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Be skeptical about UK's terror alert, says former ambassador

London, Aug 18, IRNA

UK-Terror Alert
A former British ambassador warned the public Friday to be skeptical about the UK's latest terror alert and to be wary of politicians who seek to benefit from the alarm.

Britain mounted its biggest counter-terrorism operation on August 10 after police said that they had disrupted an alleged plot to carry out simultaneous mid-air explosions on up to 10 flights from the UK to the US.

"For there to be no clear evidence yet on something that was `imminent' and would bring `mass murder on an unbelievable scale' is, to say the least, peculiar," said Craig Murray.

"Nine days on, nobody has been charged with any crime," said the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, who was dismissed from his post two years ago after criticizing British foreign policy.

He said that he had the highest security clearance, done a huge amount of professional intelligence analysis, been inside the government's spin machine and was "very skeptical about the story that has been spun."
Police are continuing to question 23 suspects after releasing two others previously detained without charge. Searches were also being carried out at residential homes and business premises, without any information being released except finding a suitcase in a woods.

Murray said that it would be "pretty difficult to convince a jury that these individuals were about to go through with suicide bombings, whatever they bragged about on the net."
"None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not have passports," he said in an article for the Guardian newspaper.

The envoy also said that many of those arrested had been under surveillance for more than a year, like thousands of other British Muslims and that "nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests."
He suggested that the alert was prompted after an interrogation of suspects in Pakistan revealed the "amazing plot to blow up multiple planes."
"As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information from people desperate to stop or avert torture. What you don't get is the truth," said the envoy, who has been critical of the UK using evidence extracted by torture in other countries.

He said that it was also "extraordinary question" that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush, who are both in "domestic trouble," had been discussing arrests the weekend before they were made.

"And we have the appalling political propaganda of John Reid, the home secretary, warning us all in advance of the evil that threatens us and complaining that some people `don't get' why we have to abandon traditional liberties," Murray said.

In all of this, he said the one thing of which he was certain is that the "timing is deeply political" and that there was "more propaganda than plot."
"Be skeptical. Be very, very skeptical," warned the ambassador, who recently authored `Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror.'

News sent: 17:52 Friday August 18, 2006 Print

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