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(en) Freedom 6401 25 Jan, 2003 - Behind the panic

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 27 Jan 2003 15:03:40 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The arrest of a number of Algerian refugees on 14th 
January for allegedly making the poison ricin, and the 
accompanying death of a Special Branch officer, have 
led to an ever-intensifying media panic. Strange that 
this should suddenly happen now, when Blair is 
having real difficulty selling Bush's oil war to his 
cabinet colleagues, let alone the public. There have 
been stories in the media since last year about 
random terrorists of north African origin.
'Terror attack on Tube planned' was one 
sensationalist headline in December, though the men 
arrested for it were later released without charge, 
like some of those arrested this time. But the 
releases haven't made it into most of the mainstream 
media while, with a couple of exceptions, journalists 
have remained silent on the nature of ricin. This has 
led people to believe a mass gas attack in the style of 
Winston Churchill may have been planned.
The truth is that ricin is a lethal toxin. But it has to 
be delivered into the body to work, so it's a weapon of 
individual terror or assassination rather than the 
indiscriminate terror that an F-15, say, is capable of. 
The most infamous use of ricin was when Bulgarian 
secret police murdered dissident Georgi Markov in 
London in 1978, using a poisoned umbrella.
It's perhaps worth speculating why police made such 
an elemental error when they arrested the men in 
Manchester. In my experience, they're not slow in 
handcuffing people. And this was an anti-terrorist 
operation, which implies they at least thought the 
men were dangerous. Did someone higher up in 
Greater Manchester Police tell the officers to go easy, 
or was it just a cock-up? It's unlikely we'll ever know 
the full facts, but it's certainly convenient for Blair if 
he can pretend these men have a link to Iraq. This, 
however, may prove difficult.
The mainstream media have focused on the number 
of Algerians coming to Britain and claiming asylum, 
and how some of them may be terrorists. There's 
been precious little attempt to understand why 
Algerians might flee their homeland, why they might 
turn to terror and why they may not want to go to 
In 1991, the Algerian generals scrapped elections 
because the Islamic Salvation Front won them. Since 
then, over 80,000 people have been slaughtered. 
European, primarily French, intelligence services 
knew all about this, but guess what - Algeria has oil 
and gas, so they've kept schtum.
In 1997, Observer journalist John Sweeney wrote, "so 
why the silence? Let us not underestimate the power 
of the state of Algeria. It squats on huge oil and gas 
deposits worth billions. It supplies the gas that 
warms Madrid and Rome. It has a £1.8 billion 
contract with British Petroleum. No western 
government wants to make trouble with the state of 
Algeria. Its wealth buys silence, buys complicity. 
Since the military junta overthrew the country's 
democracy, 80,000 have been killed: Europe's gas 
The sad truth is that the Algerian military behave in 
the same way Saddam Hussein does. They suppress 
all opposition, particularly working class, ethnic and 
Islamist groups. The only difference is that their 
paymasters haven't fallen out with them yet.
Martin H.
See the current issue of Black Flag for a report of the 
Kabylie revolt against the Algerian military 
government. Available from Freedom Press, price £1 
plus 50p postage in the UK, £1 elsewhere.

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