J7 Operation Crevice Information & Analysis
(continued from The Entrapment of Omar Khyam: Part one)
Now it’s time to look a little at the trial itself. The successful prosecuting barrister was a man named David Waters, QC. The involvement of Waters may not be a procedural coincidence. In fact, he has handled cases involving covert operatives and the protection of damaging state secrets before.
We left the case of the fertilizer plotters with a lot to discuss, but some outstanding questions. Not least the role of “Q” – the Luton based jihadist mastermind whom the police have had under surveillance for four years yet never brought in for questioning, despite his having direct contacts with the instigators of 7/7 and the Omar Khyam crowd. He’s a lucky boy. Or maybe not. These things don’t happen simply by accident.
Now I want to briefly go back to the early 1990s and London. Since the late 1980s, small groups of violent Jamaican gangsters had been arriving in London. Dealing in the then-novel variant of cocaine known as crack, members of what were called “yardie” gangs swiftly gained a foothold in inner city neighborhoods, with sometimes destructive results. Crack was cheap and effective for alleviating some of the symptoms of Thatcherite blues, as the Iron Lady’s policies shifted the responsibility for reducing urban poverty from the state and local authorities to organized crime, by default.
The Metropolitan Police had to respond, and respond they did. Special operations units sought out paid informants to operate within criminal gangs, blurring the lines between enforcement and crime. One such unit, SO11, took on two Jamaican immigrants named Eton Green and Delroy Denton. Neither could easily refuse, with petty crimes hanging over their heads and a ticket back to Jamaica (one way) being waved in their faces, so Scotland Yard took them on and – being violent criminals, as the Socialist Worker documented in a December 2004 piece, “Green and Denton went on a crime spree, terrorising the black community in London and Nottingham.”
While under police protection, charges from firearms, to theft and rape were quietly dropped, as Denton and Green provided valuable information on crack dealing (amongst other things). Tragically though, in 1995, Delroy Denton raped and murdered mother of two Marcia Lawes (Green also managed to rob 150 people in a Nottingham nightclub at gunpoint while a paid informant).
In 1998, according to the Guardian, the Metropolitan Police disclosed that operatives like Denton are commonplace, with the Met revealing that “it had thousands of informants helping officers, with about 25% from the black community.” The BBC reported in 2005 that blowback from so-called “supergrasses” is common as well, citing the case of Kenneth Regan, jailed in 1998 for “involvement in a heroin smuggling ring and a passport racket” but given early release for “co-operation with the police” during “four separate operations.” As the BBC relates, “He was released in the summer of 2002 and within a year he had murdered Amarjit Chohan and three generations of his family – including two tiny children – for financial gain.”
Denton was found guilty in 1996, but no charges were then brought against the police officers who handled him and, relatives of his victim maintained, should have been brought to justice because of it. The Crown Prosecution Service decided that there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute any police officers for charges stretching from “manslaughter through gross negligence, misconduct in public office and [to] immigration act offences.” Denton was a violent criminal and an illegal immigrant, but was allowed to stay, and even subsidized for his value as an intelligence asset.
The QC who prosecuted Delroy Denton (without implicating police officers in his crime spree) was – David Waters – who was also at the CPS as “senior treasury counsel” a position which meant that he decided whether or not any police officers should be charged. Waters essentially ensured that Denton went down, while none of his handlers suffered a scratch.
Every trial in which an intelligence operative is involved needs a safe pair of hands to usher it through the courts. The prosecuting team has to make sure that they get a conviction or acquittal without disclosing those who facilitated (to use a war-on-terror buzzword) the crimes committed by the paid operative, be they an informant or a jihadist. The defense can do whatever they like to knock down witnesses provided by the state, but the Crown Prosecution Service maintains its links with intelligence services and the police and insulates them from investigation. Hence, nobody called “Q” to the witness stand so that they could ask him who his paymasters were.
Waters is certainly a safe pair of hands.
Secrets never Said
Along with the Denton case, which protected the Metropolitan Police from prying eyes, Waters also had a key role in burying the Jonathan Aitken-Saudi bribery scandal, which humiliated a Tory minister and dented British relations with Saudi Arabia and, worst of all, threatened to blow the lid off the al-Yamamah bribery nexus which would have implicated swathes of the Tory party along with the elite of the arms industry.
The trial of Jonathan Aitken resulted from his own hubris. He was Tory Minister for Defense Procurement in the mid 1990s, a post that with hindsight could be re-christened the “minister for doling out the BAE slush-fund” but that is, unfortunately, another story. After the Guardian published details of a secret meeting between Aitken, his Saudi business associate Said Ayas and representatives of the Saudi Royal Family, Aitken sued the paper for alleging that Prince Mohammed of the desert autocracy had paid his £1,000 per night hotel bill at the Paris Ritz.
The owner of the Ritz at the time, millionaire Mohammed al-Fayed, also alleged that “£1 million in cash was shared out at the meeting with Mark Thatcher and others” according to the Guardian. That would seem plausible, and scandalous, given what we are steadily learning about BAE, the British government and the Saudi royal family.
As Said Ayas himself said after charges against him were surprisingly dropped in 1999, during the time of the Ritz meeting, he and Aitken had been “negotiating secret commissions from British arms firms keen to sell their wares to Saudi Arabia.” As the Guardian reported:
The money was to have been paid into a secret Swiss bank account, number 556.862 MU. Simultaneously, Ayas’s friend Jonathan Aitken, in his formal capacity as minister for defence procurement, was lobbying for those very same arms deals to go through. The proposition to the arms companies was simple: “You pay several million pounds of your profits into this Swiss bank account and my Saudi connections will get you the arms deal”. Much of the money would be passed to Prince Mohammed, as a reward for him using his influence with his father King Fahd to agree multi-million pound contracts for new weapon systems.
This represented a potential entry point for prosecutors to rake over the (various) slush funds linking Saudi oil money, British arms firms and politicians on the take. Here was a man arguing after his case had been dropped that massive corruption had been occuring with a British minister present. However, the CPS deemed that “It is fair to say between 1992-95, there is evidence to show that he was a hard-working and conscientious minister” as he dropped the case against Ayas and pursued the much slighter perjury charge against Aitken for lying to court repeatedly about his Ritz stay.
Aitken had admitted that a witness statement supposedly in the hand of Ayas (and which shed light on the arms dealing) was actually his own, and the CPS agreed – even though Aitken had been publicly outed as a practiced liar.
As investigative reporters Luke Harding, David Leigh and David Pallister observed in their book on the Aitken scandal, ““lawyers for the Crown Prosecution Service took the surprise decision to drop charges against Said Ayas. This meant that Said would not now be tried at the Old Bailey. The CPS had accepted Aitken’s claim that he alone had written Ayas’s lying libel trial statement. To the dismay of the original defendants, this meant none of the murky background surrounding the trial’s collapse would be explored in a court of law.”
The man who explained this in court and to the British press was the CPS’ senior treasury counsel – David Waters.
So Waters has experience in handling “informant” cases in which covert police operations go awry, as well as with damage limitation exercises to prevent the public spillage of damaging revelations which might, and perish the thought, undermine three great pillars of world civilization: the Tory party, the British arms industry and the Saudi royal family.
Waters has also prosecuted “radical Islam” before. In 1996, a gang of muslim youths at Newham College, London, were accused of killing Nigerian student Ayotunde Obanubi. The accused were associated with the radical fringe group al-Muhajiroun, headed by the eccentric “cleric” Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was at that time mainly concerned with recruiting people to fight in the Balkans against Slobodan Milosevic (a venture often embraced by the British government who also wanted the Serbian leader gone). At a time of relative tolerance for radical Islam in the UK, David Waters, prosecuting, noted that “For some time prior to February, tensions had been rising of a religious nature between the two groups. This tension was increased by the fact that during February Muslims were observing Ramadan [and that] Tundi’s [Ayotunde Obanubi’s] death was very much the culmination of events.”
That strikes me as very mild language for describing an attack on a christian by a group of young muslims who had a couple of days previously attended a lecture given by Omar Bakri Mohammed, but then, those were different times.
One of those involved in the murder was a young man called Kazi Nurur Rahman. At the time, he received no sentence for being part of the group of students who killed Obanubi. Ten years later, Rahman was back in the news, accused of seeking to buy missiles and rocket-propelled grenades for use in a terrorist attack in the UK. Rahman, who was also an associate of Omar Khyam but “was not arrested when Khyam and the others were picked up” was arrested in a small Hertfordshire village as he met what he presumably thought was a muslim arms dealer. In reality, Rahman was meeting with undercover operatives of either the Metropolitan police or MI5.
Curiously, given that it is roughly ten years since the events in Newham, the BBC reports that “When interviewed by police Rahman claimed he was working for MI5, who had recruited him 10 years earlier.” However, after being offered the relatively lenient charge of “attempting to possess property intending it should be used for the purpose of terrorism” he retracted that statement (relative, that is, to the thirty year-plus sentences given to the Omar Khyam group).
Rahman quite possibly was an MI5 operative, albeit a disposable one. Now, however, he has become grist to the mill of men like Peter Clarke, who told reporters that “This is another example of where we have been able to take pre-emptive action to protect the public from the threat of terrorism. Whenever the evidence allows us to take such action, we will do so.”
If Rahman was an informant, or an operative, then the fact that Waters was enlisted to prosecute the Newham assailants might be instructive. If al-Muhajiroun was, at that time, being groomed as a force of useful idiots to employ in the Balkans and elsewhere, then that would make sense.
Entrapment and the Secret State
Peter Clarke, of the Metropolitan Police, says that the fertilizer bomb plotters and the case of Kazi Nurur Rahman represent a great success in the “war on extremism” and support the extension of “pre-emptive action to protect the public from the threat of terrorism.” Gordon Corera of the BBC notes that since 9-11, MI5 has doubled in size and that it is watching close to 2,000 individuals.
Frank Gardner, the BBC’s other intelligence analyst writes that “The bottom line is that core al-Qaeda is still actively planning operations against the West,” that “Jihadi internet videos link up al-Qaeda followers around the world. Now even the Taleban are using the internet” and that “MI5’s 2,000 terror suspects are likely to keep growing in number.”
Tony Blair has defended MI5 against accusations of incompetence, stating that, if there is a public inquiry into 7/7, “what we will do is undermine support for our security services, and I’m simply not prepared to do that.”
The ground seems to be being prepared for an expansion of Britain’s secret services while very few voices are discussing the extraordinary capabilities that agencies like MI5 have which were unmasked during the trial. For example, if it is to be believed that Mohammed Sidique Khan was peripheral in 2004 to surveillance efforts, then that he was pursued to his door shows how even minor suspects receive detailed observation from the state. But then again, you may not believe he was that peripheral. The nature of the links between intelligence services and Khan would certainly be a proper question for an independent inquiry.
Like Delroy Denton, his could be a case of intelligence “blowback.”
But the most interesting possibilities still surround Mohammed Quayyum Khan (the mysterious “Q”) who, despite being under surveillance in 2003 (and, it seems, the very centerpiece of Operation Crevice) managed to dispatch his chosen jihadists to Pakistan. As the BBC has reported, it was in meetings with Q that Omar Khyam first became known to MI5. The BBC notes that “The last of these was in Southall in west London, shortly before police arrested the plotters” but the really interesting question is when was the first? If it was before Khyam went to Pakistan in 2003, then that puts a different spin on events thereafter.
Until questions like the status of Quayyum Khan are cleared up and until MI5 can explain its collaboration in the torture of Salahuddin Amin, and until the ISI can explain how Omar Khyam got the idea that his family could be targeted by their trained thugs, and until the FBI and Mohammed Babar can explain why we should trust his testimony given the massive incentive he had to say precisely what the FBI wanted him to, then the lingering suspicion may be that a cover-up has transpired.
[As a side note, Babar was also guaranteed immunity from prosecution in the UK for terrorism offenses due to his confession in the U.S. He could, presumably have counted on protection from the FBI if he lied to the court, although with Khyam, Amin and Mahmood silent any rebuttal was unlikely.]
There will be the lingering suspicion that what we have seen in the “fertilizer bomb plot” has been a well choreographed display of entrapment. By linking Abdul Hadi, Babar, Khawaja, Amin, Khyam and Sidique Khan, the trial has resurrected al-Qaeda in the public mind as a real, organized and international entity. The need to expand Britain’s secret state to counter it has also been amplified, and this is a great organizational victory for all involved. As a spectacle, the trial was a triumph, even if – as a trial – it had some very dubious elements indeed.
These are just questions, and I would like to see a full, independent public inquiry into both 7/7 and Operation Crevice. I would also like to see if there is room to prosecute anyone in the case of Salahuddin Amin, but I doubt that these will be public priorities in the short term.
I have not argued that 7/7 was an “inside job” – it doesn’t seem that way to me, despite a long list of questions that an inquiry should ask and have answered. Most of them can be found here, at the July Seventh Truth Campaign. What seems more likely to me is that 7/7 was a case of blowback from covert attempts to infiltrate radical groups in Pakistan (those fighting British troops in Afghanistan’s Helmand province and engaged in the opium trade) as well as groups supporting fighters in Iraq, Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine etc… Most emphatically, I believe that MI5 has been active for a long time in infiltrating, redirecting and breaking up groups that are opposed to the Saudi monarchy.
Omar Khyam and, potentially, Mohammed Sidique Khan could be the Islamist equivalent of Delroy Denton.
One last piece of suggestive evidence, to leave with. On February 21 as Omar Khyam sat in his car talking to Mohammed Sidique Khan, Khan said that he was debating whether or not to take another trip to Pakistan, as he had just become a father. Khyam told him that Khan should move, and soon. “I do not even live in Crawley any more” he said, “I moved out because in the next month they are going to be raiding big time all over the UK.” And they did. Omar Khyam was arrested a month later.
How he knew this, no-one in the press has been able to explain to me. Why Khan wasn’t arrested or fingered when this was caught on tape, again, unexplained.
This article was originally published on Guerilla News Network