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Monday, October 26, 2009 

Scum-watch: Yet more lies about "evil terrorists".

Last week the Sun had to apologise to Abdul Muneem Patel for calling him an "evil terrorist" and claiming that he had been involved in the liquid explosives plot. He had in fact been found guilty of having a document which could be useful to terrorists, which the judge accepted he had unknowingly kept for a friend of his father's. The judge also stated specifically that Patel was not a radicalised or politicised Islamist, but this didn't stop the Sun from telling Patel's neighbours a pack of lies about his supposed secret terrorist past.

As could have been expected, the Sun has learnt absolutely nothing from having to print such a humiliating apology. You might have thought they might have waited a little longer though to repeat almost exactly the same exercise, but obviously not. This time the paper is outraged that

THREE convicted terrorists who plotted to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier have been freed early from jail.

Hamid Elasmar, 46, Zahoor Iqbal, 32, and Mohammed Irfan, 33, were all caged less than two years ago.
Except these three weren't convicted of plotting to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier, as a few minutes of fact checking would have made clear. All three were in fact involved with the plot's ringleader, Parviz Khan, but in smuggling equipment to fighters in Pakistan. The prosecutors accepted that Iqbal and Irfan had nothing to do with the beheading plot, while Elasmar's house was used for discussing the plot, although whether Elasmar was there at the time or not is unclear; considering he received the most lenient sentence of the three one would suspect he wasn't. The Sun also has it completely wrong on Khan supposedly telling Elasmar that "we'll cut it off like you cut a pig"; Khan was in fact talking to Basiru Gassama, already released and presumably deported.

The Sun being the Sun, it couldn't just leave it at that. No, it had to include a leader comment on its completely wrong article:

HOW is it possible that three terrorists who planned to behead a squaddie have been freed within two years?

Err, because they didn't plan to behead a squaddie?

Simple: They all behaved themselves in prison.

Oh, right, that must be it.

The breathtaking evil of the crime they plotted counted for nothing.

Or it counted for nothing because they weren't involved in the "breathtaking evil" of the crime?

Good behaviour sprung them early from already derisory sentences. One was released in only five months, to a life on housing benefits.

Our justice system is a laughing stock.

Only the Sun could call a sentence of seven years "derisory", which is what Iqbal received. It might be derisory if Iqbal had been convicted of plotting to beheading a soldier, but he wasn't. The real laughing stock here should be a so called newspaper that either can't or won't do the very basics of actual journalism, checking facts. Anyone up for complaining to the Press Complaints Commission?

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