All seven terrorists admitted to the charge of conspiring to cause a public nuisance with informative videos. The videos informed Brits that Muslims planned to explode next to them soon. Maybe "threatening" would be a better adjective for video announcements of suicide bombings.
Off-topic: Terrorists distribute 'we will destroy you' videos, and Her Majesty's Royal Courts call it "conspiring to cause a public nuisance." Wonderful understatement!
The terrorists say they didn't plan to blow up airliners: just gas terminals, oil refineries, and other British targets.
As a political statement.
They weren't planning to kill anyone.
And they didn't plan to blow up any airliners.
The British prosecutors said they did, and that it was the Yanks' fault that there wasn't enough evidence.
As CNN put it, "...A former police anti-terror chief and an opposition lawmaker said the arrest of a terror suspect in Pakistan at the behest of the U.S. in August 2006 meant they were forced to move quickly against 20 suspects in Britain before they could gather sufficient evidence...."
Fighting Terrorism: Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don'tI believe the British prosecutors. Arresting that Pakistani terror suspect probably did keep the British courts from getting enough evidence to convict all the defendants in that trial on all charges.
And I'm glad I didn't have to make that decision. There were quite a few possible outcomes to consider:
- Arresting that terrorist in Pakistan might save lives, by stopping a planned attack
- Letting the terrorist run loose would give British investigators time to collect more evidence
- The seven (or all eight originally charged) might have been found guilty
- Keeping them out of circulation for a longer time
- Maybe saving lives in the long run by possibly allowing some to be killed in the sort run
- Maybe, if they were left alone, all of those terrorists would have had a change of heart and taken up arts and crafts as a hobby
- Then again, maybe not
The fact is, there are people out there who want to make "political statements" with explosive fashions and beverage containers full of liquid explosive. Even though they say that they don't want to kill anyone, it's a little hard to imagine that an oil refinery can be blown up without causing a little death and injury.
Stopping terrorists from making "political statements" like that is a good idea. I think so, at least.
Western leaders, law enforcement agents, and everyone else engaged in protecting people from manic Muslims and assorted activists are not omniscient.
Since they don't know everything, sometimes they have to make educated guesses about whether or not to arrest someone.
Or, they could sit around a conference table and discuss the matter until something goes boom.
And, no matter what they do, there will be Monday morning quarterbacks and anonymous 'experts' to say they were wrong.
In the news:
- "Experts: U.S. hindered 'jet bomb plot' probe"
CNN (September 9, 2008)
- "What the papers say
(September 9, 2008)
- "George W. Bush Blew the Biggest British Terror Investigation Ever to Score Pre-Midterm Election Political Points... McCain '08!
Huffington Post1 (September 9, 2008)
- "Three guilty in bombing campaign plot
CNN (September 8, 2008)
- "Farce of the airline bomb plot trial: Jury hit by holidays, sickness and golf ball injuries
MailOnline (September 9, 2008)
- "Three guilty of plotting terror bomb massacre
The Evening Times (September 9, 2008)
"The Independent calls them 'the terrorists who changed air travel for- ever.'
" 'You will be destroyed' reads the chilling threat on the front page. The headline is below a picture of the convicted bomb-plotter Abdulla Ali.
"Ali and his accomplices Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar make the front of other papers, including the Daily Telegraph, which reports the fears of MI5: that up to five potential suicide bombers may be at large in Britain.
"The Times calls the case 'a severe blow to Britain's anti-terrorist campaign', because the jury did not entirely accept what prosecutors believe was one of the strongest cases they'd ever presented.
"The Guardian reports the plea from airlines and airport owners to review current security procedures and lift the ban on carrying large amounts of liquids, but according to the Times, there will be no let-up at airport check-in counters as a result of the case."
1This Huffington Post article appeared in a Google News search (american british terror), so it must be news. I'd have taken it for op-ed. My guess is that Google News doesn't distinguish between the two.