Leading article: Pakistan's threat is not exaggerated

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The Independent Online

The price of a free justice system is that, sometimes, a long and expensive trial will produce what many consider to be an unsatisfactory conclusion. Yesterday's acquittal of three men accused of helping to plan the 7 July bombings of London is an illustration of that price.

Yet however unsatisfactory the outcome might feel we have to accept the verdict of the jury that there was insufficient evidence to convict these individuals on the main charge against them. That is not to say the police and the prosecuting authorities were wrong to bring the case. Two of the individuals - Waheed Ali and Mohammed Shakil - were found guilty of plotting to attend a terrorism training camp in Pakistan. And the association of the three with the 7 July bombers (two of whom, Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammed Siddique Khan, also attended terrorism training camps in Pakistan) certainly merited the suspicion in which the police held them. This was no random fit-up. Indeed, the new Pakistan terror link can be regarded as a revelation of some importance.

In his brief trip to Pakistan this week, Gordon Brown came in for sharp criticism from some in Islamabad over the recent arrest of 11 Pakistani students in Manchester and Liverpool. There are legitimate questions about the quality of the intelligence that prompted that raid, especially since none of the men have since been charged with terror offences. And the Prime Minister certainly ought to have been more careful with his language in its aftermath. But the idea expressed by some in Pakistan that Britain is exaggerating the terrorism threat emanating from their country does not stand up to scrutiny. A heap of evidence in recent years from foiled terror plots against the UK has indicated the role of militants in Pakistan as a source of terror training and logistic advice for radicalised British Muslims. Yesterday's verdict serves to emphasise that connection.

It should be clear to all that the threat facing Britain is intimately connected with the unstable situation in Pakistan. London and Islamabad need to buckle down and work together to deal with this common menace. These squabbles are a distraction that neither can afford.

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