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By thisistwitchy  •  March 1, 2005 08:22 AM

Convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid’s sidekick admitted his role in the plot to kill American airline passengers yesterday. From the British tabloid, The Sun:

Saajid Badat, 25 — dubbed Shoe Bomber Two — carried a deadly device identical to one that Reid had attempted to set off. Fanatical Badat trained to become a suicide bomber at terror camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He and Londoner Reid intended to make co-ordinated attacks just three months after the 9/11 horror, a court heard. Ex-grammar schoolboy Badat booked a ticket to Amsterdam to board the US flight he intended to blow up.

But his nerve failed and he decided not to travel to Manchester and catch his flight to Holland. Muslim Badat admitted conspiring to destroy, damage or endanger the safety of an aircraft. He will be sentenced on March 18 and could be extradited to the United States.

Almost every account of Badat’s admission notes what a “quiet,” “unassuming” “angel” he was as a schoolboy. The Guardian reports:

The case shocked the security services and police who were puzzled how a respectable young man could be so radicalised that he wanted to kill himself and hundreds of people. The cabinet secretary, Andrew Turnbull, has been asked to conduct an inquiry into how terror attracts middle-class British Muslims.

Meanwhile, the British Parliament is in turmoil over a proposed law giving the government expanded powers to monitor and detain terrorist suspects and issue “control orders.” In a role reversal of sides here in the U.S., it’s the Labor Party that supports curtailing the civil liberties of terror suspects and Conservatives who oppose the measures. Reuters has more:

Blair says the powers are needed to protect Britons against “several hundred” people who are plotting terrorist acts. His opponents accuse him of scaremongering — a charge also levelled at U.S. President George W. Bush before his re-election last November. Polls put Blair on track to win a third term but one survey last week suggested the Conservatives were narrowing the gap. Labour anger over the government’s handling of the anti-terrorism bill will not help Blair heal the bitter divisions that have plagued the party since the Iraq war.

Blair wants to rush the new bill through parliament and into law by March 14, when current anti-terrorism powers expire.

Back here in the U.S., instead of openly tackling these thorny questions about the limits of peacetime civilian courts to handle a small number of terror suspects, our government is banning every airline passenger from carrying lighters–and may ban matchbooks as well. Brilliant.

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