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It had to happen sooner or later. Everyone understands that they may be a target of Al-Qaeda, but they cannot feel it in their hearts until it happens. Six blasts set off in London underground (subway) and buses have killed at least fifty and critically injured many more. An Islamist-based Web site "credited" Al-Qaeda with the attacks, and they are said to bear the stamp of Al-Qaeda methodology, but authorities have not officially blamed anyone. Tony Blair left the G-8 summit to return to London, though current reports say the summit has not been cancelled, contradicting ealier news. Britons and tourists have jammed the telephone system to get news of loved ones, and, as may be expected the Internet news services collapsed under the pressure of events.
Authorities have done an inept job of information hiding for various ill-judged reasons of their own. For hours, reports claimed that two people had died, though it was obvious from pictures of just one demolished bus that the death toll was much higher. Likewise no official statement has been made about the probable attackers.
In part, all such attacks are made possible because no security force can be everywhere at the same time, and no country can ever spend enough on security to guarantee invulnerability. However, these well timed attacks required coordination and preparation. Clearly the attacks indicate serious lapses in the security system. Security forces should have been aware of suspicious activity and very likely should have been able to stop the attacks. Despite the experiences of other countries, no country seems to take the necessary measures until they are actually attacked. Britain has no ID card system, no security in public transportation and very little serious border control. Why did they think they are immune? But Britain is no stranger to terrorist acts and there is no doubt that the British people will respond with their world famous calm and fortitude, as they are already doing.
The overt excuse for the attacks was apparently British participation in the Iraq war. However, terror attacks of this type are never really about an action of the attacked country and their aim is certainly not to get that country to surrender. Osama Bin Laden was not so stupid as to think that he could bring down the United States by attacking the World Trade Center, nor should anyone who knows the British mentality believe Britain will pull out of Iraq because of a bomb in London. Mr. Zaraqawi cannot succeed where Hermann Goering failed.
The aim of terror attacks is to gain political favor for a group in its own constituency - by attacking a strong and hated or envied enemy. The psychology of people who carried out these attacks, the subject of many psychobabble articles and pseudo-philosophic ramblings, is totally irrelevant. What matters is the political motivation of the people who organized and planned the attacks, whether they are suicide bombings or other sorts of terror.
Those who look for "underlying causes" or fantasize about terror as theater contribute unwittingly to the success of terrorists by making their doings legitimate and acceptable, and allowing them to legitimize their rise to power by use of force. The world political stage has been kind to terrorists, prettifying their murder as militancy and "activism" and making every sort of excuse for them. Organize a march against the "evil American occupation of Iraq," and you will get hundreds of thousands of supporters and be glorified as an angel of peace by all the right thinking people. Organize a march against terror, and you are blasted as a neo-con. If you are Muslim then you are called an uncle Tom Muslim and your character is besmirched by doubtful characters like Hussein Ibish. If you are not a Muslim and you are against terror you are apt to be labeled an Islamophobic Zionist neocon.
It is incredible that the obvious truths have been obscured by a campaign of rhetoric. Real friends of peace everywhere have to understand that terror and peace are incompatible. Pundits and professors need to realize that the people who run terror groups are not self-sacrificing idealists, as Professor Eagleton and Robert Pape try to tell us. They are power-hungry, cynical and amoral sociopaths. Imams and ministers and rabbis need to remember that killing people is wrong. Shielding "militants" and is not heroic "nonviolence." Excusing activists is not fashionable philosophy. It is aiding and abetting murder. All the fine theories are shown to be dangerous hot air by every terrorist act, every person killed, every child maimed for life.
Article about the bombings by Adel Darwish -
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Replies: 13 comments
Your comments are not entirely correct. I am part of the response team for my area. We have just been advised to be ready to scale down activity at a local level. However every few minutes there is an alert of a possible bomb at one of the main stations. The emphasis since 09:00hrs has been to ensuring that the emergency services are allowed to get on with their activities. From my position the ystem worked fairly smoothly & calmly. The technical problems we encountered were dealt with. There was some confusion about the number of fatalities for a while. The policy seemed to be that fatalities were not to be announced until they were absolutely confirmed.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/07/2005 08:19 PM CST
It is now 19:31hrs BST - 37 people are known to have been killed by the bombs. Somewhere around 700 were injured about 300 seriously.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/07/2005 09:41 PM CST
According to a US official there were at least 43 dead. I saw a bus that looked like a typical Palestinian suicide attack only worse. I am afraid there will be many more dead.
Rod I can't see where what I wrote is incorrect. Throught the morning, headlines and TV said 2 people were killed. They got that number from officials. They had to know that number was wrong just looking at the crushed bus. If the police did not want to give out information they could've said "We don't know" but they said "two dead," which was not true.
Security measures are always expensive and unpopular, but it was irresponsible not to have better control over who can enter and leave Great Britain and not to have some mass transit security. Understandably the problems are enormous, but that is not a reason to have done nothing at all.
Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 07/07/2005 10:11 PM CST
There is nothing more practical than a correct theory. It is needed a thorough understanding to be able of trimming the reaction and make it fully effective. What terrorists want is overreaction and blind repression that makes neutrals join their side and converts moderates in radicals. They want their enemies to "remove the mask" (i.e to act as them). This bombing can be done with 5 people and 30 Kg of plastic. These people and the ones who had help them must be located and neutralized ASAP with the least possible violence and slide effects.
They must be separated from their social base by showing the fundamental moral difference betweem them and us. This is not the time to put the army on the street or to torture people to low our fear to the uknown. This is not the time for blame civil rights of common people. This is the time to fight sistematically and coldly a criminal organisation that is using the incompetency of some world rulers to create a mortal network and to threaten our civilized way of life by pushing us to barbaric acts of revenge.
The fight must be fought with the instruments of civilization and justice, punishing the guilty and respecting the innocents whatever his race or religion are. Because it is also a fight against our own tendency to brutality and violence, a fight against our own thirst for the blood of the killers and against our own desire to see their relatives crying. Civilization is a very thin skin and when removed augly things appear. Let not happen.
So lets help the wounded, lets mourn for the dead, lets restore normal life and lets go for the murdererers without hate in our hearts. Quoting some words from Winston Churchill at the end of the Blitz: "this shepherd of black souls must know that we will be relentlessly on his track, bearing the long sword of Justice, until his curse is lifted from our age".
Posted by Aleph @ 07/07/2005 11:09 PM CST
Number of dead is officially put at 37. Others claim higher figures. Wounded may be over 1000. London hospitals are full. There were four attacks apparently (not six as thought previously):
A bus at Tavistock Square Woburn place.
The tunnel between Russell Square and Kings Cross, where a blast destroyed a railway carriage during rush hour.
Liverpool Street/Aldgate train
Edgware Road Train
I am sure that the British people will do the right thing in adversity.
Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 07/07/2005 11:42 PM CST
While I strongly agree with the main points made in the article, I disagree with the hasty castigation of those responsible for security in the UK. There is no reason to believe that they thought they were immune from terrorism. Indeed there have been repeated comments from top officials that it was only a question of when, and not if, there would be a major terrorist attack. (In the sentence immediately after asking why the British thought they were immune, the article comments that Britain is no stranger to terrorist acts.)
I am in London frequently and have just returned from New York City which certainly does not consider itself immune. There was absolutely no more security on the buses and subways in New York than there has been on public transportation in London. Nor does the United States have an ID card system. While the US has gone further in controlling entry across its borders, the UK also appears to have tightened up considerably -- though maybe in large measure to address the problem of asylum seekers. While it may turn out to be correct that â€śSecurity forces should have been aware of suspicious activity and very likely should have been able to stop the attacksâ€ť, until specific â€śsuspicious activityâ€ť can be identified, this judgment appears unwarranted.
Casting part of the blame for this attack on the security forces is certainly premature and risks making it easier for people to avoid fully facing up to the massively difficult challenge which international terrorism poses to Western democracies -- and not only to Western democracies. That, it is clear, is the opposite of your intention.
Posted by Martin @ 07/08/2005 01:32 PM CST
You are right that the moral blame must be placed on the terrorists, but that is about like saying that because the burglars are evil, we should not blame people just because they don't want to lock their doors.
Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 07/08/2005 04:14 PM CST
For all of the comments and self-recrimination, by and large things worked as planned. In my area of 340,000 inhabitants, only 1 child was left at school by 18:00hrs yesterday. The 30,000+ children that cross the borough boundaries each day got home. People did not panic, and cooperated with the authorities. Most carried on regardless. The ambulances, paramedics, and hospitals managed admirably. The police prevented chaos. Consider that 3,000,000 people use the Underground everyday - it's a big, busy and complex system. There are very few people unaccounted for.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/08/2005 09:38 PM CST
While we all mourn the loss of innocent lives in London. I can't help but also feel for the over one hundred thousand Iraqis who have lost thier lives in the recent war to "liberate" Iraq. What about the daily struggles of the Palestinian people, who have seen thier homeland erased from the maps of the world and their dignity and lives shaken to the core by the powers that be. We must mourn all forms of terror. It doesn't matter if the bombs are being directed from indivduals or states. Peace is the only solution.
Posted by George @ 07/09/2005 02:00 AM CST
Iâ€™m sorry that I did not make myself clear. My objection to your perspective is not that I am against the UK taking inconvenient or expensive measures to enhance security - far from it - but that you make it all sound too simple. "Security forces should have been aware of suspicious activity and very likely should have been able to stop the attacks" - even in todayâ€™s context, without ID cards, without much more security in public transportation than in the US, and without visas for tourists from many countries? Even with these measures, it would be only too easy for suspicious activity to be almost completely concealed.
On the subject of tourist visas, the UK is selective. For example (I have not checked this thoroughly, they are needed for nationals of countries in North Africa, the Middle East (other than Israel), and the Indian subcontinent, but not for nationals of countries in the Americas, Hong Kong, and Japan. But visas are largely beside the point. To judge from those whom the authorities have detained under anti-terrorism legislation in the last three to four years, the risk lies with those who are legally resident in the country, not with those who entered it as tourists or reside in it illegally.
More fundamental change is required in the way that the society orders itself and, for ethical reasons, it will be a great deal more uncomfortable. The nettle that has to be grasped is illustrated by the outcry in the UK some months back when the authorities wanted to detain without trial a number of asylum seekers who could not be returned to their own countries because of justifiable fear that they would be persecuted there. It is because I believe that measures such as those you suggest would not be effective in limiting international terrorism that I broadly - though most reluctantly - support the position of the authorities. The next time around, some of those who oppose them are likely to argue that the UK should rely instead on better policing, better border control, ID cards, and whatever. Would that these would suffice. It worries me that your position lends support to those who argue that they would.
The necessary measures are likely to mean a serious curtailment of civil liberties. Can it be doubted, moreover, that they would result in de facto discrimination against those who skin is brown rather than some other color, against those who are Muslim rather than those who are not? The prospect of such measures is abhorrent, but the prospect of more outrages such as last weekâ€™s is even more abhorrent.
Posted by Martin @ 07/10/2005 05:10 AM CST
I just want to say that I have traveled by plane in USA before 11-S and was really easy to come into the plane with whatever. Now they are exagerating all the way round bothering millions of people with stupid mesures such as not carrying babe or nose scissors. The mesures used in Europe through the 80s and 90s where enough and the current histeria was not needed. The passengers all around the world must use plastic knifes (is the fork less dangerous?) just because american airlines did nothing for 20 years.
Apart from that 11-S will never be possible againg since pilots followed a procedure from the 70s (colaborate with terrorists) that has been completely changed. The USA people must settle down a little and understand that 100% security cannot be asked except in fascist societies. Lets follow security procedures whithout histeria because plane terrorism is 30 years old and there exist a lot of bibliografy without american innovations. Lets forgot histeria in general.
Posted by Aleph @ 07/10/2005 07:38 PM CST
Yes, the security people sometimes exaggerate, but that is better than the alternative.
Fast work in tracking down the culprits. Though it won't help much for this set of bombings, it may prevent some others.
George's idea seems to be that if people got blown up it serves them right for some reason. 100,000 Iraqis - probably 39,000 George, according to Swiss estimate. Did you have as much sympathy for the 300,000 Iraqis that Saddam killed (not counting another million people in the Iran-Iraq war)? Homeland erased from map - "Palestine" existed as a political entity from 1922 to 1948 when it was the national home of the Jewish people guaranteed in international law by the League of Nations. No homeland of Palestinian Arabs was wiped off the maps. Before 1917, The Arabs of Palestine and my grandparents had the same homeland and were citizens of the same country.
In any case, those people in the Russell Square - Kings Cross underground didn't have anything more to do with it all than you did. Suppose you or your loved ones were the victims, would you still believe it was just "punishment"?
Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 07/14/2005 03:36 AM CST
Its not that we think we are immune, it's just that we are not prepared to have massive security on our public transport system for a number of reasons, namely cost, inconvienece and unfortunately the percieved lack of beneift.
As it turns out Visa, ID cards would have been of little use, how can you stop four nationals with no previous walking onto train/buses and blowing themselves up?
Your analysis of the bombers motives ring true, unfortunately it's not something that has been aired in the media here. Its all focused on the war in Iraq.
Posted by JOCKY @ 07/15/2005 07:46 PM CST
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