Once more, the actions of the insane, cruel, evil and disturbed make headline news in the UK. Even though I am almost as far from London as you can get in the UK, the news of the Car Bomb outside a London nightclub has been pretty big stuff. Quite understandable as well really, as this is the “purpose” of terrorist attacks – create terror.
Putting a bomb made up off “60 litres of petrol, gas cylinders and nails” outside a busy London nightclub on a Thursday night (often one of the busier nights in the city), strikes me as a pretty effective way to make people frightened. That the bomb did not detonate is certainly amazing (invoke god of choice if you wish, I will stick to the wonders of the bombers ineptitude), and it seems reasonable to assume the police comments about possible casualties are accurate.
It is certainly remarkable that this device was discovered (prior to it announcing itself in a big way) and it is a tribute to the bomb disposal teams who had to render it safe, while retaining forensic evidence. A big well done all round there.
What is not so cheering is the existence of the bomb itself and the reactions in the news today. It is still very early days and I have no idea what information the police have, but based on the BBC news reporting this harkens back to the dark days of the 1980s when the IRA and INLA were busy killing people in the UK as often as they could. I know recent times makes people automatically think of Islamic-inspired terrorists, but car bombs (with this sort of ordinance) in London were a hallmark of the Catholic-inspired terrorist. Most crazy Muslims who want to kill the infidels seem to prefer the human bomb approach rather than the car bomb. That said, it echoes some of the reported plans by the recently arrested terrorist gang, so maybe they are changing tactics (or this is a copycat). Personally, I think it is just as likely that this is the work of a homegrown head case – possibly even someone with “Business” reasons to want to strike at the nightclub. At the moment who knows. As long as the police dont rush and convict the wrong people (Birmingham, Guildford, Jill Dando, etc), we will find out one day.
Worryingly the reactions of people in the news tells of a United Kingdom in general and London in particular which has changed its ethos in how it will react to attacks (terrorist or otherwise). That this came as a new Home Secretary (Jacqui Smith – even the spelling of the name infuriates me) was appointed is scary – will the terror this creates be used to usher in new “reforms?” The fear the planting of this device and the news generated from it have been interesting. We get wonderful comments like: (From BBC)
Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur urged people to be “alert and vigilant” and report anything suspicious to police.
What, one wonders, counts as “suspicious” in the case of a car parked in a city?
From the same source, comes:
“International elements” are believed to be involved with the Haymarket bomb, Whitehall sources have told the BBC.
More meaningless words. Seriously, this is like saying the weather is believed to be involved. It is one of those dangerous phrases the news love in that it actually says nothing but it implies everything.
There are more hints this is linked to international (i.e. Islamic) terrorism, as the BBC writes: (Talking about a mobile phone found in the car)
Mobile phones have been used to detonate bombs in Iraq and Indonesia and in other terror attacks, such as the 2004 Madrid bombings.
And it is not just Islamic-terrorist organisations which use phones as remote controls for bombs. Still, without actually saying anything, the implications are there and very, very strong. I will leave the BBC page with this comment:
[Deputy Assistant Commissioner] Clarke told a press conference it was too early to say who was responsible but the incident “resonated” with previous terror plots.
A fine example of saying lots by saying nothing. Time will probably bear all these people out and some crackpot radicalised Islamist group will claim credit for this, but it is strange that all the assumptions are already pointing in that direction before any real indications appear.
It will be interesting to see if the new Home Secretary will try to bring in tougher “Anti-Terrorist” legislation in the light of this incident. Given that the UK has one the largest ratios of CCTV cameras to head of populations, and that in London in particular it is unlikely that a vehicle can move from A to B without being tracked by CCTV, Automatic Number Plate recognition systems and Congestion Charge cameras, I am amazed that the police have not been able to knock on someones door and arrest them. If nothing else, they should have lifted the registered keeper by now…
Would this incident have been prevented if we had ID cards? Compulsory entry into a UK-wide DNA database? Longer detention of people suspected of being remotely involved in a terrorism related offence? Greater stop and search powers? Longer sentences? Death Penalty?
I am sure you can draw your own conclusions, but as I see it, none of the proposed changes to Anti-Terrorism legislation would have prevented it. None of the current laws prevented it. None of the fortunes spent monitoring every movement of free, innocent people, prevented it. That speaks volumes.
On a brighter note: Despite what I said before, there is some element of the “Blitz” spirit left alive in London. Check out the “local” comments the BBC found. Take this wonderful one from a 69 year old retired academic: (Emphasis mine)
It’s sad but unsurprising. I’ve lived here nine years. The chances of becoming a direct victim of such an attack are low. My wife and I are city people. This is home…we won’t be driven away by fear.
Very, very well said Sir.
As an aside, and to avoid any misconceptions:
Evil people will always do evil things. There were “terrorists” striking at people long before London even existed and long before the mainstream religions were thought up. If the wonderful day ever comes when religion dies out, there will still be people carrying out terrorist attacks. Likewise, terrorists attacked westerners long before Iraq was invaded and will continue to do so long after the west pulls out. Calling on either of these two things as a “reason” for terrorists is wrong.[tags]Terrorism, Bomb, London, Philosophy, Society, Culture, Fear, Islam, IRA, Al Qaeda, INLA, Terror, BBC, News, Metropolitan, Jacqui Smith, Identity Cards, Civil Rights[/tags]