On the 7th July, 2005, London was hit by a series of bomb attacks carried out by suicide bombers travelling on public transport. Many were killed and injured, and the shock of what was to become known as 7/7 reverberated around the world. Very soon after the attacks, it was reported that the bombers were British citizens, and of the Muslim faith. Days later, the men were named, their addresses given out, and their families hounded by the media. Photos of them were shown on TV, and CCTV footage was played, showing them travelling to London, to carry out the attacks. It was revealed that these bombers were ‘known’ to the Security Services, and were being investigated as possible terrorist suspects, believed to be involved in bomb making. There was even the suggestion that they were under surveillance by MI5, and had ‘come to notice’ on many occasions.
Despite this suspicion, and hard intelligence, the men were allowed to meet up, travel together as a group to London, and left to carry out these bombings.
Yesterday, in South London, a serving soldier was killed by Muslim militants, in a residential street, near to the barracks of the Royal Artillery. He was run over by a car, and then killed with knives, and a meat cleaver. The murderers waited at the location, giving ‘interviews’ to bystanders, and then attacked Police Officers, when they eventually arrived on scene. Both men were later shot by Police, but not killed. The extensive news coverage of this event may well be the subject of another post, so I will not dwell on that here. One thing that struck a chord with me during the hours of ‘reporting’, and soundbite news casting, was that these men were ‘on the radar’ of the Security Services, and might well be known to them.
I am well aware that the Metropolitan Police have long been expecting attacks in the street in London. When I worked for them, I knew of exercises designed to deal with ‘Mumbai’ style incidents, where British-based terrorist groups, or individuals, would target a specific area, or type of victim. They would then open fire with guns, use explosives, or attack with knives, fully expecting, indeed hoping, to be killed by Police or the SAS. The point is to display the ease with which they can do this, the fact that they are prepared to die in the process, and to make the general public afraid to go about their everyday business. On a small scale, this is exactly what happened yesterday.
There are other incidents I could add to the list, but if we take these two events, separated by almost seven years, we still have to wonder how they were ‘allowed’ to happen. Despite numerous criticisms of the Security Services and Counter Terrorism Command, it cannot be denied that we have perhaps the best, and most efficient secret police network in the world. Its success rate is played down, and its activities often ridiculed, but underneath this smoke screen, it is chillingly effective. Formed at the time of Elizabeth 1st, in the 16th Century, the British Secret Service has had longer than most to perfect its art. Even though the powers that be might like us to believe that it is not really up to much, staffed by upper-class twits, and public schoolboys, this is far from the real picture, of a modern Secret Service, with a world-wide network of intelligence.
We have two choices to consider. the first is that our Anti-Terrorist capability is fundamentally flawed, and the forces charged with our ‘protection’ are at best bumbling idiots. Despite full knowledge of the suspects, and their intended actions, the attacks still happen. So, are we to believe that not a single member of the massive CTC, or the labyrinthine Security Services, is capable of doing his or her job? That seems highly unlikely. Since the invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, as well as the ‘Arab Spring’ interventions, anyone with the most basic education could have expected retaliation in this form. The recent revival of interest in Right-Wing politics here, has brought much attention on issues like Immigration, Deportation, and ‘Internment’ of suspicious foreigners. This will also highten racial and religious tensions, and it was obvious that something would happen as a result.
The second choice we have to face, is that these things are ‘allowed’ to happen. The startling fact that all the Security Services, Anti-Terrorist Police, Military Intelligence, and all the other legions of undercover organisations that keep the staus quo, have just stood back, and let it happen. This was a deliberate act, and has the most cynical motive. It is to inflame the public, to engender a sense of righteous outrage, and to continue to justify foreign wars and interventions, at the cost of some ‘collateral damage’ to a few ordinary people. Revenge attacks against Muslim tagets, helping to quieten the less radical Islamists, all help to foster the reminder that this is ‘our’ country, not theirs. The less politically interested people in the UK, become incensed at these attacks, and feel that our intervention against Muslim extremists abroad continues to be justified. It is the ‘big lie’.
I know which version I believe.