“A Device To Circumvent The Rule Of English Law”

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The UK continues to pay for timorous Tony Blair’s white-livered decision to debase his nation as George II’s quivering lapdog.

One debt will be collected by Lofti Raissi, a British resident who last week won the right to seek monetary damages from the UK, as compensation for his groundless arrest and incarceration, on American orders, during the disgraceful Anglo-American overreaction to the attacks of September 11.

Three senior British judges held that the British government impermissibly used “unsubstantiated allegations” in a US extradition warrant “as a device to circumvent the rule of English law.”

Raissi, wholly innocent, was held in maximum-security confinement for six months, where he was twice stabbed by other inmates, while his name was foamingly bruited about in the shrieking British tabloids as a slavering 9/11 arch-fiend.

The court concluded that, to poodle up to the Americans, British police and prosecutors abused the legal process, filed false allegations, and concealed evidence, and thus Raissi may seek up to 2 million pounds in damages.

“I always say Britain is a civilised country with beautiful people,” Raissi said. “I really cherish the customs, the way of life here. But after 9/11, things changed.”

Raissi’s ordeal, below the divide.

Raissi was arrested ten days after the planes slammed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. As the Guardian puts it:

Lofti Raissi seemed destined to become one of the most reviled men in history. A pilot who had trained in the US before moving to England, he was the first person to be accused in connection with the 11 September attacks. He was alleged to be one of its chief ringleaders, teaching the 9/11 terrorists how to fly and crash planes into buildings. It’s hard to think of a more damaging accusation.

At three a.m., Raissi was dragged naked from his bed. Raissi’s uncle back in his native Algeria is there the chief of an anti-terrorism branch, yet Raissi was rounded up as a supposed chief plotter of the 9/11 attacks. Taken to Paddington Green, a notorious “special station” for the housing of terrorist suspects, the authorities informed Raissi that they possessed conclusive evidence linking him to the 9/11 attacks.

“They were saying I was involved in 9/11; they were blaming me for everything to do with 9/11. They said, ‘You prepared those hijackers.’ I love football, I love dancing, I love going out–my life is so different from those who flew the planes. I just didn’t understand what they were talking about.”

It didn’t take long before the “evidence”–false claims that he was linked to five of the hijackers–to drip through into the media. Even before he was arrested, journalists had mysteriously turned up outside his door asking questions.

From Paddington Green he was moved to Belmarsh, his nadir. The notorious London prison is used to house some of the most dangerous criminals in Britain. Raissi, with his gentle manners and humble persona, did not stand much of a chance in the febrile atmosphere that followed 9/11. Society wanted vengeance. The feeling permeated through the prison’s walls.

“I feared for my life in court and inside prison,” he said. “They moved me from the high security unit after three or four days and sent me to the normal wing, where I wasn’t safe. I suffered racism and discrimination. I got stabbed twice by other prisoners and no one investigated.”

Why was he stabbed? “Everyone had become a judge and a jury[.]”

Why was Raissi suspected of 9/11 nefariousness?

Because, a nascent pilot, he had spent time at a flight school in Phoenix, Arizona. Because, when his US student visa expired, he returned to Algeria, before moving to London.

And also because–or so said the Americans–travel records proved that in June of 2001 Raissi was in Las Vegas, at the same time as Ziad Jarrah, one of the hijackers of Flight 93, was also in that city. And because the FBI had discovered Raissi’s name in a rental car hired by Salem al Hazmi, one of the five men who hijacked Flight 77. And because a video existed of Raissi together with Hani Hanjour, another Flight 77 hijacker. And because telephone records disclosed that Raissi had called four of the hijackers. Raissi, in fact, was the “lead instructor” for the hijackers. He had sneakily falsified flight logs to hide the fact that he trained Hanjour. A notebook belonging to Abu Doha, a major terrorist suspect, had been found in London, and it contained Raissi’s phone number.

Problem is, all of the “evidence” listed in the paragraph above, is but a tissue of lies. None of it is true.

Raissi knows why he was really arrested:

Raissi argues that he was arrested chiefly because he was Algerian, Muslim and Arab, an airline pilot–someone who effectively ticked the boxes of an identikit terrorist.

“I was arrested because of my profile,” he said.

When Raissi was arrested, British law permitted a person to be held without charges for but seven days. This restriction was itself a reaction to the last time the British disastrously relaxed their laws to contend with “terrorists”: during the reign of the iron maiden Maggot Thatcher, when, to combat the IRA, entire innocent families were held indefinitely, brutalized into false confessions, and lashed into lifetimes in gaol, an era of shame memorably seared into celluloid in Jim Sheridan’s In The Name Of The Father. (Courtney Kennedy, daughter of RFK, is married to one of the innocents wrongly imprisoned–for 15 years–during the Maggot’s reign, a man portrayed in Sheridan’s film: Paul Hill.)

In what three of Britain’s most senior judges declared last week was “a device to circumvent the rule of English law,” British officials continued to hold Raissi past the seven-day deadline when:

the United States sought to extradite Mr. Raissi after hastily filing what the court called “trivial” charges: failure to note on his pilot’s license application that he had had knee surgery, and that, at the age of 19, he had been arrested for stealing a briefcase at Heathrow and given a false name at the time.

On that date, September 17, 2001, found the British court:

a letter from the legal attaché at the US Embassy in London was delivered to Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch.

“The FBI request that this matter be handled as expeditiously and discreetly as possible,” the letter said. The words “expeditiously” and “discreetly” were typed in bold.

Raissi was arrested at the behest of the US, was “observed ‘from a remote location via a television link'” by FBI agents during his initial seven days in stir, and was locked up and locked down for the succeeding six months at the request of the US.

The British court concluded last week that the US had abused the extradition process, that “the extradition proceedings were a device to secure” Raissi’s “presence in the US for the purpose of investigating 9/11 rather than the purpose of putting him on trial for nondisclosure offenses.”

Raissi continued to languish in a British gaol even after an FBI official was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, in re his connection to “terrorism”:

“We put him in the category of maybe or maybe not, leaning towards probably not.”

Raissi was finally sprung due to the tenacity of his lawyers:

One by one, over the course of ten court hearings, Mr Raissi’s solicitor proved that the allegations and the evidence to support them were false, if not fabricated.

In February of 2002 Raissi was released on bail, and in April of that year a British court dismissed all remaining charges against Raissi.

Raissi, like the Maggot-era Guildford Four before him, was not content to stop there. In September of 2003 he filed a $10 million claim against the FBI and the US Justice Department, accusing them, in essence, of ruining his life. A month later he won a public apology and an undisclosed amount of damages from London’s High Court. He also prevailed in a case against Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail on Sunday, which had ceaselessly flogged the lie that he was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

In February of last year a High Court judge ruled that Raissi was not eligible for the sort of compensation from the British government that is provided for victims of “miscarriages of justice.” It was this decision that the British three-judge panel reviewed last week, and pronounced, essentially, bollocks. The way is now clear for Raissi, a man who, like the victims of Maggot Thatcher before him, has been “proved innocent,” to seek in damages from the British government what is comfortably estimated as, fairly, roughly, 2 million pounds.

This is what will be “compensated”:

“People talk about the compensation. It’s nothing to do with it. I lost my life, I lost my career. There was a stage when I lost my dignity–that is unacceptable when we live in the civilised world. It’s a matter of principle. I want my life back; I want to clear my name and that of my family and to have a normal life.

“I was 27 when I got arrested, now I’m 33. I was going in and out of court for seven years fighting this case–I didn’t have a life.

“I haven’t slept properly for the past seven years.”

The British court of course noted that:

Mr. Raissi could not sue the United States government “because, under the relevant legislation, that government is not liable for any claims arising in a foreign country.”

One of the advantages, of being the biggest bully on the block.

At present–and this is just how it is–the United States of America is invulnerable to any force on earth but the will of its own people. And that is why, though some people on some sites might tend to spend 95% of their time and energy bickering about whether it is Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, who is “Nearer My God To Thee,” we all really must needs meanwhile and mostly be preparing for (when our eventual nominee enters the smoking ruins of the White House, in January 2009) our own version of the ecstatic opening of the KGB/Stasi files, that succeeded the collapse of the authoritarian regimes in the Soviet Union, and its satellites. All the cramped, crabbed, worthless, wormy documents, that brought so much suffering, to people like Mr. Raissi–all must come to light. Else you cannot live, with what your government, in your name, did to this man:

During the six years he fought to clear his name, he would be approached by strangers at the coffee shop near his home in Chiswick, west London.

“They had heard about my case and would come up and say to me: ‘Hopefully this miscarriage of justice will be overturned.’ I am very grateful for their support. My life in London is something I cherish very much. I love England.”

By way of emphasising his anglicisation he adds with evident pride: “I’m a big fan of Man United.”

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1 comment

    • nocatz on February 19, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    It’s good to know there is rule of law somewhere.  Perhaps this system of jurisprudence could be exported to the American colonies.  

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