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Students Downloading Jihadist Material Acquitted 318

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Five UK students who were charged under the UK's 2000 Terrorism Act for possession of jihadist materials were acquitted after the jury found that, while they had downloaded the materials, there was no evidence that they were planning any sort of crime. The Lord Chief Justice was quoted as saying, 'Difficult questions of interpretation have been raised in this case by the attempt by the prosecution to use [this law] for a purpose for which it was not intended.'"
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Students Downloading Jihadist Material Acquitted

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  • by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:11AM (#22416060)
    Well at least it's good to see that it's not a complete mudslide..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      The British courts also ruled that a schizophrenic that thought himself the reincarnation of King Arthur saner than the Conservative Home Office. The courts tend to be less political and a lot saner than the politicos. The House of Lords was another organiztion that opposed such nonsense, which is why the Conservatives gutted it and Labour disembowled what was left. It's hard to buy out a group that need no money and own most of the land. It's hard to get them to be entirely sane, but so long as they're edu
      • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @06:21AM (#22418054) Homepage
        If you're trying to use history to sound smart and add gravitas to your argument, you shouldn't be so entirely ignorant and incorrect about it. Athens didn't go bankrupt from wars before the Peloponnesian War (which I assume you were referring to), it led an economic league that was at the height of its powers and ruled Mediterranean trade. Wu didn't go bankrupt, perhaps you were thinking of the Shu kingdom but more likely you were talking out of your ass, anyway the country was invaded many years after repeatedly defending itself from invasion, and was clearly the least offensive of the three kingdoms, and probably the most economically successful.

        Alexander the Great & Genghis Khan didn't just have delusions of power that poetically "slipped through their fingers"- they each ruled huge, expanding empires at the time of their deaths. Genghis Khan's descendants went on to rule what would become the largest empire ever.

      • by ddrichardson ( 869910 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @08:07AM (#22418494) Homepage

        I don't like to whinge but this is really starting to bug me, there are no British courts. There is English law based on precedent and Scots law [] based on jurisprudence [].

        It may seem like a semantic difference but it is in fact like saying North American law rather than Canadian and US. It is also important to Scots historically because it is one of the few things that were kept after the act of union with England.

      • by Ash Vince ( 602485 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:42AM (#22419744) Journal

        The House of Lords was another organiztion that opposed such nonsense, which is why the Conservatives gutted it and Labour disembowled what was left.
        Sorry, You seem confused. They are two different entities both called the House of Lords.

        The House of Lords in the context or parliament is the non-democratically selected load of old codgers that was gutted by both parties in an attempt to make the British political system more responsive to change.

        The House of Lords in the context of Law is the English equivalent of the Supreme Court. The Lords who sit and decide cases in regards to law are only selected from high ranking judges.

        They also get to sit in the Parliamentary House of Lords above but this does not work both ways. The Hereditary Peers (land owners who inherited their position in the Parliamentary House of Lords) have never been able to sit as Law Lords unless they also trained to be a barrister then spent their entire life practicing Law first.

        The only exception to this when all Lords (not just Law Lords) can decide a case is in the case of impeachment.

        Your comment about them owning most of the land implies that you think both bodies to be the same thing, they are not.

        The following wikipedia page has some interesting info, pay attention to the section marked Judicial Functions. []
  • Mirror? (Score:5, Funny)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:12AM (#22416072) Homepage
    Where's a mirror? I'd like to read ....

    hang on, someone's at the door.
  • How novel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AP2k ( 991160 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:12AM (#22416080)
    A judiciary.... adhereing to the spirit of the law. Brilliant!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Swampash ( 1131503 )
      Obviously not an American court.
    • by AndGodSed ( 968378 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:34AM (#22416696) Homepage Journal
      For once the crazies lost a case!
      • by arivanov ( 12034 )
        Not for long. Josef Vissarionovich Brown and Lavretnij Pavlovich Straw will be amending the legislation shortly and the Congress of People's Deputies will vote for it in the next session based on suggestions of the Central Committee.

        This more or less describes the current situation in the Union of Soviet British Republics.

        I got my MP on the similar case when a man was disallowed basic chemistry refresher course for thoughtcrime and he got as far as the Home Office. At that point Lavrentij Pavlovich Straw he
  • by that this is not und ( 1026860 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:16AM (#22416112)
    It might seem like flamebait to say this, but people in their student years are always trying different things out. It's hard for older people to take them seriously sometimes, but that's how its always been.

    I remember those days, far back in the distance. As a young campus radical, I remember the way the older, more seasoned off-campus radicals would look at us, with our newfound enthusiasm, and willingness to embrace any new idea. No slogan, no campaign is too outlandish when you're young and inexperienced.

    Grumpy older people need to give those younger than themselves some slack. Hell, if the world took every angry-young-man at face value, we'd ALL be in jail.
    • Student or not... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:32AM (#22416270)
      If I go to a white supremacist web site, that doesn't necessarily mean I endorse their views. Even if I download their materials it doesn't--maybe I just find it disgusting and want to show it to someone who won't believe it's as bad as it is. Maybe I want to study it and figure out something about the psychology of the people involved. The same thing applies to terrorism, and... well, pretty much anything a student reads, or any person reads. *Reading* should not be a crime, with the possible exception of some classified/secret documents... whose classification is beyond the scope of this paragraph. =)
    • by dindi ( 78034 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:01AM (#22416504)
      I agree 100% .... never used a blue/red/black/whatever color phreaking box, still owned the manual because I was interested (would never have worked in Europe anyways). Never was a social democrat, still downloaded Mein Kampf to own it, read it, understand a different point of view. Also owned the terrorists' handbook to obtain interesting information. Do I want to blow stuff up? Well. maybe coke cans in myh backyard, but definetely not US soldiers or the president. Still as a learning person I THINK knowing how to make a bomb, how to shoot a rifle or how to pick a lock might come handy. Hey could even save my life.

      Would I download jihadist material? Well, maybe it would not come too much handy, but it is definitely interesting. Hey it could even save your (or others lives).

      This is censorship. Wrong censorship. People download stuff available to download. Whatever it is. Video, text file, program ...... just see more of this world. They should explain it why it is wrong, not forbid to see an other point of view at all.

      just my 2c .....
    • by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

      It's hard for older people to take them seriously sometimes, but that's how its always been.
      No. The older have themselves been younger.

      The problem is that it is impossible for the older to know when the kids take the stuff (too) seriously. Kids, OTOH, do not "trust" the elders, and this has always been the same.
      • Kids, OTOH, do not "trust" the elders,

        And when it comes to things like government, they *shouldn't* trust the elders because the watchers need to be watched. Not to mention the fact that many politicians are not acting in the best interest of the people which they are supposed to serve even if they aren't being downright hostile to their constituents.

        Blindly trusting and following a government, among other things, leads to the erosion of rights - slowly over a period of decades, and it seems that the reali
  • by tshetter ( 854143 )
    Information wants to be Free. You cant stop people from knowing. You cant stop people from teaching.
  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:28AM (#22416230) Homepage
    If you don't want your students to read something, have one of their professors assign it as homework and mention that there will be no grade or quiz.

    Better yet, say there *will* be a quiz and then symlink "Jihadist Pamphlet Cliffnotes" to "Partial Differential Equations Vol. I, II, and III" in the google results.
  • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:30AM (#22416242) Homepage
    I read instructions on how to operate an incendiary device.
    I hope they don't arrest me for potentially committing future arson.
    I believe the instructions said "close cover strike match".
    • by anagama ( 611277 )
      Now I wish I hadn't posted -- I would have used my mod points to correct the unfair "offtopic" mod. The question in my mind would be: insightful or funny.
    • Oh great, thanks. Now everyone that's read your comment has committed...

      BRB, door.
    • I read instructions on how to operate an incendiary device.
      You mean like the "Reply to this" link on slashdot?
  • by nexuspal ( 720736 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:53AM (#22416446)
    ""Though Saffran says he finds these First Amendment issues "dubious," in a letter to Internet executives he argues that no one has a constitutional right to use private property to facilitate terrorism.
    "You have the right," he writes, "and ... the moral obligation to stop them from doing so.""

    We have a "moral" obligation to stop our great discoveries in history from being propagated to the masses because some might use it incorrectly(note, this is not yelling fire in a packed theatre)? Please keep in mind, 4 grad students built the bomb (in design) to specifications that current atomic scientist said would actually chain react and detonate, using books that were publically available, but they're scared of information that might enable one to make dynamite? If someone is smart enough and motivated enought to make dynamite, they could do far, far, worse without explosives imo.
    • Where can I get some background or read more about this?
      • The first statement is made online, just quote in google here []. I found it while looking up a law I remember a while back that makes looking up bomb material in the US illegal, though I couldn't find actual articles on it (I still believe this is illegal according to fed law, but cannot find a source). The grad comment was discovered after reading a book on the history of the bomb in a library, talking about how difficult it is to make the models that allow the bomb to chain react. The grad students did it
        • Re:link please... (Score:4, Informative)

          by nexuspal ( 720736 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @02:04AM (#22416886)
          OK, found relavent material...

          "By contrast, 18 U.S.C. 231(a)(1) -- like the proposed Feinstein Amendment -- arguably could be characterized as a prohibition on certain forms of speech. Section 231(a)(1) provides that: Whoever teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm or explosive or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that the same will be unlawfully employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder which may in any way or degree obstruct, delay, or adversely affect commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce or the conduct or performance of any federally protected function . . . [s]hall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. [] "

          link here [] May just be violation of 1st...
          • relevant, sorry my spelling is off ;-)
          • Re:link please... (Score:4, Informative)

            by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @02:52AM (#22417124)
            Actually that law doesn't say what you say it does. Note knowing or having reason to know or intending that the same will be unlawfully employed. It's not saying you can't teach someone how to make a bomb, it's not saying you can't learn to make a bomb. It's saying that it's not ok to teach someone who you know is going to use that bomb how to make a bomb.

            The reason to know is a bit wishy washy, but it's probably just a catch all for situations where you have a guy who goes into a room full of plans to blow something up claiming he didn't know that's what they were going to do with the bomb.

            Personally I think this law is probably pretty much unecessary, as IMO, knowingly providing someone the means to commit an illegal act in this fashion should be covered under "conspiracy to commit _______" offense tree.

            It's not illegal to sell a man a gun, but if someone asks you to sell him a gun so he can murder his wife you're treading on dangerous ground if you do it, and five years and a fine is probably pretty lenient.

            • "or having reason to know", pretty much covers any public dissemination of the information, because any "reasonable" person would expect that, over the course of a million hits, at least one will be for a purpose that interferes with interstate commerce, or the other provisions of the statute... Violation of 1st still, and I know the law said what I thought it said, thanks though.
              • This is why an article prepared by the United States Department of Justice would include a sentence saying "arguably could be characterized as a prohibition on certain forms of speech".

                This is the sentence that sways the arguement in my favor, imo.
            • P.S., These laws are made by lawyers! So you have to know when they say "reason to know", they are alluding to the "reasonable person" which is the average person, and the average person knows that if enough people views their content, at least one of them will be viewing for unlawful purposes. This lead to the USDOJ comment on how said law may be in violation of the 1st, because the DOJ is seperate from congress, and knows the law as opposed to congress.
  • by matria ( 157464 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:14AM (#22416580)
    This whole thing came up because one of the students left home to join the others; they were intending to go fight in some unspecified foreign country. The student's parents called the police to report him missing when he sneaked out. Investigating his disappearance uncovered the material. But then I read the article yesterday.
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      Going to fight in a foreign country isn't a crime either... unless the UK has jurisdiction in said foreign country.
      • If your fighting ends up killing someone under the jurisdiction of the UK, it is illegal. At least that is the way it works in the US.

        Somehow I doubt the UK would let one of their citizens or military members be murdered by another citizen and not care because it happened in some place they didn't control.
  • Excuses, excuses... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kenrod ( 188428 )
    I'm very sad to see so many people here making excuses for these young men's jihadist tendencies. Equating the perps extremist religious motives with the Western notion of youthful experimentation or benign curiosity is insulting to everyone, even the jihadis.

    These guys were caught because one of them wrote a "bye, I'm going to fight for Allah" note to his parents. He promised to engage in conventional warfare (as opposed to domestic terrorism). He quoted two passages from the Koran to support his positi
    • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:27AM (#22416656)
      These guys were caught because one of them wrote a "bye, I'm going to fight for Allah" note to his parents. He promised to engage in conventional warfare (as opposed to domestic terrorism).

      Well, not to support religious nutters of any persuasion, but if he had written "I'm off to fight for Christ, but only in conventional warfare somewhere Christians are being oppressed and killed" would anybody even bat an eyelid? Even less so: if they'd said they were going to Israel to fight for the preservation of the Jewish homeland?

      Probably the best solution would be to put anyone espousing religious ideas into a mental hospital until they get better.


      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sumdumass ( 711423 )
        Yea, they would care. Especially is they were going to join a side that was hostile to the homeland (the UK).

        And 60 years ago, they would have been prosecuted for going to Israel too.

        Don't look at this as people going to "work or war" for god, look at it as people going to join the enemy side of a force at war with you.
    • by kent_eh ( 543303 )
      Then arrest him for things that he stated (in writing) he was planning to do, not for what he had on his bookshelf.
    • So, if you have a gun(or look up explosives, see my other post where telling how to make a gun is illegal in the usa), and "believe" in materials that say murder is acceptable for the ends that God has in mind, and state the same, you're guilty (means and conspiracy)? Doesn't this reflect the views of say, 30 PERCENT of the US population (that believe in God and will kill at his command, even if he or she hears it in the wild and it says kill their own son)?
    • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @04:50AM (#22417700)
      During the Spanish Civil War, a number of young British men (and Americans) went to fight on the Republican side - the side which, if the war was happening now, would be opposed by the present US Administration. (For the politically illiterate, in the rest of the world Republican usually means left wing - I have often wondered how many of the well meaning Americans who gave money to the Irish Republican Army understood that.) There is a story of a Cambridge student who went to tell his tutor that he was going to Spain. The tutor thought about it for a couple of minutes, then went out and came back with a revolver, which he solemnly handed over. Would they have found themselves on a terrorism charge in 2006?

      Nowadays, by most Europeans, those members of the International Brigade are regarded as heroes. The difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter usually depends on who eventually won whatever the war was. The fact that many members of the International Brigades fought because of an adherence to irrational beliefs like Communism, or because they had split up with their girlfriends, or because they wanted to rebel against their parents, gets lost in the simplifications of history.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by meringuoid ( 568297 )
        For the politically illiterate, in the rest of the world Republican usually means left wing - I have often wondered how many of the well meaning Americans who gave money to the Irish Republican Army understood that.

        If you'll happily donate to right-wing terrorists but baulk at funding left-wing terrorists, how exactly are you 'well-meaning'?

  • I confess (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 )
    I smashed into a building in Flight Simulator(tm). Please, go easy on the water-boarding, I'm allergic to water.
  • by TurinPT ( 1226568 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:30AM (#22416670)
    Bottle Bomb


    * 20 oz soda bottle (empty and dry on the inside)
    * black powder (the more fine the better)
    * steady burning long wick (at least 15 seconds delay) Instructions:

    o Poke a small hole in the cap of the soda bottle.
    o Pour a small amount of black powder into the bottle (just enough to cover the bottom with a thin layer, but totally covered, no empty spots on the bottom).
    o Insert wick into the cap about halfway and put a bend in the wick.
    Note: Be careful not to break the wick or it will shorten it causing possibly disastrous results.
    o Screw the cap on the bottle tightly and set somewhere so that it is standing up.
    o Light the fuse and get back about 30 feet. Watch the bottle to light up orange. The second after this happens the bottle blows up.

    How it works:
    The fuse drops onto the layer of black powder in the bottom of the bottle after it burns through the hole. The wick ignites the powder causing it to burn. This builds up pressure inside the bottle causing it to explode.
    I have seen these fly up to 25 feet. You can try experimenting with different size bottles or, try a glass bottle with a metal cap if you have steel balls!!! Note- I'm not sure it has enough pressure to blow a glass bottle apart. It may just act like a rocket engine and flare.

    There. Now were all criminals.
  • Let's see ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Possession of images of people who have been killed doesn't get you punished for being a murderer. Check.
    Possession of pamphlets of jihadist material doesn't get you punished for being a terrorist. Check.
    Possession of images of nude children does get you punished for being a pedophile. Um ... check?

    While not endorsing anything, I'd just like to point out that some bogeymen are bigger than the others, and it feels kind of relieving that even after all the fearmongering the 'terrorist' one is still not the ch
  • The police will whinge that they don't have the powers to get 'dangerous' individuals convicted, and so ask to be will be able to hold people longer, monitor people without warrants, etc...

    And because our neo-fascist government wants to be seen as strong, they will do it all.

    • That's already happened. These people were only released because they were charged under the 2000 act; under the new 2006 act they would surely have been convicted for "encouragement of terrorism" or "disseminating terrorist publications" (7 years in prison) or even "preparation for terrorist acts" (life imprisonment).
  • In the UK (and the US as well), legal Acts generally refer to what they support:

    Data Protection Act - protection of (personal) data

    Freedom of Information Act - freedom of information

    and so forth. The previous version of anti-terror legislation was called the Prevention of Terrorism Act, so why is it now the Terrorism Act?
  • In uk now you can freely cospire and organize islamic bombings. It is clear that this case has been a waste of precious time for the courts and the police. They can go back now to more productive asignments.

    I am quite sure the people of england will be reliefed to know that no mercy ever will be given to their true enemies: pirates and file sharers.
  • Bad summary. (Score:3, Informative)

    by sim60 ( 967365 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @05:35AM (#22417888)
    They were not aquitted, they had their previous convictions quashed.

    They were all originally found guilty, and sentenced to "up to" 3 years each, just for possessing a few dodgy pamphlets and recordings of "extremist sermons".

    The appeals court (luckily a Court of Note in the UK, which means this does set a precedent) decided that in order to convict, the prosecution had to show intent to commit terrorist offences. The convictions were quashed because the jury was not told this, and the prosecution evidence would probably not have demonstrated it if they had been.

    There's a whole bunch of these 'going equipped' style laws in the UK, where the courts presume to know why you were doing something that, without the intent to commit a crime in the future, would not be illegal.

  • Never leave a note to your parents if you want to go fighting abroad... ...but I have to catch a plane to Afganistan ... see ya later, guys!

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.