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Censorship Crime The Internet United Kingdom Your Rights Online

Man Who Downloaded Bomb Recipes Jailed For 2 Years 741

Posted by Soulskill
from the throw-out-your-old-cookbooks dept.
chrb writes "Asim Kauser, a 25-year-old British man, has been jailed for two years and three months for downloading recipes on how to make bombs and the toxin ricin. Police discovered the materials on a USB stick Asim's father gave to them following a burglary at the Kauser family home. Asim pled guilty and claimed that he only downloaded the materials because he was curious. A North West Counter-Terrorism Unit spokesman said, 'I also want to stress that this case is not about policing people's freedom to browse the Internet. The materials that were downloaded were not stumbled upon by chance — these had to be searched for and contained very dangerous information that could have led to an explosive device being built.'"
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Man Who Downloaded Bomb Recipes Jailed For 2 Years

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  • by killfixx (148785) * on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:02PM (#38842055) Journal

    Title should read, "Man arrested for possibly planning to become a terrorist". But still, arrested for criminal possibility.

    His potential crime would have been a physical one. It needed bomb ingredients, guns, etc... He had none of the equipment, just the knowledge.

    Everything about his crime is just conjecture. How do you prove that he WOULD have done anything. Were there dates of action?

    I guess what it boils down to, if you're gonna have "evil" thoughts, don't write them down.

    Pre-crime, here to protect you from yourself.

    I'm feeling less special every day. I used to think I was a paranoid outsider. Nope, just observant.

    Why do the countries witht the highest Press Freedom Index [wikipedia.org] have to be so damned cold.

    Update: [rsf.org] Looks like Cape Verde has risen in the rankings... Hrmm...Might be worth the change of address.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      It's a cowardly new world.

      Where's Spiro Agnew, now his time has arrived?

      • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:08PM (#38842189) Homepage Journal

        I would point out that England has long had it be illegal to engage in communications that are preliminary to serious crimes. There's no implicit assumption in the British legal system that communications are harmless.

        2 Years seems a bit drastic, when a month or two would have been better for preventing polarization. As an American, of course, I find this antithetical to my values, but I don't have as much of a stake in British law.

        • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:14PM (#38842293)

          I would point out that England has long had it be illegal to engage in communications that are preliminary to serious crimes. There's no implicit assumption in the British legal system that communications are harmless.

          2 Years seems a bit drastic, when a month or two would have been better for preventing polarization. As an American, of course, I find this antithetical to my values, but I don't have as much of a stake in British law.

          Sometimes, America doesn't seem like such a bad place to live after all.

          • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:20PM (#38842429) Homepage Journal

            I would point out that England has long had it be illegal to engage in communications that are preliminary to serious crimes. There's no implicit assumption in the British legal system that communications are harmless.

            2 Years seems a bit drastic, when a month or two would have been better for preventing polarization. As an American, of course, I find this antithetical to my values, but I don't have as much of a stake in British law.

            Sometimes, America doesn't seem like such a bad place to live after all.

            Give it time.

            I remember a day when the Government didn't track every single thing you did on the internet on some monster database. When I could come and go between Canada as I pleased, without a passport. When my personal computer wasn't loaded with DRM software and the DMCA hadn't even been dreamt of.

            It's creeping in - there are actually quite a lot of people who think it would be a good idea -- of course, not for them, but for, y'know, them other people, the ones who need watching.

            • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:33PM (#38842665) Journal

              Hmm, I'll compromise a hair and say I don't mind needing a passport for visiting entirely different countries. After all, escaping to South America is the legendary trick used for 200 years by suspects, whereupon they invoke Nelson's HaHa. (At least Canada has one government, possibly saner than ours. You could tie up $100,000 in diplomatic costs in South America if you didn't need a passport and were on the run.

              But yes, all the rest of it is back toward the march to Big Brother. Oh Noes, Mystery Novels describe Murders! We can't have that!

              The only choices left are which depressing SF/SciFi/SyFy dystopia you like. "Choose your misery flavor!" I'll even let it be the same author: Philip K. Dick. Your choice of Minority Report or Eye in the Sky. Maybe BladeRunner vs. Total Recall.

              • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:40PM (#38842789) Homepage Journal

                Hmm, I'll compromise a hair and say I don't mind needing a passport for visiting entirely different countries. After all, escaping to South America is the legendary trick used for 200 years by suspects, whereupon they invoke Nelson's HaHa. (At least Canada has one government, possibly saner than ours. You could tie up $100,000 in diplomatic costs in South America if you didn't need a passport and were on the run.

                Going to Canada without papers was an easy thing, almost like going to another state - only briefly quizzed where and why you were going, at the crossing and usually that was good enough. Had my car searched a couple times, but that was the worst of it (and that's still a possibility, so no real change there.)

                "Where are you going?" "Toronto." "What for?" "To throw money around and take advantage of the exchange rate, before the US dollar tanks against the Loonie." "How long will you be there?" "Until I run out of money." "Have a good trip and enjoy yourself!"

                That was about the way of it.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Garridan (597129)
                  They'll still let you across the border. Unfortunately, when you try to come back across the border, you'll probably run into problems unless you're white and have a local accent.
              • by pla (258480) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:42PM (#38842825) Journal
                I don't mind needing a passport for visiting entirely different countries. After all, escaping to South America is the legendary trick used for 200 years by suspects, whereupon they invoke Nelson's HaHa.

                You realize, of course, that you don't need a passport to leave the US - Only to get back in with a minimum of hassle? Which if you never planned to come back, seems like a moot point.

                Not to mention that someone fleeing life in prison probably wouldn't get cold feet over mere doc fraud. :)
                • by DarkVader (121278) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:50PM (#38842949)

                  So, will Canada let you in without a passport?

                  Because despite all of their blathering about it being required, the US WILL let you back in without one, they'll just hassle you a bit more. It's a violation of pretty well established international law to refuse to admit your own citizens, with or without a passport. And it's not, from what I've been able to gather, a crime to reenter the US without a passport, so no penalty for doing so.

                  So the only way the US can actually "require" you to have a passport is if the government has convinced Canada to refuse admittance without one.

                  • by gknoy (899301) <gknoyNO@SPAManasazisystems.com> on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:45PM (#38843847)

                    US WILL let you back in without one, they'll just hassle you a bit more. It's a violation of pretty well established international law to refuse to admit your own citizens, with or without a passport. And it's not, from what I've been able to gather, a crime to reenter the US without a passport, so no penalty for doing so.

                    I submit that it might be very unwise to operate on that assumption.

                    The US has a history or saying that the constitution doesn't apply at borders or customs (as you're not *IN* the US yet, legally), that international treaties don't apply to certain people we've detained, and so on. I have no desire to pass through the US border in either direction, but if I did I would be damned certain I had my passport. You say "they'll just hassle you more", and I read, "They might detain, search, or hassle you for as long as they want, and confiscate whatever they feel like, and you'll have no recourse".

                • by rot26 (240034) * on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:06PM (#38843207) Homepage Journal
                  You realize, of course, that you don't need a passport to leave the US

                  Wrongo. You must have mistaken the US for a free country. I remember when I was younger and we used to hear all the scary stuff about the bad bad soviet union. They couldn't even LEAVE THEIR OWN COUNTRY without permission. hahahahahahaha. We have met the enemy and he is us.
                  • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:35PM (#38843697)
                    Just to raise a finer point: the old USSR required internal passports to move about the country.
                    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:52PM (#38843925)

                      in 5 yrs or less, TSA will convert 'drivers licenses' into internal US passports.

                      ie, they'll install themselves at every point where people change planes, busses, trains, etc. highways/tollboothes are not out of their reach, either, in their eyes.

                      so, to pass around in the US, you'll need to stay off this or that 'bad guy' list. move around in your own country? you'll have to reverify yourself.

                      but its all for our own safety, don't you know.

                    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday January 27, 2012 @04:26PM (#38845155) Journal

                      Just to raise a finer point, Russia (and most other post-Soviet states) still have internal passports, and still require citizens to produce them on demand (else they can be detained "for identification"). It's actually illegal for a citizen older than 14 to not have a passport, and should you lose it, you're required to immediately report that to authorities - or at least my own Russian internal passport has verbiage to that effect.

                      We don't have propiska [wikipedia.org] anymore, but in practice they've simply renamed it to "registration". Enforcement is much more lacking than it was before, so a lot of people - especially those working in Moscow - ignore it, because the requirements often make it very difficult or impossible to get, and any undesired police attention is usually solely to solicit a bribe.

                    • by Genda (560240) <mariet.got@net> on Friday January 27, 2012 @04:09PM (#38844939) Journal

                      I'm sorry but as long as you make the changes slowly enough, people just get used to them... for the love of gawd, they were using human beings as kindling in Germany, and the majority of the German Jews never left, because they couldn't imagine it going that wrong.

                    • by dryeo (100693)

                      Actually the really bad stuff started at the beginning, stuff like impalement, roasted slowly over a fire, dipped in boiling water or if they were being nice, each limb tied to a different horse which then went in different directions. The first Russian secret police were not nice. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oprichniki [wikipedia.org]
                      The more modern version of the Russian secret police weren't much better, though in the mid 19th century they didn't bother people flying. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okhranka [wikipedia.org]
                      The Soviet sec

              • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:49PM (#38844701) Homepage Journal

                The only choices left are which depressing SF/SciFi/SyFy dystopia you like

                SyFy != Sci Fi. Sci fi is Asimov and Heinlein and Star Wars and 2001. SyFy is stupid shit on a useless cable channel that is an embarrasment to anybody with half a brain.

              • I'll take Total Recall. Sharon Stone was hot.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:22PM (#38842459)
          Actually, both England and the United states have, for centuries, had a common legal principle that information, of itself, is not harmful as is protected. It is only acts based on that information that are actionable.

          This censorship of information is actually pretty recent, even in England. Don't mistake policies made in and around your lifetime for "long-standing" policies; it just ain't so.
        • by JSBiff (87824) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:41PM (#38842803) Journal

          "has long had it be illegal to engage in communications that are preliminary to serious crimes."

          But there's the crux - where's the evidence this is preliminary to a serious crime? Where is there anything which strongly indicates *intent* to build a bomb or commit a crime.

          I mean, it's one thing if they've got a phone recording of someone giving very explicit instructions to a hitman to kill someone, and making arrangments for payement. That's communications preliminary to a serious crime. That shows definite intent.

          How does downloading plans, but never acquiring any parts, making any threats or anything else, show actual intent?

          • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:33PM (#38844451) Journal
            Exactly, this would be like claiming you were intending to counterfeit Windows because you downloaded the Win2K source code that hit the net awhile back. Hell who HASN'T looked at the anarchist cookbook just to see what the fuss was about? Most of the same stuff they listed in the book you've seen in movies about hitmen, I remember one using the whole 'rig a light bulb with Joy liquid and gas to make a timed bomb' trick, i think it was a Charles Bronson movie. this is no different than demanding libraries give out a list of everyone who has ever checked out 'The Catcher In The Rye' because some nutball had a copy when they went apeshit. If they found him with a bomb lab in his kitchen fine and dandy, otherwise its "ZOMFG he can read! that's no good, he might have thoughts and stuff ZOMFG!" Allow me to say though thanks to the UK, every time I think the USA is the douchebag jackboot country you gotta come along and top us, thus making us feel a little better about our country, so thanks.
        • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:56PM (#38843041) Journal

          0 days would've been better. If he had Rommel's book on armored warfare would the UK government charge him with planning an invasion of Russia?

        • by DarthVain (724186) on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:48PM (#38843871)

          I bet the communication had to be immediate or at least a "plan"...

          "I'm going to go kill X right now!"

          or

          "I'm going to kill X on July 3rd, 2014"

          Etc...

          Otherwise you might as well go arrest anyone who has any information whatsoever on chemical, biology, physics, science...

          Maybe if I draw a diagram of a piano, attached to a rope, on top of a building, with a stick figure at the bottom of the building... heck even better I could make it a flip book, and anyone that downloaded it would have nefarious plans worth arresting. Also anyone that had read a murder mystery book. I know last weekend I was part of a fictional murder mystery dinner party, and yes I was the murderer... I could have used that plan in real life! Of course I am not an 81 year old Italian named Papa Vito either, Mamma Mia!

        • by mhajicek (1582795)
          Couldn't political dissent be considered "preliminary to serious crimes"?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dean.collins (862044)
      and the number of Bankers who were sent to jail for misuse of the knowledge they have.....zero
    • by NemoinSpace (1118137) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:12PM (#38842247) Homepage Journal
      FTFA: A further examination of the stick revealed a letter, addressed to an unknown recipient, in which the author - again anonymous but referring to himself as a 24-year-old man - seeks spiritual guidance and says he has prepared himself physically and financially for jihad.
      • by Marc Madness (2205586) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:26PM (#38842543)
        Interesting that later in the article we find the following quote from Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter: "This case has never been about proving an endgame and we may never know what his intentions were". So they admit to not knowing his intentions, how can they in good conscience say they are arresting him for intent?
        • Read your own post -- the detective said that. Detectives don't sentence people to jail terms, they just arrest people who are suspected to be a danger to society.

          The court on the other hand, decided that he was going to use the information to build a bomb and that is why he's in jail.

        • In the UK merely thinking about terrorism is a crime. Of course they can't read your mind so there has to be some evidence such as writings or internet searches, but showing any semi-serious interest in Islamic terrorism is actually against the law. It is also illegal not to report people you suspect of being terrorists.

          People actually go to prison for thought crime here.

      • by killfixx (148785) * on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:36PM (#38842723) Journal

        Prepared for jihad. That's your argument.

        If I wrote a letter that said I am prepared financially and spiritually for violence and had a shopping list containing weapons. Should I be arrested?

        If I have a erection and tell a friend, "Man, I'd really like to rape that chick." Should I be arrested?

        The question isn't whether terrorism should be illegal, it's whether unclear and unsubstantiated intent is illegal. Were the plans for when and where he would strike?
        No, just a letter saying he was ready if called.

        As much as I detest violence and (insert all bad things here), I vehemently oppose others controlling what I'm allowed to think.

        • by fish_in_the_c (577259) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:46PM (#38842887)

          So what if his spirtial guidance turned out to be 'don't do it man'! ... you shouldn't punish people for being tempted, because EVERYONE is tempted to do what is wrong from time to time. It is only when they actually DO it that they have DONE something illegal.

          Sorry , but the though police should have no place in the modern world, but Europe has never fully had the same ideas as america on that.
          Our constitution was designed to allow for citizens to actually talk about plan and attempt to carry out a rebellion if the government every stopped listening too them, by people who had just recently done exactly that.
          So, you are not supposed to be able to arrest people for 'treason speech' or 'intent' in this country ( the kings of Europe routinely did such things.) They expected oaths of loyalty and anyone who wouldn't take them could be punished etc. etc.

      • by TheLink (130905)

        That's what the UK police claimed right? Does the guy admit he created that letter? If he doesn't I'd give him the benefit of doubt unless there is any other evidence.

        See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Jean_Charles_de_Menezes#Disputed_facts_and_events [wikipedia.org]

        I'm personally more concerned about corrupt/bad cops than I am of terrorists. They have a far higher chance of ruining my life.

      • by kiwimate (458274)

        The USB stick also contained:

        ...anti-interrogation techniques and details on how to kill efficiently.

        As well:

        Officers also recovered a list that contained prices in both pounds and rupees of a number of items, including an AK47 rifle, rounds of ammunition, a grenade launcher and other survival or combat material.

        So the summary is a bit misleading - it wasn't just the bomb making recipes. It was that, and the letter, and information on killing techniques, and anti-interrogation techniques, and price lists for arms, and information about survival stuff.

        If we want to debate these things, we at least ought to get the context in there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Synerg1y (2169962)

      Think of it from the other side too, if I had a USB stick full of credit card numbers (yours & your families, let's make it personal), and I told the fed I got them accidentally and was merely researching the sequencing credit card companies used for the their # assignments, does that sound like I'd be in the clear?

      It's probably OK to look up what he had, but saving it to your computer is personalizing the information (ex. WHY do you have those credit card #s?)

      I hate to say but he would probably have be

      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:22PM (#38842457) Homepage Journal

        Think of it from the other side too, if I had a USB stick full of credit card numbers (yours & your families, let's make it personal), and I told the fed I got them accidentally and was merely researching the sequencing credit card companies used for the their # assignments, does that sound like I'd be in the clear?

        Well, while it *does* sound suspicious...if they cannot show that you obtained them illegally, and cannot show that you have in fact, USED them. I can't see that you could be arrested.

        The mere possession of credit card numbers is NOT a crime. It is merely information.

        Heck, you could have used one of the freely available CC algorithm generators that will generate valid CC numbers,and yes, you might have done this for pure research.

        But if you had not broken in somewhere and stolen them.....if you had not knowingly purchased stolen CC numbers....just having them should not be a crime.

        In the US...at least for now...merely possessing information on how to generate CC's, or how to make a bomb or be an assassin are not crimes. It isn't a crime to own the Anarchy Cookbook, nor that book out years back that described how to kill people and get away with it...etc.

        However, if they find evidence that you were in fact, conspiring to USE that knowledge to commit a crime, then yes...this info could be used as corroborating evidence in the conspiracy case.

        But possession of knowledge is not and should not be a crime.

        • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:46PM (#38842889) Homepage

          possession of knowledge is not and should not be a crime.

          Yes it is. [legislation.gov.uk] Whether it should continue to be a crime or not is up to the people of the UK.

    • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:33PM (#38842647)
      Governments fear their citizenry knowing how to combat them in the event that it came down to the citizens vs the government.
    • by Artraze (600366) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:33PM (#38842667)

      I wouldn't call these "pre-crimes", as, after all, possessing these material is apparently a true crime. I'm not sure what a snappy word would be for them, but they come from "crime prevention" laws which have been around for a long time. Arguably by definition, _all_ possession laws fall into this category: can't own guns because you might shoot someone, can't have alcohol in the car because you might drink some (and being impaired you might hit someone), can't own drugs because you might sell/use them.

      Now, you may say 'but if the goal was to prevent people from getting blown up, wouldn't it be better to just make owning bombs illegal?" Sure, which is why it already is: owning a bomb is a crime... A crime we must prevent! And to way to stop that we is to make it illegal to know how to make a bomb!

      Now, what makes these laws appealing and neat is that they achieve their goal by definition. After all, the original crime is still a crime, but now you can also _maybe_ catch someone before they do it. However, in the grand scheme of things they are awful because they increase the scope of the law beyond the actual crime. At best, you still catch all the perpetrators of the base crime, but the also law opens the ability to 'catch' people that never would have committed the crime you seek to 'prevent'. Thus, while you may prevent one specific crime, you have actually increased crime overall.

  • by omems (1869410) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:02PM (#38842063)
    Should have claimed someone left the USB stick.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:02PM (#38842077)

    So I got this copy of the "Anarchist Cookbook", is this terrorism?

    • He might have had the same text. It is quite famous, and I doubt the police would wish to specify the title publicly if that is what they found.
    • by Blue Stone (582566) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:07PM (#38842173) Homepage Journal

      >So I got this copy of the "Anarchist Cookbook", is this terrorism?

      In order to answer this question, please stand next to this Dulux colour chart featuring the natural wood range.

    • Police: "Our agents will be happy to help you. Please report to your nearest processing center with the materials in question and we will be with you as soon as possible. Have a pleasant day!"

    • by hacksoncode (239847) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:48PM (#38842905)
      More like suicide, actually.

      That book is almost tailor made to kill terrorists by giving them dangerous recipes, rather than to actually enable them.

    • by Myopic (18616) * on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:06PM (#38844081)

      This story is not news, because UK is not a free country. The United States has a constitution (a real one) with protections for liberties (real liberties). The Constitution isn't perfect, but it's pretty good; its enforcement isn't perfect; but it's pretty good.

      UK, on the other hand, does not have a constitution, despite their claims to have an "unwritten" one. Yeah, uh, unwritten constitutions, like God and unicorns, can't be proven to exist. And here you are, putting people in jail for learning, which is literally not figuratively thought-crime.

      Also, UK is a theocratic monarchy, so it's not even a democracy, and so it's frankly surprising when Britons have any freedom at all.

  • The Thought Policy know what you're thinking!
  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:03PM (#38842091) Journal

    Dangerous to the state, that is. Oh well, gotta remember that the UK has no real free speech rights codified into law.. for what that's worth..

    • by radio4fan (304271) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:43AM (#38849285)

      Oh well, gotta remember that the UK has no real free speech rights codified into law.. for what that's worth..

      Please don't conflate a real shitty law with a fictitious old canard.

      The UK has the Human Rights Act, of which article 10 guarantees free speech. Before this, rights to free speech were part of common law dating back centuries.

      If you mean "the UK has no absolute free speech rights" you are correct. Try making threats against the President's life to see if you have absolute free speech rights.

      But this case has nothing to do with free speech. He was convicted under section 58 of the Terrorism Act [legislation.gov.uk], which proscribes "collect[ing] or mak[ing] a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". Bullshit, of course (a tube map is likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism), but not a free speech issue.

      People convicted in similar cases have been acquitted on appeal where the prosecution cannot show that the defendant intended to commit a specific act of terrorism. Wannabe terrorists, IOW. Doubtless this goofball will be acquitted on appeal too, but that won't be so widely reported, and if it is, the government have an excuse to pass more draconian 'anti-terrorist' laws.

      Don't miss the fact that this legislation predates 9/11.

  • Science text books (Score:5, Informative)

    by Detaer (562863) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:05PM (#38842133)
    I am guessing the people who brought him up on charges have never actually read a science textbook. Sure its a little winded and takes a while to get to it, but by reading the average science textbook from jr high and above you can figure out how to create some pretty dangerous chemical reactions that should scale fairly well. Knowing about something and being jailed for it it thought crime. Trying to set limits on the human condition of curiosity and interest could pave the path of a dangerous road.
    • by dnewt (2457806) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:27PM (#38842555)
      I'm all for not limiting freedom of curiosity, but if you have a read of TFA, it says that along with the downloaded material, was a letter from a "24 year old man" (Asim Kauser is now 25), in which the writer states he "seeks spiritual guidance and says he has prepared himself physically and financially for jihad". It's not possible to say for sure without being in possession of all the facts & evidence, but on the face of it, that seems like it could add intent into the mix. Take that together with the "shopping list" they apparently found, and that changes things quite a bit. I'm no lawyer, and the article is a bit thin on detailed facts, but I'm guessing at some point the prosecution were able to convince a jury he was the author of those documents.
      • by dnewt (2457806) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:34PM (#38842691)

        The police certainly aren't doing themselves any favours with this statement though:

        "I also want to stress that this case is not about policing people's freedom to browse the Internet. The materials that were downloaded were not stumbled upon by chance - these had to be searched for and contained very dangerous information that could have led to an explosive device being built. That is why we had to take action."

        I don't know about everyone else, but that really doesn't follow to me. Whether he actively seeked out the material or not, taking action on that basis alone is still "policing people's freedom to browse the internet" in my opinion.

  • by Baron_Yam (643147) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:06PM (#38842147)

    They ALSO uncovered letters where he stated he was prepared for jihad and was seeking guidance, plus he'd gone so far as to spec and price out his weaponry.

    He wasn't just some curious chemist who happened to have an arabic-sounding name.

    • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:11PM (#38842231) Homepage

      They ALSO uncovered letters where he stated he was prepared for jihad and was seeking guidance, plus he'd gone so far as to spec and price out his weaponry.

      He wasn't just some curious chemist who happened to have an arabic-sounding name.

      Reading TFA and commenting on anything but the skewed summary is discouraged.

      Bombs+weapons+expressed desire to use them = probably a bad guy. "Probably" should not be enough for prison, though.

      • Pardon, and before anyone gleefully points out my error, I meant to write bomb _instructions_ and weapon _shopping lists_, not actual bombs and weapons. My point still stands.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:30PM (#38842611) Journal

        Bombs+weapons+expressed desire to use them = probably a bad guy.

        Just like every president in memory.

    • He is still being jailed for knowing the wrong stuff. If they had evidence of a specific crime he was preparing for then that is different.

    • I hadn't even noticed he had an arabic sounding name until you pointed it out. I fail as an American.

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:17PM (#38842373)

      What exactly did he do that you think should be illegal? He downloaded information off the internet; price lists, and bomb recipes. He possibly contacted someone (a single letter that may or may not have ever been sent) asking for spiritual guidance in relation to jihad. Note: not asking for support or guidance on how to perform jihad, but asking for spirtual guidance in relation to his having prepared for it. I'm not saying the guy shouldn't have been investigated, watched, and quite probably seen by a psychiatrist, but he hadn't done anything outside his computer and his head. And when we start locking people up for what they're thinking, we're already 90% of the way down the slippery sloap.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:06PM (#38842157)

    Prosecuting someone for a device that "could have been built" (if only the suspect had things like a motive, and the materials) is like slapping me with a paternity suit for all the girls I "could have got pregnant" (if only they would have sex with me).

    Let's face it: this guy's crime was not downloading information on bombs and ricin. His crime was downloading said materials while having a Middle Eastern name.

    • Mod parent up. The so-called "justice" system here in the UK is a joke. Well, it would be if it were funny. If you only knew...

      OK, here's a clue: every year, over two hundred men and women are sent to jail for indeterminate periods by ULTRA SECRET Star Chamber sessions presided over by individuals operating under the colour of Law. Their "crime"? Complaining publicly when the State steals their children for profit in forced adoption (source: Harriet Harman, then Minister for Children and Families responding

  • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:11PM (#38842221)
    Richard Hammond and Jon Tickle made me into a terrorist when they showed me how to make Thermite! Go arrest them!
    • I have a Netflix account. On that account I can access episodes of "Dirty Jobs" One of the jobs is Fireworks technician.

      In it they show weights of ingredients used to make black powder and flash powder, both considered explosives. Both are regulated by BATF in the US. I watched the show. Does that make me a potential terrorist, or just a fan of large fireworks?

  • by Ecuador (740021) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:11PM (#38842235) Homepage

    Uh, oh, I am really worried about myself. Not only can I think of many ways I could construct explosive or incendiary devices, I can think of OVER 100 WAYS TO KILL someone! And there are quite a few people I don't really like! Many of them are sitting in the parliament (note: I am Greek) so they have connections to the police!
    I am surely a prime suspect for potential terrorism, murder, political assassination and I don't know what else!
    Oh, shit! I just realized I know where the VAGINA is! Potential for RAPE right there!!!
    Where do I hide guys???

    • by Kohath (38547)

      Under a giant heap of extra question marks.

    • by rizole (666389)

      This isn't about knowing stuff. I just looked up the legislation and the key line I think is this:

      -A person commits an offence ifâ"

      (a) he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism-

      So its not a thought crime. I can think about causing terror all day and that's fine but creating a record like this:
      *fuses
      *nails
      *fertilizer
      *fundamentalst dogma
      *?????
      *prophet (sorry)

      There, that could qll be useful to someone planning

    • by Beerdood (1451859) on Friday January 27, 2012 @04:52PM (#38845505)
      Jesus, how many "thought crime" references does this thread need to have? This man was not arrested for *thinking* about blowing something up, it's because he documented it and wrote it down - which has already been discussed multiple times.

      Here's why half this thread is freaking out over the arrest - and why it's littered with references to thought crime & Minority report : Intrusive thoughts [wikipedia.org]. Everyone's had these from time to time - maybe one day you're looking at your wife sleeping and you might think something like 'I could strangle her right now' or something equally perverse, then you wonder why the hell you would even think such a terrible thing. Intrusive thoughts. I'll bet half the slashdotters here have secretly thought to themselves how cool it would be to blow something significant up - maybe a Walmart or Monsanto, Apple, IBM or Microsoft HQ, or a parliamentary building etc.. But the thought only sticks around for a few seconds, before you realize how bad an idea that is and you wouldn't do that in a million years. But the point is, you briefly thought of it for a few seconds. That's why there's such a disdain here for what appears to be *thought crime* - because we all have dirty, perverse thoughts about things very illegal - and that this ruling sets some sort of precedence.

      So what do we all do when we have some intrusive thought? Well hopefully if you're smart, you never mention it to anyone ever. What you don't do is download bomb making plans and write a letter saying you have prepared yourself physically and financially for jihad. Hell, he even had a list of prices of some weapons and things, including a motherfucking grenade launcher. That's no longer 'just a bad thought', this is elaborate investigation into killing people.. Simply having bomb-making plans probably wouldn't be enough to justify this an arrest, but the other info (like the list of weapons and prices, and the 'jihad' reference) is more than enough for a conspiracy to commit murder charge. I don't know if that's the actual charge he was arrested under, but it would seem fit.

      This man was not arrested for 'thought crime'. This is a clear 'conspiracy' charge. *Apologies if this is the 2nd post, didn't seem to go through the first time
  • by blackC0pter (1013737) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:21PM (#38842443)
    IANAL. Conspiracy to commit a felony can be punished pretty severely as is evidenced by this situation. Some people will argue that this tramples rights because you cannot even read something without risk of going to jail. The flip side is how do you arrest someone that is planning on blowing up a building without this law? Do you wait until they blow up the building so you can actually arrest them? What about someone planning to kill someone or rape someone? Do you wait until they commit the crime to arrest them or arrest them when you have enough evidence that they are planning to commit the crime? What if someone was planning to kill you or blow you up? Wouldn't you want them arrested BEFORE they killed you?
    • Do you wait until they blow up the building so you can actually arrest them?

      No. The police wait, and then they do their job: Which is investigating. Keep (legal) surveillance on the suspect until he or she has the materials. Now there's motive, means, and opportunity. Those three tests were used to protect the innocent, as well as prove beyond reasonable doubt a person really was up to no good. Take away any one of those three tests, and what you've got isn't justice: It's sugar-coated crap.

      That's how we did it back before there was all this public hysteria to the point where peop

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:30PM (#38842603)
    Where, exactly?

    Why, the U.S. government, of course.

    Military manuals, like most other government publications, are by law public property here in the U.S.

    And you probably won't find better instructions on making homemade or impromptu explosives, than U.S. military manuals. I mean some really nasty, horrific sh*t. They are freely available on the market, and must be kept public, by law.

    Please explain to me how you could justify arresting, much less convicting, someone for possessing information distributed by our own government that is, by law, public information. I don't think you could.

    I firmly believe that the best way to protect yourself from ANY kind of weapon is to know about said weapon. How it is built and how it works. Therefore, trying to censor such information is a crime against society.
  • Misleading summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by metacell (523607) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:35PM (#38842713)

    According to TFA, the man wasn't convicted just for downloading bomb and toxin recipes. There was also a letter where he said he had prepared himself for Jihad, and a shopping list with prices on items such as AK-47s, grenade launchers, ammunition and so on.

    Of course, that's the prosecution's version, so it may still be biased, but one shouldn't pretend he was convicted just for downloading information off the Internet.

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer

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