Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Boom Bang-A-Bang

At last. Sky News reports on the "largest haul (of explosive chemical precursors) ever found at a house in this country".

Four containers of sulphur - gunpowder
A packet of magnesium ribbon - flares, incendiaries
A container of aluminium powder - improves the bang of most explosives. Churchill was very cross when in WW2 he discovered we weren't putting it in our bombs. Used by PIRA.
A container of magnesium powder - flares, incendiaries
Three containers of magnesium shreds - ditto
A bottle of nitric acid - can be used with toluene and sulphuric acid to make TNT. Generally useful if you want to make things go bang.
A bottle of hydrochloric acid - pass.
A bottle of phosphoric acid - pass
A bottle of acetic acid - eh ? Maybe he knows more about bangs than I do. Diluted and coloured with caramel, it is sometimes sold in chippies as a disgusting vinegar-substitute called euphemistically 'Non-Brewed Condiment'
Four containers of potassium nitrate - aka saltpetre. Gunpowder
A container of potassium perchlorate - useful oxidiser
A bottle of dimethyl sulfoxide - pass. Good solvent.
A bottle of chloroform - for the lovely Kerena ? Deadly if overdone, of course. Not heard of it going bang.
A container of sodium hydroxide - cleaning the drains.
A bottle of acetone - TATP ? Or Kerena's nail varnish ?
A bottle of toluene - see above
A bottle of methanol - not to be confused with big sister ethanol.
A bottle of ethanol - mix with water and lime juice. Very little hangover.
Two bottles of hydrogen peroxide - useful oxidiser, once used in rockets
Five bottles of hydrogen peroxide - ditto
Two bottles of potassium Iodide supplements - in case of nuclear strikes ?
A bottle of potassium permanganate - peroxide dissociates violently in the presence of pot permang, liberating lots of heat and oxygen, also steam which is not so useful.
A bottle of ammonia - for cleaning the windows
An ampoule of methadone chloride - no comment
Three containers of iodine crystals - surely he wouldn't try nitrogen tri-iodide ?
A bottle of hydrogen peroxide hair product - see above

As far as I know it's not illegal to possess any of the above.

The alleged rocket launchers vanished from press reports quite a while ago, seemingly now followed by the nuclear protection suits.

Robert Cottage got two and a half years after admitting possessing explosives. I find that slightly odd as he didn't actually possess any. But his sentence certainly bears out my observation that "a desire to make improvised explosive devices, when mixed with right-wing politics, can be extremely hazardous to your liberty." Compare his sentence with that of Edward Mattison, who not only made but detonated some quite large devices. He got less than half Cottage's sentence.

Mr Cottage at first glance wouldn't appear to have a great deal in common with Irfan Raja and his co-defendants, jailed for "possessing material for terrorist purposes" or "having articles for terrorism" - the BBC reporter can't make up his mind. But like Mr Cottage (and unlike Mr Mattison), they hadn't actually done anything.

Among the items found was a film showing atrocities against Muslims around the world, aimed at encouraging martyrdom, the Old Bailey was told.

We seem to be in the same territory where people who report on (true) crimes committed by one or other ethnic group are accused of 'stirring up racial hatred' - the truth or otherwise of their claims being apparently immaterial. Whether a film of atrocities is 'encouraging martyrdom' is surely a subjective judgement - and in any event, English culture and the Christian faith have venerated martyrs from Samson, whose pulling down of the Temple of Dagon would surely qualify as an act of terrorism, through John Wall and the Catholic Martyrs to the names once known to every English child through Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

These prosecutions seem to lie in a strange half-world - but closer to the political offence than the criminal act.

The defendants denied having extremist views and some said they were researching ideology and other matters.

Hang on. In a matter of criminal law why should their views count one way or the other ? Why's it so important for them not to be 'extremists' ?

Because motivation is all. Possessing items "likely to be of use for terrorism" is such a broad concept that in practice the 'likeliness' is decided not by what the items are, but what the accused may have wanted to do with them. The 9/11 murderers used Stanley knives and Microsoft Flight Simulator, but those of us who possess both are unlikely to get arrested at 5 am unless we start posting on jihadi websites while simultaneously researching flight deck door locking mechanisms and when the stewards bring the pilots coffee.

Similarly Omar Altimimi got nine years despite the police admitting that "we will never know exactly what Altimimi was preparing to do". He had built up a library of terror-related literature - but on those grounds Professor Paul Wilkinson should be inside.

The sad thing for Mr Cottage is that if gunpowder was all he wanted, why not just buy some fireworks and dismantle them ? Although the banger and the fearsome mortar are now banned, you can buy multi-shot cakes at very reasonable prices these days - enough I would have thought to construct the mother of all thunderflashes. (Not that I would encourage such things, as it's almost certainly illegal under some law or other). I guess Mr C just wanted to do it himself - to be self-sufficient. Just goes to show how British initiative is being stifled ... in the Land of the Free people still play here.

Other posts on the Great BNP Bomb Horror :

Not With A Bang But A Whimper

Half A Ton Of BNP Rice

Huge BNP Bomb War Horror Shock Apocalypse

It's Tin-Foil Hat Time ...

Tsk Tsk


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you have taken this up Laban.

It is a considerable injustice, which none of the mainstream media would ever have the courage to address.

My take on it is as follows:

The State no doubt would have liked him to get 20 years to demonstrate "even-handedness" with Islamic terrorists. But the case was so feeble that was too shamefaced a course even for them.

1) As one of the arresting officers said, he isn't a terrorist, and that has been borne out by these proceedings.

2) It had been claimed that he had "rocket launchers" and the largest stash of explosive chemicals ever found in a domestic dwelling. The rocket launchers, which are merely empty tubes quite useless without the rocket and are the sort of thing people interested in militaria collect, slipped off the radar screen of course. Whatever happened to them? As for these "explosives" we are not talking HMTD, the kind of thing terrorists use - but at most material that could be used in thunderflashes. One expert witness said that these were "touch explosives", used in jumping jacks. In other words hardly capable of doing anyone much harm.

3) When it was put to a jury on a charge of conspiracy to cause explosions, he was acquitted

4) Mrs Justice Swift admitted that the "explosives" were intended to make thunderflashes for "deterrent" purposes but claimed that his ideas were "over-valued". Really? Admiral West has said that Britain faces a 15 year war against Islamic extremism. We are told that there are 200 terror cells and 2/3000 suspects. We are told that there may be chemical, biological, radiological attack. Muslims rioted quite extensively in 2001. Channel 4 poll evidence showed that 33% of 16-24 year old Muslims sympathised with the motives of the 7/7 terrorists(to say nothing of the Sharia supporters et al)

So therefore on what basis can it be claimed that Rob Cottage's ideas are "over-valued"? If he is indeed paranoid then who has made him so? And if he has been pushed over the edge - should he have been on trial at all?

5) Mrs Justice Swift gave, as her view, the possibility that "innocent" people could have been harmed as a justification for the sentence. Rob Cottage sought to defend himself and his property. If there was a mob underneath his bedroom window trying to batter down his front door and he lobbed a thunderflash into the middle of them the chance of innocent suffering would have been exceedingly small.

6) In view of the threat level the state has admitted to maybe they would like to say when it is permissible to take a few "deterrent" measures in advance. Or is everything to be left to them, in which case it will probably be all just-too-late. Terribly sorry old chap!

7) Rob Cottage had a cross-bow, that's a far more lethal weapon than these ridiculous "explosives", but that's apparently ok.

8) Rob Cottage has been unjustly and harshly treated, but at least the state has fallen flat on its face in its crassly disingenuous search for "equivalence".

Anonymous said...

"Rob Cottage sought to defend himself and his property. If there was a mob underneath his bedroom window trying to batter down his front door and he lobbed a thunderflash into the middle of them the chance of innocent suffering would have been exceedingly small."

We can see how the justice systems views any kind of action against burglars here:


No doubt if a thunderflash had been used, the householder would be charged with 'grevious bodily dazzling'....

Anonymous said...

Couldn't open the link juliam, what is bizarre is that a crossbow bolt can inflict lethal damage, more you can say if you just lob a thunderflash in the general direction. But it was apparently ok for him to have the crossbow.

It is utterly grotesque to give a bloke 2.5 years merely for possessing the material with which thunderflashes could have been manufactured.

He also had some ball-bearings, presumably they would have alleged that he was going to make primitive grades - but the "explosive" materials clearly weren't up to it.

Overall absolutely pathetic and a terrible injustice, man's lost his job and he's got to spend another 6 months in a god-awful prison.

Anonymous said...

What's with all this "bottle" of something, "container" of something else, "ampoule" of a third substance?

No actual quantities given at all?

Could it be because the quantities were so small that publishing them would make the authorities look even more ridiculous than they do already?

Or is this just my cynical scientist's mind?

Because after all, the average teenage girl's bedroom probably contains several (shock, horror) "containers" of Acetone, doesn't it?

paul ilc said...

Four containers of potassium nitrate - aka saltpetre. Gunpowder.

Not quite. Gunpowder is only 75% KNO3, 15% carbon (charcoal) and 10% sulphur.

Anonymous said...

"Under cross-examination by Alistair Webster QC, it emerged touch explosives could not injure and were mainly suitable for "schoolboy pranks".

Touch explosive was the only substance for which all the ingredients were present at the house.

Ms Wilson conceded that seven of the chemicals found were either pointless or unnecessary for explosives, and one was a dietary supplement."


It is a sick joke and a total injustice.

Anonymous said...

paulilc - when I say - "potassium nitrate - gunpowder" I mean that's what it can be used to make.