Monday, July 2, 2007

Arrests, Doctors and Terrorists: Keeping a Cool Head

It hasn't been easy, trying to keep track of what's been going on with the British investigation of the London and Glasgow car bombs.

So far, the score seems to be eight arrests, of which anywhere between three and five were doctors. I don't blame the news services for being vague. This affair has been moving very fast.

So far, there seem to be four doctors who can be identified from the news reports:
  • Dr. Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha, a palestinian neurologist born in Saudi Arabia, with a Jordanian passport
  • Dr. Bilal Talal Abdul Samad Abdulla, who was in the jeep with the jeep's driver
  • A doctor who lived in Liverpool and worked at Halton Hospital in Cheshire, and who was from Bangalore, India
  • A doctor at a Queensland state hospital, arrested at a Brisbane airport while trying to leave Australia. His name has been withheld by Australian authorities
The doctor in the Brisbane arrest was not an Australian citizen, according to Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock.

The Indian doctor in Liverpool may be one of the unluckier people in the United Kingdom. He may have been detained because he had a mobile chip from, and was using the Internet account of, another doctor who had worked at Halton Hospital and had moved to Australia.

Was the former Halton doctor the same one who was arrested in Australia? Good question.

In Amman, Jordan, Dr. Asha's father told The Associated Press that his son isn't a terrorist. That's understandable. It may be true.

Fitting a familiar profile doesn't mean that someone is guilty. Back in 1996, a bomb at an Olympic Park party in Atlanta, GA, killed one person and injured more than a hundred.

Bear with me. This flashback to 1996 has a point.

Richard Jewell, the overweight white security guard who discovered an abandoned knapsack contained a bomb, and moved people away from it, seemed an ideal suspect. The Justice Department and Defense Department felt that the bomb could have been the work of a "nut case," or a militia group "gone bonkers," CNN reported on July 27, 1996. CNN's source said that this was a "gut feeling" coming from law enforcement's first look at what had happened, who had been there, and the pipe bomb that was used.

That "gut feeling" was quite natural. Many of the people at the Olympic Park were black. The guy who found the bomb was white. Suspecting him was, perhaps, quite natural. Other evidence pointing to Jewell included his allegedly owning a knapsack that looked like the one with the bomb, and allegedly saying "You better take a picture of me now because I'm going to be famous" (presumably said to witnesses who couldn't be found again). He even had been near a wooded area when his neighbor heard an explosion. Suspecting Jewell was perfectly natural. The FBI did the right thing by investigating him.

Although it might have been better to investigate others with equal zeal.

What happened in the news was something else.

Under the law, he was 'innocent until proven guilty,' but for 12 weeks he was the news media's Olympic Park Bomber. Suspected, but, you know, you've got to say "suspected."

Richard Jewell was cleared, and his innocence affirmed by the U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander, but not until his name and portly likeness had been thoroughly distributed around the USA.

That flashback to 1996 has a point. Here it is:

Considering what can happen in a fast-moving investigation, it's probably just as well that we don't have the names of all the people who have been arrested to date. There could be a Richard Jewell among them.

Information from The Independent, Fox News, CNN and The Muslim News.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.