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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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Making an example
By boogle on 8/20/2008 1:08:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'm wondering if this is 'the establishment' trying to make an example? The UK traditionally likes to thoroughly abuse law-abiding citizens, and let actual offenders off scott free. There's a new law currently doing the rounds (its not actually been made law yet) that says if you're thought to be guilty of dangerous driving (eating at the wheel, looking in the mirror...) you'll get done for up to 5 years. Meanwhile if you're convicted of rape, you'll go away for about 2 years. So lets see, eat a sandwich while driving - 5 years; rape someone - 2 years.

Of course this is going WAY too far in the opposite direction, at most his activities should have warranted a close eye, not imprisonment!

The western world's citizenry is in full panic over terrorists and the governments are happily taking more and more control. You have to fight for freedom, and it seems people are far more interested in losing it while gaining, quite frankly, nothing. Terrorism has been around since human society has been around, and it will NEVER go away. The only time it declined is when freedom was increased - or the terrorists won. In a way, the movements to get rid of monarchys in Europe were very similiar to terrorists.

RE: Making an example
By minosnz on 8/26/2008 2:30:57 AM , Rating: 2
its like a book called "Hammerheads" when 9/11 happend I couldn't find this fictional book in our local liabary here in christchurch NZ.

I had already read it way before 9/11 but it did demonstrate how easy it (at the time of reading and no doubt writing) was.

now I surely must be a terrorist because I have read that book... - but then it's my alibi!? I only read it... didn't write it.


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