Revealed: secret police memo labels #occupy as ‘terrorists’


by Sunny Hundal    
8:35 am - December 5th 2011

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A secret memo issued by the City of London police has labelled #occupyLSX protesters as ‘domestic terrorists’ alongside Al-Qaeda and Columbia’s FARC.

The memo was handed to members of #occupyLSX over the weekend by a local businessman and confirmed as genuine today.

The memo (below) starts off by describing international threats from al-Qaeda, FARC in Columbia and terrorists in Belarus.

It then lists activists from the #occupy movement as a ‘Domestic’ threat and states:

All are asked to be vigilant regarding suspected reconnaissance, particularly around empty buildings. Any sign of access or new markings should also be reported.

All are reminded that any encounters with suspected activists could be recorded and then uploaded or live-streamed to the internet.

It then adds in bold: ‘Suspected hostile reconnaissance should be reported to the City of London Police immediately‘.

OccupyLSX released a statement last night stating:

The document exhibits other signs of worrying paranoia. The reference to “suspected activists” seems to demonstrate a disturbing loss of perspective. Activism is not a crime and the desire to participate in democratic decision-making should not be a cause for concern for the police in any free society.

An institution that confuses active ciitizens with criminals and equates Al Qaeda with efforts to reimagine the city is an institution in grave danger of losing its way.

The relevant segment from the memo

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Update Taxi driver ‘Chunky Mark’ has made this amusing and expletive-filled video in response

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


I see the freedom-loving trolls haven’t managed to come up with any justification yet. I wonder why?

It labels them, in order: Protesters, Peaceful demonstrators, Demonstrators, activists, activists, individuals, suspected activists.

Didn’t see them referred to as terrorists anywhere. The irony is to the right of this comments box I can “Daily Mail blames strikers for injured student”

So they can’t lie (sorry mislead) but you can?

@1 – I love it when the comments begin with someone smugly, and incorrectly predicting the nature of all comments. Is that your lot, oh wize sage or is there anything substansial you intend to actually add?

Oh, it’s all right that they are classed together under the heading, “Terrorism / extremism updates” then? Good grief!

Good Lord, so the greatest terrorist threat in London is a few cantankerous protestors milled around St Paul’s? Hell, I’m pretty sceptical of this whole “War on Terror” thing and even I don’t think that’s true. Still, if they’ve made up their minds, could we end these foreign wars it seems needless to fight? And roll our civil liberties back to pre-9/11 days?

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 2 Dave

“Didn’t see them referred to as terrorists anywhere.”

It’s the title of the paper pictured in the article. To be perfectly accurate, it labels them as terrorists and/or extremists. You have to really squint at those concepts to make either of them fit peaceful protest.

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 4

“Good Lord, so the greatest terrorist threat in London is a few cantankerous protestors milled around St Paul’s?”

It appears that some members of the police force think the word “terrorist” includes anyone that the police don’t like.

I think it shows up police stupidity and incompetence more than anything.
They just aren’t very good at dealing with the left and things like these Occupy movements. They’re not even that good dealing with football fans quite often, and get overly heavy handed and officious.
A good example of this has been the police insistance that Leeds United verses Millwall is an early kick off and all Millwall fans have to travel to a motorway service station in South Yorkshire before the game to collect their match tickets.
Thus ensuring that all but a couple of hundred determined souls can’t be bothered.
It has the desired result, but it smacks of overbearing police control.

http://www.millwallfc.co.uk/page/TicketInfo/0,,10367~2524230,00.html

@3, @5

Fair enough, I still don’t think the headline reflects the content though.

I’d be surprised if the Police were not monitoring Occupy protests. Indeed, I would expect them to do so; and I find nothing sinister in this memo. Monitoring is not the same as suppressing.

Undoubtedly, most of the Occupy protestors are peaceful (if wholly naive, IMO); but violent protestors could easily use them as a cover. Imagine the outcry there would be if an Occupy protest action was hijacked by violent anarchists or trots; or if Occupy protestors were killed and St Paul’s damaged by a bomb planted in a tent by Islamists or other terrorists….Unlikely, I grant you; but can you blame the police for thinking ahead?

In either case, conspiracy theorists and paranoid activists would let their fantasies rip; and also the right would inevitably pitch in too claiming the police had been negligent, soft, politically correct etc, etc.

No freedoms are absolute. The freedom to protest peacefully does not entail freedom from monitoring by the police, who have a responsibility to maintain order and protect the public – and peaceful protestors – from violence.

10. Robin Levett

@Chaise Guevara #5:

<blockquote.To be perfectly accurate, it labels them as terrorists and/or extremists.

At risk of being given your mantle as Tory troll when Romulus (or is it Remus?) arrives, it labels them as neither.

As I understand the memo, it is warning against the possiblity of “hostile reconnaissance” for terririst purposes being carried out using the “Occupy” camp as cover. Is that really so suprising?

11. Chaise Guevara

@ 8 Dave

” I still don’t think the headline reflects the content though.”

Oh, it doesn’t. Inaccurate headlines are apparently part of LC’s house style.

12. Chaise Guevara

@ 10 Robin Levett

“At risk of being given your mantle as Tory troll when Romulus (or is it Remus?) arrives, it labels them as neither.”

The paper is a list of organisations under the heading “Terrorism/Extremism update [...]“. The subheading before Occupy is “Domestic”, not “Non-extremist organisations” or “other organisations we’ve included for the sake of it”. The previous three items on the list are FARC, Al-Queda and some terrorists in Belarus.

If the accusation can be factually shown to be incorrect, that might, MIGHT, be just indirect enough to get you off a libel claim with a good lawyer. By the normal standards of human discourse, however, Occupy has clearly been labelled as an extremist group, a terrorist organisation, or both.

13. Robin Levett

@Chaise #12:

The paper is a list of organisations under the heading “Terrorism/Extremism update [...]“

No it isn’t – unless both “Columbia” (sic) and “Belarus” are organisations. The last time I looked, however, they were countries.

14. Robin Levett

@Chaise #12 (contd):

The previous three items on the list are FARC, Al-Queda and some terrorists in Belarus.

Continuing my previosu comment: the previous three items on the list are “Columbia”, “Al Quaeda/Pakistan” and “Belarus”.

It is the substance of the items, not the headings, that matters. The substance of the “Occupy London” heading is a possible terrorist or extremist threat from “hostile reconnaissance” using the camp as cover. You really have to work hard to see that as a labelling of the occupiers corporately as terrorists/extremists.

Is it really incredible that a terrorist or extremist group might use a camp conveniently situated next to some prime targets, opposed to “the Man” and hostile to or at least unco-operative with local law-enforcement, to cover such activities?

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 14

“It is the substance of the items, not the headings, that matters. ”

And yet you claim that this isn’t a list of organisations, simply because said organisations are grouped by country (pretty bloody childish of you, BTW; when I’d only seen your post @13, I was just gonna tell you to grow up and leave you to it).

“The substance of the “Occupy London” heading is a possible terrorist or extremist threat from “hostile reconnaissance” using the camp as cover. You really have to work hard to see that as a labelling of the occupiers corporately as terrorists/extremists.”

If “reconnaissance” were a dangerous or criminal act, maybe. In this context, it appears to cover walking down the street with your eyes open (“urban exploration activity”: OMG, people walking around in public!!!!).

“Is it really incredible that a terrorist or extremist group might use a camp conveniently situated next to some prime targets, opposed to “the Man” and hostile to or at least unco-operative with local law-enforcement, to cover such activities?”

You can come up with a theory like that about pretty much anything. For some reason, people only tend to do so when they’re looking for ways to treat genuine protesters like criminals.

Also, I love that bit warning that “encounters with suspected activists” might be uploaded to the net. In other words, don’t hit anyone in case someone’s filming you.

16. Tax Obesity

CG @ 11:

“Oh, it doesn’t. Inaccurate headlines are apparently part of LC’s house style.”

Sadly, Sunny prefers propaganda to even a best approximation to honesty and truth. Yet, left or right, reality does not always fit our ideological preconceptions…and that is where a nuanced and productive debate can begin….

17. Limiting Factor

Suspected activists! – it’ll be suspected pro-democracy activists next.

18. Kevin leonard

@9. Tax Obesity… I take it you are used to living in a police state where every action by every individual is monitored on behalf of the political parasites so as to remain on their side. Or perhaps you would prefer that we as a nation become a police state.
There will be blood on the streets of London within 8 months the way this coalition condemnation of parasites is heading. The denial of democracy by a resounding up yours three line whip against a referendum now the spying by the police on every single group who dares to oppose them.

It states: “It is likely that activists aspire to identify other locations to occupy, especially those they identify with capitalism. City of London Police has received a number of hostile reconnaissance reports concerning individuals who would fit the anti-capitalist profile. All are asked to be vigilant regarding suspected reconnaissance, particularly around empty buildings.”

So the rozzers are warning that some of the people on the fringes of Occupy might be scoping out other buildings to erm, occupy.

Oh my, dearie me, I’ll have to have a sit down and catch my breath.

20. Robin Levett

@Chaise #15:

And yet you claim that this isn’t a list of organisations, simply because said organisations are grouped by country (pretty bloody childish of you, BTW; when I’d only seen your post @13, I was just gonna tell you to grow up and leave you to it)

Help me, please; which organisation is grouped by country in Belarus? I can’t see any mention of an organisation at all.

The list is by venue, for want of a better word.

If “reconnaissance” were a dangerous or criminal act, maybe. In this context, it appears to cover walking down the street with your eyes open (“urban exploration activity”: OMG, people walking around in public!!!!).

I make no comment about “hostile reconnaisance” because unlike you I have no definitive information as to what activities exactly are referred to by this rubric.

You can come up with a theory like that about pretty much anything. For some reason, people only tend to do so when they’re looking for ways to treat genuine protesters like criminals.

I can’t imagine why the police feel that those they consider to be potential enemies of the state would be more welcome amongst some of those who have declared their opposition to “the Man” than at the local bowls club.

It isn’t right that peaceful protesters should be linked to terrorism / extremism.

A City of London police source admitted that the “title of the document was not helpful” and denied that it labelled or intended to label the Occupy movement as equivalent to al-Qaida.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/dec/05/occupy-london-police-terrorism-document

I’m not sure why a “source” would say that instead of an identifiable spokesperson.

But, aside from that, do people think the police should not warn businesses about potential attempts to ‘occupy’ their properties? I think they should.

23. Chaise Guevara

@ 20 Robin

“Help me, please; which organisation is grouped by country in Belarus? I can’t see any mention of an organisation at all.

The list is by venue, for want of a better word.”

Oh, FFS. Yes, the entry for Belarus appears to refer to individuals. And yes, they happen to have grouped agents by country. None of which changes the fact that, until it reaches Occupy, it’s a list of terrorists and extremists with “terrorism/extremism” written at the top.

Are you trying to prove something with these irrelevant objections, or are you just aiming to annoy?

“I make no comment about “hostile reconnaisance” because unlike you I have no definitive information as to what activities exactly are referred to by this rubric.”

I said “reconnaisance”, not “hostile reconnaisance”; the report doesn’t always use the two words together, suggesting that whatever hostile reconnaisance may be [update: it means preparing for terrorist action, thanks UKliberty], just normal reconnaisance is a problem in itself. In the absence of clarification I’ll work off the assumption that it means what it normally means – lookin’ at stuff and findin’ stuff out.

The problem is that honchospeak like this is often designed to be hard to understand. That way you can define it as something genuinely dangerous if challenged, then justify arrests/surviellance by invoking a different definition.

“I can’t imagine why the police feel that those they consider to be potential enemies of the state would be more welcome amongst some of those who have declared their opposition to “the Man” than at the local bowls club.”

Still doesn’t justify treating legally innocent people like criminals, which is the sort of behaviour that documents like this obviously encourage. Starting by listing a protest group that you THINK might POSSIBLY be MORE LIKELY to harbour ENTIRELY HYPOTHETICAL terrorists next to Al-Queda. Grouped by “venue” or otherwise.

24. Chaise Guevara

@ 21

“But, aside from that, do people think the police should not warn businesses about potential attempts to ‘occupy’ their properties? I think they should.”

That’s obviously sane and sensible.

25. Tax Obesity

@18:

“I take it you are used to living in a police state where every action by every individual is monitored on behalf of the political parasites so as to remain on their side. Or perhaps you would prefer that we as a nation become a police state.
There will be blood on the streets of London within 8 months the way this coalition condemnation of parasites is heading. The denial of democracy by a resounding up yours three line whip against a referendum now the spying by the police on every single group who dares to oppose them”

You are incoherent. We are not living in a police state. However inadequately, we can and do hold authority to account. Please, do grow up.

26. Shatterface

This is the same crap the police pulled on anarchists a few weeks back. The police are there to protect the state. Any actual crime they solve is a propaganda exercise.

So it seems that commentators are missing what to me is the most interesting part of the document

“All are reminded that any encounters with suspected activists could be recorded and then uploaded or live-streamed to the internet”

Why exactly did that reminder need to be issued?

Why exactly did that reminder need to be issued?

“Behave!”

29. Robin Levett

@Chaise #23:

Oh, FFS. Yes, the entry for Belarus appears to refer to individuals. And yes, they happen to have grouped agents by country. None of which changes the fact that, until it reaches Occupy, it’s a list of terrorists and extremists with “terrorism/extremism” written at the top.

Are you trying to prove something with these irrelevant objections, or are you just aiming to annoy?

Oddly enough, yes I am trying to prove something with these objections. The claim is that the police are describing #occupy as terrorists/extremists, simply because “Occupy London” is the heading under which the threat, evidenced by what they consider to be hostile reconnaissance, is discussed and the site from which the individuals of concern have been operating.

Sunny has gone all a-twitter (or maybe even a-Twitter) at the juxtaposition of “Occupy London” – the organisation – and terrorism/extremism. But the document he refers to doesn’t make a connection between OL the organisation and the threat – the connection is with OL the campsite (and individual residents there).

Let us assume for the sake of argument that there is a legitimate concern. If the police believe that there is a terrorist threat from persons currently making their home at the Occupy campsite, what would you prefer the heading to read? “That campsite next to St Paul’s, you know the one, the one with all those greenies staying there who are opposed to the capitalist system”? Why the circumlocution; everybody knows that the Occupy London campsite is the one in issue so why not just use that as the heading?

Now whether there is a legitimate concern I don’t know. If the concern is that people at the (currently illegal, remember, albeit at a low level) encampment are “testing the locks” on local vacant properties, then while that is a legitimate police concern it hardly amounts to a *direct* terrorist or an extremist threat. If the concern is that an expanded or metastasized encampment would make it more difficult to monitor the activities of known individuals linked to terrorist or extremist groups, then that is legitimately a terrorist/extremist issue.

30. Chaise Guevara

@ Robin

For a grassroots organisation with no solid heirarchy, there’s not much difference between “the organisation” and “the people in the organisation” when it comes to targeting. In any case, it doesn’t matter much to me – I’m pissed off on behalf of the protesters in the camps, regardless of the name they may be formed under.

If the police think they’re engaged in hostile reconnaisance, then by their own definition of the word (see UKliberty’s link), they think they’re terrorists (or people planning to commit acts of terrorism. This is what I mean by these terms being deliberately vague. Nobody could argue that it’s not the police’s job to stop terrorists casing a building with the aim of blowing it up – this is defined as “hostile reconnaisance” – the police start treating democratic protesters as criminals – people complain – the police say “they were looking at buildings! That’s hostile reconnaisance!”

Based on the evidence available, the police have nothing but conjecture and maybe evidence of minor, non-terrorist crimes. I appreciate that the police wouldn’t necessarily want the world to know about any leads they had, but I suspect we’d have seen something concrete if they had evidence of any serious wrongdoing. And it’s very, very easy – just ask Sen. McCarthy – to justify oppressive behaviour by saying “Ah, but we know about all sorts of scary stuff that you’re not privy to; trust us, you’d be on our side if you knew about it”.

Based on the evidence, including the attitude shown by many London cops towards humans rights and political protest over the last few months, I think the inclusion of Occupy on this list is very ominous.

Is it known whether there is an official intention on the part of the Police, the Border Agency or MI5 to exclude from Britain any without British citizienship who have participated in Occupy protests in other countries, such as the Occupy protests in New York, Oakland, San Francisco and UC Davis – where the students were subjected to a pepper spray?

I was going to leave it, but then…

@ 25 Tax O,

“You are incoherent. We are not living in a police state. However inadequately, we can and do hold authority to account. Please, do grow up.”

I think you’re living in denial. I don’t think we have any ability to hold authority to account, at least when it’s really dirty. They may sacrifice the odd pawn, but they haven’t even revealed all the official secrets from the First World War, so how are we supposed to hold them to account when the truth is so deeply buried?

@28 ukliberty

“Behave!”

Exactly it reads as ‘Be on your best behaviour because your actions may be filmed’ except shouldn’t they always be on their best behaviour? It’s the old moral argument – Is someone good because they’re good or because they are simply fearful of the consequences of being bad.

When applied to the police I find that just as worrying as issuing warnings about the Occupy London group on Terrorist/Extremist headed paper.

In America, Under the newly passed Senate Bill 1867, the occupy protesters would also be classified as terrorists. I think the City of London Police have got this totally wrong. In fact, how can they class the occupy protesters in the same category as Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda are responsible for killing thousands of people. The occupy protesters have done nothing wrong… What a shame, this is a sad that for the U.K.

They are not being classified as “terrorists”; they are the “exremists” referred to in the other half of the title.

Seems fair enough, given their rhetoric and the contents/participants at their discussion groups.

….also

The headline and the text of the OP describe this memo as “secret” – i.e. a classified document to be read only by those with security clearance of a high level.

But then it emerges that it was merely a letter sent out to local businessmen. That’s like describing a ferry timetable as a Naval Treaty.

37. Leon Wolfson

@19 – And this is terrorism in your view. That’s not at all surprising.

@33 – It reads to me as “deal with people recording”. Shutting down civilian recording is a popular suppression tactic…

OT but does anyone else have a problem with comment threads? Ever since the update it takes time for some comments to show up. So I come back and see Tim Worstall’s comment for the first time, for example, despite previously the one after it.

The headline and the text of the OP describe this memo as “secret” – i.e. a classified document to be read only by those with security clearance of a high level.

But then it emerges that it was merely a letter sent out to local businessmen. That’s like describing a ferry timetable as a Naval Treaty.

Agreed – more tabloid journalism.

40. Chaise Guevara

@ 38 UKL

“OT but does anyone else have a problem with comment threads? Ever since the update it takes time for some comments to show up. ”

Yep, had the same problem for weeks, and judging by the number of double-postings I’ve seen recently we’re not the only ones.

These people are marxists – responsible for the largest number of deaths in the 20th century.

If the EDL have the police watching them closely, why wouldn’t the police watch these buffoons with even more interest – after all, marxists pose the greatest threat to society – and have proved on every occasion that their ideas ALWAYS end in death, famine, and political purges and persecution.

That’s marxism for you – a much greater poison statistically than facism, corporatism, capitalism or theocracy. A great recruiter (through bribes, lies and ignorance), surely this cult-like movement should be watched as closely as muslim extremism (after all, Marxists have killed and repressed many more than Islam in recent times)

42. Chaise Guevara

@ 41

“These people are marxists – responsible for the largest number of deaths in the 20th century.”

You really are a fucking moron. Explanation available on request.

43. sean4thedefence

Him is not a moron. Him is a teller ov troof

@42

Stalin, Mao?
Vietnam?
Cambodia?
Hitler? – Not a marxist. Collectivist

NOT state capitalists. It isn’t the “wrong sort of marxism”, it’s the only form of marxism. Collectivism always goes the same predictible road.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”

Deeply offensive. Legalised robbery.

45. Chaise Guevara

@ 44 Hoondiddy

So there’s only one form of Marxism, despite the fact that your definition of “Marxism” includes so wide a variety of people as Stalin and the Occupy people. Riiiigggghht….

And from this insane troll logic, we get the accusation that the Occupy guys are reponsible, or at least part of the gang that’s responsible, for the worst genocide of the 20th century. Basically, objecting to unbridled capitalist exploitation makes you one with the people running the gulags.

I’m calling Poe’s law on this. Nobody’s THIS much of a fucking moron, right?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mdKrpu7oII – Please take a moment to relax from the stress of constant suppression, and listen to a song i made for everyone holdin it down at any of the 1000 occupy protests worldwide – i call it “this is my occupation” on loud pipes from Ratatat. Its incredible. please share and enjoy. spread some love. From DCP himself. one love.

47. Leon Wolfson

@45 – People still vote Tory, so yes, they are.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. OccupyDenHaag Beanow

    OccupyLondon gemarkeerd als terroristen! http://t.co/0nzWuu85

  2. Vincent Vecchione

    RT @sunny_hundal Secret police memo reveals #occupyLSX activists are labelled as "terrorists" http://t.co/NIEy02w0 (cc @glinner) #WTF

  3. Vincent Vecchione

    RT @sunny_hundal Police memo on #occupyLSX also suggests "hostile" filming by activists should be reported to police http://t.co/NIEy02w0

  4. Johnny Boy

    Revealed: City of London police memo labels #occupyLSX activists as ‘terrorists’ http://t.co/x6WkCfLB (from morning)

  5. Jim Watson

    Revealed: City of London police memo labels #occupyLSX activists as ‘terrorists’ http://t.co/x6WkCfLB (from morning)

  6. Behold My Mighty Psychic Powers Of Future Cognition » Ten Percent

    [...] Revealed: secret police memo labels #occupy as ‘terrorists’ [...]

  7. bouncingbitch

    Revealed: secret police memo labels #occupy as ‘terrorists’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/YT1QfrU7 via @libcon

  8. odotm

    #OccupyLSX protesters lumped in w/ al-Qaeda, Colombian guerrillas & Belarusian terrorists by @CityPolice http://t.co/TXvxy93s Very bizarre.

  9. Adam Rothstein

    London police list OccupyLSX among terrorist organizations on internal "extremism" memo http://t.co/LO4inkqS

  10. Thomas O'Connor

    London police list OccupyLSX among terrorist organizations on internal "extremism" memo http://t.co/LO4inkqS

  11. Thomas O'Connor

    Revealed: secret police memo labels #occupy as ‘terrorists’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/aTfibj1h via @libcon

  12. Police List Occupy London As A Terrorist Organization | Care2 Causes

    [...] image via: LiberalConspiracy.org Image Credit: Flickr – andy roberts [...]

  13. Brian Joseph Ranum

    #ows Revealed: secret police memo labels #occupy as ‘terrorists’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/CyBZUjbT via @libcon

  14. Europe leaves Britain behind, In The Black Labour makes a splash, and inequality rises fast: round up of political blogs for 3 – 9 December | British Politics and Policy at LSE

    [...] Liberal Conspiracy presents the memo from the City of London Police in which #OccupyLSX protestors were branded domestic terrorists. [...]

  15. IntolerantTwit

    Interesting reading from the MET http://t.co/nLUyBPl3 #occupylsx

  16. Tim Price

    Nuts. http://t.co/jD4v2WCe





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