Sunday, July 10, 2005

Security begins at home

In a quite extraordinarily naïve and ill-informed op-ed in The Business today – a piece an otherwise sterling newspaper should be ashamed of – Nile Gardiner and John Hulsman of the Heritage Foundation offer the thesis that the "Anglo-US alliance" is the bulwark of our western civilisation (a re-vamp of their paper which my colleague so effectively fisked in her her earlier post).

With Britain universally acknowledged as America's closest ally, an attack on London is no different than an attack on Washington or New York, they write, declaring that, "at Britain's hour of need, the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with her British allies, who are bloodied but unbowed." They then conclude:

This latest terrorist attack will only succeed in bringing the British and American people closer together. The terrorists' fatal conceit is similar to that of the Kaiser, Hitler, and Stalin: underestimating the power and determination of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. The US-British alliance is a strikingly successful partnership of two great powers built on the solid foundations of a common heritage, culture and vision. The two nations have fought alongside each other in seven major wars in the past 90 years, from the First World War to the second Gulf war. The war on terror is a global conflict that may last for decades but will ultimately be won by the two nations that stand at the forefront of defending freedom and liberty on the world stage.
Quite what inspired this pair to write such sanctimonious drivel is beyond reckoning. But they need only look at the mainstream press, such as the piece in today’s Sunday Times, for a contradiction of their own thesis. There, they would read that one of the first responses to the London bombing has been for Charles Clarke, our Home Secretary, to convene a special meeting on 13 July of EU interior ministers in Brussels to discuss the response to the London outrage. In other words, it is to the European Union rather than the US that the British government is looking.

They might also look at Booker's lead piece in The Sunday Telegraph, where he writes of the galloping Europeanisation of the British armed forces and they could also spend a little time listening to the proceeds of the conference organised by their own Foundation in Washington two weeks ago, where the breakdown of the "special relationship" was discussed.

Not least, they would hear one security expert recount details of incidents where US authorities has passed down intelligence on the whereabouts of terrorists in European cities, only to have the local authorities "buy off" the individuals, rather than taking action against them. This, with the "leakage" of intelligence to non-authorised recipients, and the misuse of the information, has made US intelligence agencies increasingly reluctant to share intelligence with European agencies.

Furthermore, since the UK is immersing itself in EU initiatives, British agencies are increasingly being regarded as untrustworthy, and the flow of intelligence from US sources is drying up. So bad has this situation become that one informed Washington "insider" recently said that, to all intents and purposes, the "special relationship" is already dead.

More crucially, from the point of view of our own domestic security, it is not the international dimension of terrorism that should be our most immediate priority, but what is happening on our own doorstep. Lurching from the ridiculous to the sublime, this is highlighted by the excellent editorial in The Business, which is as good as the Gardiner/Hulsman piece is bad.

Headed “the new thirty years war”, it reminds us that London has become the regional headquarters for Islamo-fascism in Europe. The process is now so advanced that some in European and American security circles even refer to the British capital as "Londonistan". Our capital has become the home to a large number of extremists and hard-line recruiting agents, pouring poison into the ears of susceptible young British Muslims with their hate-filled preaching, seminars, pamphlets, DVDs. Furthermore, it has become the nexus for links to the worst madrassas (religious colleges) of the Middle East and Pakistan.

Last week, says The Business, one American security expert said that Europe had become a "field of Jihad" thanks to Londonistan; and a Spanish MP accused Britain of having become "the world's biggest hotbed of radical Islamic thought" (not true: but it is probably the worst hotbed in Europe). The French and Spanish security services regularly express private amazement and anger at Britain's continued toleration of this enemy within.

Then, in Washington, more and more intelligence voices are warning that one of the greatest terrorist threats to America comes not from their own domestic sleeper cells or from immigrants but from British citizens visiting on the Visa Waiver Programme.

And so it goes on. The fact that Abu Hamza al-Masri only went on trial in the Old Bailey last Tuesday, charged with encouraging the murder of non-Muslims, even though he has been known to the security and intelligence services as a threat for years shows how deep the problem - and how inadequate Britain's response to a clear and present danger. His old Mosque in Finsbury Park, North London, has been linked to terrorists as important as Zacarias Moussaoui, who has pleaded guilty to being a 9/11 plotter.

The failure of the government in general and the security services in particular to act earlier is a national scandal which threatens British allies as well as British citizens. For what can only be assumed to be reasons of political correctness the British government has desisted from cracking down hard on domestic terrorist cells and supporters. The result is a list of prominent terrorists who are also British citizens as long as your arm. This not only includes Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber who almost managed to blow up a plane in 2001; but:

...Saajid Badat, who pleaded guilty earlier this year of plotting to use another shoe bomb device in late 2001; Ahmed Omar Sheik, who orchestrated the 2002 beheading of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl; the suicide bombers who destroyed a jazz club near the US embassy in Israel in 2003; Abu Issa al-Hindi, one of 12 suspects arrested last year, accused by the US of being involved in the surveillance of key targets, including the International Monetary Fund; Abu Doha, held in Belmarsh prison and fighting extradition to the US for allegedly plotting to bomb Los Angeles airport. Many more leading terrorists or suspected terrorists have made London their base: Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri and Umar Abd al-Hakim, alleged ringleader of the Spanish attacks, lived there in the 1990s (and perhaps more recently); he is wanted by the US, which has slapped a bounty on his head.

When terrorists killed 58 tourists in Egypt in 1997, Cairo issued a list of 14 people accused of inspiring the attacks. Half lived in London; none was handed over. Mohamed Guerbouzi, who has been sentenced in his absence to a 20-year prison sentence in Morocco over his alleged involvement in a suicide bomb campaign, is thought to have been living in the UK for a decade.

In April, Kamel Bourgass was jailed for murdering a British policeman and plotting poison attacks with ricin produced in a makeshift laboratory in a British flat. Three other men are fighting extradition to Spain from a London prison. Dozens of highly suspect characters have claimed asylum in the UK, protected by the human rights industry, which rallies to their cause at every turn, easily intimidating a Blair government from doing its proper job of defending the realm from those that would do it harm. Because even suspected mass murders cannot be sent back to countries where there is a death penalty or where they cannot be assured fair trials, the government has repeatedly turned down extradition requests from countries such as Egypt or Algeria; even requests from the US have been refused because it has the death penalty

Add to this list of home-grown terrorist the many preachers of hate at large in Britain, some of them based in a handful of extremist Mosques, others using the internet and pamphlets to indoctrinate impressionable and alienated youths, calling for a jihad against the West, applauding 9/11 (and now 7/7 no doubt) and even recruiting young people to go and fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. One preacher, Abu Qatada, who was freed from detention this year, is believed to be the spiritual head of al Qaeda in Europe (yes, he was freed - thanks to the clamour of the human rights' lobby and a deeply-flawed judgement by the Law Lords).
Remember, says The Business, this rollcall of shame the next time some British security or intelligence jobsworth tells you that Britain is in the forefront of the fight against Islamic terror. Ask them how that squares with London's fully-deserved and shameful reputation as a haven for international Islamic terrorists. The time for a massive crackdown on those in Britain who promote Islamo-fascism and call for mass murder is long overdue.

Yet, what do we get? Little Clarke poncing off to Brussels to discuss "security co-operation" with his EU "colleagues" who, according to Deutsche Welle are only too keen to build another tranche of institutions and bring our more laws to counter the threat of terrorism.

One cannot help but think that Clarke would be better employed spending his time at home, attending to the manifest deficiencies in the British response, on the basis that, like charity, security begins at home. And, if he has any spare time, he would be advised to go to Washington and try to rebuild the "special relationship", if it is not already beyond repair.

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