Thursday, 23 June 2011
West Dunbartonshire Council on parcel bomb alert
Jun 24 2011 Lennox Herald (main ed)
WEST Dunbartonshire Council is on parcel bomb alert after a number of councillors received international death threats.
Police last week gave elected members and mailroom staff a safety briefing and provided advice on how to look out for suspicious packages sent to their work – and home.
This comes after a council decision to boycott Israeli goods sparked outrage with some members of the Jewish community.
Some councillors have been bombarded with threatening emails, letters, and late night phone calls.
Councillor Jim Bollan said: “The death threats and vile offensive hate messages from right-wing Zionists will not work. The non-violent, proportionate boycott by the council remains in place and these death threats will not change that situation.
“In recent weeks I have been called a cretin, racist, bigot, anti-Semite, a******e, motherf*****, Nazi, idiot, lowlife, brainless, moron, scum, pervert, b******, w****r, savage, beast, animal, scumbag, Hitler and a p***k.
“The death threats have been handed to the police who are investigating. The police have briefed all councillors on personal safety issues including the handling of mail through the post.”
West Dunbartonshire Council agreed to boycott Israeli goods over two years ago in protest at the killing of Palestinians at the time – but it only came to the attention of Jewish people via the internet a few weeks ago.
Dozens of internet users have since retaliated online by calling for a boycott of this area and sending strongly-worded emails to councillors and even letters to the Lennox Herald complaining about the boycott, however, police recently became involved due to death threats being issued by a minority of people.
A briefing session was arranged for councillors and staff by police last week and a memo, which was sent out ahead of this special meeting, read: “Following the receipt of threatening emails by some elected members, Strathclyde Police wish to provide, as soon as possible, advice on personal safety and the handling of mail delivered to your homes.
“Thereafter, and having considered the level of risk, should you wish to have mail redirected to one of the main council offices, this will be arranged. Redirection can be for periods of 1, 3, 6 or 12 months.”
Council leader Ronnie McColl revealed that a suspicious package addressed to council chief executive David McMillan was received on Monday.
He said: “The mail room identified the box as it was heavily packaged – but it turned out to be a load of books that were apparently sent from the Israeli consulate.”
National newspapers, the Jerusalem Post and Jewish Chronicle, recently ran articles claiming the council boycott meant the banning of all Jewish books, however, the local authority insists this is not the case.
Council leader Ronnie McColl said: “The books recently posted by the Israeli consulate will be put to use in our libraries.”
Dumbarton police chief inspector, Fergus Byrne, said: “We are aware of the council policy and a number of comments being made about that policy on the internet.
“At this stage this is a matter for West Dunbartonshire Council, although naturally we will provide advice and guidance as required.
“No criminal acts have been reported to us at this stage.”