This is a guest post by efrafandays
In February 2009, Osama Saeed of the Scottish Islamic Foundation discussed his views on Neil MacGregor, who had recently been arrested following threats to Strathclyde Police to bomb Glasgow Central Mosque as well as kidnapping and beheading one Muslim in Scotland per day until all Scottish mosques were closed.
Saeed contended (as did with Yousuf Hamid) was that there was a media wide bias to under-report threats against Muslims, coupled with a salacious desire to cover reports of threatening Muslims regardless of relevance.
In one of those reports which were not appearing, Saeed stated:
”MacGregor can count himself lucky that his trial took place at the Sheriff Court rather than the High Court, where terrorism cases normally go, and the punishment is stiffer.
“This apparent discrepancy has to be explained.”
There is no apparent about it. That MacGregor appeared before a Sheriff Court was undisputed. The immediate reason was because, as far as I can see, he was *not* charged under terrorism-related offences, as implied by Saeed, but racially aggravated breach of the peace. (If this recent violent attack turns out to be race-related, and even if it does not, I cannot see it being heard in any Court other than a High Court.)
And, looking at the case and the relevant evidence, this appears to have been appropriate. Police had searched immediately Glasgow Central Mosque, and found no devices; MacGregor was not found in possession of any material or means to pursue a campaign of violence. He, in short, comes across as a bigoted twat mouthing off: who then apologized profusely on the SIFblog:
Dear Osama Saeed
I visited your website today Monday 9th March 2009 & read the article about my threats towards the Glasgow Central Mosque.
I understand your anger & understand that you wish to make an example of me, really I do, but please understand & allow me to make a few points:
a) There is no record of me anywhere of any interest from me towards membership of the National Front or any non- legal or racist group.
b) I have never shown any anger previous my threats towards any Muslim or the religion of Islam & of course non since.
c) There was no explosives or any equipment capable of making explosives in my property during the dawn raids made on my home by the CID.
d) All my threats though not acceptable were verbal & no one was harmed.
e) I have apologized both verbally & written to the Glasgow Central Mosque since.
I have since become a regular Church attendee & follow GODS will that we should all love & respect each other. I have no ill feelings towards Muslims & understand that there are far more attacks Christian on Christian than Muslim on Christian & again apologize unreservedly to you & everyone connected with both Glasgow Central Mosque & the Scottish Islamic Foundation.
I am not a far right extremist
Peace be with you
But, bigoted twats – even apologetic ones – still can cause difficulties for all levels of society and it is only proper that he be punished. MacGregor has now received three years probation, with Sheriff Andrew Mackie ruling that a custodial sentence would not be helpful as the root causes lay with MacGregor’s mental health problems. If this is so, I entrust that part of his sentencing involves psychiatric evaluation and monitoring.
The SIF is not best pleased. A press-release on their official website states:
It is our contention that had a young Muslim viewed such images on the internet and threatened violence as a result, the outcome would have been quite different.
If this were true, it would be a serious disparity. If not true, it is my contention, that it would be an attempt at racial arson: similar to when Saeed instructed a meeting of the Dundee University Islamic Society that members should withhold cooperation with the Tayside Special Branch.
In footnotes to this press-release, the SIF contrasts MacGregor’s lenient sentence with years or decades long sentences handed out to failed Jihadist terrorists:
Dhiren Barot for example was convicted under the Terrorism Acts for plotting to blow up major financial centres with ‘dirty bombs’. He wrote down his wish on a laptop, with a far-fetched plan on how it could be pulled off using chemicals from smoke alarms. Such a contraption had never been used in a lab, never mind in real life.
No matter that there were no means, or even means to get the means, to pull it off – he got 40 years, reduced on appeal to 30 because his plan was not ‘viable’.
In the cackhanded Exeter bombing, Nicky Reilly this year received 18 years in jail despite suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome and having a mental age of 10.
In Scotland, Atif Siddique received eight years for crimes on the internet, despite having no plan for any sort of terrorist incident.
Dhiren Bharot, a convert to Islam from a wealthy Hindu background, was not convicted following idle burblings on his laptop. He was convicted following the collection of detailed reconnoitre data for his intended targets, association with a number of other likeminded individuals and non-charity work in Kashmir.
MacGregor, on the other hand, was a solitary bigotted twat mouthing-off to a bemused rozzer on the telephone; and whose plot comes across as credible as the opening episode of Bonekickers, which defiled my eyes last year.
Reilly’s cack-handedness is what prevented patrons at the Giraffe restaurant at Princesshay in Exeter from serious injury or death as an explosive device was detonated inside. This is unrelated to his mental health issues.
As has been stated time and time again, Siddique was not convicted in connexion to a few e-mails and bit of web-surfing. An inability to recognize this almost earned his defence counsel, thecredibility-lacking Aamer Anwar an investigation for contempt of court.
If Siddique, whose appeal has just commenced, was wrongfully convicted, I hope he will be acquitted. It does not do well for the SIF, whose director is the SNP PPC for Glasgow Central, to promulgate such easily refuable falsehoods.
The self-delusion at work here is staggering.
Elsewhere in the SIF press-release, the cases of Robert Cottage and Martyn Gilleard and Neil Lewington are cited to augment the case of an anti-Muslim bias in the media. I am struggling to see the point here, as Cottage and Gilleard and Lewington have all been convicted with significant media attention. The press-released also cites recent terrorism-related arrests of European suspects in County Durham, which I discussed here.
Whilst Abu Hamza was considered to be a nut on a street corner,David Copeland was the most sought after terrorist in Britain. And, between the IRA ceasefire and when he struck, individuals such asthese were the most serious terrorist threat in Great Britain.
I will not dismiss the danger of European fascists and metacarpophalangeal- and interphalangeal-articulation dragging racists attacking ethnic minorities and other symbols of a cosmopolitan world. Think of racist ex-squaddies getting hold of surplus weapons, or even a Lod Airport style massacre.
It is true that there are more media reports related to Jihadist plots than European fascists, but that is because THERE ARE MORE OF THEM. And, when they do occur, they are of fairly high levels of complexities and serious threats to high numbers of victims number of potential victims. When this occurs elsewhere, cases are reported in detailed: such as with Huntingdon Life Sciences.