23 May 2008

Exeter bomb incident

Just as your blogger leaves on holiday, a device explodes in his home town! This Guardian report seems to offer most details. lots of rumours went round yesterday and turned out to be false. More details will follow today.

22 May 2008

Mysterious Shifts in Chechnya

Thought-provoking article on the contemporary situation in Chechnya. Publishe in Moscow Times, but written by Thomas de Waal from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London.

Police Get New Powers to Wage War on Gangs

Worth waiting to see what the Home Secretary actually says.

CPS made serious errors over data on Dutch criminal suspects

High profile story last year. Nobody's fault, of course. Does sound like it has all the classic ingredients of a cock-up. Public sector really does need to deal with illness and the question of who picks up the ill person's work while they are ill in a much more systematic way. So many stories of people returning to their desks to find that it's all been left for them to deal with on their return.

Ex-Liverpool CID officer arrested in Thailand on sex slave trafficking charges

The sub-editor needs to be reminded that these are all allegations. A story to watch and see how it develops. More likely to appear in the News of the World that the broadsheets, but may give some important insights into how these groups all knit together.

20 May 2008

Britain is focal point for terrorism warn's Europe's police force

This is in total contrast with the last report from Europol. Could it be an Independent spin? Better go find out. Apparently the methodology is changing to include "extremism" Previous posting was a summary by the EU Observer and was of the 2007 report. This is the 2008 Report, I think. Better go do some reading.

EU Buildings Target of Foiled Terror Plot

Report originating in Morocco where a group has been detained and whose intention allegedly was to target EU buildings and the Sheraton Hotel

19 May 2008

Rise in EU Counterfeit Seizures

BBC story originating from European Commission. FAQs on the subject at: http://tinyurl.com/4ewwca
Despite what the BBC piece says, the amount of goods seized actually decreased in 2007 [mostly due to falls in numbers of cigarettes and DVDs seized]. 34% of seizures were cigarettes followed by 22% of clothing.

18 May 2008

Article on Google maps and lower down, one on DNA data sharing

Both subjects seem to have been lumped together under the general heading of data protection. Google Street View has, allegedly, been put together with an eye to US legislation, without someone realising that it has to be compatible with other jurisdictions too. Similarly, DNA sharing procedures have been put together without thought for privacy safeguards. Consequences of both likely to be lots of money for lawyers.

EU states muscle in on bloc's judicial body

Sub-text seems to be reluctance to set up an office of European Public Prosecutor. Powers for Eurojust, the institution that enables judicial, investigative and prosecutorial cooperation, are under discussion. European Commission wants one set of things, some member states a different set. Usual controversies. They have to ratify the Lisbon Treaty first, anyway.

Italy considers curbs on Schengen zone free travel

Berlusconi's back [and the Northern League]! Italians are blaming crime on the Roma, Romanian gypsies. So Schengen may be suspended by Italy. Watch this space.

NATO picks Estonia for High-tech Crime Centre

Seven countries have signed a pact and set up a research and training centre for "cyber defence".

Fighting the Sicilian mafia Through Tourism

Role of an NGO in fighting organised crime. Addiopizzo fighting the protection racket by asking tourists to boycott those places that pay "pizzo" to the Mafia. Bit of a restaurant guide, but there's a good excuse.

Colombian "hit" that set off a Uk cocaine war

Death of a drugs baron, six months ago. "only now can the story be told..." [why?] Lurid hints of connections with the IRA, a paramilitary gang called the Cleaners and the Cali cartel. Plus a sort of history of cocaine dealing in Liverpool. Sounds like someone is writing a book. The story is from the Observer, Sunday edition of the Guardian.

16 May 2008

Unionist Ceasefire Holds but Guns Remain

Update on Protestant Paramilitaries and their arsenals, with some idiotic comments, even by the Guardian's lunatic fringe's normal standards.

300 Suspected Criminals Held in Police Swoop

A new record for the number of arrests in a single day by Merseyside police!

Egypt Con Man Gets 1,000 years

We call them investment bankers over here....I love the way his family defend his right to do it, too!

Fraud Detection Scheme Nets £4.5 million

Sounds like joined-up government to me! Now if we had regional assemblies across England, they would probably be the right size to do something similar successfully. Don't hold your breath!

Afghan Drug "Belt" Proposed

I would like to see some of the detail of this agreement between China, Russia and India.

The Original Times article

Sean ONeill's original article makes some cogent points and is obviously well informed by insiders. The main crticism is not necessarily a crticism. To discover that the 130 targets you inherited were not actually the top figures in the dugs trade sounds like a step forward in intelligence to me! Working out the true picture is a vital first step for an intelligence-led agency. The criticisms of management structures and IT systems arent exactly surprising. They could be made of any public sector organisation in the UK.
Sean's follow-up article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article3919731.ece
Which raises some important questions for debate.
Hughes' letter together with others:
and the latest piece:
Enjoy the read!

SOCA's Annual Report 2007/8

Worth noting that they are recruiting civilian administrators too, if you look on the home page.

Bill Hughes' letter to the Times

In the interests of fairness and academic objectivity, I went to the SOCA Website: [http://www.soca.gov.uk/index.html]. I must have missed the offending Times article. Mea Culpa! Will follow up! Bill Hughes letter here is of interest, obviously.

Organised Crime Agency Chiefs Round on Own Staff

The issue appears to be overtime. There is a ruined statue somewhere in London. The face is disfigured, but around the base there is a crudely-carved inscription. "You wont beat the Met CID."
An old friend, who rose to the giddy heights of Chief Constable once observed that the problem with mergers is that the occupational culture that emerges will always be that of the hard men from the cities. Pity the other political parties won't tell us how they are going to change SOCA, but the media seems to be happy to let them get away with stone throwing and name calling at the moment. Policies, anyone?

15 May 2008

Colombia Sends 13 paramilitary Leaders to US

This underlines the point made in the previous post. Organised crime, in this case narcotraffickers and narcoterrorists can substitute themselves for the security forces in insurgencies and Military leaders can convince themselves they are "winning" the war as a result.
The final line of this Washington Post piece is a reminder that there are different agendas for the US and for Colombians:
"What we the victims want to know is the truth: who financed them, who directed them, who ordered them."

US Army's Next Crop of Generals Forged in Counter-Insurgency

Murphy's Law says they will get to the top just in time to face something totally different. Nevertheless, Col. MacMaster's comment that the military were preoccupied in the 1990s with technology to the detriment of the political and cultural dimensions of war certainly rings true.

Now who is dealing with the organised criminal dimension? I'm available!!!!

A Lineup Aiming to Tame Silovki

Further thoughts from the Moscow Times on the Medvedev and Putin teams. Putin has to stay in a position of power to give Medvedev the clout to break the political clans and criminal businesses around the silovki. having used the silovki to break the oligarchs, they now have to be removed from power in their turn. It's another interesting article in the series.

13 May 2008

Ustinov's Ouster may be a Loss for Silovki

may be an indicator that the iceberg is beginning to melt. Medvedev makes a new appointment as Justice Minister. The silovki are the former police, security and justice personnel who displaced the oligarchs under Putin. May lead to a number of slow changes. Medvedev has stressed the rule of law and this may mean a sustained attack on corruption and organised crime. All depends on whether he is working with Putin or against him. See the parallel article: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/362671.htm

Just How Expert are the Expert Witnesses?

Good article on the instant experts out there, and the question of how impartial they are when they stand up in court.

Blunt Federal Letters tell students theyre security threats

The US really does break bad news so well! Postgrad researchers get scary letters from unapologetic bureaucrats.

Scottish card fraud runs into millions

16% rise in credit card fraud in 2007. HM Inspectors of Constabulary want new fraud unit to investigate and prosecute. Recording of the crime hit and miss.

12 May 2008

Drive in Basra by Iraqi Army Makes Gains

New York Times Article on the latest situation in Basra. Gives British Army credit as well as Iraqi Army and Police.

10 May 2008

Mexican Drug Cartels Make Audacious Pitch for Recruits

Washington Post piece demonstrating increasing convergence between terrorist tactics and organised crime. This is a classic hearts and minds campaign. But is it in response to the use of military tactics against drug cartels? Is it another classic case of creating a new problem by trying to solve the old one with the wrong methods?

Police hunt girl gang who poured liquid through letterbox of London blast house

Lurid story, alleging that girl's former classmates effectively blew up house and killed next door neighbour. Doesnt seem to be on any other media website yet. Also suggests that they might have learnt how to make a bomb on the internet. Hmmmm, so far it sounds like the Murdoch press exaggerating. Let's wait a little while and see.

Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories wont go away

Your blogger is just back from the Middle East, where he was surprised by the prevelance of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and a general lack of belief that 9/11 happened as reported. Here's a Time article from September 2006 on the subject. It concentrates on US conspiracists rather than conspiracists from the Arab world.
This is a site giving official rebuttals: http://www.america.gov/st/pubs-english/2006/September/20060828133846esnamfuaK0.2676355.html
and a huge qarticle from "popular Mechanics"

For once, conspiracists can even point at something I wrote in 1999 to demonstrate that "we" knew something was going to happen..."The time of a supranational European FBI has not yet come. But many aspects of a federal law-enforcement system are now in place. It just requires a major cause celebre to complete the picture. Perhaps a major simultaneous terrorist atrocity in more than one capital city would do the trick." [Policing in Europe: Uniform in Diversity, Intellect 1999 p103] Certainly my graduate students have enjoyed throwing my words back to me.
The point is, though, that politics involves making plans and then reacting to events. Policy papers are always about in the files. Politicians don't have to manufacture events. They just have to wait for one to come along to justify what they wanted to do anyway. That doesnt mean they actually plan the events. In Madrid, the metro bombings led to the defeat of Aznar's government. In London the Underground bombings had surprisingly little political impact. In fact the measures that Blair's government tried to bring in were resisted by parliament.
Ah well...there are still people who don't believe the Americans went to the moon and that Elvis is alive somewhere. But 9/11 is a little bigger than that. We need to understand beliefs in the Middle East, and cover them better in our own media. I remain surprised by the challenge to my world-view.

Israel PM urged to quit over corruption claim

The problem is that Likud would win any election called now, as the article says. Allegations against Olmert have surfaced again and again. Is it a "Bill Clinton" case, where opponents just want to get him out to get themselves in, or is there a real issue? Impossible to tell from where I'm sitting.

05 May 2008

In Ghost Town where Afghan war begins, UK fights losing battle

More on Garmser. Brief mention of Baluch drug smugglers as part of the fighters involved.

03 May 2008

It's the black economy, stupid

A reasonable review of Misha Glenny's book "McMafia" and Clare Longrigg's "Boss of Bosses".
I'm still reading Glenny's book, so maybe he uses the Romanian spelling of Transdnester. Who knows?

Man alleged to have killed Guerin jailed over kidnap plot

Another potential Asian businessman kidnap. This time a complex plan, financed by someone not in court and involving Patrick "Dutchy" Holland, a former associate of the INLA. Murky post-paramilitary world and article mentions Dublin crime gangs and the Irish police response to Guerin's murder.

Police foil £400,000 kidnap plot by gang in Pakistan

Family appeal for other victims of the crime to come forward and give the police information. Suspected that the UK Asian community has suffered this crime several times.

Colombian police catch drugs twin

Second brother found in secret compartment of a lorry.

02 May 2008

New Militant group threatens Ulster peace

18th Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission which reports on the progress of the peace process has just been published. It identifies Oglaigh na hEireann as a serious threat to the lives of members of the security forces. I don't suppose I should find it odd that the Guardian article has nothing to say about the IMC's comments on Protestant paramilitaries...Or why it refers to the report as the 17th when it is the 18th Report that is published today. All reports available at: http://www.independentmonitoringcommission.org/
They are well worth reading, surveying the attitude to wards ceasefire of all the paramilitaries and the fluidity with which dissident movements come and go. They also cover involvement with criminal activity.

The Livinenko Files: Was he really murdered?

Odd long article, referring to another article by Edward J. Epstein in the New York Sun March 19th [ http://tinyurl.com/5epx7t ]. I dont think the case is made with proper academic rigour...in fact I'm not even sure what the case is, but it seems to allege involvement in the smuggling of nuclear material. Demonstrate the existence of purchaser and seller and I might be more convinced. But it's one of those articles that will become seminal, even if only for the conspiracy theorist. What does it tell us about organised crime? That it's often extremely disorganised, as we have long suspected.

01 May 2008

D.C. forging surveillance network

At last! Something the UK has taught the Americans! Stick loads of cameras up everywhere and you will always be able to close the stable door after the horse has bolted!
Something gone wrong with my daily feed from the Washington Post. This different system is plagued with even more rubbish adverts. Just keep clicking the close button top right.

In France, Prisons Filled with Muslims

Earlier posts documented the spread of prison gangs back to Central America from US jails. This sounds like a disaster in the making. 60-70% of inmates in France are Muslims, though they are 12% of the population. Information from an Open Society Institute Report given in the article about other European countries. There are so many opportunities for radicals to exploit this situation. But watch the growth or Islamic organised crime groups as well. We're in danger of watching the wrong ball. Fear of terrorism is all very well, but organised crime will last many generations longer...That's another discuss question, or even a PhD topic.

The billion pound share swindle

Increasingly difficult to distinguish between real news on the BBC and puffs for it's programmes. Wasn't there a quote about the media not being the news? All is changed, changed utterly...some rough beast slouching towards Broadcasting House.
Anyway, this piece is about the threat from Spain [yes, not France for once]. Boiler room frauds. This is a real problem, but how big, no-one knows and this is a "scare" article. There must be a joke coinable involving Rafael Benitez and dodgy Spanish investments, but I leave you to invent your own. [Overseas readers please note: Benitez is the Spanish manager of Liverpool football club who were kicked out of the European Cup by Russian billionaire-owned and Israeli managed Chelsea last night. It's English yumor...]

Al Qaeda "greatest threat to US"

Actually, the story is that the State Department's annual Country Reports on Terrorism are out. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2007/
Iran is named as the most important and active state sponsor of terrorism. I havent had time yet to dig behind the press release level. There may be more interesting stuff in there. It's all a bit catch 22. "Failed" states provide the havens for terrorism and by definition cant be state sponsors of terrorism, so the variables and assumptions are wrong here. The problem of the US model is that it requires a "public enemy number one", and hasnt yet got the idea that we are dealing with a hydra, not a superhero [discuss].

Britain's Overseas Territories open to fraud and money-laundering

Ah. The Public Accounts Committee have finally noticed. I do believe the Americans have been pointing this out for years. They'd also like London to clean up its act, but since whoever wins the London election for mayor today has no power over that mystical beast the City of London, they'd better not hold their breath.