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Thursday, July 12, 2007 

Scum-watch: Continuing to bleat about terror.

We shall no doubt be treated tomorrow to a rant on how evil and insidious the BBC's mistake about the Queen walking out of a photoshoot was, especially considering the Scum splashed on it, but today we've instead got yet another leader on the terror threat:

GORDON Brown promises a new crackdown on terror.

He rightly insists Islamic terror began long before 9/11 and has little to do with Iraq.

But if that’s right, why didn’t we start defending ourselves sooner?

The problem is that it isn't right. While the government has previously claimed that it foiled an al-Qaida plot here around 2000, but has never bothered to release hardly any details, the threat we face now has been greatly exacerbated by the Iraq war. When the so-called "ricin" plot was foiled, it was claimed that it was an al-Qaida plot, with even Colin Powell using it in his presentation on Iraq's elusive weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations. The only problem with this is that there was no ricin, and Bourgass had no links to al-Qaida whatsoever.

It's widely acknowledged that there was something of a truce with the Islamic extremists present here in the late 90s, where MI5 either kept an eye on them, actively collaborated with some of them, with the deal being that as long as they weren't planning to do anything against Britain itself they would be somewhat tolerated. With the introduction of detention without charge in the anti-terror measures rushed through in the aftermath of 9/11, and later the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, the truce ended. Whereas those who previously might have gone to Afghanistan/Pakistan to train would have gone on to Chechnya or elsewhere, we now know that both Mohammad Sidique Khan and likely Muktar Ibrahim were instead either sent back here or decided to come back of their own accord. Around the same time, the Crevice plot was being foiled, which again came to its fruition after the Iraq war. We shouldn't be so naive to believe that Iraq is the only motivating cause: it isn't, there a myriad of them, and in any case, such murderous assaults against civilians can never be justified. To ignore however that the Iraq war, a illegal invasion which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians hasn't resulted in its own inevitable blowback is to be just as naive. It's also not as though our leaders weren't warned: the joint intelligence committee did just that, as did both MI5 and MI6.

The Sun is also suffering from a major loss of memory. Anti-terror legislation, either tightening the laws or expanding the range of offences has been a mainstay almost every year since 2001. 2001 also saw one of the most draconian pieces of legislation ever introduced: the permanent detention without charge or trial of foreign "terrorist suspects", rightly ruled as a breach of the Human Rights Act in 2004 by the House of Lords. In 2003 we witnessed tanks outside Heathrow airport, which just happened to coincide with the over a million strong anti-war march, itself nearly cancelled by ministers concerned about the state of the grass in Hyde Park. To try to pretend that we haven't tightened things up massively already, and at the expense of our own freedom and civil liberties is to imitate the ostrich and shove our heads into the sand.

Why did we tolerate extremists like Abu Hamza who mesmerised young Muslims, including 21/7 ringleader Muktar Ibrahim.

The Sun does have something of a point here. Hamza has certainly had influence over some of those who have gone on to attempt terrorist attacks, and he certainly should have been shut down much sooner than he was. If anything, as much to blame is the fact that we've tried to tolerate almost anyone, even hot-heads preaching doom, in the long held British tradition of freedom of speech. It's only been recently that we've abandoned such a noble ideal. It's easy to see these things with hindsight, but this is something that has now be dealt with. All the evidence now points to the radicalisation process taking place online, with young men doing research themselves and finding like-minded others, rather than anyone coming under the influence of extremist imams in mosques.

If the threat was known, why didn’t Mr Brown as Chancellor provide funds earlier to boost national security?

Uh, he has. MI5 has expanded rapidly thanks to those funds. In any case, we have still yet to get an explanation to why on the 6th of July 2005 the former head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller told MPs that the terrorist threat was under control. Within a year and six months, from being under control she spoke of there being up to 30 plots, and 200 terrorist groups or networks active in the UK. Had MI5 cocked up, or was there a massive swelling in those plotting, which might well undermine the argument that Iraq has had little to do with the increased threat? We simply haven't been told.

The Sun bows to no one in support for our police and intelligence services.

But who can feel reassured by their handling of the 21/7 bomb plot?

Yes, the bombers were caught, charged and each jailed for an exemplary 40 years.

But it was all by accident.

If we're to believe what we've read, then since then they've foiled at least two plots, the so-called liquid bombs from last summer, and the beheading in Birmingham from earlier this year. It's strange that in all of this, the only person who died as a result of 21/7 seems to have been forgotten. Jean Charles de Menezes ought to be the defining image of how it was handled; yet he's disappeared from view. Additionally, it seems that the public themselves are mostly reassured: in a poll conducted by the Scum itself, 62% felt safe, with 29.9% saying they didn't.

Had ringleader Muktar Ibrahim got his sums right, hundreds of victims would have been slaughtered by a man who should have been behind bars.

Where these hundreds are coming from is anyone's guess. The judge said at least 50, which seems a much more likely figure, especially considering how the attacks were not conducted during rush hour like 7/7 was, with tubes and buses being crowded. As for him being behind bars, that's also doubtful. He was charged with a public order offence for distributing extremist literature in Oxford Street, but even if he had turned up for his court appearance or the police had tracked him down, it seems unlikely that the sentence would have been that harsh, or would have necessarily stopped him from going later.

Ibrahim was known as a violent criminal and an associate of an al-Qaeda operative.

Yet he was given a British passport which allowed him to fly to Pakistan for terrorist training.

When a new UK passport is issued every five minutes, who knows how many more like him are at large?

Of more concern than the fact he was given a UK passport is that when he attempt to fly Pakistan he was stopped by Special Branch officers at Heathrow, only to be let board a later flight despite having a large amount of money in cash and suspicious documents in his possession. At the very least they ought to have discovered that he was due up in front of court and so should not have been leaving the country, or indeed that he been photographed at what was considered a "terrorist holiday camp" in the Lake District with his fellow-bombers, but there was no follow-up investigation.

It is worth asking because Britain has stopped cross-checking with Interpol.

Now we are to get a new computer — but it will take four years to build.

We must just hope that al-Qaeda keeps making mistakes.

Yes, because as we know, al-Qaida is definitely behind all these attacks. If anything, the sheer amount of times that al-Zawahiri has treated us with his sermons of late, 3 having been issued by al-Qaida's media organisation, as-Sahab in the last two weeks, shows the desperation that appears to be growing. The real danger now is not from what was al-Qaida in 2001, but rather from its ideology which we have done much to spread through our own counterproductive methods. Groups with their own agendas in different countries, including both Iraq and Algeria have pledged allegiance to bin Laden more than anything so they can join the al-Qaida brand, such as it is. We openly play into this by describing nearly all terrorism linked to extremist Islam as either al-Qaida or al-Qaida-inspired, giving credit where it is most certainly not due. The insurgency in Iraq, made up of dozens of disparate groups, not just limited to Sunni Islamists, but also including Sunni nationalists and even Shia groups which additionally plant IEDs targeting the American forces, each with their own aims and motives, is nearly always referred to as al-Qaida simply because the most dangerous and despicably brutal group happens to have taken that group's name on. Tackling the grievances without giving into them is what will slowly but surely calm the threat.

Until then, the Scum will no doubt be trying its best to scare the average Briton into thinking how desperately we need more than 28 days detention without charge, something that is given a big write-up, despite it being well down the order of priorities set out by Brown in yesterday's announcement prior to the Queen's speech in the autumn. If the extremists are so woefully funded and additionally ignorant or insistent on attempting spectacular attacks they could never realistically pull off and that they believe they can cause mass casualties using containers filled with petrol and garden gas canisters, then that already shows just how pathetic the threat currently really is. I think we can live with those kind of mistakes.

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I agree with you about Menezes. I have had a petition on the Downing Street website for several weeks calling for a public inquiry about his killing. Twelve people have signed it so far! Not even all my friends have been bothered. Please consider signing and blogging about it so others might sign
http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Menezes/as we approach the 2nd anniversary. I have no connection whatever with the case - I am someone who doesn't want a police force capable of shooting dead innocent civilians at will and getting away scot-free.

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