back to article The New Order: When reading is a crime

Is this what it is going to be like? When simple possession of a proscribed document will be enough to see you clapped in irons and whisked down to the local police station? About two weeks ago (May 16), Nottingham University campus was agog as police arrived to interview former student Hicham Yezza. After some ten years' …


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  1. Whitter
    Thumb Up

    What's that?

    Serious quedos to Alan Simpson: why don't we get that kind of thinking in ministerial level politicians?

  2. Righteously Indignant

    not wanting to be difficult or anything but...

    Claiming it is an abuse of the Anti-Terrorism laws doesn't make sense... Yes, the Police may have made a 'dreadful cock-up' with the original arrest - but as stated they are no longer pursuing that matter. Would people rather the Police had ignored the report and not investigated it at all?

    All that has happened here is a immigrant has been found to be 'less than truthful' in their application to stay and is being - and quite rightly so - deported. If only the Home Office acted this quickly with all failed immigration applications!

  3. David


    I am so fucking glad that I don't live in Britain anymore.


  4. Alfie


    How did someone with a name like that rise through the ranks to get to be Supt?

  5. dervheid
    Black Helicopters

    No further comment required.

    Summed up most elequently in the final paragraph.

  6. Peter Fielden-Weston


    This state of fear and oppression is going to become known as Blair's legacy.

    Political expediency and political correctness over coming common sense. Again the police have shown us why they are losing (have lost?) the respect of "middle England". They have acted in a high handed, arrogant manner and are now trying to deflect attention away from their mistakes.

    Not AC because we HAVE to stand up and be counted.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Alan Simpson, MP for Nottingham South

    I don't believe that this bloke is really "New Labour"! That is the first and only anti-Stasi/Stalinist/Bi-Brother statement I've ever heard from New Labour - it is obvious that he'll never make the cabinet and that he'll brought back in line by the Whips.

    It was nice while it lasted...

  8. Robert Harrison


    "This was all part of legitimate study: the document itself was on the Politics Faculty reading list."

    So the author of the reading list itself should also be in for a session at the ministry of love?

    In all seriousness, I hope this incident is exposed for the shambles that it is. And shurely, to promote some understanding in the hope of *ever* being able to resolve why we have this particular branch of terrorism in the first place: Perhaps academics should be able to study any documents and literature in order to learn. As we know too well in the IT world, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, particular to the opposition, whoever they might be.

    An icon with a big question mark in it would be useful because I'm just left wondering 'why'?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    'Of use to a terrorist'.

    I believe there is a similar penalty for 'possessing items likely to be of use to a terrorist'.

    Such as maybe 'shoes', or maybe a bag?

    The 'emergency' is no doubt the impending embarrassment of the Home Secretary if this guy gets to argue his case in court.

  10. Steven Cuthbertson

    A broad brush...

    "Under s.58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, a person commits an offence if they “possesses a document or record containing information”… “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”."

    Seems a bit broad? A train timetable could conceivably count..

  11. Anonymous Coward

    I thought we had enough problems with Al-Qaeda

    without riling them further with illicit downloading of their secret dox

  12. Tim

    Wide interpretation of this law?

    How wide is the interpretation of a document "likely to be useful"? If a terrorist wants to drive a van-bomb into a government building, will having the manual for the van be helpful? will the highway code book be helpful? will any "how to drive" books be helpful?

    Seems to me they meant to aim this at "jolly roger" type books, used by radicals, but will apply it to anyone they see fit.

  13. MarkW
    Thumb Down

    They resent our freedom

    The Bush/Blair/Brown GWOT has been such a resounding success, hasn't it?

  14. TimNevins

    Parallel to Stati tactics

    Eastern bloc secret police used to use this technique to suppress dissent not by force but by the fear of being reported by anyone in earshot or eyesight.

    Mine's the one with the passport in it.

  15. Paul Delaney


    Why would an intelligent man like Hicham Yezza not know how dangerous downloading / posessing a terrorist training manual could be, regardless of whose academic reading list it might be on?

    Particulary so for someone currently seeking permanent UK residency.

    How stupid can you get?

  16. Roger

    What document?

    I think al-Qaeda can have a small party tonight, for another victory over the western world, the UK in particular.

  17. Anton Ivanov

    Historty repeats itself

    Section 58 of the Stalin's era USSR penal code was the infamous section under which people were sent to Gulag to rot and die. Treason, subversion and crime against the state.

    Similarly, there were books on the so called prohibited list during Brezhnev's time which would have gotten you out of the university onto the all-time job blacklist and sometimes even into forced resettlement. At the same time these books were on the reading lists for some of the ideology and history majors. However, lending them to someone else would have resulted (and has resulted on many occasions) in the same story as in this case.

    History indeed repeats itself. Up to the exact number

    Welcome to the Union of British Soviet Republics and its most prominent educational institution, the Stalin's Nottingham University.

    Me coat. The one with "My great granddad was shot by Stalin, I do not want to be shot by his brown incarnation" slogan on the back.

  18. Geoff Johnson

    Web Cache

    When the University installed a web cache and firewall that made everyone go via the cache, we all though it was just so the computer centre staff didn't have to find their own porn. Looks like we were wrong.

  19. dave
    Thumb Down

    Clueless law makers, clueless police

    NuLabour's fascist police force in action! Common sense is now a truly foreign concept in UK law.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    She looked a bit funny... we made her confess, then burned her at the stake. Feedback is that people accept that this is the sort of operation that is necessary and reasonable for the welfare of communities.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    is the list available?

    Only asking because with being an engineer (degree), computer tech (masters), martial arts (something to do) and interested in millitary history and training (family professions) I'm sure half the books I have will be on it...

    I wonder when I'll be getting the knock...

    AC as well, yeah...

    PS. Yes, I agree this is sickening and that something should be done but now I have just shown intent to protest... whoops...

  22. Roger Barrett

    so This Terrorism Act would cover...

    The Jolly Roger Cook Book Disk? I've not seen a copy for years but when I was at school pre email it was certainly passed around on 3.5" floppies, I had a copy, although all I ever did was read it and wonder how people had found out that baked banana skins had such an effect on people, or the frog backs, or the copper pipe or the telephone hacks etc etc, would this now be covered? should I make sure all my old floppy disks are destroyed?? Should I be posting anonymously?

  23. GettinSadda

    Documents useful to terrorists?

    Let's see:

    “possesses a document or record containing information”… “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

    Hmm, the 7/7 bombers attacked central London and needed to plan where to hit. Best way to sort that would be with an A-Z... OMG!!

    ...phew! Just saved myself by burning my A-Z - wouldn't want to get caught with a document useful to a terrorist!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I want out

    This police state is part of the EU, is it? I want my country out of that conspiracy. Now. Before this becomes something *we* have to do too...

  25. Perseus

    ...and but...

    ...but to think that things will get better under a Tory gov is like... Errr, like... Come on...

    Oh crap, I can't even think of a bad enough example!

  26. Stef

    Looks like we've got ourselves a reader...

    how long before the act of reading anything 'not approved' gets you disappeared?

    "Is that a manga comic I see hidden down the back of the sofa sir? come with me" or "why were you looking at [insert suitable subject line here - nooklear - muslim - whatever] on the interwebs? come with me..."

    Soon they'll be deporting nth generation muslims to 'friendly' torture zones (conveniently revoking citizenship in the process).

    Better get my copy of the sun and Mien Kampf (Nu Labour manifesto) in.

    fire, 'cos it's book burning time.

  27. Tim
    Thumb Up

    @AC RE: Alan Simpson

    He's not New Labour, he's Old Labour. A proper, old-school, hard-left socialist who campaigned against the removal of Clause IV before Blair won the '97 election.

    As far as I'm concerned he's the Red Menace, however he's got principle, integrity and a big pair of brass balls (he's the only Labour MP to be reprimanded by the chief whip, for saying that New Labour's idea of democracy would have been familiar to General Franco.) Unfortunately he's had enough and will be stepping down at the next election. Parliament will be even worse without him.

    At least you know where you stand with proper socialists like him; not like the intellectual featherweights, pampered ponces and cynical marketeers of the New Labour cabinet.

  28. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Custer's Last Words ....... What Injuns? I don't see any Injuns.

    And what of all those other souls with a research copy of an al-Qaeda Training Manual downloaded to their disks for inquisitive reading? I notice that its Counterpart/Opposite Mirror, the PNAC, has been "suspended" ....

    Is suspended the same as hanged, as was there too much incriminating evidence naming names with Leading Roles in the Project for the New American Century ..... a sort of Fourth Reich Fantasy Dreamt up by Rodeo Clowns who aint No Cowboys, No Which Way.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    W T F

    "This was all part of legitimate study: the document itself was on the Politics Faculty reading list. Unfortunately, the document in question also happened to be an al-Qaeda Training Manual."

    I have two questions about this.

    1. What is this kind of document doing on the reading list in the first place.

    2. Assuming that it is require/recommened reading for a politics faculty, why the hell were the police called in the first place?

    Say i put the book 1984 on a reading list at my factulty, does this mean everytime sometime some reads it, I can ask the police to throw them in clinky? Is this the faculties way of keeping training costs down? Send em all to the pleasure of HRH Eliz! No student/teachers means lower operating costs... it's a stroke of genius!

    As to what happened after that... well, this is the kinda shit we have to expect thanks to tony/gordon. I'm sure Tony used to get a hardon read anything by Orwell or Huxley.

    Paris for PM.... no...srly!

  30. Mei Lewis

    al-Qaeda Training Manual, Get yours here!

    That's all very tragic / interesting, but the best bit is when you try to download the manual yourself, which of course you now want to do.

    Google 'al-Qaeda Training Manual' and the first result that comes up is

    Yes, that's a file on the website of the US Department of Justice. They're thoughtfully got hold of a copy, scanned it in, used OCR on it an put it on the website for the world to share. Thanks Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey!

  31. frymaster

    @Paul Delanry

    >Why would an intelligent man like Hicham Yezza not know how dangerous >downloading / posessing a terrorist training manual could be, regardless of >whose academic reading list it might be on?

    >Particulary so for someone currently seeking permanent UK residency.

    >How stupid can you get?

    Yes, how stupid can you get for downloading university-approved reading material on a university network as a university staff member in order to help a university student? For the university to turn around and say this was a Wrong Thing is the stupid part (I doubt the people investigating him knew about the poli-sci connection at the time, mind)

    Perhaps he thought he was in some kind of free country, where people aren't judged by paranoia?

  32. Steve
    Thumb Down

    @ Paul Delaney

    "Why would an intelligent man like Hicham Yezza not know how dangerous downloading / posessing a terrorist training manual could be, regardless of whose academic reading list it might be on?"

    Shouldn't you be asking why he should feel it dangerous for a university employee to aid a student in obtaining a book that was required for his course? You're basically saying, "If he's that smart, why didn't he realise that we live in a racist police state?"

    "How stupid can you get?"

    Stupid enough to think that this is acceptable, apparently.

    If he had been named John Smith, this never would have been reported to the police.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Righteously Indignant

    The abuse is that the authorities tend to press ahead with at least charging / deporting someone after every failed anti-terrorism arrest or incident just to try to claim teh operation was a success and to show us how many terrorist attacks they have "saved" us from

    Remember the Muslim guy "accidentally shot" in his own house because the police were raiding to find large amounts of chemical weaponry material?

    Remember that there was absolutely no evidence of any terrorist activity / leanings / sympathy at all? Remember also that shortly afterwards they arrested the shot guy on suspicion of possession of child pornography? (as an aside, back in my youth the catch-all was assaulting a police officer now it is possession of child pornography).

    Remember also that no-one has been charged over the child porn allegations? Anyone else think that was just an excuse for Inspector Knacker to claim a "moral" victory and tell us that not only are the anti-terrorism squad saving us from terrorists and Brazilian plumbers but also from evil child pornographers too.

    That is the abuse. No real fault of the authorities for investigating an alleged crime (actually it is their duty) but serious bad karma for deporting someone who has been here 10+ years and appears to be at least as upstanding and valuable member of society as you or I just in order to massage the figures.

    Bad government, Bad.

  34. Michael Compton

    @Righteously Indignant

    Would you not find it a more than a little annoying to be subjected to 6 days of questioning, all your personal belongings rifled through by complete strangers and all your friends and family questioned. This sort of treatment traumatises people and can in the worse case only serve to radicalise them.

    As for the 'Less than Truthful' this could be anything from spelling his name wrong on one page to neglecting to say he worked for Bin Laden as an IED manufacturer.

  35. Andraž Levstik

    @not wanting to be difficult or anything but...

    No the arrest in itself prompted the "not entirely thruthful" to actually be appended after the fact...

    Anyway stop this planet and let me off... I'm fed up with power being with those who are politicians or those who have power...

    Politicians should be answerable to the one true unifier... the people that vote them in and to which they SERVE... yes... politicians serve the common man/woman/alien... NOT as they seem to belive themselves...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beyond reasonable doubt

    Reading a document can do no harm, it is almost certain that the lawyers, police and Jacqui Smith, the soon to be ex home office minister, herself have read it. If reading the document was a crime then why are they not in prison?

    Again, they've created a crime, like the scheming lawyers they are, to bypass the 'beyond reasonable doubt' test.

    Did he commit a terrorist act beyond reasonable doubt? No.

    Was he preparing to commit a terrorist act beyond reasonable doubt? Again nope, and as proof the police did not try to prosecute for that.

    Was he even suspected of thinking about planning to prepare to commit a terrorist act beyond reasonable doubt? Nope, he was deported on the immigration act.

    "we become the architects of our own totalitarianism"

    We? Blair and 'Blair Babes' like Jacqui Smith created this situation, we need to unseat the last of the Blair sh*ts and then reverse his work.

    I should be able to hold a sign saying "Scientology is a cult" I should be able to read any information whether it's about bomb making, or evolution, I should not have to protest under cover of 'Anonymous Cowards'.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder when the register will be put on the 'Restricted' list...

    There is something dreadfully wrong with this country, and we seem to have gotten so far off course that it is no longer safe to voice your oppinion about correcting it.

    Regardless of the issues regarding the chap's migration status, there seems to be a more sinister issue buried here.. There are a number of laws that seem to be designed not to deal with dangerous situations, but rather to deal with undesireable individuals. Regardless if you have done anything 'wrong' (in the moral/destructive sense) there seems to be laws designed to allow the powers that be to 'get' you on one thing or another.

    Anonymous, for the same reason that we should now probably only buy books using cash.

  38. Richard

    It's all a bit ironic

    The education section in yesterday's Independent had a lovely letter from Nottingham's great and good saying how friendly and crime-free it was...

  39. D
    Black Helicopters

    likely to be useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism.

    this covers probably about 10% of the stuff in book shops. Surely the sensible approach now is to not take any chances and burn all the books. They only turn people into spectacle wearing dangerous intellectuals anyway.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The source of the document is very interesting

    Nobody seems to have picked up where the manual was downloaded from - a US Military server where it is made available free to all. If even our super-paranoid allies in TWAT think it's safe for download then what's the fuss?

    I haven't downloaded it, of course I don't want a free holiday in Guantanamo. I'm also deleting my Simpsons videos, after all when Homer strangles Bart it's a cartoon image of child abuse.

  41. Dave

    Deport him

    If there's a case to deport him, go ahead. Deport him.

  42. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Why exactly is he being deported?

    That's the question.

    If they have genuinely found that he's lied on his application, then I suppose it's right that he be deported. But what exactly have they found?

    The university of course appears to be run by a complete bunch of morons, but once they'd reported it the police were at least obliged to investigate.

  43. shaun

    if only

    our public were armed, they couldn't get away with this bu11sh1t. governments and even the police should be afraid of the public, not the other way around. your rights arn't worth the paper they are written on unless you can fight for them.

    cuz pirates carry weapons................always

  44. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    @ Mei Lewis

    The US DOJ website *is* where the student downloaded his copy from. IIRC it was the given location for the manual in the reading list.

    Just makes it scarier IMHO. And I'm trying hard not to think that this is for the purposes of entrapment.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Due process

    What concerns me here is that this guy is being deported without any regard to due process. Why is it not necessary for him to be tried in open court? This is frighteningly close to him being "disappeared".

  46. Anonymous Coward

    @ Steve

    Richard "the Shoe-Bomber" Reid aside, that's the point. A John Smith is far less likely to be a fundamentalist islamic terrorist. If for the sake of political correctness one should discount these inconvenient truths we'd have Special Branch and the Security Services running around tracking everybody. Unfair? Undoubtably, realistic approach to policing? Certainly.

  47. Rodney Cole

    Feedback one of those words that has been hijacked by the Nickless's of this world to justify anything and everything whilst hinting that there is some form of analytical process going on in the background. A bit like "public consultation" where they keep changing the question till they get an answer they want.

    Premier Inn rooms became totally non smoking recently due to customer "feedback". When I asked, as a 50 night a year smoking punter, for details of this "feedback" I was completely ignored. Now I stay in independent hotels as all the big chains have gone the same route, probably inspired by insurance armtwisting.

    Isn't it great?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only I had...

    ...any faith remaining in the integrity of the Immigration services. I could say that the investigation into Yezza's immigration status was righteuous, though the circumstances in which they began were deeply *un*righteous: sometimes mistaken action by the police leads to fortuitous discovery of wrongdoing, like stopping someone on suspicion of driving uninsured (when they have personal insurance for the car that doesn't show up on databases) and discovering contraband.

    But that trust has been so deeply eroded that the base assumption has to be that the technicality normally wouldn't result in deportation and in this case has been manufactured to attempt a rescue in the PR around the cases.

  49. Jamie

    Fahrenheit 451 / 911

    Gordon Brown can rename the police to become 'firemen' and they can meet me in the carpark where I have collected a nice pile of books. Better throw the PC on there as well, cos I could use it to access reading material. See you all in our blooming utopian society.

  50. o4tuna
    Black Helicopters


    In the U.S., when we're talking about terrorists, the expression "they hate us for our freedom" is often brought up.

    Then why do they hate the U.K.?


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