July 21, 2005

Be on the lookout for Red Ken and a backpack

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 5:13 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

From a Times Online article re attempted bombings today:

Dr Brighton added: “It may be an attempt by people to cause panic, maybe people with similar ideas or ideological sympathy with the people that did the recent bombings…The nature of the incidents doesn’t appear to be anything like as serious.”

Everybody be on the lookout for sightings of a Galloway or a Livingstone with a backpack on.

July 13, 2005

It took a massacre, but they’re finally sounding tough

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 1:59 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]The Times Online headline reads: “Clarke to rid Britain of ‘preachers of hate’“.  Clark is the British Home Secretary.  Read the article and contrast his tone there to the tone in the “No 10 Dossier“.  I’d say at least the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have taken off the kid gloves.  Good for them.

By the way, will he be able to say “preachers of hate” after the proposed anti-religious-hatred law passes?

July 11, 2005

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 10:05 pm by billdawson


[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

I’ve read through all four PDFs of the “leaked No 10 dossier“. That was some really painful reading. I would say nine-tenths of the opinions and recommendations can be summarized by this: the British government needs to make things easier and better for Muslims.

Below are a few thoughts on some specific parts of the documents. Note that page numbers refer to the PDF page number, not the printed page number that is visible in the scanned documents.

The documents are full of the obligatory and politcally-correct reference to the notion of the “small minority”. Everything is always qualified by reminding us that we’re talking about a “small minority” of Muslims who are extremists. I really wish people would stop saying that. Of course it is a minority: if it wasn’t there would be all-out civil war in Britain and in many other countries.

The second document tries to record just how tiny that minority is. On p. 1 it mentions that an ICM Poll “published by the Guardian on 15 March 2004 recorded 13% of British Muslims as thinking that further terrorist attacks on the USA would be justified.”

Depending on what the subject is, I would agree that sometimes 13% can be considered a small minority. But if 13% of a 1.6 million member religious community think that indiscriminate murder is justified, my first reaction is not “phew, thank God that’s a ‘small minority'”, but rather, “uh oh, that’s a whole hell of a lot of bad people.” And if you look closely at the poll you see it’s actually a full 15% of those under 34 years of age who believe al-Qaeda attacks against the United States are justified. And the Muslim population in Britain is very young.

(Note: the actual question on the poll, which you can find here, was: “Would you regard further attacks by Al-Qaeda, or similar organisations, on the USA as justified or unjustified?”)

On p. 2 of the second document, we’re warned that we might offend some Muslims if we use the term “Islamic fundamentalism”. In other words, we should stop calling a thing by its name:

Policy objectives include persuading young Muslims that they can be Muslim and British, and that Islam is not regarded with hostility. In this context, the term “Islamic Fundamentalism” is unhelpful and should be avoided, because some perfectly moderate Muslims are likely to perceive it as a negative comment on their own approach to their faith.

P. 13 of the second document contains praise of the mainstream muslims:

The mainstream Muslim community has been vocal in its public condemnation of extremism. For example, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed sympathy with the people of Spain after the Madrid bombings…

That was mighty big of them. And I seriously question the accuracy of the assertion made there. Is is really true that mainstream muslims have been vocal condemning extremism? Or is it more like they are vocal condemning terrorism? I’m sure everytime there is a terrorist attack they do come out and condemn it. But what about if an Imam preaches about the re-establishment of the caliphate? Do they raise a fuss like they should? I seriously doubt it.

On p. 14 I am glad to see this note of caution: “But it is important to identify moderates correctly — some of those who are influential in the extremist world purport to be moderates.” (Ken Livingstone skipped that page.)

P. 9 of the third document contains a nice reminder for those who are so insistent on pointing to Iraq policy as the clearest cause of terror: “up to 80% [of polled Muslims] disapproved of the war in Afghanistan.”  Personally, I don’t hold out any hope for people who are against the war in Afghanistan.

Many parts of the documents (see esp. p.2 of the second document) contain the familiar refrain about British foreign policy being a factor in the disaffection experienced by British muslims. The fact that this matter is brought up so often within the documents makes me worry that the touchy-feely side of western governments is too often ready to help make terrorism pay. (The fact that billions were alotted to the Palestinians at G8 is an example of what I’m talking about.) If I were a British islamicist, I would read through these documents and think, “We can really push them on the foreign policy stuff — a little terror here, a little terror there, and an army of do-gooders in social services and other government branches who are always on the lookout for the ‘root causes’ of our disaffection. That’s a nice combo we can use.”

Hopefully I’m wrong about that. But if I were to have written the document, the entire discussion of foreign policy would have been one small paragraph:

Apparently the foreign policy of HMG is seen as a contributor to the anger and disaffection experienced by British muslims. The Muslim community should be reminded again and again that unlike so many others among the ummah throughout the world, British Muslims can peacefully express their disagreements in public and can affect change by exercising their right to vote. They should be further reminded that any among them who publically suggest or carry out non-democratic and/or violent means of affecting change shall be watched closely, considered threats to the community and, when necessary, dealt with severely.

There must be some mistake here

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 1:49 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]Someone alert the Times Online editorial staff.  In this article about the London mass murder they say…

[The authorities’] main focus is on Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, 46, a Syrian with joint Spanish nationality who lived in North London in the mid-1990s. As The Times revealed last week, he left Britain to start up a terror training camp in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks where he groomed scores of young British recruits. [my emphasis]

They’ve obviously got their timeline all screwed up.  As we all know, there would have been no reason for young British jihadists to be training for anything prior to the US/UK invasion of Iraq!  What on earth would they have been doing before 9/11!?  Surely they were just gentle lambs, hard at work on their studies, overjoyed with the society they lived in, until that society betrayed them and invaded their holy land of Islam.


July 10, 2005

Blair: less and less Churchillian as time goes on [Updated]

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 7:06 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Let us hope this kind of thinking is not foremost in his mind:

“I think this type of terrorism has very deep roots,” Blair said. “As well as dealing with the consequences of this — trying to protect ourselves as much as any civil society can — you have to try to pull it up by its roots,” he said.

That meant boosting understanding between people of difference religions, helping people in the Middle East see a path to democracy and easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he said.

“Ultimately what we now know, if we didn’t before, is that where there is extremism, fanaticism or acute and appalling forms of poverty in one continent, the consequences no longer stay fixed in that continent, they spread to the rest of the world” said Blair.

[my emphasis]

[UPDATE: This post by Charles Johnson indicates that AP (which was the source of the article above) now says Blair didn’t say these things.  That could well be true; I noticed how they bit about the Middle East and Israel/Palestine was not in quotes.  But I can’t find the BBC radio interview.  And it certainly seems that Israeli and Palestinian newspapers (as reported by the BBC) think Blair said something like this.]

[UPDATE II: Here is an article which contains a link to the BBC 4 “Today” show interview.  I listened to it.  Indeed, he does not specifically mention the Israel/Palestine issue.  The closest he gets is talking about pulling terrorism up from its roots, which include “some of the critical issues in the Middle East” whcih need to be “dealt with and sorted out.”  Overall, he does not sound very wishy-washy and I’m not so disappointed.]

July 9, 2005

Britain faced with “clean skin” terrorists?

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 3:03 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]From the Times:

A main concern is that they are dealing with “clean skins”, possibly British-born terrorists who have not crossed the intelligence radar before.

I would say this ups the ante a bit. No matter their religion or color of skin, these could well be full British citizens — since birth — who have attacked within their country (I shudder when I say “their country”, but so it might be) for political reasons at a time when British troops are engaged in conflicts overseas. And their motives could be found to be directly related to the fact that British troops are engaged overseas.

Lest you think there might be a “high treason” exception to the abolition of the death penalty, this will set you straight: http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/human_rights/adp/:

This treaty explicitly bans the death penalty in all circumstances, including in war-time.

July 8, 2005

“Their arguments were nothing but bull”

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 8:03 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]A great Nelson Ascher blog entry.  It starts like this…

When the Argentinian military dictatorship invaded the Falklands in 1982, all my country’s and, by the way, all the Latin American left backed the torturing murderers. Why? Well, because deep in their souls they were angry losers, descendents of the once great Iberian Catholic civilization, lusting for some kind of revenge against the new winners, the English-speaking Protestant world. Though they tried to depict it as some kind of class or anti-imperialistic struggle, their arguments were nothing but bull.

…and it just keeps on goin’ in the right direction.  Read all of it.

Steyn on target again – but maybe a bit too harsh?

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 5:43 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Mark Steyn pounds pretty hard on British security services:

The difference is that 9/11 hit out of the blue – literally and politically; 7/7 came after four years of Her Majesty’s Government prioritising terrorism and “security” above all else – and the failure rate was still 100 per cent. After the Madrid bombing, I was struck by the spate of comic security breaches in London: two Greenpeace guys shin up St Stephen’s Tower, a Mirror reporter blags his way into a servants’ gig at Buckingham Palace a week before Bush comes to stay; an Osama lookalike gatecrashes Prince William’s party.


It’s not a question of trying and prodding and testing and finding the weak link in the chain, the one day – on Monday or Wednesday, in January or November, when an immigration official or a luggage checker is a bit absent-minded and distracted and you slip quietly through. Instead, the jihad, via one of its wholly owned but independently operated subsidiaries, scheduled an atrocity for the start of the G8 summit and managed to pull it off – at a time when ports and airports and internal security were all supposed to be on heightened alert. That’s quite a feat.

I’ve always assumed that Britain has remarkably good security agencies, but of course I don’t know a damn thing about that.  But one of the problems is that we only see the failures.  How many times since 9/11 did British anti-terror officials successfully deter attacks?  We don’t know, but it could be many.  And “deter” doesn’t necessarily mean stopping something just before it happens.  It can also mean that would-be terrorists have realized that they have been surveilled so successfully that they give up some attack plans before they really even finalize them.

On the other hand… By pointing out the somewhat comical mishaps such as the Osama look-alike gig, Steyn is fairly persuasive.

He goes on and wonders what I think many of us have wondered: did the need to send security reinforcements up North to the G8 summit leave London more open to attack?  Would it have made a difference if they weren’t dispatched to Gleneagle?

Of course, many resources had been redeployed to Scotland to cope with Bob Geldof’s pathetic call for a million anti-globalist ninnies to descend on the G8 summit. In theory, the anti-glob mob should be furious with al-Qa’eda and its political tin ear for ensuring that their own pitiful narcissist protests – the pâpier-maché Bush and Blair puppets, the ethnic drumming, etc – will be crowded off the news bulletins.

Here’s Steyn at his best, laying out alternatives:

The choice for Britons now is whether they wish to be Australians post-Bali or Spaniards post-Madrid.

I think I know which choice they’ll make.  But I have to admit that Charmaine Yoest’s reports worry me.

Morning after

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 10:03 am by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Well the London massacre didn’t digest any better after a night of sleep.  Waking up after a sleep that follows a major event is always a bit weird.  Every morning when you wake up you have those few seconds of returning to lucidity: “What day? Friday.  Work today? Yes. Can sleep longer? No.”  But on the mornings after horrible events, this gets tacked on: “What’s this weighing down on me? Oh yeah, yesterday.”

I’ve been perusing blogs, of course, though I should be in the shower.  Alan Adamson sent me an e-mail that he linked to my “Least Favorite Quotes” entry, so I stopped by “Silly Little Country” and was quickly reminded of something I already knew: that Alan was in the UK on holiday after staying for a bit in Austria.  Go read his entries from yesterday because it’s always interesting to read the thoughts of a “foreign observer” who finds himself quite accidentally near the center of a major event.

Alan reports on British pluckiness, but also on the inevitable signs of what I would characterize as at least a mild dhimmitude:

I am disappointed at the morning Times, which has included the compulsory page on how Islam is a religion of peace (when what we are going through is the sorting out of the question whether it can become such a religion), though one finds across the fold a chilling portrayal of some of the dysfunctional edges of London’s generally amazing multiculturalism.

I was thinking this morning of starting a new blog entry that I would update throughout the day.  Its purpose would have been to note at different times during the day whether the Guardian has yet put up the inevitable article or opinion piece that firmly places the root causes of the bombing on British involvement in Iraq.  Tariq Ali saved me the trouble:

And all this happened despite the various Prevention of Terrorism Acts passed by the Commons.

The bombers who targeted London yesterday are anonymous. It is assumed that those who carried out these attacks are linked to al-Qaida. We simply do not know. Al-Qaida is not the only terrorist group in existence. It has rivals within the Muslim diaspora. But it is safe to assume that the cause of these bombs is the unstinting support given by New Labour and its prime minister to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the arguments deployed by Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, when he appealed to Tony Blair not to support the war in Iraq was prescient: “An assault on Iraq will inflame world opinion and jeopardise security and peace everywhere. London, as one of the major world cities, has a great deal to lose from war and a lot to gain from peace, international cooperation and global stability.”

Most Londoners (as the rest of the country) were opposed to the Iraq war. Tragically, they have suffered the blow and paid the price for the re-election of Blair and a continuation of the war.

Ever since 9/11, I have been arguing that the “war against terror” is immoral and counterproductive.

et cetera ad infinitum

Time to go to work.

July 7, 2005

Least favorite quotes of the day

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 9:58 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

I admit that Prime Minister Blair did sound Churchillian today, but this part was sure nonsense:

It is particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa, the long-term problems of climate change and the environment.

You’ve all seen Galloway’s remarks by now:

We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq and by turning its full attention to the development of a real solution to the wider conflicts in the Middle East. 

The BBC’s rolling contributions from readers had a lot of interesting messages.  This was not one of them (though the BBC itself thought the message was worthy of a pull-quote):

I just hope that the angry, frightened people don’t turn on all the innocent, law-abiding Muslim families who live peacefully with us in our communities. These attacks affect them too, and they are just as scared and angry as the rest of us, without the added fear of being attacked purely because of their religion. My thoughts are with everyone affected, regardless of race, creed or colour – be strong, every right minded citizen of this planet is behind you.
Tim, London

Der Standard’s “RAU” reminds us that there was never terror in Iraq before the United States arrived, that one should not trust Tony Blair and that George W. Bush can cause physical and emotional pain to those afflicted with Bush-dementia (translations are mine):

We are in a defensive war, albeit with very little trust in our “Command-in-Chief” and his deputies.   In his reactions to the London attacks, Tony Blair offered his famous rhetoric that we have come to learn to distrust.  To see and hear George W. Bush there induced bodily pain and depression.  The man decided to fight the “War against Terror” in Iraq, although there were no terrorists there until the U.S. invasion…

…[T]his war “War Against Terror” is led by the wrong people for the wrong reasons on the wrong front and by the wrong means. [Aber dieser “Krieg gegen den Terror” wird von den falschen Leuten mit der falschen Begründung an der falschen Front und mit den falschen Mitteln geführt.]

This elicited much agreement from RAU’s readers, such as this comment from “vito” (translated):

The democracies of this world, since they have come into existence, have also conducted a merciless struggle for the raw materials of these countries.  No wonder that this political system is not trusted there.

I’m sure I could come across tons of other examples, but it’s too depressing.  Whither Western Civilization?

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