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Wed 22 November 2017

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Gun carrying Anglo-Israeli

On 5th January 2005, a dual British-Israeli passport holder, Benjamin Lehman, was acquitted for carrying a 9mm Steyr M9 gun in Heathrow. He had passed all security checks on his arrival to London even though the item was in his luggage and fully loaded. This security lapse points to the type of profiling regimes now in place. The minimum media exposure to this incident, and the justifications offered by his defence lawyer, also highlight the way some incidents benefit from kid glove treatment, while for others there is immediate presumption of criminal intent.

Reporting on the incident, 'The Scotsman' noted that Lehman "forgot" he was carrying a firearm [1]. His counsel in court maintained the same defence, resulting in a release without a criminal record. Lehman was a member of a 12 - strong armed "rapid response team" that protected his settlement in Occupied West Bank and in a "rush to pack" had left the weapons and 10 bullets in his backpack. Mark Kimsey, prosecuting, told the jury "even if you did accept that he initially forgot it was in his bag, is it conceivable at all that during those three days (in Britain) whilst using other items in the bag, he would have been unaware it was still there" [2]. Similar incidents involving non-Israelis have been the stuff of headlines. In August 2002 there was a media frenzy when Kerim Chatty, a young man of Tunisian origin living in Sweden, traveling to the UK forgot there was a gun in his toiletries bag. Like Lehman, Chatty declared his innocence. Nevertheless news reports were quick to state that "Intelligence sources have said the suspect intended to hijack the plane and crash it into a U.S. embassy in Europe" [3]. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw entered the fray stating the arrest showed "the threat of international terrorism remains" [4]. The media made all sorts of allegations against in Islamic organization in Birmingham. When Chatty was eventually released with dropped charges, the Swedish Government imposed a gag order so that the reason why Kerim was carrying a gun could not be reported.

Or take the case of a Sudanese national, one Wassila Alhibr Alwasila. Five bullets were found in a jacket worn by him in Heathrow in transit from Washington to Dubai. Unlike Lehman, Alwasil was held under the Terrorism Act 2000 and jailed in April 2004 for nine months for holding prohibited ammunition, having no firearm certificate and possessing bullets without lawful authority. Virgin Atlantic maintained that the seized ammunition "did not pose a threat to our aircraft" . The Sudanese was carrying some bullets - the Anglo-Israeli possessed a pistol and live ammunition.

More probing questions are of course warranted - such as the action which the Government should be taking with Anglo-Israelis fulfilling a military role in the defence of settlements deemed illegal in international law.



[3] The Kerim Chatty incident



    [5] The Wassila Alhibr Alwasila incident


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