Five “Terror” Convictions Overturned on Appeal
News Brief – February 13, 2008
Five young British Muslims, convicted last year on terror charges had their convictions overturned today by a three-judge panel headed by the country's most senior judge.
They were convicted on terror charges after being found in possession of al Qaeda propaganda material.
Four were students at Bradford University and one was an east London schoolboy who briefly ran away from home to meet them after making their acquaintance on the Internet.
The schoolboy, Irfan Raja, had left a note for his parents saying he would meet them in heaven if not in this world. He was jailed along with students Aitzaz Zafar, Usman Malik, Akber Butt and Awaab Iqbal.
However Lord Chief Justice Nicholas Phillips, the head of the three-judge panel said the convictions had been based on the young men’s supposed intention to carry out or incite terror attacks
The jury should have been told that the men would only be guilty of a crime if it were proven that' the material was intended to incite terrorist acts, he continued.
"We doubt whether the evidence supported such a case," Lord Phillips concluded.
The judge who originally convicted them to a total of 13 years in jail said on sentencing that they had become “intoxicated” with the language of Jihad.
The trial last year, for downloading and sharing extremist terror-related material, was one of the first of its kind.
Nonetheless, their successful appeal is the latest in a string of terror convictions that have been overturned, both in the UK and Europe.
More importantly, it illustrates how people are being convicted of crimes not by what they do but by what they say and read.
In effect people are now being brought to trial for “thought crimes”: just as in George Orwell’s 1984, where the global power blocks were in a state of perpetual war, a sort of ongoing “War on Terror”.
Finally, the success of their appeal is yet more evidence that much of the supposed "terror threat" is so much Smoke and Mirrors; a means whereby society can intimidated and more draconian legislation passed to bring it closer to one that really is like Orwell's vision.
Last updated 17/02/2008