As if to date and possibly repudiate my earlier post expressing cynicism, an attempted suicide car-bombing has taken place in Glasgow. I watched in shock as the reports came in, and recalled my earlier thoughts that Friday’s ominous discovery of two cars packed with explosive materials in the West End of London. Not much is known about that incident, although a manhunt is ongoing. Please note, this post has been cobbled together in a rushed half-hour, so apologies for the quality.
Today’s incident at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland is being treated as an attempted terrorist attack. A vehicle travelling at speed crashed into the entrance to Terminal One and two passengers in the car were arrested at the scene after being restrained by brave members of the public and airport security staff.
Police have linked the incident to yesterday’s discovery of two car bombs in London and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, fresh from a second meeting of the government’s emergency COBRA committee, took the time to make a political point, saying that “the British people will stand together, united and resolute.”
It may have been the fact Brown is a Scot, or that the Queen was present in Edinburgh for the ceremonial opening of the Scottish Parliament, that Glasgow airport was chosen as a target. Obviously, an airport is a public place, and now that the school term has ended in Scotland many families are setting off for their holidays abroad. If the attack had been successful many innocent people would have been killed.
There has been some surprise that Scotland should be facing a terrorist threat at all. Of course, the nation is still part of the UK, but this has been looking shaky of late, with First Minister Alex Salmond using today’s ceremony to declare his commitment to winning independence for Scotland, to the chagrin of Labour MSPs.
It is too early to tell what effect these events will have on public support for independence; in the past Labour has used the terror threat to claim that Scotland would not be secure if it went solo. On the other hand, the courage of the individuals involved in preventing this suspected attack and the fact that there are two men in custody, suggests otherwise.
Today’s events echo those of two years ago when four suicide bombers carried out attacks on London’s public transport, killing dozens and injuring hundreds of commuters. There has never been an independent public inquiry into the failure of the security services to prevent the bombings, or a rigorous assessment of the evidence – though a narrative of events has been supplied by the authorities.
Two weeks later, there were a series of what appeared to be copycat attacks that failed. I am reticent to elaborate further on these events as there is a trial ongoing, but I will say that the fact that there has been no adequate investigation into the 7/7 attacks is disturbing.
The threat level has been increased to “critical”, up from “severe”, and it appears that there was no prior warning of an increased risk. There will be questions raised in due course about the nature of intelligence gathering, how to deal with the source of the threat, but what is really needed is an investigation into the security services’ failure to apprehend the right people.
Past headline threats that soon turned out to be false have lead to “terrorism fatigue” and there is an immense amount of scepticism on the part of Muslims in the UK to the true nature of the terror threat – something which will hamper attempts to deal with the few hundred people who are willing to kill themselves and their fellow citizens.
In 2005, an electrician was shot dead by police on the Tube, last year a postman was almost killed when he was shot during a raid on his house. Hundreds of young Muslim men have been arrested in high-profile raids, only to be released without charge – the cloud of suspicion hovering above their heads.
Of course, the threat is real. But the exaggeration, the leaking of sensitive information by official sources, and the government’s record on spin and deception do not help in dealing with the terror threat.
Brown should have pulled the British armed forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan as his first act as Prime Minister. These immoral and illegal occupations are leading to death and destruction in the Middle East and a majority of people in the UK want to see the troops brought home safely.
Service personnel know that they cannot win the guerrilla wars in both countries, any attempt to kill the resistance fighters only results in the loss of innocent life – as incidents from both countries on this very day attest – and we all know that British foreign policy is providing water for extremists to swim in at home.
Brown has appointed Jacqui Smith, an unknown, as the new Home Secretary, but she has been sidelined by the PM. On Friday, he took it upon himself to issue a statement about the two car bombs – but he has not made any televised appearances discussing the severe flooding that the UK is currently experiencing.
The inclusion in his government of figures such as Sir Digby Jones, former head of the Confederation of British Industry, who is an opponent of trade unionism and not even a Labour member, shows that Brown is better able to serve the ruling class than Blair. He does not carry the baggage of the war in Iraq – though he was writing the cheques – and despite the fact that no Chancellor has ever had as much influence in government policy, Brown will evade responsibility for the first ten years of New Labour.
Brown must not be allowed to use the despicable acts of a few – whoever they may be – to introduce internment and other police state measures. The root cause of the terror threat is British imperialism – we can rightly point out that attacks on civilians are unjustified, but that does not detract from this point. As for the securocrats – we cannot know what they get up to, but my fear is that a “strategy of tension”, undoubtedly being employed in Iraq, may be used in the UK to ensure the “special relationship” continues and interventionist foreign policy is maintained…