The Israeli Embassy Two — a gross miscarriage of justice

Samar_Alami Jawad_Botmeh Over the last few years there have been a num­ber of egre­gious cases of police and state cov­er-ups in the UK around the deaths and wrong­ful pro­sec­u­tions of inno­cent people.

This brings to my mind the appalling mis­car­riage of justice that occurred in the 1990s when two Palestini­an stu­dents, a young woman called Samar Alami and a young man called Jawad Bot­meh, were both wrong­fully con­victed of con­spir­acy to bomb the Israeli embassy in Lon­don in July 1994. 

In this case a highly soph­ist­ic­ated car bomb as det­on­ated out­side the embassy.  Thank­fully nobody was killed, but a num­ber of people suffered minor injur­ies.   Alami and Bot­meh had con­nec­tions to Palestini­an polit­ic­al sup­port groups based in Lon­don at the time, many of whom were roun­ded up dur­ing the invest­ig­a­tion.  Bot­meh had naively helped out a shad­owy and nev­er-iden­ti­fied fig­ure called Reda Moghr­abi, who asked for assist­ance in buy­ing a second-hand car at auc­tion.  This was the car that was used in the explo­sion.

Why is this case an example of estab­lish­ment cov­er-up?  Well,  this was one of the cases that former MI5 officer Dav­id Shayler blew the whistle on dur­ing the 1990s.  He revealed the exist­ence of two rel­ev­ant doc­u­ments that should have been dis­closed to the defence but, for some unac­count­able reas­on, were not.

The first, an agent report from a cred­ible and trus­ted source, poin­ted to a non-Palestini­an group plan­ning the attack before it had even occurred.  This report was not acted upon by the MI5 officer respons­ible, who then tried to cov­er up her mis­take.  She was caught out, and there was a much-dis­cussed intern­al inquiry into the mat­ter with­in MI5’s G Branch (inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism) in late 1994.

But there was anoth­er doc­u­ment — one writ­ten by G9/1, the seni­or MI5 officer who over­saw the post-incid­ent invest­ig­a­tion.  His view was that Mossad, the extern­al Israeli intel­li­gence agency, had car­ried out a con­trolled explo­sion out­side its own embassy (the shad­owy and uniden­ti­fied Reda Moghr­abi being the poten­tially cru­cial miss­ing link) in order to acquire the long-deman­ded addi­tion­al secur­ity pro­tec­tion around Israeli interests in the UK, and also to shat­ter the Palestini­an sup­port net­works in Lon­don — a long-term object­ive of Mossad.

The gov­ern­ment at the time tried to dis­miss these dis­clos­ures.  How­ever, the much-missed Private Eye invest­ig­at­ive   journ­al­ist, Paul Foot, and the indefatig­able law­yer, Gareth Peirce, fol­lowed them up and pur­sued them tire­lessly through the media and the courts

And guess what?  It turns out that these two key doc­u­ments had indeed not been dis­closed to the leg­al defence team dur­ing the tri­al of Alami and Bot­meh — and not just by the hap­less spooks.  It emerged dur­ing the appeal hear­ing that no few­er than sev­en people from a vari­ety of police and intel­li­gence organ­isa­tions had failed to dis­close the rel­ev­ant doc­u­ment­a­tion to the defence.  This can­not be explained away as an inno­cent over­sight, a cock-up — it bears all the hall­marks of a delib­er­ate, sys­tem­ic estab­lish­ment cov­er-up.

All this rep­res­en­ted, at the very least, a need for a retri­al but also a pos­sible gross mis­car­riage of justice.  And yet, while acknow­ledging that these doc­u­ments did indeed exist dur­ing the appeal hear­ing and bey­ond, the presid­ing m’luds decided to ignore all case law and European law and let those two inno­cents rot in pris­on.  After all, it would be ter­ribly embar­rass­ing to vin­dic­ate the actions of an intel­li­gence whis­tleblower, wouldn’t it?

As a res­ult, the poor pawns in this sick estab­lish­ment game, Jawad Bot­meh and Samar Alami, ended up serving their full sen­tences, des­pite the over­whelm­ing body of evid­ence prov­ing their inno­cence, and were finally released in 2008 and 2009 respect­ively.

For any­one inter­ested in the detailed hor­ror story behind this flag­rant mis­car­riage of justice, here is the rel­ev­ant chapter from my long-defunct book: Down­load The_Israeli_Embassy_Case

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