The Ricin Dossier
18 April 2005
In February 2001, Jason Burke of The Observer reported an interview with Rida Hassaine, an Algerian asylum seeker in the UK, who stated that a dirty tricks campaign was being run by the French intelligence service, the DGSE, against Algerian dissidents in London: "though it too involved burglaries of mosques and Islamic groups’ premises as well as the funding of a newspaper supporting the terrorist Osama bin Laden, Hassaine was advised to help the French by his [UK] handlers".
Notwithstanding this note of caution, the authorities in Britain were quick to respond to a tip off from the Algerian security forces received on 2nd or 3rd January 2003. The well-informed Burke, writing again in The Observer on 17th April 2005, notes "The Algerian secret service intelligence reports that arrived at Scotland Yard in January 2003 still make frightening reading. Based on interrogations of a senior Islamic militant, they gave details of a plot to poison Britons, and contained information on scores of individuals in the UK who appeared to be deeply engaged in hard-line, violent Islamic radicalism. Worse, they suggested a number of shadowy cells in Britain beyond the poisoners. They were not disclosed to the terrorist trial at the Old Bailey last week and are still classified ‘secret’?".
Jason Bennetto, Crime correspondent of The Independent, provided further details of the Algerian tip-off: "they (Algerian security) had arrested a suspected Algerian terrorist, Mohammed Meguerba, 36, who told them that he had been working with al-Qa’ida supporters in Britain and had been helping them produce poisons at a flat in north London" (14th April, The Independent).
According to Jason Burke, "an epileptic, Meguerba left his homeland in 1995 and travelled through Europe, ending up as a waiter in Ireland where he married, divorced, remarried and, ‘by pure chance or cultural void’, said the Algerian secret service, ‘allowed himself to be recruited by fundamentalists’ at a Belfast mosque in 2000. Activists in London sent him to training camps in Afghanistan. Then Osama bin Laden himself gave him a mission in the UK, with a false passport and $600".
Based on this information, Met Police officers raided a flat in Wood Green, North London, on Sunday morning 5th January 2003, together with specialists from the biological and chemical research centre at Porton Down. They discovered a locked bag in room occupied by an Algerian failed asylum seeker Kamal Bourgass. The bag contained an envelope with a set of instructions in Arabic in his writing for making poisons and explosives and also lists of chemicals. On the front of the envelope was the address of the Finsbury Park mosque with the name of ‘Nadir’, by which Bourgass was also known. Also found on the premises was a cup containing apple seeds, cherry stones, nail polish remover and a bottle of acetone. The search also found 20 castor beans and