How to understand the attempted but largely failed terrorist plots uncovered since last Friday? Police officers on June 29 dismantled two car bombs made from gas canisters, gasoline and nails, parked in central London’s major theatre and shopping districts. A day later, two men rammed a Jeep Cherokee, filled with flammable material, into a terminal entrance at Glasgow airport. The series of attempted attacks follows hot on the heels of an attempted al-Qaeda attack in the United States earlier in June.
The chronology requires further probing, and indeed, preliminary analysis raises some unresolved questions.
Their Terror… And Ours
We will start with the UK. First off, we need to consider the way government, police and security services dealt with events. On Friday, official sources immediately told mainstream media that they had successfully defused highly dangerous explosive devices in the cars. The general picture disseminated by government spokesmen was that the bombs could well have killed hundreds of civilians generating a huge and lethal fireball engulfing the surrounding area.
“Although the two London car bombs were rudimentary, depending on a lethal mixture of petrol, gas canisters and nails, they could still have killed hundreds”, wrote Nigel Morris in the Independent:
“They were intended to be triggered by calls to mobile phones left in the cars. Although the bombers rang the phones several times, the bombs failed to go off. Did the calls fail to create the necessary detonation? The Glasgow attack appears to have been a failed suicide bombing. The Jeep Cherokee that smashed into the city’s airport was set alight but the gas canisters inside failed to ignite.”
Fortunately, there were no casualties. Unfortunately, elsewhere in the world, British and American troops were complicit in acts of terrorism which did result in Afghan and Iraqi civilian casualties far outweighing in scale and horror what was going on in the UK. Some of these were flagged up by American journalist Chris Floyd, but largely ignored in the mainstream media.
More than 100 Afghan civilians were killed in a three-hour NATO bombing raid on a village in the British-run district Helmand on Saturday, so reported the Observer citing local officials of the US-backed Afgan government, capping off a month of bloodshed in which over 200 Afghan civilians were killed, “a kill ratio far outstripping that of the violent sectarians of the Taliban”, observes Floyd. Hapless British commanders involved in the operations aren’t happy, noting that new NATO commander, US Gen Dan McNeill’s penchant for massive airpower could be “counterproductive.” “Every civilian dead means five new Taliban” said one British Army officer, noting the direct connection between their radicalization and our terrorism. But while UK commanders may have concerns, they have little choice given the decisions made for them by Bush and now Brown.
Yet the mainstream media has shown no interest whatsoever in our own terrorism. “Why do these people hate us, why do they want to attack us?” I was asked repeatedly over the weekend by various media pundits wanting to know the secret of how angry Muslims become so radicalized they want to blow themselves and others up. The usual demands for Muslims the world over to buck up and confront the bin Laden-esque “enemy within” were trumpeted. Yet there was little soul-searching about a phenomenon of equal concern – the creeping radicalization of Western societies, where the slaughter of hundreds of Afghan or Iraqi civilians by Anglo-American military forces is justifiable as a form of “collateral damage”, regrettable, but an inevitable corollary of trying to “smoke ‘em out”. Sounds disturbingly similar to al-Qaeda’s own rhetoric of justification for targeting our civilians.
But of course, we’re the free, civilized world. They’re wrong, and we’re right.
So let’s get quickly back on track to look at the terror attempts in the UK. Whatever those attacks “appeared” to be, they were clearly planned and conducted by people with absolutely no real idea of what they were doing. Despite official attempts to ratchet up the fear-level by insisting that the police had pre-empted a spectacular bombing plot that could have slaughtered hundreds, a number of experts have pointed out the obvious.
Improvised Un-explosive Devices?
Larry C. Johnson, a former senior US counterterrorist official for the CIA and State Department who works as a consultant to governments on terrorism issues, described the Friday episode as a “crock of crap”:
“… gasoline is not a high explosive. If we were talking 50 pounds of Semtex or the Al Qaeda standby, TATP, I would be impressed. Those are real high explosives with a detonation rate in excess of 20,000 feet per second. Gasoline can explode (just ask former owners of a Ford Pinto) but it is first and foremost an incediary. If the initial reports are true, the clown driving the Mercedes was a rank amateur when it comes to constructing an Improvised Explosive Device aka IED. Unlike a Hollywood flick the 50 gallons of gas would not have shredded the Mercedes into lethal chunks of flying shrapnel.”
His observations on the next day’s Glasgow incident are even more cutting:
“Preliminary, unconfirmed reports indicate a nuclear blast has occurred at Glasgow’s international airport. No one has seen the mushroom cloud or heard the blast, but something by God is happening and it must be terrible. There is smoke and fire. In fact, a car is on fire. It must be Al Qaeda. Only Al Qaeda knows how to set themselves on fire inside a car. Please. Flee to the hills (leave your doors unlocked). Oh the humanity!...
… we need to stop equating their [religious fanatics’] hatred with actual capability. If today's events at Glasgow prove to be linked to the two non-events yesterday in London, then we should heave a sigh of relief. We may be witnessing the implosion of takfiri jihadists — religious fanatics who are incredibly inept… Propane tanks and petrol (gas for us Americans) can produce a dandy flame and a mighty boom but these are not the tools for making a car bomb along the lines of what we see detonating on a daily basis in Iraq.”
As Thomas Greene further observed, absent an oxidiser, the devices, if one could call them that, would simply have been unable to detonate. The implication that they could have detonated, then, is precisely state propaganda. No wonder ex-CIA terror expert Johnson described the weekend incidents as “non-events.” Thus, concluded Peter Lehr, a research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, St. Andrews University: “Just using petrol canisters, nuts and bolts and a cell phone to trigger the explosion, the London bombing attempt would probably not have worked.” He continued about the Glasgow fiasco: “If you take a look at most al Qaeda attacks, they did a lot of work on reconnoitring. Now they got stopped by some bollards. They didn’t seem very familiar with the airport, then they would have known that the bollards would have stopped them or they overestimated the thrust of the Jeep Cherokee.”
For those tracking the recent round of terror plots against the US and Britain, the dire lack of expertise is a familiar pattern. On the August 2006 “liquid bomb plot”, similarly discredited as simply unworkable, former British Army intelligence officer Lt. Col. (ret.) Nigel Wylde pointed out: “Not al-Qaeda for sure. It would not work. Bin Laden is interested in success not deterrence by failure.”
The Propaganda War
Rather than reassuring the public of these facts and implications, the government did the opposite. The UK terror alert was raised to “critical”, and the citizens were urged to remain “alert” and “vigilant”. “If it moves to critical, you should worry”, a senior Whitehall source told the BBC when asked to explain the alert level system.
Rachel North, a survivor of the July 7th 2005 London bombings, comments:
“Oh for heaven’s sake. We ‘should worry’. That’s the suggestion is it? The official advice is: to be afraid and stay afraid? And what pray, does being told ‘to worry’ do to help aid the fight against terrorism? Terrorism being of course designed to worry, nay, terrify and terrorise people, using terror: the state of being afraid?
...What is the ‘critical - attack imminent’ stuff then, if not intimidating, and likely to make people anxious and therefore stop them getting on with their lives? … like most of the new anti-terror intitiatives, all it does is sound scary and ramp up the fear without actually doing anything practical to tackle the situation… We didn't have this during the IRA campaign or during the Blitz, so I don't see why turning the adrenalin dial up to eleven is going to help now. We can all see the news, thank you. We don't need to have our strings pulled like this.”
So we have established that there is, indeed, a sharp disparity between the reality of these plots as utterly amateur cock-ups by people with no idea whatsoever of how to actually pull off a terrorist attack, and the official propaganda from the state that these attacks could have killed hundreds – which they simply could not have done.
Perhaps it is cynical to recognize that these doomed-to-fail plots coincided with the British government’s new counter-terrorism proposals. Days before these incidents, on 27th June, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee announced it was planning to hold a short inquiry into the new proposals for extended anti-terror powers, originally set out on 7th June by the Home Secretary.
Ironically, the Home Secretary’s announcement for new anti-terror legislation followed hot on the heels of revelations that a purported spectacular al-Qaeda terrorist plot unearthed in the United States may well have been nothing more than Bush administration propaganda. Such was the accusation from Keith Olbermann on MSNBC’s Countdown show ‘The Nexus of Politics & Terror’, who further noted that this was consistent with a history of such pronouncements:
“The abstract, hypothetical terror plot at JFK: It sounds ominous until you ask the experts. Blow up part of the jet fuel pipeline and you still stand zero chance of blowing up the airport… We will truth squad the plot and update the ‘Nexus of Politics and Terror,’ the now 13 times officials in this country have revealed so-called terror plots at times that were just coincidentally to their political benefit, no matter how preposterous the actual schemes might have been, including the plot against Fort Dix where pizza delivery men were supposed to kill at will at an Army base full of soldiers with guns.”
But perhaps most disturbingly, Olbermann references the extraordinary public statement by the newly-elected Chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas, to the effect that more 9/11's are needed to galvanise support for the Bush administration. The full statement, made in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by Chairman Dennis Milligan, is reported in Raw Story as follows:
“In his first interview as the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, Dennis Milligan told a reporter that America needs to be attacked by terrorists so that people will appreciate the work that President Bush has done to protect the country. ‘At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001],’ Milligan said to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, ‘and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country’.”
With all due respect: what kind of closet Stalinist thinks that “we need” another terrorist attack “like” 9/11, in order that popular dissent might “come around” in favour of Bush and his policies of domestic and international militarization, mirrored faithfully here in the UK, originally by Blair, and now it seems by his heir Brown?
To those who have researched the development of neo-conservative ideology and geopolitical strategies behind the rise of the Bush administration, this is actually a startlingly familiar sentiment among elements of the American policymaking establishment. Recall the exhortations of Bush’s home-grown think-tank, the Project for a New American Century in its September 2000 report “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”; or three years earlier, the carefully-crafted expansionist geostrategy charted by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in his Council on Foreign Relations study, The Grand Chessboard – all looking to a spectacular Pearl Harbour-type event as a useful tool for the control of public opinion at home, and thus the legitimization of military interventionism abroad.
More closet Stalinists to add to the collection? And some of them are now in charge of the most powerful state in the world.
Further questions arise in view of the emerging evidence of several warnings of the plots received by British and American intelligence services. Now the existence of these warnings ought to be contrasted with the official line expressed at the outset, that there was no intelligence chatter, no prior intelligence, and no specific warning about what was going to happen. That stance has now been pretty much discredited.
“Warnings were issued three months ago [in April 2007] about the threat of a terrorist campaign to mark the end of Tony Blair's premiership, security sources have revealed”. Two major agencies, the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure, which reports to MI5, and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, which reports to chief police officers “warned in April about the possibility of a renewed campaign”. One senior security source told the Guardian: “The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre [JTAC] assessed that a group of individuals, it is not known how many, clearly had the capability and the intent to carry out attacks on the UK. Therefore there was a strong likelihood of further attacks.” But officials insisted that there had been “no specific” information about the events of Friday and Saturday.
Further details came from the Sunday Times which obtained a leaked copy of the JTAC assessment. The newspaper cites Patrick Mercer MP, former homeland security spokesman, asking: “If they had a JTAC document saying there was a high risk of an attack to mark the end of the Blair administration, why didn’t they raise the threat level and why weren’t people warned?”
An alleged al-Qaeda-Taliban video, shot on 9th June in Pakistan by a Pakistani journalist invited for the occasion, was aired by CNN and ABC in that month purportedly displaying a suicide bomber “graduation ceremony”. The video claimed that “suicide bombers were supposedly sent off on their missions in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany.” The video included
“… images of Taliban military commander Mansoor Dadullah, his brother was killed last month by US forces. On the tape, the leader of the British team speaking of the mission in broken English said ‘Let me say something about why we are going along with my team to tell a suicide attack in Britain.’ The video at the time sent a chilling note across the security services with warnings that attacks in the UK were more than likely this summer….”
For those with an eye for detail, the connection between our no doubt utterly justifiable June slaughter of Afghans and this particular warning from Pakistan of an imminent strike on Britain is notable. Yes, it is by no means the whole story, but it is undeniably a significant component. Meanwhile, British officials are falling over themselves to insist that there is no discernable connection to Pakistan – of course our ardent ally in the ‘War on Terror’. Also worth noting is, as the report above continues, the perpetrators of these particular attacks: foreign “trainee doctors are being held as suspects, having passed their security checks and been provided with official approval to practice in the UK.”
They were not clean skins, police officials are happy to admit, noting that MI5 had logged several of them in its surveillance database of “desirable” targets, thus allowing them to be quickly identified and apprehended. What a resounding success. “Several doctors arrested over the London and Glasgow car bomb plot were on the files of MI5”, reported the Telegraph, including one
“… on a Home Office watch list after being identified by security services - meaning their travel in and out of Britain was monitored by immigration officers. Others were found to be on the MI5 database, which contains an estimated 2,000 suspected jihadists or supporters of terrorism. Whitehall sources said they had not been involved in previous plots, but were ‘people who knew people’ who were under observation… But British security sources insisted there was no intelligence that al-Qa’eda commanders plotted to infiltrate the NHS… Most of the alleged cell members arrived in this country after 2004 to take up NHS jobs.”
Desirable targets are individuals directly associated with known al-Qaeda operatives actively engaged in terrorist activity, and/or those involved in fundraising for terrorist activity. But there are slight problems here. For one thing, “American intelligence sources suggested yesterday that some cell members were recruited by al-Qa'eda in Iraq up to three years ago. Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, an insurgency leader, was said to have been ordered to find young men to blend into Western society before staging an attack.”
So the Americans knew about them. What about the British? In fact, who exactly were these doctors associated with? The Americans had more to tell. The Telegraph noted that:
“… reports from the US that the three men had been identified and known to be an associate of Dhiren Barot [convicted last year of a transatlantic terror plan involving nightclubs, car bombs, and other plots], a suspected terrorist who had planned to set off bombs across London, were dismissed by government officials.”
British officials are denying what the Americans are confirming. But the Americans do not merely share all their intelligence with the British as a matter of routine; their intelligence operations are fundamentally inter-coordinated, and have been increasingly so after 9/11. There are more problems. How on earth did foreign trainee doctors logged by MI5 as al-Qaeda associates manage to pass “their security checks” to receive “official approval to practice in the UK”? MI5 already had these individuals logged, yet MI5 did nothing while these individuals predictably applied to join the NHS, the very reason they had arrived in the UK after 2004. The official insistence from British officials that they had no idea these people were trying to infiltrate the NHS is difficult to make sense of. What else would al-Qaeda associates with medical degrees arriving in the UK for the specific purpose of joining the NHS be trying to do?.
[Just on a side note, the 7/7 bombers (at least Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shahzad Tanweer), it has been admitted, were also logged by MI5 as “desirable” targets. Note how in this case police were happy to admit that the MI5 information was specific enough to quickly identify and track the alleged suspects. The 7/7 bombers will have been, similarly, identified along with other relevant background data, as al-Qaeda associates, at the very least. They will have had files open on them, just as with these “desirable” targets.]
And More Warnings
More embarrassing information from the Americans has continued to appear. A senior US official told ABC News that they had “received intelligence reports two weeks ago which warned of a possible terror attack in Glasgow against ‘airport infrastructure or aircraft’...” This was actionable intelligence, as it did indeed lead to action: except not in Glasgow. The official confirmed that “the intelligence led to the assignment of Federal Air Marshals to flights into and out of both Glasgow and Prague in the Czech Republic.” What did Britain know? “US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff declined to comment on the report, but on Monday told ABC News that ‘everything that we get is shared virtually instantaneously with our counterparts in Britain and vice versa’.”
It should not surprise anyone by now that the Brits are once again denying everything. “There was no prior intelligence” about the Glasgow attack, said Strathclyde police chief constable Willie Rae. No of course there wasn’t. American intelligence officials are no doubt hallucinating.
Yet another official Foreign Office denial came regarding a separate warning from British priest Canon Andrew White, head of the Baghdad-based head of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, who said he’d been warned by an al-Qaeda figure of an attack. The unnamed al-Qaeda leader from Syria told him on the sidelines of a religious summit in the Jordania capital, Amman “about how they were going to destroy British and Americans. He told me that the plans were already made and they would soon be destroying the British. He said the people who cure you would kill you.” The figure added that the plans “would be carried out in the coming weeks, and would target the British first.”
“Canon Andrew White, a British cleric working in Baghdad, claimed that he met an al-Qa’ida leader in Amman who had warned him about the imminent attack, saying ‘those who cure you will kill you’. Canon White said he passed the message to the Foreign Office. However a Foreign Office spokesman said there is no record of such a warning being given.”
In any case, White points out that he did not mention the medical angle. But it looks like the Foreign Office has got itself into a bit of a tiz. Although issuing repeated denials to various foreign press, insisting that no record of the warning existed and that no recollection of the conversation could be unearthed, Bloomberg was able to report an admission:
“The Foreign Office today acknowledged receiving information from White about the Amman meeting, adding that it was considered at the time to be too vague to merit further analysis. White’s information has since been passed on to police investigating the Glasgow and London incidents, a Foreign Office spokesman said.”
Ah yes, too vague, although it cohered with all the other intelligence of plans to strike the UK being received just around that time. It certainly also cohered with the previous evidence of an origin for the attacks in al-Qaeda in Iraq; as well as in Pakistan.
The official British government position is not tenable. Credible sources confirm that multiple warnings were indeed received. Repeated official denials contradict the evidence and are internally-inconsistent. In this context, the response of the authorities is telling. The denials eclipse the connections of this obviously untrained group of amateurs to an international al-Qaeda-affiliated network in Iraq and Pakistan.
Al-Qaeda or Not? And the Strategy of Tension
The “al-Qaeda or not” question, however, is not a black or white case. The pattern of terror plots particularly in the UK over the last few years since after 7/7 has invariably involved rather inept cells with quite questionable expertise in explosives and other terrorist techniques. Many of these cells while purportedly ‘home-grown’, are nevertheless associated with international networks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, where reside senior al-Qaeda operatives with real terrorist expertise. In the UK, USA and Western Europe, one group responsible for mediating communication and movement between these two domestic and international arenas is formerly known as al-Muhajiroun, purportedly banned by the British government, but still intact and still run by self-described cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed from Lebanon, where he was exiled by the British government. It is this that appears to produce a mismatch of actual expertise.
Omar Bakri’s protégé, Anjem Choudray, continues to run around the UK on Omar Bakri’s behalf (and with his regular guidance) attempting to mentor a new generation of Islamist extremists. It was former Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus who confirmed that Omar Bakri and his al-Muhajiroun network had been first hired by MI6 in the late 1990s to recruit British Muslims to fight in Kosovo. His UK underlings even continue to maintain a website for him which curiously remains devoid of his hundreds of most inflammatory statements supporting al-Qaeda terrorism. Despite exiling him to Lebanon, authorities have done nothing to curb his ongoing influence over his UK network, except to protect him from official investigation in connection with the radicalization of that very network. Al-Muhajiroun incubated those involved with Dhiren Barot’s grand plan to bomb targets in the US and Britain, with which the fertilizer and 7/7 plotters were also intimately linked.
Further questions arise when we probe the plausible al-Qaeda connections to these incidents from Iraq and Pakistan. We may remind ourselves that the alleged perpetrators of the latest crimes are mostly of Middle Eastern origin. In September 2005, I had already documented evidence from a number of credible sources suggesting that the United States was covertly supplying arms to Iraqi insurgents described as “former Ba’ath party” loyalists now joining with “al-Qaeda in Iraq”. The proxy for this funnel of weaponry was Pakistani military intelligence, according to a Pakistani defence source cited by the Asia Times. The next year, an outraged British colonel complained that Pakistan was sheltering al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But nevermind him, Bush says Pakistan’s our "major non-NATO ally", and the British government officially agrees.
This strategy of tension in Iraq was, it appears, extended to other key states in the region, namely Lebanon, by late 2006. On CNN, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh summarized his latest exclusive. Hersh’s critical discovery was that the Bush administration is actively sponsoring al-Qaeda affiliated groups across the entire Middle East, with a focus on Lebanon, to counter regional Shi’ite Iranian influence. Moreover, much of the finances for these covert operations are being funnelled by Saudi Arabia through Iraq:
“This administration has made a policy change, a decision that they are going to put all of the pressure they can on the Shiites, that is the Shiite regime in Iran, the Shiite - and they are also doing everything they can to stop Hezbollah - which is Shiite, the Hezbollah organization from getting any control or any more of a political foothold in Lebanon.
… we are interested in recreating what is happening in Iraq in Lebanon, that is Sunni versus Shia… we have been pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia is putting up some of this money, for covert operations in many areas of the Middle East where we think that the - we want to stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence.
They call it the ‘Shiite Crescent.’ And a lot of this money… has gotten into the hands - among other places, in Lebanon, into the hands of three - at least three jihadist groups. There are three Sunni jihadist groups whose main claim to fame inside Lebanon right now is that they are very tough. These are people connected to al Qaeda who want to take on Hezbollah…
My government, which arrests al Qaeda every place it can find them… is sitting back while the Lebanese government we support, the government of Prime Minister Siniora, is providing arms and sustenance to three jihadist groups whose sole function, seems to me and to the people that talk to me in our government, to be there in case there is a real shoot-‘em-up with Hezbollah…
… So America, my country, without telling Congress, using funds not appropriated, I don't know where, by my sources believe much of the money obviously came from Iraq where there is all kinds of piles of loose money, pools of cash that could be used for covert operations… We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11, and we should be arresting these people rather than looking the other way...”
Déjà vu? An unholy triangle, the US at the helm, Saudi Arabia providing the funds, Pakistan providing military intelligence support, but this time not into Afghanistan as during the Cold War, but into Iraq and thereby throughout the Middle East. It seems, al-Qaeda is still a useful mercenary outfit for our covert regional geostrategy, except yet again the theatre of war has shifted.
In March 2007, Hersh firmed up this conclusion in the New Yorker magazine, citing White House insiders and other US government officials, all confirming in perhaps the clearest terms that the US was deliberately attempting to control al-Qaeda terrorist activity through Saudi Arabia (among others) to be re-directed against Iran:
“The ‘redirection,’ as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
... The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.
... Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that ‘there is nothing coincidental or ironic’ about the new strategy with regard to Iraq. ‘The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the [al-Qaeda] Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when—if you look at the actual casualty numbers—the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude,’ Leverett said. ‘This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.’
… This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that ‘they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran’.”
So, we know the al-Qaeda salafis will throw bombs. But apart from trying to blow up American, British and other civilians (and perhaps themselves if they’ve got that vibe), funnelling them arms, funds and logistical assistance will allow us to “control” them sufficiently to make life difficult for the Iranians (or even the Palestinians), perhaps even provoke them into a response that will legitimize an Anglo-American “strike at them.” Notice that national security, I mean real national security in terms of the protection of the lives of the Western publics, is not an operative factor calculated into this strategy.
Whose bombs indeed. There is a term for this kind of covert sponsorship of terror networks. It’s called “complicity,” if the Modern Law Review is anything to go by. Thus, by law, the Bush administration, and perhaps now Brown’s also, is aiding and abetting al-Qaeda. They cannot be absolved of culpability in the fall-out.
So why Iran and why now?
Nothing to do with oil, of course. It is merely a coincidence that in late June, a former White House energy consultant and NATO energy delegate Dr. Roger Bezdek, annoyed the Bush administration by demanding that it “must immediately and rigorously assess the looming impact of peak oil.” He said: “... it may already be too late to avoid serious problems.” Dr. Bezdek’s warning came shortly after the publication of British Petroleum’s influential Statistical Review of World Energy which claimed optimistically that sufficient oil reserves remain to meet current demand for the next 40 years.
BP’s report, which echoes that of other American and British giant oil corporations, was refuted by leading independent oil industry experts including Dr Colin Campbell, a former chief geologist and vice-chairman at several major oil companies, who noted that on the contrary, the latest data shows oil is set to peak within the next four years. Indeed, Chris Skrebowski, a former chief planner for BP and now editor of Petroleum Review, observes: “I was extremely sceptical to start with. We have enough capacity coming online for the next two-and-a-half years. After that the situation deteriorates.”
Bush administration officials have long been aware of the impending oil crisis. Indeed, it was a key factor in Vice-President Dick Cheney’s formulation of the strategy in Iraq only five months prior to 9/11. Reports like that of BP are designed to misinform, steering public attention away from the real cause of the problem.
If ever there was a resource-driven strategy of tension, this is it; and the fear being ratcheted up in the US and UK is its direct corollary. While the British police and intelligence services are congratulating themselves on having rounded up the terrorists and thus quelled the threat for now, the US government is actively fostering the source of the threat in the Middle East because of its antipathy toward Iran. Given Britain’s close alliance with the US in the ‘War on Terror’, the question must be asked, how precisely involved is the British government in this self-defeating strategy that consciously compromises civilian life?
You want to fight the terror Mr Brown? Perhaps you can start by fighting your new boss, Mr Bush.
Somehow, I don’t see it happening.