Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Words That Can Kill

Abu Abdullah (left) didn’t hesitate for a minute when I asked him what he thought of the Madrid bombings in 2004 that killed hundreds and wounded thousands.

“Well, they worked, didn’t they?” he shot back. Through two extensive interviews with Abdullah, known also as Atilla Ahmet, it was clear it wasn’t enough for this man to think and feel these controversial thoughts, he wanted to be known for them.

He now has his wish. Abdullah, his close associate Mohammed Hamid (left) and five of their acquaintances have either pled guilty or been found guilty of terrorism related offences.

There were striking pieces of evidence throughout the trial, including scenes, filmed on a mobile phone, of Al-Qaeda style training conducted not in Iraq or Afghanistan but in the English countryside

This is an important case for British authorities and the head of Britain’s Counter Terrorism Command, Peter Clarke, says it should serve as a warning to those who wish to recruit and groom extremists,

“The message is that even if you are not at the point of mounting an attack as a terrorist; if you are recruiting, radicalising, and looking to encourage other people to commit murder in pursuit of your cause we will investigate, we will use the law and we will put you before a court because we have seen what happens when these plots bear fruition. We have seen mass murder here in the United Kingdom," he said.

He says he hopes this case will serve notice to those who believe they are ‘underground’ and beyond prosecution. Much of the evidence gathered in this trial was collected by an undercover police officer who infiltrated this terrorist cell.

Among the audio recordings played to the jury was one that that glorified the July 7th terror attacks in London that killed 52 people.

Police hope this case will provide a potent preventative reminder to those who believe they can promote terror at will. The message from British authorities: free speech does not mean free reign to glorify and inspire terror. British courts have now given that assertion some muscle with these convictions and guilty pleas.

While this may prove a landmark case for reigning in the abuse of free speech, it raises a troubling question about whether those abuses have now simply moved to ‘secret’, underground places, where they cannot be debated, scrutinized or prosecuted.

Still, police would call this getting ‘upstream’, mitigating what they believe are the causes of extremism and those who hope to nurture it.

Click here to see my report

Posted by Paula Newton, CNN’s International Security Correspondent
A strong signal to those who used to think that kind of "preaches" would keep going on with impunity.
News and observations on the threats to international security and the challenges posed by terrorism to societies around the world. From breaking news to background stories, from serious analysis to casual asides, if we think it's interesting we'll post it here.
• February 2008
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