Very hard to interpret the information we are receiving right now. Much of it may well be aimed at the terrorists themselves so it is also perhaps better not to dig too deeply.
There are, however, a number of rival (but possibly) compatible theories. One of these, and it is the one I am following most closely (possibly for obvious reasons) is that of the Spanish connection. Now following this along the road a little (and just in a kind of ‘what if’ sense) it may not be entirely without relevance that raids were carried out in Italy on Saturday. (The FT today also also has a piece on the Italian raids. What stands out is the ‘cover’ provided by mass illegal immigration for such groups. I am in favour of increasing economic migration to meet demographic needs, but this process needs to be regulated and orderly, here we can see one more reason why). It is just me speculating, but the rapidity of the raids in Italy may relate more to the fact that there are ties between the Spain-based Jihadists and the Italian-based ones than to the immediate threat of an attack in Italy. This article contains the following information sourced from the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra:
“In 2003, the Italian Police and the carabinieri from the Special Operations Unit uncovered a link between the alleged Italian cell and its extremist associates in a number of European countries, primarily Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. The Milan probe revealed that “young North Africans were ?trawled for’ in the European mosques, given money, and supplied with a visa?” to travel to Iraq to conduct suicide operations.”
This connection is loose, but is one possible route. Those who feel there might be an Iraq connection (and the lack of any explicit information about the explosives might point to this: this origin would be politically sensitive) would do well to note that the Italian net appears to have close links with Ansar Al-Islam which is based in the Kurdish zone, and was once host to none other than Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. As I say, I wouldn’t even call this a conjecture, just some isolated pieces of information which are worth keeping track on, irrespective of whether or not the people mentioned were implicated last Thursday.
Finally, the NYT highlights the way in which the kind of terror we are seeing is in fact bringing Europe closer together:
“British intelligence officials, frustrated by their failure to quickly crack the worst terrorist attack here since World War II, have sought help from counterparts in the United States and two dozen European allies to develop possible leads, European counterterrorism officials said Sunday.”
“The contacts included an extraordinary, private meeting in London on Saturday, convened by Scotland Yard and MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, that brought together senior law enforcement and intelligence officials from the United States and the two dozen European countries, three participants and several others with knowledge of the session said……..”
“The meeting was also considered extraordinary because European countries do not often work together on complex terrorism investigations. Cooperation is complicated by differences in each country’s intelligence agencies and counterterrorism police, and often-sharp differences among crime-fighting and judicial approaches. Tracking terrorism suspects also is difficult because they move freely across Europe’s open borders, and finger-pointing among countries has followed terrorist strikes.”
“But the London meeting was a sign that most countries in Europe believe that solving the London bombings and thwarting the next attack are responsibilities shared by everyone.”