Fear in London–and Newark

Following the conviction of Kamel Bourgass, an Algerian immigrant who had been denied an asylum plea, of plotting ricin attacks in London, Britain’s Labor government is under attack for supposedly lax immigration policies. The Tory opposition is charging that Bourgass should have been deported immediately upon denial of his asylum claim. Labor, in turn, says its plan to issue national ID cards will prevent such future failures to snare would-be terrorists. Bourgass is already serving time for killing a police detective during his arrest in Manchester in 2003. His north London apartment was simulatenously raided. Authorities say the seemingly innocent items found there–like cherry stones and castor beans–are sinister in light of ricin-making recipies also found. (CNN, April 14)

Meanwhile, three British nationals of Muslim backgrounds being held pending extradition to the U.S. have been formally indicted on charges they had scouted out possible stateside targets for al-Qaeda, including New York’s Citicorp building, the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC, and the Prudential Building in Newark, NJ, as well as Jewish targets. The evidence implicating the men was reportedly found in Pakistan last August, prompting the brief elevation of the Homeland Security Department’s color-coded alert level from the usual yellow to the panic-inducing orange for the areas immediately around the supposed targets. Deputy Attorney General James Comey denied the threat elevation was used to influence public opinion at the height of the election season. "Politics had nothing to do with it," he said. (Newark Star-Ledger, April 13)

To which, at risk of belaboring the obvious, we cannot resist but to add: Yeah, right.