Saturday, July 09, 2005

No surrender

George Galloway was swift to lay the blame for the bombings at the door of the Iraq adventure this week.

He's wrong.

Iraq is an issue, but it serves chiefly as a recruiting sergeant and justification for violence. If it had never happened, we would still be a target - we were a target long before Iraq or even Afghanistan, merely because of our status as a leading western country.

These terrorists will probably be a handful of the thousands of young men who travelled to Afghanistan in the 1990s to experience the jihadi training in weapons and explosives. As the west was reaping the peace dividend after the end of the Cold War, intelligence services were cheerfully retiring field officers and these excursions often passed un-noticed. For most, this was their only contact with these groups and they have returned to normal society. A number chose to continue the path of the jihadist, even while maintaining a facade of normality.

The terrorists probably aren't asylum seekers, apparently politically radical or even obviously religious - they have no wish to appear on the radar of the government or the security services. These people may be students, tourists or British-born. They will probably look westernised and will shave their beards and cut their hair - the better to blend in, for their ultimate task is worth the religious transgressions. If they attend a mosque, it will be one run by a moderate imam, not a high-profile, radical cleric. More likely, they will keep their prayers private, all the better to blend in with our secular society. At this level, these are professionals, who know that their tradecraft keeps them alive.

Clearly, the investigation is ongoing and the government have yet to assign responsibility to any particular group, but the style, timing and targetting of the operation bears the familiar stamp of a group linked to al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda isn't a traditional terrorist grouping. With the IRA, ETA and the rest, we are used to a quasi-military command structure, which allows opportunities to penetrate the links of the chain to obtain intelligence. This is largely absent from the al-Qaeda format, which is perhaps best likened to a franchise operation and run by independent cells with little or no command structure beyond that, the better to avoid the attentions of the intelligence services. Those who think of Osama bin Laden as sitting at the centre of a web of international terrorism are largely mistaken. I doubt that he was aware of this operation until it hid the newswires.

Unlike the aims of other terrorist groups, the al-Qaeda operation is not open to negotiation. The aim is to create an Islamic state in the Middle East - starting with Saudi Arabia. This would not be in the historical tradition of culture, architectural and scientific advance that is the great legacy of past Islamic civilisations (Kilroy Silk take note). Their dream is an uncivilised, medieval state, aggressively religious (in their own image of Islam), viciously sectarian - hence the harking back to 'crusader states' - and anathema to the vast majority of Muslims. To this end, not only do they want to maintain popular support for their cause in the Middle East, they also want to sow dissent between Muslims and others living in the West - nothing would cheer them more than the sight of mosques burning in Bradford or riots in Birmingham, as it would prove their self-fulfilling theories about the western hatred for Islam. From that will only come more idealistic and misguided young men willing to sacrifice themselves for this evil fantasy.

They want us to impose knee-jerk legislation imprisoning their Islamic brothers without trial and for us to surrender our own freedoms, for fear of what might happen next. So don't give them that satisfaction and remember what we stand for as a civilised, democratic society. Don't compromise on justice or the rule of law to satisfy our baser demands for vengeance and don't fall into the trap of blaming an entire community for the sins of a few renegades. Islam condemns murder as surely as any other religion.

Hard as it is to accept, events like those of Thursday are the price we pay for a free and open society. As we celebrate and remember VE day this weekend, remember the sacrifice that thousands of young men and women made during the Second World War. We disgrace their memories if we give in to the terrorists.


Anonymous said...

Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state.It uses its oil wealth to spread the Salafi doctrines throughout the world.
Saudi subject Osama bin Laden was part of the various Mujahideen groups that were financed, armed and trained by the United States to fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Sow the wind reap the whirlwind.

PoliticalHack said...

And al-Qaeda regards the Saudi state as having sold out to the west and specifically aims to destabilise the current regime.

Anonymous said...

Al-Qaeda is something of a myth. What isn't mythical is the existence of a highly efficient intelligence organisation of a country in the Middle East.It is this organisation, with its links to terror groups,that had a hand in the London bombings.