the information he had and other things like the ball bearings as evidence.

I mean back in high school chemistry I did a report on C4. Looked up a lot of sites online that probably would draw some attention today.

RE: I'll agree on one thing
By MrBlastman on 8/20/2008 10:14:13 AM , Rating: 3
Remember the Anarchist's Cookbook? It was all over the BBS scene back in the late 80's/early 90's. You didn't have to look that hard to find it.

The charges suck. The guy seems to be a total punk but they should have charged him with something else like attempted bomb-making.

What they have done now is set a precedent which will, with time, lead to Fahrenheit 451 becoming a reality in the UK. I hope America never falls into this pit.

RE: I'll agree on one thing
By masher2 on 8/20/2008 11:00:58 AM , Rating: 2
The frightening thing to me is what Britain's Islamic minority will use these laws to ban once they become a majority.

And, of course, there are unfortuantely many in America who say, "Europe's doing it, why don't we?"

RE: I'll agree on one thing
By FITCamaro on 8/20/08, Rating: -1
RE: I'll agree on one thing
By JustTom on 8/23/2008 10:10:44 AM , Rating: 2
Muslims are 2.8% of the British population. They are unlikely to become a majority anytime soon.

London possibly might become majority Muslim in the short to midterm, but it is already home to the thought police.

RE: I'll agree on one thing
By wordsworm on 8/24/2008 10:03:14 PM , Rating: 1
Don't confuse him with facts like that. I tried it once but it had no effect. Once people make up their minds to hate someone or something, it's impossible to make them change their minds.

RE: I'll agree on one thing
By Calin on 8/24/2008 11:24:05 AM , Rating: 2
BBSes? It's all over the internet

RE: I'll agree on one thing
By Parhel on 8/21/2008 10:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
I looked up much of the same information when I was his age. In fact, we even used to make explosives out of household materials and blow them up in my friend's back yard. Not for any particular reason, aside from the fact that it's fun to blow things up . . .

Anyways, it's a shame to imprison a 15 year old boy for doing what 15 year old boys do. Sure, you can't just let kids make bombs, but jail time is awfully harsh.

RE: I'll agree on one thing
By joeymac on 8/23/2008 12:28:58 AM , Rating: 2
bombs with ball bearings? Those aren't fun.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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