What to believe? (Part three.)
As has happened before, the Sun also appears to know better than everyone else exactly what the alleged plot was. Despite pleas from the police and politicians for others not to jump to conclusions and to show restraint in their reporting, the Sun does exactly the opposite:
EVIL Muslim terrorists were to kidnap a British soldier on UK streets and force him to plead with Tony Blair for his life in return for a pull-out of troops from Iraq, The Sun can reveal.
The soldier would have been filmed begging the PM to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan in a sick propaganda stunt.
Army sources said the target was a British Muslim soldier in his 20s.
He would eventually be beheaded on film in a sick mirror of the torture and savage killing of British hostage Ken Bigley if Mr Blair refused.
I don't think I need to remind you of the last time the Sun relied on "army sources".
The BBC is being far more circumspect, for a change:
Earlier BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Daniel Sandford said sources close to the investigation said the aim of the alleged plot was to kidnap a serving member of the armed forces, perhaps while they were on home leave.
He stressed the arrests were based on intelligence, which could prove to be wrong.
The last time the intelligence turned out to be horribly wrong was in Forest Gate, when the Sun delighted in smearing the Koyair brothers on multiple occasions.
The Sun goes on to quote another "source":
One well-placed source said: "This plot represents a staggering change of tactic.
"We have all been braced for more mainland bombs which claim many lives and cause turmoil and widespread public fear.
"This would have taken things to a new dimension. The pressure on the PM would have been unimagineable.
"And there would have been a knock-on effect in terms of military morale."
Well yes, assuming that this plot did actually exist and the whole raid isn't based on similar hearsay stupidity such as the so-called "Fathers 4 Justice" plot to kidnap Leo Blair, or for instance, the fake sheikh's Victoria Beckham kidnap plot which never was, or indeed Mahmood's other entrapment, that of men supposedly attempting to buy the non-existent red mercury substance. Then we've also got to assume that the men would have been able to carry out their entire plot without being caught in the act of either kidnapping the soldier, putting out their demands, and then waiting for any response before actually carrying out the beheading.
Now there will be increased security measures imposed on all servicemen and women to be on their guard.
The cunning plot represents a huge change in tactics by al Qaeda and its supporters.
It proves beyond doubt that terrorist cells are active in mainland Britain - just as MI5 boss Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller warned before Christmas.
And it demonstrates how sophisticated the al Qaeda cells in our midst have become.
Obviously. The men have been in custody for less than 12 hours and already they're al-Qaida, proof that terrorist cells are active, and proves how sophisticated "al-Qaida" now is. Why bother with a trial when it's already obvious that they're guilty?
The president of the local Alum Rock Islamic Centre has already had his plea ignored:
Ayub Pervaz, the mosque's president, said: "If people have broken the law they should be brought to justice.
"But we also appeal for no trial by media. If any of those arrested turn out to be innocent, this should be made clear."
The Sun have also already set about questioning the contents of an Islamic bookshop also raided:
Investigations by The Sun found several questionable books and dvds for sale including 'The Religious and Moral Doctrine of Jihad' listed for the bargain price of £1.95.
By Shaykh ul Islam ibn Taymiyyah the blurb for the book reads: "Ibn Taymiyyah verdicts in regards to Jihad are often not available especially on whom Jihad is to be carried out.
"The shaykhs verdicts are filled with a sea of knowledge that outlines fighting not only the enemy aggressor, but also apostates and even those who oppose clear cut rulings of Islam, despite their claims to be Muslims."
Ibn Taymiyyah has a decent Wikipedia entry here, and does appear to have influenced such well-known Salafis as Sayyid Qutb. However, picking one book out of what was likely a sea of them, probably more because of the word "jihad" than anything else is grossly unfair.
The only thing that can be said is that it is to be hoped that the intelligence is correct and that a horrible crime has been averted. If it turns out to be another Forest Gate, or another case of a plot being vastly exaggerated, ala the ricin case, it will hurt the intelligence services and the police all the more, and only exacerbate the calls for a watchdog over MI5 to be established.