Terror cops in Wales mistake jazz musician for terrorist

Britain's crazy anti-terror laws lend themselves to being brought into action by any kook, something that's been borne out again recently after a jazz musician in Wales was subject to an armed terror-squad raid after a tipster told them they thought he was a terrorist (he has brown skin, a soundproofed recording studio, and drinks "ethnic" West Indian beverages).
Victor Frederick, 63, was arrested and strip-searched just yards from his home, just moments after his partner Andrea Heath and their daughter had infra-red sights trained at them and were told they would be shot if they moved.

No charges were ever brought against Mr Frederick...

But Mr Frederick, who has lived in Cardiff for 35 years and is originally from St Kitts in the West Indies, told how:

police confiscated apparently suspicious items, which included a video of boxer Muhammad Ali and a ceramic urn containing a traditional West Indian drink;

police interpreted soundproofing equipment and wiring from his musical studio as a potential sign of illicit activity;

he was followed by a police helicopter flying just above him more than two weeks after last month’s raid on his house in Holmesdale Road, Grangetown.

Terrified musician targeted in armed anti-terror raid (Thanks, Carl!)


  1. Charming. I wonder if the “civil minded” tipster who called the police will ever be identified?

  2. Being tailed by a helicopter would be awesome. I’d take up vacation days from work just to get to spend my entire day trying to shake them off or something else Enemy-of-the-State-like.

  3. Brave police again saving civilians from the terrible threat of so called ‘jazz’ music. Jazz music can cause smoking of marijuana cigarettes, lack of patriotism and questioning of authority. Thankfully a disaster was averted, thanks to the intelligence of counter-terrorism operatives. Good job, boys!

  4. Britain is making America’s anti-terror folks look more reasonable by the day. I used to think they were using “Nineteen Eighty Four” as a manual for statecraft, but now I’m leaning toward “Brazil.” At least Orwell’s despots were competent.

  5. All this is hardly surprising when there are police posters all over the place encouraging people to report “suspicious behaviour.” The guy is black and he’s musician: endless possibilities for abuse an victimisation of all kinds.

  6. <sarcasm>This is only a problem because public is not accustomed to police raids. Government needs to up the number of raids per person per week until raids are seen as part of normal human life. Then and only then we can be safe from terror.</sarcasm>

  7. It is another case of things gone barking mad. The underlying cause is simple. Intelligent persons tend to avoid certain career paths. Sadly leaving many sensitive positions in society bereft of intellect. From that we have what a friend taught me to watch out for.

    Folks who wound up spending their whole lives overcompensating for being denied a “Hall Monitor” posting in school. And they are often stupid in addition to the first malfunction. The Trifecta of terror warrior staffers is when that profile gets handed arbitrary power.

    It ends up with things like this case. I suspect many aspects being explained by simple stupidity. Perhaps it’s the result of staffing “security sensitive” departments with plainly clueless persons. From top to bottom, Clue Possession is a fatal sin to be shunned it would seem.


    Too true. Mediocrity rules in oppressive regimes cause who wants someone under you smart enough to replace you?

  9. We should use an aikido principle here — flood them with ‘tips’ until the ridiculous nature of the system tips over under its own weight.

  10. I agree, I am really really really glad I don’t live in England.

    This is the sort of thing that reminds me of the Alfonso Cuarón movie Children of Men. Anti-alien/ethnic sentiment, overly aggressive and incompetent police force allowed to run rampant. Straight from the synopsis.

  11. Wonder what the guvment would do if they got thousands of ‘tips’ a day? And wonder how the hundreds or thousands of every-day Britons would react if the police became that constantly intrusive? If they got FLOODED with ‘tips’? What’s Anon. up to these days, anyway?

  12. If YOU don’t want this going on and going further then YOU have to spread the word.

    Infect others with your radical notion of “freedom” and explain how getting gunned down by incompetent policemen with night goggles is no better than getting hurt by terrorists or other ne’er do wells.

    It isn’t just in Britain and USA. The western world is losing its marbles. Daily news read like the historical accounts of the fall of Rome (well, almost). Corruption and insanity on the rise in all branches of government.

  13. FTA: “South Wales Police has a duty to thoroughly investigate all potentially suspicious incidents in order to protect our communities.”

    …and apologize profusely after fucking said duty up.

  14. My initial thought was: Do you know how quickly helicopters guzzle fuel? That would cost a FORTUNE. It would be cheaper to pay someone a decent salary full-time to follow him around for years.

  15. “…and apologize profusely after fucking said duty up.”

    Did they apologize? I didn’t see that.

  16. Airshowfan@22: That was my thought too. Couldn’t he have just asked them to take him up in it and saved them some trouble while riding around the city in style for a while?

    And why did they have snipers trained on his partner / kid? Did they really see them as a threat or were the cops holding them hostage. What if the kid had raised a hand to scratch her face? Would they have just blown away an innocent child?

    If not now, when will we have had enough?

  17. brainspore, excellent, but on the upside – central services is predictably incompetent, which is nicer (as long as you’re on the the inside).

  18. I would keep a large pad on me to write notes to the helicopter:

    “Can I Haz A Ride?”
    “This is my pet helicopter”

    I would call a bunch of friends to meet me indoors and all put on the same clothes and hat then leave and disperse.

    I would bring my pet helicopter to a place that requires silence, like a library or a concert to see how many complaints the police get.

    I would call 999 and report a terrorist in a helicopter conducting surveillance.

    I would go where there was legal pyrotechnics, fireworks, a gun range, anywhere it would be dangerous for a helicopter to go.

    The fun would be endless. Except for the part about almost getting my family killed by power-mad morons, that is.

  19. My note to the Head Constable of the area:


    I’d like to congratulate you on your good work! Upstanding citizens such as myself from as far away as Mill Valley, California, USA – a small town just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco – have been hearing through the Internet all about your admirable success in terrorizing and thoroughly terrifying sinister “jazz” musician Victor Frederick. As we all know, the production and consumption of such “jazz” music leads to such society-fracturing activities as dancing, the smoking of marijuana cigarettes and drinking of strong cocktails, wearing of immodest “funky threads,” and the pursuit of a general lifestyle of “grooviness.” It is but one small step beyond such activities to full-blown terrorism and extremist subversive activities. Please do relay my personal compliments to all officers and personnel involved in the raid, and convey technique and proper best practices to the local police units of Marin County, California, USA so that I may have the pleasure of being myself terrorized and scared completely shitless for the crime of drawing subversive “art” and so-called “avant-garde comic books.”

    Anja Flower
    Upstanding citizen.

    I wonder if he’ll reply?
    @WOBINIDAN I took a riff or two from your comment, I hope you don’t mind.

  20. Oh, and of course I would videotape all of these shennanigans and upload them immediately to YouTube.

    “Your taxes at work”
    “If you can read this small print you are going to crash the helicopter”
    “Look out for the power lines”
    “While you are up there, can you save the cat in that tree”
    “Lower a line and I will give you a sandwich”

  21. SimonBarSinister: Nice thinking cap you’ve got there! I’m sure it has a propeller on it. ;D

    Anjaflower: You rock!


  22. @PHIKUS Why thank you! I am very excited to see what email comes back, if indeed one comes back at all.

  23. OK, so he’s in his sixties. And he’s lived in the same area for 35 years. And played at police benefits. But c’mon guys, give the police a break – he’s black.

  24. Citizens of the U.K., your attention, please.

    You are now all residents of The Village. You no longer have names, you are now merely numbers. You will be under constant surveillance. Any un-mutual behavior will be instantly and severely punished.

    Or, you can choose to cast off your numbers and be free men and women.

    The choice is yours.

    Choose Wisely.

  25. I’m moving to the UK next year. I have a beard and lots of foreign books, and I like to take photographs, but my skin is pale and I have a non-ethnic-sounding name (unless you count Irish as ethnic). What’s the over-under on my getting harassed?

    (Not actually sure how much I’m kidding on this one. Ugh.)

  26. #38: Being as the IRA (or some facsimile thereof) has started acting the goat again, I’d be bloody careful if I were you. However, the beard and the penchant for reading will probably be enough. Welcome, BTW, do enjoy your stay…

  27. someone should investigate the smart@$$ tipster and publicly shame him/her and make an example of his idiocy. i dont see how urns and videos of Muhammed ali could be used in terrorist activities, but i definitely feel sorry for those who live int the police/surveillance state.

  28. @ simonbarsinister :

    I would go where there was legal pyrotechnics, fireworks, a gun range, anywhere it would be dangerous for a helicopter to go.

    You mean like the airport? It’d be tough for a helicopter to follow you into the airspace surrounding an airport, and even if it go clearance to, after a few minutes of disrupting the air traffic, they’d want to know who was so dangerous that needed to be followed 24/7.

  29. Good thinkin’ there, DJQ!

    the jazz is played freely
    the neighbors get squealy
    and they’ll try to hush ya
    in Soviet England oops

  30. Everyday I pop on the web to see whats going on in the world.

    It seems to only make me angry anymore.

    Its my fault really for caring about what I think every human being should have.

    One square foot of respect.

    That one square foot where he can stand and be. There is no place to stand. There is no justice.

    I am reminded of this daily.

  31. ok, Europe usually set the trends that Americans end up adopting about 7 years after the fact. If this is any indicator…I’m picturing a Orwellian State by 2016. Live it up while you still can!

  32. Bumlooker @46
    Everyday I pop on the web to see whats going on in the world. It seems to only make me angry anymore.

    I have the same problem. I am totally at a loss as to what to do about it. I can’t think of anything that I personally can do to fix the world (other than donate to groups like the EFF and the ACLU that MIGHT be able to do something about it).

    The real kicker is that if I went to a psychologist about this, I would probably be diagnosed with paranoid delusions. My problem is not that I’m disconnected from reality, it’s that I’m TOO connected to reality. Needless to say, putting my head in the sand and ignoring what’s going on in the world won’t make it go away.

    In all seriousness, we should start a support group.

  33. @46 & 48-

    Ditto. I can’t wake up anymore without extreme anger at the world. Not even all the world anymore, just the actions of supposed first-world countries bring me to the point of rage. Between BB & Slashdot, I have this constant feeling like I live in a Bizzaro world where logic is a form of comedy to the locals.

    It’s like I wake up everyday to a dream I don’t want to have, but it’s not the dream I hate, it’s what people are doing in it.

    What happened to this man is beyond sad. It stinks of ratting a harmless man out to a Gestapo. I cannot understand how so many curtain twitching spineless madmen live in Brittan now.
    I blame lack of education, fear, & darker human nature

  34. > why not email them and ask them what they will say
    > when they gun down an innocent man on a “tip”?

    “What will you say when blah” is not much of a question. You could ask them “Will it be an acceptable mistake when you gun down an innocent man on a tip?”

    Or “If the daughter had moved, and the sniper had shot her, would he have gotten a reprimand or a medal? If the sniper shot the daughter and she lived, what would you charge her with?”

  35. Its what happens when you blow a certain situation out of proportion.
    Think for a moment, there are roughly 1.6 million Muslims in the UK, according to the head of MI5 last November, there are “at least 2,000 people in the UK who posed a threat to national security because of their support for terrorism”
    (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7718240.stm) which is roughly 0.125% of the UK’s Muslim population.

    Now take a look at the news, the posters around London and other cities, and the general way that the media have blown the whole thing well out of proportion and made the other 1,598,000 people potential suspects.
    Hate crime, unjustified arrests, false accusations, segregation, prejudice etc, is it really surprising?

  36. @ 17 wales, not england!

    do not assume that ethnic misunderstanding is at the root of this event. riverside is on the edge of one of the oldest established muslim communities in europe. i was shocked, still, to see those ‘these chemicals won’t be used in a bomb…’ billboards yards from where he was arrested and publicly strip searched. those of you familiar with the super furry animals might be familiar with the location:


    right next to the bridge which proclaims:
    ‘it’s brains you want!’

  37. Ok, that doesn’t does it! From now on, no more English Breakfast tea. I’d boycott Lipton, too, but I think some conglomerate named Lever Brothers bought them out decades ago.

  38. Grangetown gets a lot of armed police raids due to gang and drug related violence. I’m not surprised the Heddlu (Welsh for police) acted in a heavy handed manner, they always do.

    Leanne Wood on the other hand is a great rep, who really believes in what she does, so she’ll no doubt harrass the cops in the same way that they harrassed this muso.

    Oh and #53, that’s _Wales_ not England, we get touchy about that sort of thing ;)

  39. In a very depressing way, this reminds me of that 80s comedy sketch where an oafish copper arrests someone for “being in possession of curly black hair and thick lips”

    I’m not so worried about the police as I am about the armies of twisted curtain twitchers we seem to be breeding these days… all completely brainwashed, sitting on their plastic-covered sofas feeling fear and impotence. Very, very sad and equally dangerous :|

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