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July 26, 2006

Mazher Mahmoud

As I was reading this story my jaw just dropped, bouncing off the keyboard it was.

THREE men were cleared at the Old Bailey yesterday of plotting to supply a rare radioactive material to terrorists for the manufacture of a dirty bomb to spread radioactive material.

Well, OK, men given fair trial, cleared, that’s great.

Roque Fernandes, 44, and Abdurahman Kanyare, 53, both of Edgware, northwest London, and Dominic Martins, 45, of Stanmore, northwest London, were in jail on remand for almost two years.

Ouch, really, ouch. Two years in pokey for being innocent. Worse:

Mr Mahmood told the court that he had been approached with information about the plot to acquire red mercury by an informant known only as Mr B.

Sorry? Red mercury? But, but, don’t we all know that there is no such thing?

The very existence of the chemical, which is thought to have been developed by the Soviet Union, was called into question during the trial.

Called into question? It doesn’t exist! The whole thing, the charges, are complete nonsense!

Mr Kanyare, an international dealer, said he thought that he was buying a chemical for use in cleaning bank notes. Mr Martins, a City banker, said that he had no knowledge of a terror plot and thought he could make enough money to clear his debts. Mr Fernandes, a security guard, claimed that he planned to “tip off” a police contact about the deal.

These guys were being spoofed!

Sue Hemming, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s counter-terrorism unit, said that it was right to bring the new case.

Ms. Hemming, hang your head in shame! You have just stolen two years each from the lives of three men on the basis of your own idiocy! Is there such an offense as fraudulent prosecution?

It added: “The News of the World involvement in this investigation and subsequent trial was conducted under the direction of senior anti-terrorist police officers. We are entirely satisfied that the methods used in the investigation were not only wholly proper, but were both authorised and, from an early stage, continued in close liaison with the police.”

Are the police thick as well?

Look, let’s talk about red mercury. There is red mercuric oxide, there’s a number of mercury compounds that are red but none of them have anything to do with nuclear power, nuclear bombs, or, even, radioactivity. There are various theories, that it was invented by the Soviets in order to catch those looking for nuclear materials and so on . My own (from experience I might add) take is that it is actually an invention of the Russian Mafiya, out to gull the gullible. And yes, my partner in my Russian metals business is in fact a Russian nuclear engineer. Patents to his name and all.

From wikipedia:

Following the arrest of several men in the UK in September 2004, on suspicion that they were trying to buy a kilo of red mercury for £300,000, the International Atomic Energy Agency made a statement dismissing claims that the substance is real. "Red mercury doesn't exist," said the spokesman. "The whole thing is a bunch of malarkey."

How in hell was anyone prosecuted for attempting to provide a rare radioactive material when said rare radioactive material does not exist? Who authorised this prosecution?

BTW, no, you don’t get compensation for being held on remand for two years.

July 26, 2006 in Scams and Frauds | Permalink


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Remember the ricin ring that never was and the chemical vest (was it sarin, cyanide or anthrax flavour?) that was never found? Now we have the red mercury that didnt exist. This is what you get when newspapers grow bored of the drudge of merely ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 26, 2006 11:31:18 AM


Either way, a trial or no trial was a no-win situation.

The News of the Screws would have gone on and on if there had been no prosecution thereby weakening confidence in the anti-terrorist squad and the CPS. But the involvement of the News of the Screws was surely enough to gain an acquittal at some stage on grounds of entrapment.

The only possibly fruitful outcome is that this experience should teach both the Police and the CPS to stay well clear of entanglements with the News of etc

Posted by: Bob B | Jul 26, 2006 10:00:55 AM

How in hell was anyone prosecuted for attempting to provide a rare radioactive material when said rare radioactive material does not exist? Who authorised this prosecution?

The News-of-the-world-kneejerk-reaction department in the CPS, obviously.

Good treatment sir.

Posted by: KKiller | Jul 26, 2006 10:00:56 AM

I would think that the fake sheik and the news of the screws could be sued by their victims. I hope Messrs Sue Grabiit & Runne are offering their services

Posted by: Francis | Jul 26, 2006 10:18:05 AM

Libel trials are costly and the defence would be "the public interest" and that the Police (by reports) were advising the paper at every stage.

Sadly, there have been several wretched cases of attempted entrapment in recent years. Remember this notorious trial?

"In 1992, a young model called Rachel Nickell was brutally stabbed to death on Wimbledon Common, London. Rachel, 23, was stabbed 49 times in front of her two-year-old son in an apparently motiveless attack. Her death shocked the country and led to a huge, £3 million murder inquiry. Thousands of people were interviewed in the search for her killer. An already horrific crime became one of the most high profile crimes in British criminal history when the chief suspect Colin Stagg was cleared of the charge when it was discovered that Stagg was the victim of police entrapment."

Posted by: Bob B | Jul 26, 2006 10:31:33 AM

'Who authorised this prosecution?' Isn't the Attorney General's consent required for major prosecutions under the Terrorism Act 2000?

According to The BBC, Mark Ellison, leading the prosecution, 'told the jury at the outset: "The Crown's position is that whether red mercury does or does not exist is irrelevant."

'He warned the jury not to get "hung up" on whether red mercury actually existed at all.

'Mr Ellison said the fact was that the three defendants had hit upon a meaning for it as a substance which was highly dangerous and expensive, and they pursued it. '

I can see that the men might have been committing an offence if Mazher Mahmoud had conned them into trying to buy some plutonium from him that he didn't actually possess, but I'm a bit bothered about attempting to buy non-existent substances.

What would have happened if, after watching the Indiana Jones movie, someone decided that the lost Ark would be a handy bit of kit for a terrorist and Mr Mahmound pursuaded him that he knew where it was to be found? Or that he could introduce him to a sorcerer who could, in return for a consideration, raise massively destructive demons in under 45 minutes? The principle seems to be the same.

Posted by: Steve G | Jul 26, 2006 11:12:36 AM

Surely, the CPS must have thought that they could win this trial, despite anyone with a shred of common sense realising it wasa non-starter.

So why pursue it? Even if "The News of the Screws would have gone on and on.." all the police & CPS had to do was mock them gently with press releases pointing to the fakeness of so-called 'red mercury'. Don't tell me this would have been a tough job for any PR wonk employed by CPS/Home Office.....

Should heads roll over this at the CPS?

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 26, 2006 12:42:25 PM

Julia - I would love to believe you could be right about effective counter-measures the CPS could take against a News of Screws campaign for a prosecution but I seriously doubt the Screws readership is susceptible to mere mocking reason. A lot of folks did (and probably still do) believe in Red Mercury and even more that the News of the Screws couldn't possibly be wrong, at least not with one of its "fearless" investigations undertaken with the guidance and advice of the Police. I'm not at all sure the blame should be directed at the CPS. The Police have definite form on botched attempts at entrapment.

Pst Wanna buy some Krypton crystals? Unbeatable offer! At these prices, it hurts me.

Posted by: Bob B | Jul 26, 2006 2:34:41 PM

Hey Bob,

Are they red or green crystals, and how much are you asking?


Posted by: LexL | Jul 26, 2006 2:58:23 PM

"A lot of folks did (and probably still do) believe in Red Mercury"

I'm sure even the readers of 'NotW' can use Google, if so inclined. Who knows, they may even (some of them) also read 'Fortean Times', who blew the red mercury myth out of the water a few months ago.

Besides, since when was 'Oh, we won't get through to them...' an excuse for NOT doing what's right? If they couldn't win, that's not any kind of justification for not trying. Certainly not when three guys have been banged up for two years as a result.

"I'm not at all sure the blame should be directed at the CPS"

Granted - there's more than enough to spread around in this case. Wonder where the Press Complaints stands on this?

Tim adds: Fortean Times? I blew it out of the water in a letter to The Spectator a decade ago!

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 26, 2006 3:14:48 PM

"...none of them have anything to do with nuclear power..."

Shame on you, sir!

I will now report you to the Pedantmaster-General

Posted by: andrew duffin | Jul 26, 2006 3:31:58 PM

"Tim adds: Fortean Times? I blew it out of the water in a letter to The Spectator a decade ago!"

Hmm, I'll have to go reread that issue & see if they gave you a hat tip.. ;)

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 26, 2006 5:11:32 PM

It is an offence to hoax anybody about materials , chemicals etc used for terrism.

All the details at PostmanPatel.
Posted yesterday

This was brought to Plods attention when Rupes Rags told us all ablout Osmium tetroxide.

Posted by: Margaret Beckett | Jul 26, 2006 7:14:49 PM

"The News of the World involvement in this investigation and subsequent trial was conducted under the direction of senior anti-terrorist police officers."

Since whan have they contracted out major anti-terrorist investigations? WTF? I mean WTphuquing F? I may believe in minimal government, but surely privatising the security of the nation is a step to far. And to the News of the Screws of all agencies!

Jesus, Mary and Joseph! What on earth were they thinking? Quite apart from their abysmal lack of knowledge on the subject of nuclear chemicals, where was their common sense?

Thank the Lord I don't live in The Great Leader's paradise anymore. Third World Gromboolia is looking more and more like a rational, functioning nation state every day.


Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jul 26, 2006 10:35:42 PM

Bob B *** Pst Wanna buy some Krypton crystals? Unbeatable offer! At these prices, it hurts me***
- Krypton is a chemical element (an inert gas), it does exist, furtermore it exists in a crystalline state. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krypton ... can you guarantee delivery?

Kryptonite however, does not exist, it is as fictional as Superman.

Posted by: johnny bonk | Jul 27, 2006 4:20:23 AM

Woe is me. I must have looked at the wrong entry in Wikipedia:


Posted by: Bob B | Jul 27, 2006 7:49:28 AM

Me am got blue kryptonite. Kills bizarro superman.

Me am telling everyone I got it so someone can use it for secret terrorist attack on bizarro planet.

Will threatening an imaginary place with attack with an imaginary substance get me arrested?

Or is the bizarro planet real? Are we living on it?

Posted by: Chris harper | Jul 27, 2006 8:51:15 AM

I remember red mercury as being thoroughly debunked in discussions I read on USENET back in, oh, 1989–1990.

Posted by: David Gillies | Jul 27, 2006 11:59:16 PM