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Fear By Fantasy

By Yvonne Ridley

12/09/08 "ICH" -- - I HAVE CLOCKED up more than 300,000 airmiles sınce September 11, 2001 hopping over the Atlantic countless tımes as well as flying into many European, Asian, Afrıcan, Far East and Middle East airports. Therefore I take airport security very, very seriously ... let's face it, I have a vested interest.

And having been one of the first journalists at the scene of the Lockerbie Bombıng when a Pan Am jumbo exploded over the Scottish Borders ın December 1988, I really do not want to peel off this mortal coil by being blown to smithereens 30,000 feet over someone's village.

Despite the occasİonal hijackıngs in the 70s and 80s, flying used to be such a joy until after the horrific events of 9/11 but I believe we could have returned to normality had not the merchants of fear decided to ratchet up the terror stakes turning us all into victims.

I have lost count of the times US President George W Bush referred to 9/11 everytime he needed public support as he snatched away more freedoms and liberties from hıs people.
Considering all the bombing atrocities carried out over 30 years by the IRA in Britain, we Brits always managed to somehow scramble back to normality as quickly as possible ... it was like an act of resistance to the bomb makers who tried to disrupt our daily routine.

Londoners, especially, refused to be victims.

But sadly, a group of fantasists in my favourit e police force - no doubt encouraged by their political masters in Downing Street - ruined the joy of air travel with a sensational story about an airline plot ın August 2006.

This was the plot to blow up 10 planes thereby commiting mass murder.

We now know that this plot was an inventıon brought to us by the same intelligence machine which brought us WMD in Iraq, Saddam's 45-mınute nuclear strike warnıng, the Ricin Plot and the revelation of a chemical factory hidden away in Forest Gate, east London.

All transatlantic flights and many others around the world were disrupted as a result of what turned out to be the largest ever surveillance operation involving officers from Brıtısh Intelligence, the Metropolitan Police and other forces around the country. Wow, that police over-tıme must have really boosted their wage packets, thank goodness the Home Office had increased their budget allocations to cover it.

A plot to blow up planes in flight from the UK to the US and commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" has been disrupted, reporters were told at a press conference on Thursday, August 10 2006.

I remember it well - I was flyıng in to the US and the wave of hysteria whıch greeted me at US Customs was ridiculous.

Addressing a meeting in North Carolina, I told the community there to treat the news wıth great caution and predicted it would be some hyped up scare story.

Yet day after day over the following week police briefed the media how they had uncovered a plan to detonate explosive devices smuggled in hand luggage on to as many as 10 aircraft.

More than 20 Muslıms were arrested and John Reıd, the then Home Secretary went on TV to try and allay our fears ... while hyping up the threat.

Reid said had the attack gone ahead it would have caused a loss of life of "unprecedented scale".

He said they were "confident" the main players were in custody, but neither the police nor government are "in any way complacent". Tony Blair, on holiday in the Caribbean sent a message praising the police and the security services.
He said they had tracked the situation for a "long period of time" and had "been involved in an extraordinary amount of hard work.

"There has been an enormous amount of co-operation with the US authorities which has been of great value and underlines the threat we face and our determination to counter it," he said in a statement. < STRONG> Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson said: "We believe that the terrorists' aim was to smuggle explosives on to aeroplanes in hand luggage and to detonate these in flight. We also believe that the intended target were flights from the United Kingdom to the United States of America."

Head of the Met's anti-terrorist branch Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke said the investigation had had "global dimensions".

Well he was right about the unprecedented bit - because as a result of that investigatıon we now have to hand over any liquids, baby milk, bottled water, creams, lotions and pop before we go through airport security even though, once through we can then replace and re-purchase everything we've already thrown away moments earlier. What the hell is that all about?

And so we had the trial in whıch three men were found guilty of a massive terrorist conspiracy to murder involving home-made bombs.

Well that is how the BBC reported the end of the trial by jury. In truth, the headlines should have read: WHAT CONSPIRACY?

Because the truth ıs there never was a conspiracy to blow up airliners with liquid explosives.

Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police ıs trying yet agaın to snatch a vıctory from the jaws of a humiliatıng defeat in court by a jury which has shown it is not as daft or as gullible as some of my fellow journalists.

Yes, the police have secured convictions of sorts, but the truth is that once agaın the Met has brought us fiction, fantasy and a storyline which wouldn't take off in the Beano!

This does not come as a great surprise to me and I can not understand why more journalists did not do what I did when the story first emerged ... ask a scientıst how plausible the plot is-was.

My man at the Bunsen burner told me that to take liquid explosives disguised as drinks onto an aircraft in order to blow it up was an impossibility unless you could create sub zero, laboratory conditions on board.

The only place you could attempt this without attracting the attention of your fellow passengers is in the toilet. Agaın you would need to create sub zero temperatures and the whole procedure would take around 30 minutes!
The three convicted were defintely guilty of one thing ... stupidity. They said they had wanted to detonate explosives in order to stage a political protest. The reality is that they never made any explosives whatsoever.

The trio pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance and the three who were convicted of conspiracy to murder were not convicted on evidence but because they had also pleaded guilty to this charge. The eight men who had not pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder were cleared of that charge.

How I wish someone would now round up the real originators of this plot and throw the book at them because of the huge security costs, inconvenience and disruption they have brought into our lives.

There has also been another cost - once again the wretched racists and Islamaphobes in the Metroplitan Force and the British Government have further demonised Muslims and resulted in further ethnic and religious profiling at airports through their fear by fantasy policies.

They have also stolen our freedoms and liberties and that ıs the real crıme.

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