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In UK, First "Anarchist's Cookbook" Downloaders' Convictions 418

Posted by timothy
from the ok-are-you-following-this dept.
analysethis writes "In the UK last month the author/compiler of the well-known-in-Internet-circles 'terrorist handbook' pleaded guilty to seven counts of collecting information that could have been used to prepare or commit acts of terrorism, with a maximum jail term of 10 years. Today the first people caught with downloaded copies have been put behind bars — a white-supremacist father and son pairing getting 10 and two years respectively, convicted of three counts of possessing material useful for acts of terror. How many will be emptying their recycle bins after this conviction? As of writing, the book is still freely available on Amazon.com to buy." Note: it seems that there's some overlapping nomenclature at play. Terrance Brown, the man who pleaded guilty to terror charges last month, is said to have been distributing a CD set including among other things extracts from Al-Qaeda manuals. His "cookbook" differs then from William Powell's 1971 book by a similar title, though (confusingly enough) the linked Wikipedia article implies that the father-and-son pair arrested possessed a copy of the Powell book as well; its text may well have been among the materials that Brown distributed.
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In UK, First "Anarchist's Cookbook" Downloaders' Convictions

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  • by damburger (981828) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @04:14AM (#32218212)

    ...could have been the fucking chemical weapons.

    I have the feeling the conviction has more to do with a bunch of white supremacists holding large quantities of ricin, than that actual act of learning how to make it.

    • by bcmm (768152) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @05:12AM (#32218400)
      The article says that the son was convicted only of the thoughtcrime. I would've thought that if he was actually involved with making the poison, both could've been convicted for that.

      Like most overreaching laws, the first few people convicted will obviously deserve it, and could've been convicted for a proper crime if people were prepared to do their jobs properly. Serious misuse will happen when we've all accepted the necessity of the new law.

      Is there a list of what we can't read? Are there especially accurate works of fiction we can be arrested for reading? Perhaps the law will be used against people collecting information about unpleasant things our government does (remember, taking photos of police is already illegal, if the photos could be "useful for terrorism")?

      For example, there are people that try to discover the routes taken by trucks transporting nuclear materials in the UK, in order to inform communities along the routes and peacefully protest. I guess they are terrorists now.
      • by syousef (465911)

        For pity sake mod this man up!!!

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2010 @05:50AM (#32218532)

          I would mod him up, but I don't want to be seen publicly supporting terrorists.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          If I were in the UK I'd start downloading and distributing the Anarchist Handbook via bittorrent just to challenge this ridiculous law.

          Any good patriot should be willing to spend time in jail to protect the Nature-given right of free speech. It's your mouth. Nobody has a right to muzzle it (although they do have the right to remove you from their private property). The government was created by the People to protect individual rights, not to take them away. Any government which stops acting as a servan

      • Sharing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drooling-dog (189103) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @08:44AM (#32219194)

        And this, children, is why we don't share our reading lists and other personal information on sites like Facebook. It's also why we should be wary of other people keeping track of everything we read, whether it's over the web or on devices like Kindle.

    • ...could have been the fucking chemical weapons.

      fucking-chemical weapons? Chemical weapons now exist that know how to fuck? This war on terra is getting out of hand!

    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @05:26AM (#32218450) Journal

      Read the first link - the BBC story is about a guy who simply collected and sold information, while the Telegraph story is about those who were caught using it.

      The charge that the former pleaded guilty to was "collecting information that could have been used to prepare or commit acts of terrorism". It's an insanely broad law which can and (if history is anything to go by) will be used to stifle legitimate collection of factual information, not to mention the chilling effect from simply having it on the books.

      Any number of things, not least the majority of university level science and engineering textbooks, could be extremely useful to terrorists. The law is probably there to be selectively applied to those who they can't get anything else on. Sure, it probably will rightly convict a few potentially dangerous people, but in doing so we are suffering a huge abridgement of our rights.

    • by RDW (41497)

      'I have the feeling the conviction has more to do with a bunch of white supremacists holding large quantities of ricin, than that actual act of learning how to make it.'

      However, in the other case mentioned in TFA (the most worrying from a civil liberties point of view), Terrance Brown was apparently just compiling stuff available elsewhere (mostly or entirely online) and selling it on a CD:

      http://web.archive.org/web/20070108155556/www.anarchist-cookbook.com/CD.htm [archive.org]

      This includes everything from 'Fruit Machine

  • by MikeFM (12491) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @04:24AM (#32218252) Homepage Journal
    When I was a teenager I taught myself about everything from religion and witchcraft to bombs, computer hacking, and chemical weapons. Guess that means I'm a terrorist.
    • well you never did anything with that knowledge...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MikeFM (12491)
        I'm sure what I did would be considered a crime today. In my day it was considered boys being boys.
      • Well, does it still matter? You're already suspicious if you happen to want to know. While the US may still have its 1st amendment, other countries that don't have such stopgags to the suppression of information are already way ahead.

    • Yeah I learned those things in case the apocalypse aliens or whatever my most paranoid fantasies can conjure. Comes and I have to defend myself. Knowledge is power. I guess Knowledge is now also terrorism.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @05:26AM (#32218446)

        Knowledge in the hands of those that are being ruled has always been a threat to those that are in power. Knowledge has always been the primary tool of revolutions, not a single revolution in the history of mankind has been led by uneducated people. And the primary tool of oppression has been withdrawal of information and knowledge. With a growing resentment against the ruling group, their paranoia grows, to the point that they see anyone with knowledge and information as a threat to their power.

        For reference, see Pol Pot.

    • I taught myself about everything from religion and witchcraft to bombs, computer hacking, and chemical weapons.

      No, it means, you're a witch.

      BURN THE WITCH!

      (Quick, weigh him against a duck.)

  • Illegal? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wmspider (1333299) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @04:38AM (#32218296)

    convicted of three counts of possessing material useful for acts of terror

    Can sombody explain why this is illegal? Every highschool student taking a chemistry course 'possesses material useful for acts of terror'. The fact that somebody owns something that COULD be used for some illegal activity doesn't make that person a criminal. Else, everybody would be in prison. Have you ever used a knife? A car? A computer? Thought so.

    • by hansraj (458504)

      Comparing private ownership of dangerous material to access in a public institution (presumably for learning) is a bit of stretch. Educational institutions frequently have different controls. A less dangerous example: You can not let anyone copy a copyrighted book that you own, whereas libraries are allowed to do that.

      Also, a knife, a car, a computer each have many legitimate uses.

      I am not saying that I agree with the conviction (I don't know the details), but saying that the law being applied to ownership

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        You can not let anyone copy a copyrighted book that you own, whereas libraries are allowed to do that.

        What are you babbling on about?

    • Explain the practical uses of Ricin for the lay person. He created enough ricin to kill 9 people (500mg is lethal dosage according to Wiki). There's some hope it can be used for Cancer, but right now it just seem like it's really good at killing people.

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        To quote myself:

        Read the BBC link, it relates to a different case. The guy had collected together a bunch of information and was running a business selling CDs of it. Factual information, nothing more. He was charged with "collecting information that could have been used to prepare or commit acts of terrorism", "recklessly disseminating the information" and "transferring criminal property".

        This is all despite the fact that "the court was told that Brown made tens of thousands of pounds from the business but had no terrorist sympathies". I see nothing in the article to suggest that the court believed his intent was anything other than that of making money.

    • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Funny)

      by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @05:04AM (#32218378)

      You think that's bad? Imagine what happens when the powers that be find out, that about 49% of the population have the tools needed to rape women?

      • by dangitman (862676)

        You think that's bad? Imagine what happens when the powers that be find out, that about 49% of the population have the tools needed to rape women?

        Only 49%? I would think that close to 100% of the population has the tools needed to rape women. Most people have hands, fingers, feet, tongues, etc. Of those who don't, they would have access to objects that could be used for the purpose. You'd practically have to be in a coma to not have tools of rape.

    • by damburger (981828)
      You could easily argue in court that the materials you own are for personal, educational purposes. Unless, of course, the police had just found a load of homemade ricin in your house...
      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        Read the BBC link, it relates to a different case. The guy had collected together a bunch of information and was running a business selling CDs of it. Factual information, nothing more. He was charged with "collecting information that could have been used to prepare or commit acts of terrorism", "recklessly disseminating the information" and "transferring criminal property".

        This is all despite the fact that "the court was told that Brown made tens of thousands of pounds from the business but had no terroris

    • by selven (1556643)

      Every highschool student taking a chemistry course 'possesses material useful for acts of terror'.

      Wait, what? High school chemistry students sit down with pencil and paper and do chemical equations and draw what 2-phenyl-3,7-dichloro-whatever-cyclononane looks like. They don't actually mix things together - that would be too dangerous!

      And the books are too busy being pedantic about the definition of acids and bases to say anything useful about how to make stuff go boom.

    • by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @05:30AM (#32218472)

      Every highschool student taking a chemistry course

      It seems to be almost impossible to take a pure chem. course these days. What chemistry there is, is taught in such a watered down manner that it's almost an abstract philosophy class - mixed in with "vinegar and baking powder" level experiments, all done behind a safety screen with full protective gear. I doubt there are many children today who could even tell you what H2SO4 smells like.

      Comparing the Chemistry O-level I took a few decades ago with the BBC's example Chemistry GCSE (on their website) almost makes you want to cry. These days it contains questions like "what is the most environmentally appropriate use for a limestone quarry, that's been mined out?"

      However nowadyas our wonderful law enfarcement officers automitcally assume that chemistry only means either drugs or bombs, it's hardly surprising it's been demonised

    • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kijori (897770) <ward,jake&gmail,com> on Saturday May 15, 2010 @06:07AM (#32218588)

      convicted of three counts of possessing material useful for acts of terror

      Can sombody explain why this is illegal? Every highschool student taking a chemistry course 'possesses material useful for acts of terror'. The fact that somebody owns something that COULD be used for some illegal activity doesn't make that person a criminal. Else, everybody would be in prison. Have you ever used a knife? A car? A computer? Thought so.

      The conviction in this case was almost certainly (although I can't find confirmation) under section 57 or 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. These provide, respectively, that a person is guilty of an offence if he:

      - "possesses an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that his possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism."
      - "collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or [...] possesses a document or record containing information of that kind."

      A legitimate reason to own the information is a defence to both of these charges - so if you're studying chemistry, for example, and your research involves making explosives you aren't guilty under this act. To make it clear what we're talking about, this is the same formulation as is used for knife crime in the UK - you can carry any knife you want as long as you actually need it, but you can't just carry a knife around because you want to. The fact that most people aren't even aware that there is a legal question operating when they carry their gardening tools illustrates the fact that the distinction works quite well.

      Since British law is defined largely by judicial precedent it is important to bear in mind that this act was based on the provisions of the Criminal Justice act 1994; the effect of this is to mean that the decision in Rowe (2007) is likely to be binding, i.e. that if the defendant introduces evidence of a non-terrorist motive it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that this defence is not valid.

      Note also KvR (2008) where it was held that only a document:
      - Providing practical assistance in the commission of terrorist offences, and
      - That was intended to be used to assist in the preparation or perpetration of an act of terrorism
      will lead to a conviction.

      The effect of these precedents is that this law allows the conviction of people who deliberately gather information to aid in the commission of terrorist attacks - it does not make mere possession of the information a crime, since intent is also important. It seems to me entirely reasonable that people who abet terrorists should be guilty of an offence.

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        The article seems to suggest that the court accepted that Brown "had no terrorist sympathies". His reason for possessing the information was to sell it for profit. Is there any reason that this would not be a legitimate defence?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kijori (897770)

          I suspect that whether or not he sympathised with the terrorists is irrelevant; he deliberately collated and sold information to be used in the preparation of terrorist acts.

          To rather immodestly quote from myself, the test is whether or not he provided information that:

          - Would provide practical assistance in the commission of terrorist offences
          - Was intended to be used to assist in the preparation or perpetration of an act of terrorism

          It appears that he was deliberately writing and selling bomb-making infor

  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @04:39AM (#32218304)

    Not the Anarchist's Cookbook. Rife with inaccuracies and dangerous, or so my chemist friends tell me.

    • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @07:35AM (#32218900) Homepage

      Not the Anarchist's Cookbook. Rife with inaccuracies and dangerous, or so my chemist friends tell me.

      It has been years since I read it, I downloaded it with a 14.4 Modem the last time I saw it. At the same time I was taking Chemistry in College. We had one whole class devoted to Nitroglycerin, and the 3 of 4 unstable variants. I knew from class exactly how to synthesize nitroglycerin. And, after that class was over, I realized I have absolutely no desire to *EVER* try to make it. I remember my chem prof saying (as someone who was against hyperbole) "this stuff will blow up if you look at it funny", and "what are you going to do with it if you make some? Pour it down the sink?"

      I then read the Anarchist's cookbook, and I remember the instructions of keeping the chemicals in an ice bath, and constantly stirring them... by hand...

      As I said, it was a long time ago, but reading the directions for hand-stirring nitroglycerin, and trying to keep the temperature low with a thermometer i remember thinking that the book was designed to blow someone up who tried to follow the directions.

  • Bad summary. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by carp3_noct3m (1185697)

    Summary:" first people caught with downloaded copies have been put behind bars" TFA: "White supremacist who manufactured ricin jailed" Big difference. Now, we can focus on the charges against the author/writer, but make it a bit more clear please. Its retarded to arrest someone over information, but its the UK, so what can you expect. Who draws the line, do they arrest authors of high level physicist books about nuclear devices? UK is quickly revealing the police state mentality they have been hiding for so

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Yeah, I agree the summary's bad, though it is somewhat unpleasant that the judge in the case appears to consider the instructions themselves also illegal:

      Judge John Milford expressed surprise that the Anarchist's Cookbook was still available to buy on the Amazon website, and asked the authorities to look into it.

      • There's a good reason why the original "Cookbook" is still in circulation: It's no threat. Well, at least to nobody but the poor idiot actually using it as a cookbook. It's a compilation of inaccurate and outdated information. If anything, putting this into the hands of wannabe terrorists is a good way to ensure that nothing bad happens.

        The "new" book, otoh...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by damburger (981828)
      I think the key point is that the prosecution had to show that the information these people had obtained was actually being used for terrorist acts. With the presence of the ricin, the possession of the instructions to make it became a crime because they clearly weren't being obtained for curiosity/education.
    • Re:Bad summary. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kijori (897770) <ward,jake&gmail,com> on Saturday May 15, 2010 @06:10AM (#32218604)

      As I've explained above [slashdot.org], this law does not criminalise the possession of information. It is only an offence to gather information that would help in the commission of an act of terrorism with the intention that it be used to assist the commission of this act. I think we can all agree that people who are part of a plot to perpetrate acts of terrorism should be jailed.

  • ...was full of guarantied-to-fail receipts---bombs that would blow up their builders, acid that would give you bad trips, opiate analogues that are a one-way ticket to LDopaville.....
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Interesting that the authorities don't ban various religious texts and holy bibles that are used to promote terrorism and hatred.

    In reality books don't kill people, and guns don't (even) kill people. Religious and authoritarian ideologies are used to kill people. But I don't expect the Authorities to ban authoritarian and bigoted hate-filled religious texts which help encourage violence. It's another great hypocrisy.

    (And I'll emphasize that I don't WANT religious texts banned, I'm just emphasizing and point

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @05:05AM (#32218384) Journal

    FWIW, I knew a guy at school who was investigated by British police about 14 years ago for downloading manuals like this and being involved with a group of people involved in distributing such material and building shit for kicks... a Bachelors and a Masters later, he is now working at the Ministry of Defence (the UK DoD) as a strategist.

    This doesn't surprise me at all. He was a fairly bright chap - though nothing spectacular - but his heart remained that of a pathological kid who liked pain and blowing shit up. The military want a monopoly on that sort of person; they'll either catch you when they can mould you, or get rid of you.

  • She's been terrorizing me with her cooking for years.
  • I've got a copy of Never Mind the Bollocks which contains a track called "Anarchy in the UK" so I guess I'd better turn myself in as presumably this makes me a terrorist

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