Within the wave… three possible terrorist attacks in the UK June 30, 2007Posted by WorldbyStorm in Terrorism, The War On Terror.
So, that’s possibly three attacks so far. Two car bombs found in London and thankfully made safe, although the unbelievable detail that one was unknowingly towed away bomb and all is quite something else. And now an incident at Glasgow airport by four people in a Jeep Cherokee which according to the BBC:
A Whitehall spokesman said the incident was not being treated as a national security threat however the prime minister is being kept informed of developments and is expected to chair a meeting of COBRA – the emergency committee later.
Two thoughts strike me. Firstly the low level nature of these attacks, assuming Glasgow is an attack, which is not to say that they might not have potentially been lethal in effect had they succeeded. The technology used was bare bones stuff. Gas canisters, nails, petrol. These are everyday items, easily accessible. And that tells us something about the nature of these attacks. They are not part of a serious co-ordinated campaign such as was seen during the 1970s through to the early 1990s with PIRA. Instead they seem to blossom from tight social groupings who act, not quite on impulse, but with a seeming lack of any long term (or even mid-term) strategy. Their access to serious weaponry appears, thankfully, to be limited.
The problem here being that this sort of DIY terrorism is enormously difficult to contain by the sort of security measures that eventually brought the PIRA to a stand-off. In fact it is arguable that the sort of intensive high surveillance operations that blanketed the North would quite simply be unacceptable in Britain and perhaps impossible to implement. And that gives considerable opportunity to those who want to utilise violence in this fashion. All they need, as the most recent events seem to imply, is a car and some petrol. And that in and of itself can shut down a major transportation centre.
But what is also striking is the rather muddled and contradictory nature of these events. What exactly are the political effects they are supposed to produce? The new British Cabinet appears to be tilted towards the anti-Iraq war position in a very public way. Milliband was outspoken in criticism of the Lebanon interventions by Israel last Summer. John Denham resigned over the Iraq invasion. Mark Malloch Brown was, as Deputy Secretary General of the UN, strongly critical of both the invasion and the US administration. There is credible evidence that British involvement is being scaled down in Iraq. This is not a cabinet which would support intervention in Iran. This is a cabinet which might find itself non too pushed ultimately (and I’d argue wrongly) to support a continuing presence in Afghanistan.
So a bomb campaign would appear – in terms of the aspirations of those carrying it out – to be at best pointless, at worst counterproductive. This really does seem to be purely gestural political violence. A reminder.
And it is that lack of focus which is so striking. The bombings aren’t intended to achieve anything concrete. Instead they’re almost a sort of rhetorical flourish, demonstrative. An indication that the forces which resulted in 7/7 remain active, perhaps will be strengthened, as was suggested on Channel4 News last night, by a newer generation of radical Islamists.
If true, then we are within a wave of such attacks. There might be more as some seek to emulate the current events. And there will presumably definitely be others. Low level, probably with very long gaps between events, often displaying an amateurish but stupidly effective lethality , sometimes not, but likely to recur again and again and again.
And worst of all essentially immune to whatever changes there are in the political environment.
Welcome to the future.