UK gov bans 'terror' suspect from science class
High Court will hear appeal
The UK government is facing a High Court challenge over its decision to ban a suspected terrorist from studying sixth-form science courses, lest he use the knowledge he might gain for terrorist purposes.
The government already suspects the man, an Iraqi national referred to in the case as 'A.E.', of terrorist affiliations, and has placed a terror 'control order' upon him. According to Nature's news pages, the man is in his 30s, is unemployed and has already studied medicine at university in Iraq.
Control orders were brought in as part of the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act, and can impose a variety of restrictions on a person's freedom. For instance, they can restrict travel, use of mobile phones and access to the internet, as well as imposing a curfew.
The orders have been condemned as unfair by civil liberties groups, since they do not require that a person be charged with any offence. The details of the accusations against the subject can also be withheld to protect sources of intelligence, making it impossible to appeal their imposition. Currently, 14 people in the UK are subject to control orders.
A.E's solicitors say that the control order has made it impossible for A.E. to find work, and that rather than do nothing, he has chosen to further his education. They argue further that the content of AS level courses in human biology and chemistry is in the public domain, and as such, is unlikely to pose a threat to the security of the nation.
(We'd also argue that it is daft to suggest that someone who has already studied medicine might become more dangerous by taking a couple of science courses aimed at 16-19 year olds.)
The heads of education at both the Institute of Biology in London and the Royal Society of Chemistry also brushed off suggestions that the content of the AS level courses could be of significant aid to someone plotting a terrorist attack. Neil Roscoe, head of education and training at the Institute of Biology, said that the human biology course did contain details of the structure of neurotoxins.
"If the Government wants to be cautious, there are aspects that could be considered as aiding the cause," he said, adding that there would never be an easy answer to the question of science and security.
The issues at stake here are pretty fundamental: is knowledge dangerous, and if so, should we restrict access to it on the basis of what might be done with it later? Should we, as Nature asks, treat science courses as potential terrorist tools?
The Home Office said it is not able to comment on the case, as it is ongoing. ®
The fatal flaw with your argument is that if indeed he is a dangerous terrorist, or he is hiding his identity, what possible threat is attending an AS level course? If he is some sort of "master terrorist" he will surely already know all he needs to know.
@John A. Blackley
Ad hominem, completely irrelevant to the discussion. At least you usually come up with something that sort of counters what is being said, instead of childish personal attacks on people - your only knowledge of them gleaned from posts on an internet forum.
@Whoever it was who insulted the health service and foreign workers
This is why I'm posting as AC. I've recently been in hospital with a relative and the excellent staff there have basically saved the life of the relative. When I say saved the life of, I don't mean, brought them back from quite close, I mean brought them back from the very brink, minutes from death. And the relative is slowly recovering now. Roughly a quarter of the nurses on duty have been of foreign nationality and they have been equally as competent as the British workers, and I could not owe them more gratitude.
This is illustrating that the fear-based culture we're imposing on everyone makes the 'terrorists' more creative and intelligent than those who're supposed to be 'protecting' us.
I'm more scared of the Western government system of idiocy than I am of being blown up by a terrorist.
It's for language study
As Anon says before, the most likely reason he wants to do this is as a way to learn English relevant to his line of work.
Here in ( the still pretty screwed-on-headed) NZ, I know quite a few Chinese etc people who came to NZ with post graduate degrees, but then went to university/polytech for a year doing a lesser course. The primary reason to do this was to learn the jargon. You cannot learn this in most English as Second Language schools where some dippy language grads are trying to teach "Hello please may I buy a pound of onions" and "When does this bus get to Frulbgate?". To learn words like "titrate" or "compile" and you're far better off in a technical environment. Besides, when you crack an A in your subject it helps underline the fact that your degree is probably as good as a local one.