That terrorist trial


Three men were convicted of conspiracy to murder, but the jury was deadlocked on the central allegation, that terrorists planned to use liquid bombs to destroy aircraft en route from Heathrow to cities in the United States and Canada.

Isn\’t this the case where we were pretty quickly shown that the alleged method of making a bomb would not in fact work?

9 thoughts on “That terrorist trial”

  1. The same case where they didn’t have any plane tickets nor passports? The same case the Americans pushed our security guys into stuffing up for some political point for Bush?

    And if it took the experts 36 goes to set it off, how many times would it have taken that dribbling bunch of fuckwits to get it right?

  2. A charge of conspiracy to commit an illegal act does not require that the chosen method be efficacious—or even possible. All it requires is the aggreement to work together to bring about the desired (illegal) result.

    There was a case (in Missouri, about 20 years ago, if memory serves) in which a group was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. Their chosen method was the casting of voodoo curses and spells. Prosecution was able to show quite clearly that the conspirators all believed that the method would work and that the death of the victim(?) was the result they all desired.

    You can also commit attempted murder with an unloaded pistol.

    While on the subject of interesting legal outcomes, I seem to remember a case from about 25 years ago in which an immigrant to (upstate) NY—a Chinese Muslim—was aquitted of murdering (strangling) his wife. Not exactly application of sharia but his defense offered that, where he and his wife hailed from, it was permitted for a man to kill his wife for adultery.
    (And the fact that he learned, after-the-fact, that she hadn’t been unfaithful, made no difference to the case: he hadn’t any intention, the defense maintained, of committing a “crime,” so he “walked.” ) It was a jury trial.

  3. @gene

    I can follow the logic of a succesful prosecution for conspiracy being dependent on intention and not the likelihood of success, but I don’t understand your last example. Surely ignorance of the law is no defence? I realise that juries can produce perverse verdicts but the defence argument seems very weak. Do you recall if there was any other reason that they might have had for their verdict?

  4. Thank goodness for independent English juries that are still allowed the freedom to give their own verdict on the evidence. Will the Police and CPS send suspects in future to the US to guarantee a conviction (as they are not American) or to Europe where they may be convicted of offences that do not exist in English law? I didn’t use the word “extradite” because Britons no longer have any rights to prevent removal to the jurisdictions of our partners and allies.

  5. I think the point Timmy is making is not simply about whether or not it was possible but the manner in which the government wanted to convince everyone that it was possible. They didn’t say “We’ve caught some morons who want to carry out the most far-fetched and difficult plan that had almost no chance in hell of working”.

    Instead they went to every length possible to paint these guys as bomb making masterminds who, if they hadn’t been caught by our heroic plod (making effective use of the expanded and expanding powers given to them by the state) would have in all probability blown up a few planes and killed thousands of people.

    A classic case of government spin.

  6. And isn’t it rather perverse that we have told every terrorist cell in the world not to waste their time building bombs that way next time?

    If I was on a jury, I would need to know one thing only- did the accused genuinely think it would work? The bomb recipe is only relevant if a case is being made for insanity. As in “my client thought he could make a bomb out of custard- he is clearly nuts yer ‘onner”

    The question of guilt or innocence is independant of skill or expertise. There is too much information splashing around.

  7. alastair:

    Didn’t mean that one to be illustrative of the same–but it IS tangentially related.

    By the same logic as you’ve mentioned (ignorance of the law being no excuse), I made a small wager on the outcome of the court case–and lost when he was aquitted.

    I’m only guessing here but my surmise is that the defense simply convinced the jury that the guy hadn’t any “criminal intent” in strangling his wife–was simply doing as was expected of anyone in the mileau of his upbringing. Of course it doesn’t answer our concept of there being no excuse in ignorance of the law but is just an illustration (one among very many) that “justice” is always messy around the edges.

    As illustrations, I’d offer the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the trial and aquittal of the guy who killed (Australian Jew unfortunately–for him– visitor in NYC ) Yankel Rosenbaum–with the defense and the jury going to dinner afterward. Or the case in Japan with a U.S. citizen arrested and held incommunicado for a minor “street-type” currency infraction. When he requested to be permitted to phone the U.S.
    embassy and to call a lawyer, they simply told him that those provisions of U.S. (and international) law were quite unnecessary in Japan because “OUR police never arrest anyone unless they’re guilty.” As I said, messy.

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