Saturday, July 09, 2005


At RFE/RL, Rob Parsons has a well-thought-out article about the current state of uncertainty in Britain in the aftermath of 7/7:
How do you defend, though, against an enemy with no formalized command structure and so well blended into local communities as to be almost invisible?

Rob Watson is a specialist on security issues for the BBC's World Service. He says one of the biggest difficulties facing the police is that the threat often comes from people with no previous criminal record.

"People are just not on the radar," Watson told RFE/RL. "What I mean by that is people who haven't followed the traditional route as Islamic extremists. They haven't trained in Afghanistan; they don't necessarily worship at a radical mosque; they don't have any criminal record and have no association with known groups that are being monitored. That is every security service's nightmare. You're looking for an extremist needle in a very, very large haystack."
And the article goes on to consider some widespread public attitudes:
For all the stoicism, attitudes among the public are confused. How should an open society fight back?

"I think the danger is people will lose their rights and that's the worst thing that can happen really," said passerby Paul Griffiths. "I think it will be a dangerous thing if they do clamp down and we start to live in a police state."

You don't want to have a backlash against the Muslim community in Britain," added another man, Chris Burgess. "You want to tighten up security but you don't want to infringe on people's rights."

Others took a less tolerant view.

"I think we should tighten up on the immigration because as you know they don't know how many people are being allowed into the country and the Muslims are actually serious," David Kay said.

But there are no ready answers. Some have suggested accelerating the introduction of identity cards, an issue that is already a political hot potato in Britain. But identity cards did nothing to prevent the bombings in Madrid last year.
Certainly, whoever did plant the bombs was obviously anxious to divide Britain's communities against one another.

As the noted revolutionary said: "Who whom?"

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