More Theories Update

Now this information needs to be treated with extreme caution, since the source in my experience is not of the best, but the Spanish newspaper El Mundo is claiming that the Spanish national intelligence centre (CNI) identified a website posting on 29th May from the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades which may be seen with the benefit of hindsight as giving clearance for the London attack. If confirmed, this report complicates things slightly since it is not the same group as the “The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe”. The website posting contained the key phrase “We now call on the mujahedeen around the world to launch the expected attack”.

An English version of this story can be found here. I think we should await more confirmation before drawing too many conclusions. Just in case: you can find some background on Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades here.

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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".

9 thoughts on “More Theories Update

  1. The link about Italy’s militant network in the previous post also contains a reference to the Al-Masri group, although the reference here is to the summer of last year:

    “In addition, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades warned on its website that its cells in Rome and other cities were prepared to carry out their “mission”, given Italy’s failure to accept bin Laden’s truce.”

  2. The Murdoch Group in Australia have now picked up the story. They also recount a very gruesome detail about the bus-bomb which might indicate that the bomber himself was blown up. This could at least be helpful in discovering who was actually involved.

  3. This seems hugely significiant to me:

    “For years, radical Islamic activists have operated freely in Britain, raising money for their cause, beaming satellite TV spots or running Internet sites condemning America in support of al-Qaida. But even supporters of Osama bin Laden’s ideology say the London bombings were the wrong thing to do.

    “‘The goal here was illegitimate,’ said activist Yasser al-Sirri.”
    http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBS09811BE.htm

    As the names and pictures of the victims of the London bombing come to light, the atrocity is rapidly turning into a wholesale PR disaster for al-Qaeda. Without equivocation, the Muslim community in Britain has condemned the bombing loudly and clearly. It can only have been the promised prospect of an extra twenty or more virigns in paradise that motivated the Mujahedeen in this case for there can’t be any better reason for blowing up a cleaning lady who worked in university college hospital.

    As the ethnic and social diversity of the victims of Bloody Thursday becomes evident, the Mujahedeen are looking about as dumb as Caliph Umar I, who finally destroyed the great library of the ancient world at Alexandria.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4671993.stm

    By repute, Caliph Umar with evidently compelling logic reasoned that the wisdom in the manuscripts in the library had either been incorporated in the Koran or was heretical. Either way, the library was unnecessary and had to go.

    Somehow, it isn’t too suprising now that the press in Iran is now pushing the editorial line that the bombing was down to British or American special forces to create a pretext for attacking Iran.

  4. For reasons I don’t understand, the first link in my post above no longer works. This one does:

    “For years, radical Islamic activists have operated freely in Britain, raising money for their cause, beaming satellite TV spots or running Internet sites condemning America in support of al-Qaida. But even supporters of Osama bin Laden’s ideology say the London bombings were the wrong thing to do.

    “‘The goal here was illegitimate,’ said activist Yasser al-Sirri.”
    http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/29995.html

  5. “the press in Iran is now pushing the editorial line”

    Well obviously the regime in Iran is not Al-qaeda. Otoh it is anti-west, so the best line for them is probably the conspiracy theory one.

    The bigger question would be whether even OBL himself is in favour of this, for the reasons you are alluding to. This may be one of the points about ‘freelance outfits’. Of course, to be clear, the suggestion is not that OBL might be against killing innocent civilians per se, obviously not as 09/11 shows, but that he might oppose it if it were to turn large numbers of muslims against him.

    This is to try to get inside the head of the enemy, and this is really about as far as I personally am prepared to go on that front.

  6. “The bigger question would be whether even OBL himself is in favour of this”

    Of course he is. In his own words: ?The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it?. The objective is to get British troops out of Iraq, and from the experience of the Madrid attack, he may think it?s a successful method.

  7. “Of course he is”.

    Gulliver, this is a difficult and complicated area, its hard for many of us to understand that killing of innocent people may be reduced to a tactical question, but that is the way it is. Some OBL supporters are condemning the attacks:

    But even supporters of Osama bin Laden’s ideology say the London bombings were the wrong thing to do. “The goal here was illegitimate,” said activist Yasser al-Sirri.Al-Sirri, head of the Islamic Observation Center, said Muslims who live in Britain ? even those who consider the host government their enemy ? have an Islamic duty under an unwritten “security covenant” to obey the country’s rules.His comments suggest a possible split within Britain’s radical Islamic community about how to wage the struggle against the West ? through terrorism like Thursday’s bombings or through psychological warfare as well as violence only in clearly defined combat zones. “God says if anyone wants to do something (against the country), he must leave that country and fight them outside. … He can go to Iraq and fight the American forces there, or British forces, but he shouldn’t (kill British civilians). What’s the fault of the civilians?” said al-Sirri, an Egyptian accused by the United States of sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan.

    i.e. there are splits and divisions inside the movement known as Al-qaeda (which is hardly surprising). To be clear, none of them seem to be against killing, it’s just the where and when that they are arguing about.

    “The objective is to get British troops out of Iraq”

    I think it’s much to early to be reaching conclusions on what has happened. I also think that the ambitions and objectives of OBL go way beyond Iraq. I am not saying you are wrong in saying that this is the issue here, but since the decision to draw down the troops was under discussion prior to the attack, the latter may only make it’s actualisation slower (if you know anything about how things work in Britain), which equally (since the Iraq war is one of the best propaganda machines OBL has) could have been an objective. I doubt it, but I am just making the point: we don’t know. When Eta kill a PP politician is that to attack the PP, or to get them re-elected, you tell me.

    Iraq will rapidly go down the list of issues as the UK and US steadily withdraw, others topics will then get a higher profile to fill the gap. The latest of these seems to be the decision by the US to build two permanent airbases in Afghanistan.

    “”Many Britain-based Islamic radicals also fear the attacks will lead to a crackdown that will prevent them from operating freely.”

    This point in the MSNBC link and the other one that Bob raised seem to be more to the point here than any considerations about human life. The UK seems to have accumulated some sort of relative immunity from attack due to its tolerant laws. These have offered a space for Islamic radicals, which these latter have exploited, and some kind of explicit contract seems to have operated. The radicals haven’t acted internally, since they didn’t want changes in the law, and wanted to take advantage of the propaganda advantage being in the UK offered.

    So while many ‘jihadists’ may have been recruited inside the UK, they appear to have been typically dispatched elsewhere.

    I am pushing the London-Madrid connection since the attacks seem to have a lot in common, in particular in that they were technically relatively sophistocated, but politically crude. Who were the targets in Madrid: poor immigrants. And in London? A mixed bag, but members of the muslim community were not spared, and this as we are saying may turn out to be a huge error.

    11 September, which is an operation which seems to characterise OBL par excellence, was much more politically sophistocated. Don’t make the mistake of considering your enemy to be stupid.

    As I said, we get back to the ‘freelance issue’. Some have described OBL as being both a conventional MNC of terror *and* a venture capitalist. He will either take the perpetrators of the London bombings into his fold, or wash his hands of them, depending on the political consequences in the Islamic world which he is trying to ‘convince’.

    Finally, don’t miss the ‘auto-critique’ which qaeda has made of itself over its activities in Saudi Arabia. They have recognised that their actions alienated Saudi citizens when they acted inside the country. Unsurprisingly they are now hoping to recover lost ground through the war in Iraq.

  8. @ Gulliver:

    Note this response from Straw in the Commons today:

    “In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session, Straw said that Britain was not planning to withdraw troops from Iraq. “We are not quitters in the United Kingdom,” he said.”

    This was the predictable response, and I imagine many al-qaeda radicals in London knew this. Remember before the bombs reducing the troops was under active consideration. So if this was to get the UK out of Iraq it won’t be very successful. Of course eventually the draw-down will take place, but only following the already established criteria, and under the weight of events *in* Iraq.

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