Thursday, October 09, 2008 

The Abu Beavis and Abu Butthead trial begins.

Hot on the heels of the semi-collapse of the liquid bombs trial, one half of the Abu Beavis and Butthead team, the other half having sadly expired after setting himself on fire, along with a supporter and funder, are up before the beak charged with conspiracy to murder and and conspiracy to cause explosions.

In a way, Bilal Abdulla and Mohammed Asha were actually far less successful even than their counterparts in the liquid explosives case; they, after all, had no chance of actually carrying out their plot due to their being under constant surveillance by the security services, even without the doubts about whether their plot was viable being brought in. The idea of planes exploding mid-flight over the Atlantic however, especially when both politicians and police had conspired to describe the non-existent threat from the gentlemen as a plot to mass-murder on an unimaginable scale, did far more to frighten and cause fear in the general public than Abdulla and Asha's actual failed attempts did. After all, the thought that someone could carry a bomb onto a plane that is no bigger than a soft drink bottle and which can destroy it utterly is terrifying: how do you mitigate against it happening? Abdulla and Asha however, through both their sheer incompetence and the politicians and police who unlike the previous year, reacted calmly and efficiently, with it quickly becoming apparent that the men didn't actually have any genuine explosives other than petrol and patio gas canisters, pretty much didn't scare anyone. This was almost comedy, and it should have been responded to in such a way.

Such an attitude was never going to be present in the case against them, but the prosecution has already succeeded in going over the top in their descriptions of just what could have happened had the "bombs" exploded. The problem with this is that they were never going to, for, as the prosecution freely admits, there wasn't enough oxygen present in the cars left outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub for there to be the right mixture with the gas to cause even the beginning of a fireball. The intention was to cause the "detonation" via mobile phones, but they apparently tried this on several occasions, and due to the lack of a sufficient oxidiser, failed on every count. Jonathan Laidlaw QC's statement that

"[T]he repeated attempts to detonate the vehicles failed but that was not through any lack of effort by the bombers. It was no more than good fortune that nobody died."

is not completely erroneous, but isn't that far off. Yes, there was no lack of effort from the "bombers", but that same effort in the construction of the "bombs", with there being no oxidiser, meant that good fortune wasn't necessary: no one was going to die that night. The same goes for Laidlaw's similiar statement that

[H]ad it been executed in the way intended it would have resulted in the loss of many lives ...

Well yes, their intention was undoubtedly to kill people. Intention and properly executing that intention are two entirely different things.

In the worst case scenario, if the gas had been sparked by the phone, there would have been a fireball, which would have Italian Job style perhaps blown the doors off, and perhaps distributed some of the nails into the vicinity. If someone had been reasonably close to the cars, the flying debris could have seriously injured or killed them, if "good fortune" had been on the side of the men responsible and if the luck of those passing was truly out that night.

Similarly puzzling is the description of the following day's "attack" on Glasgow airport as a suicide mission, as there is no indication apart from Kafeel Ahmed's dousing himself with petrol that this was to result in their deaths. The trial might perhaps clear up what did happen that day, as it still remains unclear: had they already set some of the petrol on fire before ramming into the airport's entrance, in the hope that it would heat the canisters up and cause them to explode, or had something else gone wrong with their apparent panicky attack? Either way, this further showed how canisters, even when close to fire, need to be heated to a very high temperature before they'll burst, something which they failed to do despite as the prosecution saying, the fire burning "fiercely".

Also rather rhetorical and not backed up by facts was Laidlaw's statement that one of the most "extraordinary things" about the case was that Asha and Abdulla were doctors. Taking the Hippocratic oath is no barrier to becoming a terrorist: Ayman al-Zawahiri himself was a surgeon, something he is still referred to as. You don't have to bring up Harold Shipman to know that doctors can harm as well as heal; their employment hardly affects their politicial views. The "evil" doctor is as much a cliche as the crazy psychiatrist.

It'll also be interesting to note if any allegations are made of al-Qaida connections. The media at the time speculated furiously that this inept attempt at bomb-making was their work, but there has been nothing whatsoever so far to substatiate it. Nothing also seems to have been brought up today regarding it, other than that the two men with Ahmed made up a "small" cell. Their lack of connections with al-Qaida can be taken as either good or bad news depending on your outlook. It can be seen as good in the sense that the group itself does not appear to have numerous sleeper cells waiting for the call to come for them to start their own plots or attacks, despite the claims that there are up to 2,000 terrorists supposedly just waiting to do us harm, and that gaining access to both the group and to its undoubted expertise in bomb-making is far more difficult than has been made out; while also bad in that if this small cell was apparently operating purely out of its interest, with no wider allegiances, that there are likely to be other such fanatical small sects, perhaps building each other up towards the ultimate aim of launching attacks, completely out of the sight of the security services and police as these 3 apparently were. The upside to that is that are obviously far less likely to be knowledgeable in making explosives or causing explosions, as even the scientific knowledge of these men apparently didn't help them.

Either way, while we ought to remain concerned about the possibility of groups such as these growing in confidence and expertise, the biggest threat by far still remains those who have gone to fight in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Iraq or the slightly more exotic jihadi breeding grounds, such as Somalia or Algeria/Morocco, perhaps even Yemen returning and bringing their knowledge back from what their own leaders have described as "universities" of terror. The two bomb attempts outside Tiger Tiger were originally linked by the press to al-Qaida in Iraq's car bombs, for example, but if there's one thing the ISI knows how to make it's bombs that actually work to horrific effect, as their released videos showcasing "martyrdom operations" testify, and they involve explosives, not gas canisters, although a recent attack did involve the use of a fuel tanker as the VBIED. The use of suicide attacks where vehicles are packed with genuine explosives are probably the biggest nightmare of the authorities, outside of the tiny risk of the use of so-called "dirty bombs" or chemical or biological weapons. Explosives though are difficult to come by in this country, hence why our attackers have favoured the more easily available hydrogen peroxide. All this is further reason not to fearmonger or overstate the deadliness of Abu Beavis's and Abu Butthead's "device"; should a real one come along we might well regret claiming that it could have caused such mass murder when a real one undoubtedly would.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007 

Scum-watch: Remove our rights, big boy!

Hey kids, guess what time it is! We've just had two attempted "terrorist" attacks, the political parties have reacted stoically and without resorting to new knee-jerk initiatives, and the country in general, rather than being in the slightest bit frightened of these comedy jihadists is laughing in their face. Yep, you've got it, the Scum's started yet another campaign to rip up the "hated" human rights act!

It's difficult to tell whether the Sun actually ever dropped in its initial campaign, started in May of last year to "put an end to the human rights madness that is horrifying the country", but as with many of its short-lived campaigns which come to naught, it was dropped relatively quickly, even if the odd editorial continues to demand its repeal. Also worth keeping in mind is the fact that the Sun had a major hand in Blair's initial "the rules of the game are changing" speech, which signalled the start of the attempt to introduce 90 days detention without charge for terrorist suspects. While the country dozed in the silly season, the Scum was demanding the politicians return from their own break to "do something", which Blair duly did, without bothering to consult either Charles Clarke, the then home secretary, or the Tories and Liberal Democrats, who had been working with him on whether any new legislation.

The paper seems to have brought the big guns out for its latest attempt, no doubt in a strident effort to try to influence Gordon Brown, long rumoured to be considering a bill of rights, which he announced consultation on in today's statement on constitutional change. The main article is written by Trevor Kavangah, long the Scum's political editor and still someone with major clout in Whitehall, as well as the ear of Murdoch himself. Additionally, he's a complete cunt and is one of those arrogant hacks who thinks he knows exactly what his readers want, mainly because he tells them what they should.


BRITAIN is under siege — threatened by suicide bombers and murderers who have no fear of the law or respect for human life.

Under siege? More like pissed off that yet more incompetent idiots can bring in over-the-top security measures which only harm the economy and cause delays without doing anything to stop anyone who wants to try the same thing again. Life, believe it or not, goes on, pretty much the same as it always has and always will do.

Just about every shopping mall and sports ground is now a target for terror.

Yeah, and? Are we meant to be scared or not? Yesterday's Scum leader was about the "blitz spirit"; what is this except scaremongering?

Nuclear plants and water reservoirs are at risk of attack.

From fanatics armed with patio gas canisters and petrol cans, presumably.

And extremists are plotting to destroy the City of London — and our economy — with a nuclear “dirty bomb”.

*Yawn*. Would this dirty bomb be anything like the one that dear old Dhiren "Borat" Barot was planning? Considering how his brilliant plans for packing limos with gas canisters to destroy buildings have just been comprehensively debunked in the most public of manners, somehow I'm not particularly petrified.

Yet we ask our police and intelligence services to protect and defend us with their arms tied behind their backs.

Would those same tied-up arms be the ones which shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes, which shot one of the Koyair brothers, and which have moved with blistering speed in quickly capturing all the apparent members of the cell which perpetrated those excuses for attacks at the weekend?

Why? Because in an act of abject surrender to the libertarian left, Labour signed up to the EU Charter of Human Rights.

The first blatant mistake. There is no such thing as an "EU Charter of Human Rights"; there is a Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which Blair in his last act as prime minister gained an opt-out from at the recent meeting on the EU reform treaty, and there is a European Convention of Human Rights, but there's no such thing as an European Union Charter of Human Rights. The convention has never had anything to do with the European Union. This may actually be a Freudian slip which reveals the real reason that the Sun and Kavanagh loathe the HRA so much: they believe it's one and the same as the EU, which they additionally want out of.

Tony Blair ignored warnings that this would hamstring our response to organised crime and leave us wide open to abuses of British law.

And there is any evidence that it has done either? Nope, because it hasn't.

That was way back in 1998.

Long before Osama Bin Laden became a household name and before a horrified world watched his suicide killers bring down the Twin Towers on 9/11.

Nobody then imagined the explosion of violence that would sweep the Western world — from Bali to Spain and then to Britain itself.

Nor did we predict a flood of immigrants among whom would be many who wished to destroy our way of life.

None of which is anything to do with the Human Rights Act. Also, as we have seen, most of those recently convicted of terrorist plotting and offences were either born here or moved here long, long before Labour came to power, long before the Human Rights Act became law in 2000. The "flood" of immigrants has been from eastern Europe, not from the Middle East. Others sought asylum, again mostly before Labour came to power.

Or the explosion in crime that would fill our jails with 10,000 foreign criminals — one in ten of the prison population.

Crime has in fact been dropping for over ten years, but this is again besides the point.

But we knew pretty quickly that the Human Rights law was a disastrous error.

While other countries, like France, demanded opt-outs to preserve their own system of justice, Britain accepted it without amendment. The act stripped us of our power as a nation to defend ourselves from danger.

Wrong on all three counts. While we didn't seek opt-outs from any of the articles of the ECHR, we have signed but never ratified Protocol 4 and neither signed nor ratified Protocol 7 or 12. How can the act have possibly stripped us of our power to defend ourselves when we've launched a pre-emptive war against Iraq and previously derogated from Article 5 so that "terrorist suspects" could be held indefinitely without charge?

This lesson was brought home in 2000 when nine Afghans hijacked an airliner at gunpoint, forced it to land at Stansted and demanded asylum.

Jack Straw, then Home Secretary, promised to kick them out.

He was overruled.

All nine are still in Britain today, making a mockery of our support for international law and order.

Why? Because sending them home would be a breach of their human rights, even though our soldiers have risked life and limb to remove the Taliban — the reason for their flight from Afghanistan.

The real injustice about the Afghan hijackers has always been that they have been repeatedly attacked and libeled because they had the audacity to flee a country where their lives were threatened, using the only method that they possibly could. Yes, they hijacked an aircraft, yes, they took hostages, but no one was hurt or harmed in any way; they wanted freedom so badly they broke the law to do so. Despite all this, they've since been denied the right to work here, which they have always wanted so they can repay their debt to this society. That was why the case was brought last year when Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that the government was breaching the 1971 Immigration Act by denying them leave to remain, finally giving them the right, after another appeal by the government, to work.

Our soldiers may have risked life and limb to remove the Taliban, but it's been so successful, thanks in no small part to the Scum's support for the Iraq war that they've regrouped and begun their own insurgency. The other parts of the country are still unstable, ruled over by elected warlords who are still the real power brokers in the broken nation. The government itself eventually admitted that the decision made that they could not be deported back to Afghanistan was the right one - if only they'd accepted it in the first place.

This was long before 9/11, but it sent a signal to would-be migrants from every war-torn lawless state in the world that Britain was a soft touch.

Well, considering that the men were in prison until 2003 when they were freed on appeal and not given leave to remain until 2004, this is complete and utter bollocks.

Kavanagh interminably continues:

We began importing countless numbers whose first port of call was a lawyer on tap at taxpayers’ expense to spell out their human rights and entitlement to welfare.

The Twin Towers, in Tony Blair’s words, was a “wake up call”.

But Britain dozed on.

Far from spending the urgently needed cash to increase our security, we made known terrorists like Abu “Hooky” Hamza welcome here.

Abu Hamza first came here in 1979. We now know that the security services had long known about Hamza and had first contacted him, by Hamza's own account in 1997. With hindsight, it's easy to see that something should have been done about Hamza's hate preaching, along with that of others like Abu Qutada and Omar Bakri Muhammad, but there have been rumours that MI5 either recruited them or let them stay, not actually considering them a threat to this country, even if they were supporting or even fundraising for attacks overseas. The blame here lies far more with the security services and their sense of priorities than it does either with the government or the HRA.

When the London Tube bombers struck two years ago this coming Saturday, Tony Blair proclaimed a raft of new measures to reassure voters. They included 90-day detention, control orders for suspects and — most important of all — deportation of known and convicted terrorists.

Parliament rightly rejected 90-day detention; control orders, both illiberal and ineffective in equal measure were introduced; and deportations, rather than prosecuting of certain suspects have been tried, but again, rightly blocked when they are to countries where torture and mistreatment is known to be practiced. This isn't about their rights - it's about protecting our values, not giving into and joining in with abuse which goes against the human spirit itself.

When asked why he had not acted sooner, Mr Blair replied: “Just imagine the reaction if I had.”

In other words, he had failed to take the action he knew was urgently needed because it might be howled down by civil liberties protesters — whom he this week branded “loopy loo”.

Perhaps Kavangah should take this up with the police themselves, who consider that the powers they now have are more than adequate. They weren't demanding what Blair introduced in 2005 until 7/7 happened. It seems also that the Tories are now "civil liberties protesters", having had the backbone to stand up to Labour's draconian, illiberal authoritarianism.

Yet in a bizarre twist, Charlie Falconer, then Lord Chancellor, admitted the 7/7 fanatics might have been stopped if Mr Blair’s draconian new measures had already been in place.

That was in 2005. And this week we celebrate two years of culpable inaction.

As previously mentioned, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Seeing as we now know that the security services most certainly had Mohammad Sidique Khan on their radar, involved with the Crevice plot, they're far more culpable than anyone else. Falconer, not unusually, was talking out his backside. Two years of inaction? More like two years of consistent overreaction, and not introducing the right measures, such as wiretap evidence and recognising the need to prosecute rather than arbitrarily detain.

Here come the demands:

New Prime Minister Gordon Brown knows what to do. He must:

INCREASE the absurdly inadequate 28-day detention limit — preferably to 90 days as originally planned.

It's so absurdly inadequate that the full 28-days has only been used on one occasion, and that was rumoured to be because the police wanted to make a point rather than because they had to. Even the police themselves, after originally supporting the full 90-days are now questioning whether it's necessary.

OVER-RULE judges who rejected 24-hour control orders — leaving seven out of 17 dangerous terrorists free to disappear without trace.

I'm not even sure that there were any 24-hour control orders to begin with - the 6 Iraqis, some of which have gone missing, were on 18-hour curfew schemes before they were later put on 14-hour curfews after the judges' ruling. The point is that those men on these orders should be either prosecuted or released - with the introduction of intercept evidence to do so, something which the Scum isn't demanding.

DEPORT convicted terrorists to countries like Libya — even if lawyers argue they may be mistreated.

Strange how the Sun has picked Libya, whom we now have decent relations with because of the bringing in of Colonel Gadaffi from the cold, and not say, either Algeria or Jordan whom we've tried to reach "memorandums of understanding" with, which aren't worth the paper they're written on. Considering the treatment which the six medical workers accused of infecting children with HIV with have suffered while in Libya, it's still not the best advertisement for how those deported there are likely to get on. This whole demand though is bizarre; those we are attempting to deport to these countries as they are "not conducive to the public good" here have never been convicted of anything. Those who have been found guilty have years, if not decades still to spend in prison.

And BRING IN plea-bargaining so police can turn known terrorists into supergrasses like Mohammed Junaid Babar whose evidence helped jail the al-Qaeda gang who plotted to kill hundreds with massive fertiliser bombs.

The Sun making a decent suggestion?! Who would have thought it?

The British people should not be exposed to the fear of murder outlined by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith because of a shabby Human Rights Act that tolerates intolerance and puts our safety in deadly peril.

We must act to save ourselves before it is too late.

A hilarious choice of words by Kavanagh. That the HRA protects everyone from intolerance, whether it's "terrorist suspects" from torture, gives mothers the right for inquiries into how their daughters' came to be murdered, or even allows newspapers within the News International stable to attempt to overturn libel damages, rather than tolerates it is just the kind of lie that the Scum gets away with time and time again. The British people should not be exposed to the fearmongering by the tabloids, in turn rejecting laws which have done and will continue to do countless amounts of good. Repealing the HRA would make everyone of us less safe, take us further away from the justice the Scum claims to want and send a message that we're willing to downgrade our own freedom to fight those who want to destroy it entirely. In any case, the ECHR would still apply: simply that we'd have to go to Strasbourg for justice rather than to our own courts. It's the equivalent of cutting off our nose to spite our faces.

The next five pages are given over to examples of "human rights madness". The first is about the Afghan hijackers, which we've sort of already covered:

The gang demanded asylum claiming they were fleeing the Taliban. The then Home Secretary Jack Straw pledged to boot them out — instead the EU Charter of Human Rights kicked in. He was over-ruled, leading to legal action costing taxpayers millions. The nine were finally given permission to stay in the UK by the High Court in May last year.

There's the non-existent EU Charter of Human Rights again. Also, if the government had accepted the decision of the panel of adjucators in 2004, much of that cost could have been avoided. Blame the government, not the Afghans.

BRENDON Fearon, shot in the legs as he tried to burgle Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, was allowed to sue for compensation under the Human Rights Act.

The judge said it gave him a right to a full hearing. Fearon, 36, wanted £100,000. He only dropped his claim after The Sun proved it was a sham and he had made a full recovery.

From what I can see, Fearon's attempt to sue was again nothing to do with the HRA, although if anyone knows differently feel free to correct me. He was given legal aid of £5,000 to sue, that much is true. As for the Scum being responsible for the dropping of his claim, it seems more likely that Fearon dropped his claim in return for Martin dropping his own attempt to sue him.

FUGITIVE Mustaf Jama — wanted over the murder of PC Sharon Beshenivsky — is a career criminal who escaped deportation to his native Somalia by claiming it was dangerous for him to return.

Yet that is exactly where he fled after brave cop Sharon, 38, was shot dead in Bradford in 2005.

Jama, 27, arrived in Britain in the early 1990s for a life of crime.

Another decision that was right. Are we suddenly going to drop decades of practice and start deporting criminals at the end of their sentences back to countries' in a state of war, especially after they've spent much of their lives here, as Jama had done? If they want to take the risk, that's up to them. Would the Scum agree with deporting criminals at the end of their sentences back to Zimbabwe, for instance, or Iraq? Both are in similar states of chaos. Unfortunately, things like this do happen, and it's terrible that justice for
Beshenivsky has not been totally achieved. It shouldn't however alter our values in protecting anyone from deportation into what could be either death or mistreatment.

SERIAL killer Dennis Nilsen won the right to receive hardcore gay pornography in his cell after successfully arguing a ban infringed his human rights.

Nilsen, 60 — jailed in 1983 for murdering six young men — argued he had a right to “information and freedom of expression” under the Act. It led to dozens of similar claims.

How many more fucking times are we going to have read this tissue of lies? It's as old as the hills. Nilsen did not win the right to receive pornography; he lost his claim at the very first step. I somehow therefore doubt that it led to dozens of similar claims. If anyone would like to take the Scum to the PCC over this, if not the entire article, go ahead.


A PROTEST against the Mohammed cartoons in Denmark was allowed to continue even though many demonstrators carried sick placards.

They even called for beheadings. But the London demo last year could not be halted because it might infringe the human rights of those taking part.

Another load of lies. The police let the demonstration go ahead mainly because they were concerned about what the demonstrators might do if they started making arrests, in what was apart from the placards a peaceful demonstration, instead filming them and later bringing charges, with at least two of the men being convicted. The Met's statement at the time said:

"Those gathered were well natured and in the main compliant with police requests. Arrests, if necessary, will be made at the most appropriate time. This should not be seen as a sign of lack of action ... The decision to arrest at a public order event must be viewed in the context of the overall policing plan and the environment the officers are operating in. Specialist officers were deployed on both days to record any potential evidence should it be needed at any point in the future. All complaints will be passed to the public order crime unit for further investigation"

Last, and certainly least, we come to the Scum's leader, headlined

NEW Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s calm words only emphasised the menace facing Britain today.

Every shopping centre and sports ground in Britain is a potential terror target.

But that means any event where thousands of innocent civilians gather. Now and in the future.

That includes the remaining matches at Wimbledon where security is already intense.

Sunday’s grand prix will attract huge crowds. So will events like the Tour De France which starts in London, the golf open at Carnoustie and the Indian cricket tour.

And we haven’t even got to the start of the football season yet. Or the 2012 Olympics.

The implications of the Home Secretary’s warning are alarming. From now on, we can never take a big day out for granted.

Can you possibly guess what Wade says, after spending over 100 words pointing out all the places where the terrorists are going to set themselves on fire?

Yet she rightly stressed the need to remain calm.

Just like the Sun's entire coverage of this whole laughable incident.

We cannot be held to ransom by a few demented extremists who have hijacked and distorted an ancient faith. Britain has weathered worse threats than anything these fanatics can throw at us.

Ah, but we've still got to give up hard-won freedoms up, even so. Don't you understand?

But while we are prepared to face this threat, we must make sure our police and intelligence are properly equipped to minimise the risk.

Gordon Brown must act swiftly to change the Human Rights Act.

He must increase the period of detention from the present paltry 28 days to substantially more.

He must reverse judges’ rulings that 24-hour control orders are inhumane.

He should introduce plea- bargaining, so terrorists can be turned into high-grade supergrasses.

And most urgent of all, he must urgently upgrade powers to deport convicted terrorists.

If these vicious thugs repay our hospitality by trying to kill us, they don’t deserve the protection of our ludicrous human rights laws.

Wade has spoken. Are you listening, Gordon?

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Monday, July 02, 2007 

Pull yourselves together!

After a weekend of hyping up what in the end amounted to two men attempting to commit suicide in public via self-immolation, most of the media has thankfully gotten something of a grip. In fact, by far the most apocalyptic account of what supposedly took place was given by the man Gordon Brown's just appointed as his international security adviser. His article for the News of the Screws doesn't seem to be available online, but the New York Times has some choice parts from it:

At the same time, Mr. Brown’s newly appointed counterterrorism advisor, John Stevens, a former Scotland Yard police chief, said the attempted car bomb attacks signaled “a major escalation in the war being waged on us by Islamic terrorists.”

“It is not simply the horror of yet more attempts at mass murder that is so chilling — but the change in the psychotic thought processes behind it,” Sir John said in a column in the British Sunday tabloid The News of the World. He added, “Now it is clear a loose but deadly network of interlinked operational cells has developed.”

“Al Qaeda has imported the tactics of Baghdad and Bali onto the streets of the U.K,” he said.

If this is a war, then it's a pretty poor substitute for what the citizens of Afghanistan are currently suffering, being shot amongst by the Taliban and real remnants of al-Qaida and bombed into mass graves by the disproportionate response of the Nato forces. Let's not give what some have described as bombers with learning difficulties more credit than they deserve: these may have been attempts at mass murder, but their desire for such a number of fatalities was not only not achieved, but would never have been achieved. It's not by any means clear that there's a loose network; a loose network of moral support maybe, and as we've seen it's certainly not deadly. It's also nonsense that these are tactics taken from Baghdad and Bali: the car bomb has been around for decades, and as much as some point at how Islamic extremism breeds hatred and jealousy of places like nightclubs, it's as much down to the fact that they're soft targets where large numbers of people gather in a confined space.

It's well worth comparing Stevens' belligerence with the stance taken today in the Commons by Jacqui Smith. She seemed to take a leaf out of Ken MacDonald's book, when he argued earlier in the year that there was no such thing as a war on terrorism, rather that those involved in such plots were simply mass murderers and criminals. It's an admirable, simple argument, ignoring the twisted ideology behind it and as a result not giving it either credibility or the slightest veneer of respect. Compared to the brooding fearmongering of the gruesome twosome who were only finally deposed last week, it's a breath of fresh air, and a very welcome one. The only dampener was that Lord Carlile, it has to be said probably at the behest of the BBC, just had to raise the grim idea of raising the period of detention without charge, when so far the consensus from all parties has been to say that's for discussion at another time.

The revelation that none of those seemingly involved in the attempted bombings are British-born is welcome, although as Jason Burke argues, that's not because there aren't willing accomplices or supporters here, more that this seems to have been a sleeper cell that has been woefully funded, if at all. It isn't beyond comprehension that they all could have planned to do this of their own accord a year or two back, and for some reason known only to themselves didn't bother to do any research beyond thinking that packing some patio gas canisters into a car along with petrol and a few nails would kill people.

The amount of comment now descending upon us about the fact that at least two of the suspects are doctors, and all appear to be middle-class, well educated men from stable family backgrounds seems to have ignored almost everything we already know about those who have previously carried out such attacks and who have been attracted to suitably radical groups. Poverty itself is an incredibly poor qualifier to predicting who might become radicalised, mainly because those who are more concerned with living from day to day don't have the time to spend either researching for themselves or attending such groups. While there is concern, probably too much given to radicalisation going on on university campuses in this country, ones across the Middle East, while also having the same liberal fringes here, have a lot more influence than perhaps we've yet to admit. Many jihadis seem to share similar qualities: while there is always the hot-head fringe, equally those with the opposite personality are represented, the shy, inward and quiet, of whom you'd never suspect of having such beliefs. They are the Mohammad Siddique Khans, the teaching assistants who seem friendly, well-adjusted and normal but who inside are increasingly angry, depressed and feel inadequate. These are the ones likely to be the doctors, caring, kind and tender with their patients but still prepared to die for their ideology and turn the Hippocratic oath on its head. After all, al-Zawahiri himself has a masters degree in surgery.

Another interesting point raised has been by Hassan Butt, previously of Al-Muhajiroun, who has come out and pointed the finger squarely at the Muslim community itself for not doing enough soul-searching into its own failure to adequately condemn and challenge the radicals. The government itself has slowly realised this, through its attempts at wooing the Muslim Council of Britain, which has only blamed foreign policy and nothing else. Sunny recently challenged Bunglawala over this and didn't manage to get a proper response out of him. It's more than obvious that foreign policy has had a major effect in making Britain a target, as even government ministers have privately admitted, with the number of plots and muted attacks spiraling since the Iraq war, but the anger was always there, and it is about the decadence and hedonism of modern society, the lack of an Islamic identity, the global ummah, the clamour for Sharia and the impossible but idealistic lust for an eventual worldwide Caliphate, even if one has never existed in any form on the shores of Britain, having only ever reached as far as Spain. Butt is right that there has to be a lot more dissent within the Muslim community about how the theology itself is interpreted, but the very last thing we should do is dismiss it as "their problem" and that it's for them to sort out, as Lord Stevens has previously done. This is something we are all going to have to face up to, and it's going to be an issue for far longer than any bombing campaign will be. Rachel goes into this in a bit more detail.

On a lighter note, it's highly amusing to see the Scum's token Muslim, the Glenda in a veil Anila Baig apparently having a nervous breakdown in print, so frightened is she that she'll be the next one to be caught in the fire started by suicidal terrorists armed only with petrol. Behold:

But the fact that we don’t know where the next car bomb will be found leaves me sickened and petrified. Not for me the pleas from the Home Secretary and PM to carry on as normal.

I’m sorry, I can’t.

Well, uh, you've written this piece, haven't you? To be fair to Baig, she's more voicing the concerns of being targeted because of who she is, something which anyone unfortunate enough to have brown skin is probably feeling right now, a little insecure of how with every attack or even failure some see our own neighbours and friends as the enemy within, helped along by the breathless reporting of incompetent failures. She shouldn't be scared though, none of us should. If this is the best that "al-Qaida" can do, then this "war" is already over.

The other coping mechanism for the tabloids is to once again dredge up the blitz spirit, as the Scum's leader does, something which seems more of an insult to the tens of thousands that died in and suffered the German bombing raids than it is either necessary or appropriate. As Lewis Page, an ex-bomb disposal operator argues on the Register:

Remember, this country carried on successfully for six years with hundreds - thousands, sometimes - of tons of explosives raining down on it every night for six years, delivered by very competent Germans who often died doing that job. The civilian death toll was around 60,000 according to most sources; the equivalent of 20 9/11s, more than three for every year of the war. Civilisation was not brought down. Germany and Japan withstood even greater violence, and survived it too.

Our parents and grandparents stood that kind of punishment, not to mention four times as many military dead, and got on with life. Sad though it is to confirm the oldsters' world view, by comparison our generation - our generation's journalists, anyway - seem a bit lacking in backbone. If all we have to put up with is an occasional 7/7, that's background noise by comparison - it should merit the same sort of headlines, the same political response as motorway pileups or airline crashes.

And if all we have to deal with is clusterfucks like the one just past, it should merit the same headlines and response as my local youths; essentially none (Maybe some sort of special cop/spook taskforce with sweeping unconstitutional powers to hand out clips round the ear. Yes yes, I know, there'd be some kind of legal problem).

Move along; nothing to see here.

They're not terrorists, they're just stupid boys.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007 

Abu Beavis and Abu Butthead do jihad.

Wow, these fuckers really are deadly, aren't they? First they leave two bombs apparently containing no explosives in central London, almost hoping that they'd go off of their own accord; next they succeed in setting fire to the vehicle they're in before they'd even managed to get anywhere near Glasgow airport, with some reports suggesting that after they'd escaped from the jeep, at least one of them already on fire, another pouring petrol around himself and the car, leaving those witnessing this idiocy with the conundrum of whether they should piss on them or not.

Despite it being apparent that those behind these attacks appear to be a bomb short of a timer, the brown trousers-o-meter has now been raised to its highest level, up from shit-speckled to bathing in excrement. This seems just ever so slightly belated, but it never hurts to make the public panic just that little bit more.

The reporting on the car bombs discovered in the early hours of yesterday morning is still confused over exactly what they were made up of, but the consensus appears to be that there was at least 60 litres of petrol, along with gas cylinders most likely containing propane, with a substantial amount of nails included. Whether there were any actual explosives or not is the real question: on Newsnight last night Mark Urban appeared to suggest that there weren't, and others have seized upon this. If there were none present, those responsible may well have been counting on opening one or more of the cylinders, letting the gas build up, then detonating it by ringing the mobile phone, creating the spark needed to ignite it. If this was the case, then either it was discovered too soon and the simple removing of the mobile phone made the whole thing relatively safe, or it failed to work altogether. The failure of the second bomb to explode might mean that the first was also doomed to fail, intervention by the quick thinking of an ambulance crew and the bomb squad or not.

The police themselves seemed to be moving towards the idea that the bombs were not as deadly as some initially made out last night, by changing their description of the devices subtly from "viable" to "potentially viable", as in they could have exploded, but probably without the "carnage" which we were initially informed they would have caused. The Register, which previously cast doubt on the viability of the alleged liquid bomb plot of last year is also already on the case, suggesting that those responsible had forgotten to include an oxidiser which would have turned the result from a fireball into an actually damaging and lethal explosion. This is why it seems so daft to instantly point the finger directly at al-Qaida: yes, those behind these attacks might be highly influenced by the Salafi, takfirist ideology, but if this is al-Qaida then they've got really, really sloppy and inept, compared to the ruthless amounts of planning which went into 9/11 and even 7/7 by comparison.

If the "attack" on Glasgow airport hadn't been carried out with such apparent incompetence, it would have been deeply worrying. One of the things we have yet to see in the west is the tactic perfected, especially in Iraq, of ramming vehicles laden with explosives into buildings with the driver then rapidly fleeing or "martyring" himself by setting off the bomb. At the moment we don't even know if the jeep contained anything other than the petrol which one may have still been trying to spread as he attempted to escape. Of course, it may be possible yet that this was an intended suicide bombing where like with the previous bombs, the materials failed to explode. No doubt we shall find out more shortly.

As could be expected, the Scum is already talking about "brainwashing imams" when there's little to no evidence to suggest that any imams are involved in indoctrinating, most of those who become radicalised either having started off in groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir, or through doing their own research online and meeting like-minded people off of it. 90 days is also inevitably mentioned. One of the bright spots so far has been that both Jacqui Smith and Gordon Brown have been calm, measured and eloquent in their statements, with no signs of there being a return to the bad old days of the Reid/Blair scaremongering partnership. Rachel perhaps says it best in remarking on the deaths so far from the flooding and continuing rain: that seems more of a threat right now than the blundering jihadist wannabes and their plague of burning cars.

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Friday, June 29, 2007 

Terror! returns.

Now get this, this is insider information, so don't go spreading it to widely, but you know that car bomb that was dealt with by a controlled explosion? Definitely the work of those Islamics. You know the sort? Beards, veils, beheadings, allah akbar, all that. Who else could it possibly be than al-Qaida? Alright guv, you got it all down?

That was presumably what "Whitehall" and "police sources" have been briefing to the thirsty hacks demanding information about the attempted attack outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Haymarket. This is despite us being similarly reliably informed that like 7/7, this was another attack that has come completely out of the blue, with no intelligence suggesting that any attempt at mass murder was forthcoming.

The only instant link to similar plots by Islamic extremists was that our old friend Dhiren Barot examined the possibility of using gas cylinders in packed limos in attempts to bring down buildings, and that those arrested under Operation Crevice had discussed the possibility of attacking the Ministry of Sound, although they hadn't seemed to have settled on any particular target. It doesn't fit with any of the other foiled alleged plots, including last summer's "liquid bombs" or the Birmingham beheading conspiracy. We're already being told that it's similar to car bombs used in Iraq, but up until recently most of the explosives used in suicide bombings were taken from left over Ba'athist stockpiles, or those created by the insurgent groups' own well-trained explosives makers. Neither does it appear to have been a suicide attack, unless the "martyr" chickened out at the last minute, the most favoured method of demolishing markets, checkpoints and police quarters in that poor, benighted country, with cars being dumped while full of explosives being preferred for attacking US troops or where security is of a higher level.

All of the above was written before it was confirmed that that a second device had been found, in the other Mercedes in Park Lane, where it had apparently been impounded following being given a ticket in the early hours of the morning in Cockspur Street. The existence of a second device instantly evokes the tactics previously used by jihadists in striking multiple targets at the same time, but it should also be remembered that the IRA used to plant multiple devices.

The point I was going to go on to make was that we shouldn't immediately rule out the possibility that this could be the work of a republican splinter group, either the Continuity IRA or the Real IRA, who planted bombs in London as recently as 2001, although they seem deadlier devices than are usually their handiwork, or the work of a lone, disgruntled individual such as Timothy McVeigh or David Copeland, but as this shows, speculating and guessing at such an early stage of an investigation when we don't know by any means the full facts is fraught with the danger of getting it horribly wrong.

The existence of a second device almost certainly rules out the possibility of these being suicide attacks where the bombers had second thoughts about going through with their mission, instead seemingly planted to either detonate at kicking out time or shortly after it was dumped, with the second then either exploded at the same time or to target the emergency services which would have arrived to treat the victims of the first bombing.

To speculate once again, the second bomb appears to have failed to explode, if the first itself was noticed and defused in time as it might well have been. The very nature of dumping cars in such a way leaves those doing so highly exposed, and you'd expect that we'll shortly have CCTV pictures of those doing so, although if they've got half a brain in their head you'd expect them to be suitably hooded or covered. Creating such improvised explosive devices which then fail to explode is also going to leave a large amount of fingerprints or DNA behind, which should be helpful to the police.

Again, as just mentioned on Newsnight, we should perhaps take comfort from the fact that there seems to have been no actual explosives found, at least in the first car; this seems to have been the work of amateurs, without the training of the 7/7 and 21/7 bombers for instance, hoping that the combination of gas and petrol would almost explode of its own accord. Whomever's responsible, we shouldn't be scared of these people, if anything we ought to be mocking them for their abject failure. What we can expect is that the usual suspects will be ramping up the fear, and pointing towards the need for further new anti-terror laws. They need to be resisted with the same vigour as if this hadn't taken place.

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