Proportionate, just and sane

The War Against Terror has reached a new high-point:

A British teenager who is accused of possessing material for terrorist purposes has appeared in court. The 17-year-old, who was arrested in the Dewsbury area of West Yorkshire on Monday, was given bail after a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. It is alleged he had a copy of the “Anarchists’ Cookbook”, containing instructions on how to make home-made explosives.

I’m happy to admit that as a teenager, I downloaded (actually, I vaguely seem to recall I copied the floppy disc from a mate because I didn’t have Internet access at the time) the Anarchists’ Cookbook, as did most of my friends. Some of us may even have gone on to make home-made explosives; some of these may possibly have been quite fun.

I mean, is this unusual? Was I in some kind of proto-terror-cell without realising? Or is ‘getting hold of instructions for illicit things and doing a few of the more minor ones’ the sort of thing that most geeky male adolescents do at some point? I’d always rather assumed the latter, in which case what the raging, flying fuck are we doing prosecuting some poor boy under the Terrorism Act for, err, being normal?

Post your ‘if the current lot had been in power when I was a kid I’d still be in Guantanamo today’ confessions below.

[side note: according to the precedent set in in R v Atif Siddique, displaying this link could earn you eight years in chokey…]

Update: I’d forgotten that last time we had a crazy terror panic, people of unfashionable ethnicities were also locked up for possessing the Anarchist’s Cookbook, or “conspiring to commit crimes unknown against persons unknown in places unknown”, as it was known in those days.

  1. Sim-O said:

    I can’t remember if I blew anything up ‘cos I was too busy reading instructions on how to grow cannibis (whilst smoking copious amounts), but everyone has equipment to carry out a terrorist act. It’s called a brain.

  2. bigmund said:

    Damn Right John. Many of us kids did this in our teenage years – I remember a substance known as “Flash Powder” being available from the local joke shop in the 70’s – some friends and I used this to make a home-made device which we then exploded on the outskirts of our village. It attracted little notice.

    Incidentally, it seems to escape the notice of these crazed law-makers that many tons of high explosives will pass into the hands of our teenagers in the next few weeks, these being freely available from newsagents. I wonder in what way the actions of the kids referred to above is so reprehensible in comparison?

  3. Simon J said:

    When an Explorer Scout one of our number would steel volotile chemicals from school and take them on camp, the intended purpose being bright flashes, and big bangs, not actual destruction of anything.

  4. Simon J said:

    Um I mean Venture Scout, I am not young enough to have been an Explorer Scout!

  5. It was the instructions for concocting LSD that compelled me to get my hands on the thing when I was a teenager. And while I can’t speak for the bomb-making tips, none of the acid recipes worked.

    So not only is this poor sod being persecuted for being a normal geeky male adolescent, he’s almost certainly being persecuted for owning bomb-making instructions that don’t even work very well.

  6. He was also in possession of about a pound of saltpetre, the oxidiser in gunpowder. Given that you can buy the stuff made up very cheaply (in fireworks), he seems to be taking a roundabout route.

    I think the difference is that he is alleged to have actually wanted to blow people up – BNP members according to the Dewsbury papers.

    Robert Cottage, who also had saltpetre, got 2.5 years. Compare his sentence with that of Edward Mattison, who not only made but detonated some quite large devices. He got less than half Cottage’s sentence.

    Omar Altimimi got nine years despite the police admitting that “we will never know exactly what Altimimi was preparing to do”. He had built up a library of terror-related literature – but on those grounds Professor Paul Wilkinson should be inside.