Chatham House Update

The New York Times is running a story about a document prepared by the Joint Terrorist Analysis Center (the coordinating nerve centre of Britain’s anti-terrorism activity) in June of this year. The document was apparently furbished to the NYT by a ‘foreign security service’ and “was not disputed by four senior British officials who were asked about it”. The majority of the article is about how the document lead the UK government to downgrade the security threat level just before the bombings. It also, however, contains this curious sentance:

Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the U.K.”

ie the UK government’s own anti-terrorism coordinators were saying it.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

8 thoughts on “Chatham House Update

  1. Iraq ignited 9/11? Iraq ignited Madrid, when the plannaing for the attack pre-dated the Iraq war?

    The first major incursions of jihadis into Europe and radicalisation of European muslims was due to Europe’s pathetic failure to protect Bosnia’s muslims and France’s tacit alliance with the Algerian government to suppress the Islamists in Algeria.

    Now of course, the same bien pensant left of center thought responsible for those fiascos blames everything on Blair.

  2. Reuel Marc Gerecht has relevant article in the American Enterprise Institute:

    “The Saudis may pay for the mosques and the visiting Saudi and Jordanian imams, but the believers are often having very European conversations in European languages. In France, Belgium, or Holland, sitting with young male believers can feel like a time-warp, a return to the European left of the 1970s and early 1980s. Europe’s radical-mosque practitioners can appear, mutatis mutandis, like a Muslim version of the hard-core intellectuals and laborers behind the aggrieved but proud Scottish National party in its salad days. These young men are often Sunni versions of the Iranian radicals who gathered around the jumbled, deeply contradictory, religious left-wing ideas of Ali Shariati, one of the intellectual fathers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s “red-mullah” revolution of 1979, and the French-educated ex-Communist Jalal Al-e Ahmad, who became in the 1960s perhaps the most famous theoretician of Muslim alienation in the Western world.”

    I think the above is valid, and if a European Muslim happens to travel to the US and inflict a moderately damaging attack, I can pretty much see the visa waiver program being halted, as Peter Bergen pointed out in the NY Times.

    “This means, of course, that the Bush administration ought to preempt fate and suspend the visa-waiver program established in 1986 for Western Europeans”

  3. “European Muslim happens to travel to the US and inflict a moderately damaging attack, I can pretty much see the visa waiver program being halted”

    I think, Rupert, that each state is entitled to take the security measures it deems appropriate. I have accepted from the start that the US is the country most under threat (you only have to read OBL’s pronouncements to see this), and I think with regard to non-nationals is entitled to apply the screening procedures it deems most appropriate (another issue altogether would be discrimination against US nationals of muslim faith).

    Whether visa systems work, well, I have my doubts. Look at what just happened in the UK, the bombers themselves were nationals, but the rest? Something similar could, unfortunately, also happen in the US.

    I think what *is* clear is that we need much better co-ordination across our security systems, and increased harmony in our legal frameworks for handling terrorism (see recent German court decision about extradition to Spain).

    Unfortunately I am also not clear why Al-qaeda would be looking for something only ‘moderately harmful’. If you look at their approach, they go from smaller to bigger. The absence of A-Q attacks on US soil since 09/11 has lead to a lot of speculation. The ‘degrading’ of the central apparatus in Afghanistan and improved US security obviously form part of the explanation, concentrating resources in Iraq may be another, the ‘warning cycle’ theory advocated by Michael Scheuer – which suggests a role for internal debates inside the qaeda-sympathetic part of Islam itself – may be another. But at least one of the plausible explanations – and Chatham House certainly take this seriously – would be availability of the raw materials needed for an ‘impact’ attack, and assembling the skills necessary to process them. If this is the case, the next attack may not be ‘moderate’, and in which case, frankly, all bets are off.

  4. “forget that Iraq ignited the blaze.”

    No, the last Iraq war did not ingnite the blaze (in fact the earlier one may have due to its impact on OBL), but it certainly poured plenty of gasoline onto it.

  5. “left of center thought responsible for those fiascos blames everything on Blair.”

    Isn’t Blair himself “left of centre”? He does call himself a socialist, and the UK does have a very, very substantial social safety net.

    Or do you mean ‘far left’ and for that matter, far right, which would be more coherent looking at some of the commenting that’s been going on here over the last couple of weeks. Same line up as on the constitution really. Extremes vs the centre.

    The key phrase would be ‘blaming *everything* on Bliar’. The Latin derivative aliquot comes to mind, in the sense of: “of, relating to, or being a fraction or percentage of a whole”.

  6. Thinking about this a bit more, it’s interesting to note how much in the way they classify things the extremes resemble each other. In recent days we’ve seen plenty of examples – on this very blog even – of the extreme left suggesting that the London bombings were Blair’s own work, and in this national review article Frank J Gaffney bases himself on extreme right arguments in Spain (pro Aznar people: El Mundo, Franco Aleman etc) to suggest that the Madrid bombings may have been the work of the Spanish security agency Tedax. Paranoia would seem to be the common thread.

  7. ?Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the U.K.?

    But as I am also suggesting, so may events in Kashmir, as this little extract continues to imply:

    “The Yorkshire businessman, Rasheed Aswad, a British Muslim of Indian origin, is the father of Haroon Rasheed Aswad, who is wanted by British police on suspicion he could be a key man behind the deadly July 7 bomb blasts”.

    Haroon Rasheed Aswad is apparently the man who ‘slipped in-and-out of Britain.

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