Ram-bombing of terminal buildings is a threat that can be reduced fairly cheaply and easily by traffic control measures that also improve road safety
The last few days have seen a number of terror bombings in Britain. In themselves, not surprising events given the international situation and the situation within Britain.
The failure of the terrorists to die in the bombing attempt is a lucky break for the security services, providing valuable information about the ‘cell’ to which they belonged and of their method of recruitment
In each incident there has been a lack of competence on the part of the bombers rather than a demonstration of competence by the security services.
When the Blair/Brown regime took power in 1997, the intelligence services warned of the growing potential threat of international terrorism and the specific risks to Britain. Those warnings were treated with a reduction in budget and ‘modernization’ of parts of the intelligence services to match more closely the needs of Government propaganda, weakening public safety.
As an aid to HUMINT, advanced technologies, including computers and satellites, expands and improves intelligence. As a replacement for humans, it reduces intelligence
British intelligence services also shared the same mistakes as other intelligence services from the mid 1980s as reliance moved from humans to machines. The traditional forms of human intelligence, HUMINT, provide a very flexible system of intelligence gathering and offer human assessment of information. That ability can be greatly improved by adding new technologies to assist in sifting data and acquiring information that cannot be gained by HUMINT. Replacing humans with machines increases the volume of information but reduces the volume of intelligence.
David Kelly was just one tragic victim of the Blair/Brown regime’s dodgy dossiers. As his family was denied a formal inquest there are still many unanswered questions about his death
The culmination of those dangerous policies was reached when the Blair/Brown regime issued its ‘dodgy’ dossiers in justification of the invasion of Iraq. The commission of war crimes by the Government was no justification for acts of terror by individuals living in Britain and enjoying British hospitality, but it was a risk that had already been identified clearly by the intelligence services and by politicians on the Opposition Benches of the House of Commons.
The British people have been very lucky, but depending on luck is not a good policy.
The Irish terrorists had become effective murderers but, given the same level of external funding and years of practice, Islamic terrorists can become as great a threat
The serious and well-controlled Irish terror was brought to a halt by the Islamic terror bombings in the US on 9/11. This brought home to Americans the reality of terror bombing and the IRA were seen to be working with other international terror groups directly against Americans. This cut off the funds and supplies of arms from the US to Irish terrorists, with the result that a dangerously effective group of murderers was disabled.
Reliance on attacking civil liberties and the use of new technology does very little to combat terrorists and is more likely to inflame the traditionally law-abiding citizens. The Gatso tax cameras have even encouraged citizens to bomb them
In place of the IRA have come Islamic extremists who have proved to be extremely incompetent. The period of incompetence has provided the British security services with a window to correct some of the errors perpetrated by the Blair/Brown regime since 1997, but the recent events have demonstrated that considerably more needs to be done to move from the priority of spin and Orwellian control of ordinary citizens to an effective security service that is able to target terror groups without assaulting civil liberty for the law-abiding majority of the population.
Some of the popular views of Islamic terrorists are wide of the mark. Some terrorists may be illiterate peasants, some may deeply believe in an extreme or perverted religious view, many may be mad, many may be bad, but there are highly intelligent, highly eductated, rich terrorists who happy to hide behind any cause
What is causing some political consternation is that the events of the recent days have identified that Islamic extremists are not all poorly eductated dim-witted dupes for fundamentalist preachers. This should not come as a surprise. Fundamentalists are present in every society, and in every religious and political group. The majority of ‘foot soldiers’ may be poorly educated and easily manipulated dupes, but every body of extremism includes highly educated and wealthy individuals, some of whom hold no fundamentalist belief but see fundamentalism as an opportunity for other reasons.
One objective of the current terror campaign by Islamic extremists is to convince the non-Islamic population that all Islamists are terrorists, encouraging extreme acts against Islamists and racial groups that may be mistaken for Islamists.
Body armour and machine guns, and reliance on police area cars, makes the police both remote and threatening, cutting off a traditional source of intelligence from the public. It also changes the way in which the police see themselves and the public. There is a very strong case for providing locally accountable, uniquely uniformed police forces that are there to serve the citizens and protect against public disturbance and crime by becoming a trusted part of the community, providing traffic patrol police dressed in a different uniform and trained to encourage good driving rather than being a new force of tax collectors, and providing armed protection service with armed and armoured specialists who are trained and deployed to protect the public from terrorists. In increasing the flow of intelligence from the public and equipping specialists to do specialist work, the key is to rely more on humans and less on machines to deal with human problems
In this situation, the only way to address the risks posed by terrorists is for both communities, Islamist and non-Islamist, to clearly and loudly condemn the terrorists and extremists, and to report any suspicious activities. To encourage that, a Government has to avoid war crimes and removal of civil liberties and fund security services that have been trained and equipped to deal with the real threats from the real enemies of democracy.