Was the great liquid explosives plot just a political conjuring trick, asks Matthew Carr
On Wednesday December 13, in a week dominated by the Ipswich murders and Tony Blair's meeting with the police, a Rawalpindi judge handed down a judgment that delivered another blow to the British government's dwindling credibility.
He announced that charges against the British-born terrorist suspect Rashid Rauf "did not fall into the category of terrorism". Rauf had been in custody since his arrest in Pakistan in August on suspicion of coordinating a plot, on behalf of al-Qaeda, to blow up transatlantic airlines using liquid explosives.
To understand the significance of this decision, it is necessary to go back to the torrid month of August, when Tony Blair retreated to the Caribbean against a background of Israel's assault on Lebanon.
On August 9, Home Secretary John Reid delivered another of his familiar anti-terrorist jeremiads, in which he warned of "the most sustained threat since the end of the second world war" from al-Qaeda. The following morning the government announced that some two dozen Muslims had been arrested overnight and that police had thwarted an attempt to "commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale".
Over the next few days, Britain descended into a state of unprecedented anti-terrorist psychosis, as stringent security brought chaos to airports across the country. Sceptics questioned the logistical plausibility of liquid explosives in bottles of Lucozade and the level of security checks that were costing airline companies millions.
On August 14, a British official told NBC news that the attacks were "not imminent" and admitted that the suspects had not bought air tickets and that some of them did not even have passports.
Once again sceptics asked why the official threat alert been raised to "critical" if there was no imminent plot.
Now it appears that the alleged "mastermind" behind the plot may have been no more than a minor forger.
Other cracks in the plot have already begun to appear. Of the 24 original arrests in Britain, only eleven have been charged and their involvement in the plot has yet to be proven.
... was the plot deliberately misrepresented and exaggerated in order to mobilise support for the ongoing state of emergency which our leaders had declared to be inevitable?
The answers to these questions are unlikely to come from a discredited prime minister or his security chief, who has just announced her surprising resignation. But we need to get them from someone, otherwise we may be in even deeper trouble than we realise.
I'm glad to see that I am not the only person wondering about the plausibility of this 'alleged' terror plot. see previous posts MI5 tracking '30 UK terror plots' The War On Terror continued