Monday, November 06, 2006

War on Terror - UK terror trial highlights threat

A court in Woolwich heard today that Dhiren Barot planned to use a ‘dirty bomb’ and initiate a series of massive explosions to kill thousands in UK and US. Barot was arrested in 2004. According to the prosecution he had threatened the use of a ‘dirty bomb’. Other uncovered plots were said to have been hatched as far back as 2000. One plot was to explode a bomb on a tube train travelling under the Thames River in London. Another series of targets included the NYSE in New York, but, it is alleged the plans were shelved after the success of the 9/11 attacks. Dhiren Barot has admitted the charges [BBC].

This trial comes on the back of a recent report on the BBC website that Britain has become the number 1 al-Qaeda target [BBC]. Security sources told the BBC that “The situation has never been so grim”.

But as a heightened security threat persists, airline travel restrictions were once again relaxed today. From today ‘small amounts’ of liquids and gels may be carried in hand luggage. But the items must be X-rayed separately and may only be taken on European flights [BBC]. Restrictions remain in force on other flights including the US which only serves to add to the confusion of many passengers.
There were reported delays at Heathrow as the new rules came into force today with many not following the guidelines properly. The restrictions placed on passengers were implemented after an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights was uncovered [BBC].

The War on Terror abroad, and besides worries over the back-clash following Saddam’s death sentence, there have been few reports of any violence. There was one report of a military helicopter crash in northern Iraq killing 2 US troops, but it is not believed to have been as a result of hostile action [BBC]. A curfew remains in place throughout many parts of the country, though it was ignored by many as Shi’ites celebrated and Sunnis protested Saddam’s sentencing [BBC]. The curfew is expected to be relaxed on Tuesday. The international press reaction was measured after the former leader’s sentence [BBC]. Many were of the opinion that the hanging of Saddam would do little to curb the violence enveloping the country. Al-Hayat said, “There is no reason to celebrate as Iraq was condemned to death before Saddam Hussein. We are witnessing the crumbling of Iraq” whilst the Iran’s E’temad-E Melli said, “Saddam's death sentence will make the current difficulties in Iraq more complicated” and warned of “increased tensions between the Shias and the Sunnis”. Israel’s Ha’aretz was also pessimistic. In its editorial the paper said, “It can neither close a chapter nor open a new era. It is just another death sentence - one of the dozens that Iraqi militias carry out each day against civilians from rival communities. For this reason, the verdict will also have no real impact on what is happening on the streets of Baghdad and Mosul.” Other papers were far more critical of the sentence and blamed the west and more specifically the US. Pakistan’s Nawa-I Waqt was one of the most critical leading with this statement in its editorial, “We say the death sentence for Saddam is a continuation of the inhuman and wild actions started by the US after 9/11. The use of the death sentence to win victory in mid-term polls is the worst game to play. We think the US President Bush, Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice have committed far more crimes than Saddam”. Western papers varied with their opinion. The Sun in the UK was far more scathing of the ‘liberal hand-wringing’ and went on to say that although “The death penalty may no longer be the British way” it was up to Iraq as to how they applied their justice system. “Let’s hear no more about Saddam having greater influence as a dead martyr than a live prisoner. Locked up, he would be a potent figurehead for Iraq’s insurgents” the Sun went on to say. The New York Times highlighted the fact that Saddam Hussein “got a fairer trial than he ever would have allowed in his courts. But Iraq got neither the full justice nor the full fairness it deserved”. It is likely that Saddam with not be judged on many other charges including the massacre of over 5,000 Kurds in Halabja in 1988. Posted by Picasa

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