Cultural Revolutions

Terror on the Underground

Two muslim terrorists held under Britain’s controversial “control order powers”—an Iraqi with possible links to Al Qaeda and a British citizen likely connected to the London Underground bombings last year—have escaped, as Tony Blair’s government reluctantly acknowledged on October 16.  Both were suspected of being linked to international terrorist groups, and, in a sane world, both should have been held under lock and key until the investigation into their cases was complete.  They were granted theoretically supervised freedom under “control orders” instead, a device created in March 2005 after the Law Lords ruled four months earlier that the detention without charge of 12 foreign suspects in London’s Belmarsh prison was illegal.

Under this system, suspects are subjected to curfew in their residences, electronically tagged, banned from associating with certain people or using the internet, and may get unannounced visits from the police.  The orders are intended to control the movements of suspected terrorists whose cases are unlikely to come to trial any time soon, mostly because the evidence against them would expose another ongoing investigation.  Only 15 such orders are currently in force, 9 against foreign nationals and 6 against British citizens, although MI5 (Britain’s FBI equivalent) has identified some 1,200 individuals suspected of being involved...

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