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Download al Qaeda manuals from the DoJ, go to prison?

In the UK it's all down to your motivation

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During the London ricin trial, the defense considered the American government's description of it as "the al Qaeda manual" a manufactured title. Nowhere within the document is al Qaeda mentioned and it seems to have originated in the last years of the Islamist resistance of the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. But from time to time the Manchester manual has been used by the US government to make political points.

In 2006, George W. Bush used it to remind Americans the country was at war against a potent enemy.

"Bin laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them," the president said to the Military Officers Association of America during a speech which was widely publicized. "The question is `Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?'"

The president cited the Manchester manual, calling it "al Qaeda's" - and a grisly example of the organization's methods, specifically pointing to the chapter entitled "Guideline for Beating and Killing Hostages."

As part of Bush's exposition on terror and why we fight, whitehouse.gov linked to a display page for the manual at the Air University, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama. This page was a mirror of the John Ashcroft Department of Justice's old placeholder on the book, one which had been taken down although copies of the material still reside on its machine. (These versions were selectively edited by the American government, for example, to remove poison-making recipes thought to be a public menace.)

At Nottingham University, the document has come almost full circle - from Manchester, to Washington, around the US and back to England.

The Times Higher Education Supplement reported on May 22 that Sabir was using the manual "as preparation for a PhD on radical Islamic groups [and] had downloaded an edited version of the al-Qaeda handbook from a US government website... It is understood that [he] sent the 1,500-page document to the staff member... because he had access to a printer." The clerk was also arrested.

Sabir's lawyer told the publication "The two members of the university were treated as though they were part of an al-Qaeda cell."

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