the “Terror Plot”…. and the new “pseudo-terrorism”


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

The Truth about the "Terror Plot".... and the new "pseudo-terrorism"

I am disappointed to say that so far there has been very little serious critical
discussion, grounded in factual analysis, of the alleged ³Terror Plot² foiled on
the morning of Wednesday, 10th August 2006. Except for a few noteworthy comment 
pieces, such as Craig Murray¹s critical speculations published by the Guardian 
last Friday, the mainstream media has largely subserviently parroted the 
official claims of the British and American governments. This is a shame, 
because inspection of the facts raises serious problems for the 10/8 official 

No Imminent Plot

On the basis of the ³Terror Plot², Prime Minister Tony Blair is planning ³to 
push through 90-day detention without charge for terror suspects.² Home 
Secretary Dr. John Reid has ordered the draft of new anti-terror legislation 
that would suspend key parts of the Human Rights Act 1998, to facilitate the 
indefinite detention of terrorism suspects in the UK without charge or trial. 
The law is planned to apply also to British citizens. And since 10th August, 
Britain was on its highest ³critical² state of alert, which indicates the threat
of an imminent terrorist attack on UK interests. Only in the last few days was 
it lowered back down to ³severe².

The stark truth is that the ³Terror Plot² narrative has been thoroughly, 
hopelessly, politicized. There was never any evidence of an imminent plot. A 
senior British official involved in the investigation told NBC News on 14th 
August that:

³In contrast to previous reportsŠ an attack was not imminent, [and] the suspects
had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have 

If British security officials knew that an attack was not imminent, the decision
to raise the alert level to critical, indicating an imminent threat, was 
unjustified by the available intelligence -- this was, in other words, a 
political decision.

Other British officials told NBC News that many of the suspects had been under 
surveillance for more than a year, since before the 7th July 2005 terrorist 
attacks. ³British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at 
least another week to try to obtain more evidence² -- as it was clearly lacking.
But: ³American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner.² An 
American official also confirmed the disagreement over timing.

Brits Opposed Arrest and Torture of Key Informant

The NBC News report further reveals, citing British security sources, that 
British police did not want to yet arrest Rashid Rauf, the alleged mastermind, 
al-Qaeda facilitator and key informant on the details of the plot: ³British 
security was concerned that Rauf be taken into custody Œin circumstances where 
there was due process,¹ according to the official, so that he could be tried in 
British courts. Ultimately, this official says, Rauf was arrested over the 
objections of the British.²

However, the arrest of Rashid Rauf is at the crux of the case, as it purportedly
triggered the ensuing wave of arrests, with Rauf providing in-depth details of 
the plot to his interrogators in Pakistan. Among the details attributed to Rauf 
is the idea that the plotters intended to mix a ³sports drink² with a gel-like 
³peroxide-based paste² to create a chemical explosive that ³could be ignited 
with an MP3 player or cell phone.²

The problem is that several Pakistani newspapers reported on 13th August that 
³Rauf had Œbroken¹ under interrogation.² The reports were described by a 
Pakistani human rights group ³as confirmation that he had been tortured.² 
According to the Guardian, ³Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of 
Pakistan, said that it was obvious how the information had been obtained. ŒI 
don¹t deduce, I know -- torture,¹ she said. ŒThere is simply no doubt about 
that, no doubt at all.¹²

That most of the details about the plot came from Rauf, who has been tortured 
and ³broken² while under interrogation in Pakistan, raises serious questions 
about the credibility of the story being promoted by the British and American 

Torture Precedents: the ³Ricin Plot²

The revelation bears hallmarks of a familiar pattern. It is now well-known that 
the interrogation of terror suspects using torture was responsible for the 
production of the false ³Ricin Plot² narrative. In much the same way as Pakistan
has done now, Algerian security services alerted the British in January 2003 to 
the alleged plot after interrogating and torturing a former British resident 
Mohammed Meguerba. We now know there was no plot. Police officials repeatedly 
claimed they had found plastic tubs of ricin -- but these claims were false. 
Four of the defendants were acquitted of terrorism and four others had the cases
against them abandoned. Only Kamal Bourgass was convicted, but not in connection
with the ³Ricin Plot², rather for murdering Special Branch Detective Constable 
Stephen Oake during a raid. Indeed, the ³rendition² of terror suspects 
orchestrated by Britain, the United States, and other western states, attempts 
to institutionalize and legitimize torture as a means for the production of 
fundamentally compromised information used by western states to manipulate 
domestic public opinion.

It is perhaps not all that surprising then to learn that, according to a Daily 
Mail headline, the Pakistanis have found ³no evidence against Œterror 
mastermind¹², despite two weeks of interrogation under torture and forensic 
combing of Rauf¹s home and computer. The plot ³may not have been as serious, or 
as far advanced, as the authorities initially claimed², observes the Mail 
somewhat sheepishly, and belatedly. ³Analysts suspect Pakistani authorities 
exaggerated Rauf¹s role to appear Œtough on terrorism¹ and impress Britain and 
America.² I wonder if the paucity of evidence has something to do with why, as 
the Independent on Sunday reported: ³Both Britain and Pakistan say the question 
of Mr Rauf¹s possible extradition [to the UK] is some way off.² Indeed. A 
spokesman for Pakistani¹s Interior Ministry gave some helpful elaboration, 
telling the Mail that extradition ³is not under consideration.²

The extradition to Britain of the alleged chief mastermind of a plot to kill 
thousands of Americans and British citizens by simultaneously blowing up 
multiple civilian airliners has, in other words, been ruled out indefinitely.

Er, Still No EvidenceŠ

All the evidence now suggests that the Americans wanted immediate arrests 
without proper evidence. It seems, there was no imminent necessity of such 
immediate action, nor was there sufficient evidence of an imminent plot, other 
than the claims of an informant under torture. There are only two further 
possibilities. Either there was no real evidence of any plot at all; or these 
premature arrests could have seriously compromised a long-term surveillance 
operation against suspects who may have been involved in a wider network 
involved in terrorist-related activity, an operation that has now been scuppered
-- meaning that we may never know for sure what they were actually planning.

Meanwhile, reports of material evidence in the UK have been unnervingly 
threadbare. Only eleven out of the 24 suspects arrested over the alleged 
airliner bomb plot have been charged, largely it seems on the basis of police 
findings of ³bomb-making equipment and martyrdom videos². Out of the other 
thirteen, two have been released without charge. But the ³bomb-making equipment²
discovery of ³chemicals² and ³electrical components² is ambiguous at best, 
especially given that police descriptions of the alleged bomb construction plan 
is to mix a sports drink with a peroxide-based household gel (the chemicals), 
and detonate the mixture with an MP3 player or mobile phone (electrical 
components). If possession of such items makes you a terror suspect in 
possession of potential bomb-making equipment, then we are all terror suspects. 
As Craig Murray observes:

³Let me fess up here. I have just checked, and our flat contains nail polish 
remover, sports drinks, and a variety of household cleaning products. Also MP3 
players and mobile phones. So the authorities could announce -- as they have 
whispered to the media in this case -- that potential ingredients of a liquid 
bomb, and potential timing devices, have been discovered. It rather lowers the 
bar doesn¹t it?²

Yes -- clearly, it lowers the bar to potentially include millions of perfectly 
normal British citizens. The police story is also, simply, scientifically 
absurd, as Murray further notes: ³The idea that high explosive can be made 
quickly in a plane toilet by mixing at room temperature some nail polish 
remover, bleach, and Red Bull and giving it a quick stir, is nonsense.² Citing 
US chemistry experts, Washington-based information security journalist Thomas C.
Greene similarly concludes that

"... the fabled binary liquid explosive -- that is, the sudden mixing of 
hydrogen peroxide and acetone with sulfuric acid to create a plane-killing 
explosion, is out of the question... But the Hollywood myth of binary liquid 
explosives now moves governments and drives public policy. We have reacted to a 
movie plot."

CIA, MI6 and ISI

A report by Asia Times Pakistan Bureau Chief Syed Shahzad citing Pakistani 
intelligence sources confirms that the British-born Pakistanis arrested in 
Lahore and Karachi were active members of al-Muhajiroun, the banned UK-based 
extremist Islamist group currently directed by Omar Bakri Mohammed from Lebanon.
Moreover, they had been penetrated by Pakistani intelligence services. ³I can 
tell you with surety², said one Pakistani source, ³that the boys [recently] 
arrested in Pakistan have long been identified by the Pakistani establishment.² 
They had come to Pakistan and ³interacted with a few officials of the Pakistani 
army² with a view to stage a coup against the Musharraf regime. Omar Bakri has 
repeatedly issued fatawas calling for the assassination of Musharraf. In fact:

³Pakistani intelligence -- coming from a strong military background -- 
penetrated deep into themŠ The closeness of the Pakistani intelligence with some
boys with a Muhajiroun background was a known fact, but at what stage it turned 
out to be their ŒLondon terror plot¹, we are completely in the dark. However, I 
safely make a conjecture that those highly motivated boys were exploited by 
agents provocateurs. A religious Muslim youth in his early 20s is undoubtedly 
full of hatred against the US, and if somebody would guide them to carry out any
attack on US interests, there would be a strong chance that they would go for 
that. And I think this is exactly what happenedŠ they were basically 

I have no doubt that these individuals could have been associated with extremist
groups. But while it may be possible they were involved in terrorist-related 
activity, it is now indisputable that there was no evidence of an imminent plot,
and the specific claims about the details were obtained from an informant under 
torture. We should therefore be very cautious in accepting the ³Terror Plot² 
official narrative, as there is clearly a continuing danger of political 
interference compromising ongoing intelligence investigations for political 

But the deep involvement of the Pakistani ISI in penetrating the very group that
was subsequently arrested and tortured, raises serious questions about what was 
going on. Moreover, the Asia Times also notes that the Pakistani intelligence 
operation against these groups was coordinated on the initiative of the CIA and 
MI6. Indeed, MI6 had also ensured that a deep undercover British intelligence 
operative had ³infiltrated the group, giving the authorities intelligence on the
alleged plan², according to several US government sources.

The revelation that the arrestees were associated with al-Muhajiroun also raises
serious intelligence issues. Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leader of the group, which
recently operated under the names of the Saved Sect and al-Ghuraaba, was 
recruited by MI6 in the mid-1990s to recruit British Muslims to fight in Kosovo.
Despite being implicated in the 7/7 London bombings, the British government 
exiled him to Lebanon where he resides safely outside of British jurisdiction, 
and thus effectively immune from investigation and prosecution. One inevitably 
wonders about the nature of Bakri¹s corrupt relationship with British 
intelligence services today.

P2OG: Stimulating Reactions

So what were the CIA, MI6 and ISI doing? Given the disturbing context here, in 
which the entire ³Terror Plot² narrative has obviously been deeply politicized 
and to some extent even fabricated, a balanced analysis needs to account 
precisely for the stated new ³counter-terror² strategies of western intelligence
services. In August 2002, a report by the Pentagon¹s Defense Science Board 
revealed the latest strategic thinking about creating a new US secret 
counterintelligence organization -- the Proactive Preemptive Operations Group 
(P2OG) -- which would, among other things, conduct highly clandestine operations
to ³stimulate reactions² among terrorist groups, by infiltrating them or 
provoking them into action in order to facilitate targeting them. In January 
2005, Seymour Hersh revealed in the New Yorker that the P2OG strategy had been 

³Under Rumsfeld¹s new approach, I was told, US military operatives would be 
permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign businessmen seeking to buy 
contraband items that could be used in nuclear-weapons systems. In some cases, 
according to the Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked 
to join up with guerrillas or terrorists. This could potentially involve 
organizing and carrying out combat operations, or even terrorist activities.²

Hersh refers to a series of articles by John Arquilla, a professor of defense 
analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California, and a RAND 
terrorism consultant, where he elaborates on this strategy of ³countering 
terror² with Pseudo-Terror. ³When conventional military operations and bombing 
failed to defeat the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya in the 1950s,² muses professor 
Arquilla, ³the British formed teams of friendly Kikuyu tribesmen who went about 
pretending to be terrorists. These Œpseudo gangs¹, as they were called, swiftly 
threw the Mau Mau on the defensive, either by befriending and then ambushing 
bands of fighters or by guiding bombers to the terrorists¹ camps.² He goes on to
advocate that western intelligence services should use the British case as a 
model for creating new ³pseudo gang² terrorist groups, purportedly to undermine 
³real² terror networks. ³What worked in Kenya a half-century ago has a wonderful
chance of undermining trust and recruitment among today¹s terror networks. 
Forming new pseudo gangs should not be difficult.² He then confidently observes 
about John Walker Lindh, the young American lad who joined the Taliban before 
9/11: ³If a confused young man from Marin County can join up with Al Qaeda, 
think what professional operatives might do.²


I¹m thinking about it, and I¹m looking at the deep intelligence penetration of 
al-Qaeda affiliated networks like al-Muhajiroun by the CIA, MI6 and ISI, and 
unfortunately I¹m not experiencing the same sense of elation as Arquilla. Is the
10/8 ³Terror Plot² connected to the post-9/11 P2OG strategy?

Whatever happened on 10/8, it is not the majestic ³success story² painted by the
British and American governments. It is symptomatic of something far worse, the 
mechanics of which will never be truly understood in the absence of a full-scale
independent public inquiry focusing on the 7th July bombings, but including 
associated British and western ³security² policies which see Pseudo-Terrorism as
a legitimate tool of statecraft.


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