Feeds

Brit spooks: Yanks are frightful cowboys

But we should still be chums with them

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The ISC went on to say that:

"Ethical dilemmas are not confined to countries with poor track records on human rights – the UK now has some ethical dilemmas with our closest ally."

Famously, in 1995, then-President Clinton issued a directive that stated:

"Where we do not receive adequate cooperation from a State that harbors a terrorist ... we shall take appropriate measures to induce cooperation. Return of suspects by force may be effected without the cooperation of the host government."

This allowed various "rendition to justice" efforts, in some of which SIS gave the Americans a hand.

Then came 9/11, and the rules of the game changed. President Bush authorised American servicemen and spooks to carry out the various other sorts of rendition. Apparently, the Americans told SIS that the gloves were coming off, but the British spies were "sceptical about these new powers – in part because there was a great deal of 'tough talk' following 9/11. They did not therefore report this information to UK Ministers".

But a wakeup call came in 2002. MI5 was monitoring three suspected terorists in the UK, Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el-Banna, and Abdallah el-Janoudi (a British national). They arrived at Gatwick airport planning to fly to the Gambia, and their bags were secretly searched.

The spooks found a bunch of Islamic literature and "a bundle of electrical wires wrapped around a set of tweezers, a 'folding plotter', three manuals for VHM FM hand-held transceivers, an air pump manual, drill bits, a gas cylinder, a voltage inverter, and various bits of electronic equipment. There was also an item described as 'a quantity of masking tape wrapped around an unidentified object [with] a metal sheet stuck to it, and wires leading from it to a battery pack (without batteries). Also connected to this were a series of clips on the ends of several other wires.'... This was later discovered to be a modified battery charger."

Al-Rawi, el-Janoudi and el-Banna were arrested - apparently a police decision rather than an MI5 one - but there was insufficient evidence to bring charges. The men were released. A few days later they flew to Gambia without interference.

MI5 informed the US of the move, and referring to the baggage search said that the pair had been in possession of a "home-made electronic device" and indicated that it "may be a timing device [or] part of a car-based IED [improvised explosive device]..."

Why they said that, only they know. However, the British spooks included a header on their messages saying that the info shouldn't be used as the basis for "overt, covert or executive action". Apparently the US agencies had always honoured such headers up to that point.

However, when al-Rawi, el-Janoudi, and el-Banna arrived in Gambia they were searched and seized, along with Bisher's brother Wahab al-Rawi (a British national). This time their baggage contained:

"...a solar panel for a satellite phone, several thousand dollars worth of outdoor equipment, a repair kit for wetsuits, mountain-climbing gear, and a large plastic bag full of hand-soldered electrical components."

The men were passed into US custody at an undisclosed location. Then the Americans informed MI5 that they intended to move the four prisoners to a secret holding facility at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan - a "rendition to detention".

MI5 said the Americans had completely disregarded their request that no "overt, covert or executive" action be taken. They said it "was a surprise to us that the Americans were operating in this way."

After a diplomatic scuffle, the two British nationals (el-Janoudi and Wahab al-Rawi) were released and returned to the UK the following month. Bisher al-Rawi and el-Banna were moved to Bagram, then to Kabul, then finally passed to military custody at Guantanamo the following year. The US forces determined that they had been correctly classified as "enemy combatants".

According to the report, Bisher al-Rawi has now been released from Guantánamo and el-Banna - five years after being snatched for posession of a battery charger - has been cleared for release.

"This case showed that the US rendition programme had now extended its boundaries beyond individuals connected to the conflict in Afghanistan... the Agencies had seen that passing intelligence to the US about individuals not directly involved in the Afghanistan conflict could lead to a rendition... despite their protesting once they learnt of US plans," the ISC says.

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.