UK to confront US over secret terror tribunals

Financial Times, July 5, 2003
By Jimmy Burns and Jean Eaglesham in London and Hugh Williamson,in Berlin

The UK has become embroiled in a damaging transatlantic row over the US decision to try six suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in secretive military tribunals that could hand down death sentences.

Information about U.S. human rights violations and related issues is included in Religion News Blog for the following reasons:

Apologetics Index deals with cults, sects, and related issues – including religious freedom and other human rights.

America’s goverment frequently accuses countries (including, for example, France and Germany) that protect their citizens against destructive and/or fraudulent cults of violating ‘human rights.’ In addition, the USA even threathens those countries with economic boycotts should they not accept America’s views on these issues.

This makes the USA the only country in the world that attempts to strong-arm other countries into accepting its views on the cults it supports – a primary reason why this issue is addressed by the publishers of Apologetics Index.

Ironically, while America chides other countries for alleged human righs violations, Washington consistently and deliberately refuses to address America’s dismal record of human rights violations. The Bible condemns the use of such differing measures.

As Christians, the publishers of Apologetic Index believe that they (and other Christians) should address human rights issues.

The publishers of Apologetics Index agree with those who believe that America’s attitude toward international law – including its fight against the International Criminal Court, its use of torture, and its inconsistent application of the Geneva Conventions – presents a serious threat to the international community.

As members of Amnesty International, the publishers of Apologetics Index are outspoken critics of America’s manifold human rights violations. They encourage their fellow Christians to address these issues, keeping in mind the Bible’s two great commandments.

The Foreign Office said it planned to raise its objections with the US government at the “highest level”, after it emerged that two of the six suspects are British citizens.

Baroness Symons, the Foreign Office minister, said the government would pursue a “very vigorous discussion” with the US to satisfy its concerns that the procedures may not guarantee a fair trial.

The European Commission warned yesterday that the application of the death penalty to any of the 600-plus suspects detained at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, risked undermining international support for the US-led war on terrorism.

“The death sentence cannot be applied by military courts as this would make the international coalition lose the integrity and credibility it has so far enjoyed,” said Diego de Ojeda, commission spokesman.

UK ministers acknowledge that they have no power to force the US to change its chosen legal processes, but the decision to try two UK detainees places Tony Blair’s contentious support for the US-led Iraq war back in the spotlight, just as he is trying to move the agenda on.

Politicians from all parties joined human rights groups in protesting that the planned US trials threatened to ride roughshod over international law. Those accused in the tribunals, which will take place behind closed doors, will have no right to appeal outside the military chain of command.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that the six declared fit for trial by military tribunal may have attended al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, and had been involved in financing the group, recruiting, and protecting Osama bin Laden, its leader.

US officials have refused to name the six detainees but the Foreign Office confirmed that two were UK subjects – 35-year-old Moazzam Begg and 23-year-old Feroz Abbasi.

Mr Begg, a Muslim once resident in Birmingham, was seized by US forces in Pakistan in February 2002. Mr Abbasi, a Muslim once resident in south London, was seized by US forces in Afghanistan during the war against the Taliban.

* The US presence in Iraq could allow al-Qaeda to mobilise supporters, German intelligence services said as they warned that the organisation remained capable of mounting attacks in European cities in spite of recent blows against its leadership. August Hanning, head of the BND international intelligence service, said: “The backbone of al-Qaeda is not broken.”

Ulrich Kersten, president of the BKA federal crime office, added: “There is a real danger that the US will not be seen [in the Islamic world] as a liberating power in Iraq but as an occupying power. If this situation develops, it will have an additional mobilisation effect for al-Qaeda.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday July 5, 2003.
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