There’s been an arrest

AFP

The investigation quite early led us to have concerns about the movement and activities of four men, three of whom came from the West Yorkshire area,” said the head of the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist squad, Peter Clarke.

“We are trying to establish their movements in the run-up to last week’s attack and specifically to establish whether they all died in the explosions,” Clarke told reporters.

He added that it was “very likely” that one of the suspects was among those who died in one of the bombed Underground trains, near Aldgate station in east London.

Clarke said the “complex and intensive” investigation was “moving at great speed”, following raids on six premises in the industrial city of Leeds, in northern England, home to a large Muslim population of south Asian origin.

He said a man — identity and age not revealed — was arrested in West Yorkshire, the county that includes Leeds, and that he was being transferred to London for questioning.

Closer to the capital Tuesday, police sealed off a train station and parking lot in Luton, a town north of London, and carried out controlled explosions on a car with suspected links to the attacks.

28 thoughts on “There’s been an arrest

  1. To better understand social pressures in Yorkshire which might well have motivated the bombers who lived there, try these recent news reports about events in their local region completely unrelated to the London bombings:
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1514935,00.html
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/file_on_4/4672235.stm

    Yorkshire is a deeply fractured society.

    Guy Fawkes, who attempted to blow up Parliament at the state opening in 1605, also came from Yorkshire.

  2. Something else:

    “There were significant regional variations in the number of sex offenders as a proportion of the population. The lowest was in Hertfordshire with 27 for every 100,000 in the population, while the highest was in West Yorkshire with 67.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3931791.stm

  3. So … not Iraqis, or Pashtuns, or Palestinians, but as in Spain, young people in the throes of an identity crisis; members of an unintegrated immigrant community, with one of the lowest educational attainment levels in Britain and desperately angry at the deprecation of ‘their’ culture rather than about the suffering of fellow members of the Ummah, whatever the rationale they gave themselves?

    Since a withdrawal from Iraq now would be a disaster, it seems that the bombers are not concerned with the results of victory, but with victory itself. What does that tell you about the sort of problem we really face? Could it be that we have, as a matter of policy, not made sufficient efforts to turn them into Muslim Brits whose primary loyalty is to Britain, and have instead left them in a cultural ghetto while supposedly respecting their specificity?

    Resolving such issues is often unexpectedly less difficult than previously thought once you get the policy right, as, in a different arena, the very surprising successes of simple regimentation in problem schools seems to show.

  4. “……..not Iraqis, or Pashtuns, or Palestinians”

    or Syrians? I think we really should wait John till we get some clearer answers on the brains and logistics behind this. The nature and source of the explosives will probably be a key.

    “but as in Spain, young people in the throes of an identity crisis…”

    No, this is different from Spain, the core people here were hardened Jihadis from the early 90’s. Also petty criminals, mainly people on police record already. In this sense it is different. Of course the ‘brains’ may yet turn out to be one and the same, or not.

    Also it is important to note Spain is only begining now large scale immigration. The people knocking around in Spain before were always ‘outliers’, not typical of anything very much. What just happened in London is what could happen in Spain in 2020 – 2025. I agree with you that you have to look for *part* of the picture here in the last 20 years of UK history. Iraq may well have formed a minor part of their ‘world picture’. Afghanistan possibly would be more important. The fact that this country appeared in one of the claims may have already been indicative. Interestingly, the families of at least one of the boys is from Kashmir.

    “Resolving such issues is often unexpectedly less difficult than previously thought once you get the policy right”

    Well I’d be interested to see an example of where you think this has been done. I see the problem as a large one, although I do think there is some hope offered by the mobilisation inside the UK muslim community against the bombings. The problem is that it really only needs a minority of 5% to keep feeding the terror process. Looking for explanations, one of the bombers was 19, family dynamics can even be important here, transitions between authoritarian and liberal family environments, and the inter-generational issues that arise. The possible factors are endless.

    So no, I don’t think this is a straightforward picture.

    “not made sufficient efforts to turn them into Muslim Brits whose primary loyalty is to Britain, and have instead left them in a cultural ghetto while supposedly respecting their specificity?”

    If this is a criticism of the way multiculturalism has been implemented in the UK, then I would agree we can learn and move forward, but the issue would be valid on both sides of the fence, since if they have been in ghettoes this is also in part because someone else was effectively pushing them there. Everyone needs to change. But I think this is never going to be easy, and the class of countries which have been resoundingly successful is strikingly small. Canada perhaps?

  5. John, I hadn’t seen this when I wrote the above, but just now I found this in the Independent:

    “Hussain, from the Holbeck of Leeds, is understood to have been the subject of attempts at discipline by his parents after becoming difficult to control in his adolescence. But he became devoutly religious 18 months ago and is believed to have gone to London last week, since which time he has not been seen or contacted,despite the efforts of his older brother.”

  6. The Guardian has two article about the neighbourhood where the bombers grew up:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/ attack…1527437,00.html
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/story/0,16132,1527429,00.html
    These sound a lot like the articles you read after some teenage kid decides to get hold of a shotgun and shoot up his school (e.g.Columbine in the US or Erfurt in Germany). At first sight, completely normal parents and such friendly young men. If there is a similarity, a lot of the event is due to very personal circumstances and ideology is a superficial issue.

  7. “not made sufficient efforts to turn them into Muslim Brits whose primary loyalty is to Britain, and have instead left them in a cultural ghetto while supposedly respecting their specificity?”

    it is not easy, France failed mainly to do it 20 years ago, and whatever, muslims do not mix very well, and it is the same everywhere on the world : liban,china, india,thailand,europe,australia (in australia, sydney : less than 3% of the pop 70% of the prisioners!!!)

  8. BTW I am still holding to the other half of my theory, about the organisers. This is in the Times:

    Forensic scientists have told The Times that the construction of the four devices detonated in London was very technically advanced. ?You keep hearing that terrorists can easily make a bomb from using instructions on the internet. You can, but not of the design and sophistication of these devices. These were well put together, and it would appear the bomb-maker has highly developed skill,? one expert said.

    The trigger device was ?almost identical? to the ones found in the rucksack bombs used in the Madrid bombings in March last year ? although the terrorists used industrial dynamite stolen from a quarry in northern Spain rather than plastic explosives.

    Of course, this could also be someone brought in from Pakistan, or trained in Afghanistan. The details of where the person responsible was trained may tell us quite a lot about this incident, and about how things might evolve in the future.

  9. i know one or two leaders who are hoping that these guys were not ” graduate ” from Irak 😉 but it would be much more fun.

  10. “but it would be much more fun.”

    Fredouil, nothing here is ‘fun’ as you describe it.

    At the same time I think that there is an important point that needs to be made, and this relates to the generational question with Jihadis. The original people are from the Afghan war with Russia. The speculation is now whether there is a transition taking place to a younger group who have gained experience in places like Bosnia and Chechenia in the mid 90’s, or, of course, in the case of Pakistan in the Kashmir.

    If this time scale is roughly correct, we will see the people ‘formed’ in Iraq not now, but in 5 to 10 years from now. This may be depressing, but this is the way things are. (This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a net into Iraq, and even that ‘raw materials’ may not be arriving from Iraq, I could even see a propaganda value in that, but that the command structure will not have come from there). The ‘Iraq veterans’ will need to work their way up the ranks. This is, if you like, reputational terrorism.

  11. Edward,

    where they were trained and where they will be trained do not have any importance IMO, without irak they would be able to find a way to fight and use their frustration.

    We ve got a problem because at the same time, muslim world is getting more and more fundamentalist (scarf did not really exist 40 years ago in egypt or iran, it was only for the old women) and very very few elements ( 1/10000 or less) from a 2nd or third generation of muslim immigration who use their extrem frustration and/or mental desease througth extrem behavior.

    i am not sure that their are much more “terrorist” in europe that during 70’s, but they are far more ambitious now, with some very effective models (osama, palestinian).

    unfortunately these few elements by their behavior and by the reaction of the “western” make things worst and for those who want a normal life (9999/10000). And vicious circle is getting fast.

    With Turkey in europe, what do you prefer : islamic bombs (state is still a kind of secular but the trend is clear 😉 ) at bruxelle or turkish bombs are bruxelle too ;-). Put a bomb at Bruxelle would be politicaly the most efficient, you can be sure that someone will use this efficiency.
    I m gentle, you get the choice.

  12. From what we know about the bombers, they were not militants trained in Iraq or Afghanistan, just disgruntled, nutty youths. Whether they were led and supported by other, more dangerous militants remains to be proven – though the comments about the bombs used seem to indicate that.

  13. “These sound a lot like the articles you read after some teenage kid decides to get hold of a shotgun and shoot up his school (e.g.Columbine in the US or Erfurt in Germany).”
    @khr: Could not agree more with you.
    We should look at the problem from a mental health perspective.
    The same goes for the murderer of Theo van Gogh here in the Netherlands.
    These are young people with mental health problems that are very dangerous for their environment. They should be locked up for that danger before they kill. The relation between these murderers and Bin Laden should be compared with the relation of the columbine shooters with violent video-games and websites: inspiration to turn their alienation and frustration into real life violence.
    There are many reports that internet is the main source of this *radicalism*.
    Take note of the Juan Cole post and others too where they explain that claims on websites can completely contradict the ideology of AL-Qaeda and Salafism or Wahabism.

    In other words: we should not take the terrorist/war part of these persons too serious. We should take their crimes and mental health problems very very serious.
    Of course the real ideologically inspired figures can have a role in it (in the Netherlands we certainly have to get hold of the Syrian inspirator of the Hofstadgroup) but these young madmen can go murdering people without instructions or even permission from OBL and the likes of him.

  14. @ Frans

    I obviously agree with much of what you are saying. The part about the internet especially. This can create a sense of community and identity far removed from reality. Clearly the Afghan war ‘degraded’ the classic Qaeda infrastructure just at a time when another possibility was becoming technologically available (the role of chance in history). Without the internet and mobile phones this problem wouldn’t have reached these proportions. I’m not convinced btw that mass screening of mails, and mobile calls would help much. Intelligence needs to be much more focused.

    eg British security seem to have missed a key website posting authorising the attacks (see earlier post).

    But the unstable personalities are only part of the picture, the other part are equally important, the planners and ‘ideological workers’. This is a complex whole which is more than the sum of its parts.

    “we certainly have to get hold of the Syrian inspirator”

    Well as I’ve been linking, he may be the man behind Madrid too, and possibly behind London, and he *may* be Setmarian.

  15. We should look at the problem from a mental health perspective.
    The same goes for the murderer of Theo van Gogh here in the Netherlands.
    These are young people with mental health problems that are very dangerous for their environment. They should be locked up for that danger before they kill.

    No, we should not do any of that. This is in no way a mental health issue. Man is not a peaceful animal. Under a lot of circumstances people will kill, rape and plunder. This is perfectly healthy. At times even rational.

    We are hurting ourselves putting the enemy into the category of mad people. It is imperative that the enemy be understood to successfully solve this issue. We must do so at the expense of our illusions, ideals and wishful thinking about the world or mankind.

  16. There are many localities and neighbourhoods in Britain with relatively high local concentrations of Muslims so it would be intelligent to ask why at least three of the four bombers, if not all as the Police are now saying, came from Leeds in West Yorkshire and not elsewhere in Britain. What local factors and social pressures were conducive to developing a mindset among young men in which suicide bombing of a distant place in Britain becomes an appealing option regardless of the likely social and ethnic mix of the victims? Blowing up a cleaning lady who worked at university college hospital, among other people, does not seem to me to be a sensible course to promote a religious cause.

    Among other factors applying in the present context, there is a deeply embedded history of animosity in Yorkshire towards London and S-E England. Evidence of this can be found in many places, such as this chapter in George Orwell’s famous study of poverty in the north of England written in 1936: The Road to Wigan Pier, chp. 7, which is mainly about south Yorkshire, some twenty or so miles (30+ Kms) south of where the Police believe the bombers came from:
    http://www.george-orwell.org/The_Road_to_Wigan_Pier/6.html

  17. “What local factors and social pressures were conducive to developing a mindset among young men”

    Well Bob, you’re rather begging a question, which is whether or not there are similar groups in other areas.

  18. came from Leeds in West Yorkshire and not elsewhere in Britain.

    They had to come from somewhere. If not from London itself, one incident is just one incident. That people don’t want to bomb their hometown is somewhat understandable, isn’t it?

  19. In other words: we should not take the terrorist/war part of these persons too serious. We should take their crimes and mental health problems very very serious.
    Of course the real ideologically inspired figures can have a role in it (in the Netherlands we certainly have to get hold of the Syrian inspirator of the Hofstadgroup) but these young madmen can go murdering people without instructions or even permission from OBL and the likes of him.

    I can’t imagine that would be a fruitful approach. Yes the mentally ill have existed forever. No they have not had an organization which was willing to fund and create bombs and direct them where to put them on a regular basis. Perhaps Al Qaeda uses the mentally ill (though I’m VERY loathe to just write off suicide bombers as merely mentally ill in some sort of brain damaged way, that is too dismissive of how religion can actually work) but that is very different from them merely inspiring the mentally ill.

  20. Edward – There may well be other groups of disaffected Muslim youth in other places in Britain but it is still a sensible question to ask why it is that all the bombers in this case came from Leeds and not elsewhere, especially in the light of the links I posted at the start of these comments relating to instances of prison abuse in Leeds and Wakefield where deeply racist attitudes on the part of prison staff were certainly major factors.

    Nor do I believe that an embedded history of animosity to London and S-E England in Yorkshire is totally irrelevant. It happens my family was living in Yorkshire just a few miles south of where the bombers were living but in October 1987, at the time of the great storm which swept across the south of England with hurricane force winds. At the time I was working in central London and commuting over weekends. What truly amazed me were unsolicited and completely unexpected expressions of glee over the storm damage I encountered in Yorkshire, usually to the effect that at last London and the S-E were getting their just deserts.

    Much other evidence can be cited of this animosity and it therefore makes sense to probe into how far both these salient background factors contributed to a mindset among young Muslims living in Leeds suburbs in which suicide bombing in London came to be regarded as a heroic and sanctified endeavour.

    In fact, the bombings were a PR disaster for the Jihadists. The Muslim community in Britain has loudly and clearly denounced the bombings as an evil act, which perhaps helps to explain why the press in Iran switched to editorialising that the bombings were the act of American or British forces committed to fabricating a justification for attacking Iran.

    It is immensely convenient to wrap up suicide bombing as the act of the mentally ill. Granted that suicide bombing is not the act of a sane individual, the question remains as to why the bomber considers this the appropriate expression for manifesting their religious convictions.

  21. Naturally, this news of today is entirely coincidental:

    “The eminent paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow has been found guilty by the General Medical Council of giving ‘erroneous’ and ‘misleading’ evidence at the trial of a woman accused of killing her two sons. The GMC found that Prof Meadow, 72, failed in his duty as an expert witness to explain the limited relevance of his findings in the case of solicitor Sally Clark who was found guilty of murdering her babies. The paediatrician, from Woodgate Lane, LEEDS . . . ”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1692576,00.html

    So is this passage in the entry for “Yorkshire” in the edition of MS Encarta I have on my PC:

    “An old slang expression, ‘to come Yorkshire on someone’, meaning to cheat that person, dates from the early 18th century and was used by Charles Dickens in his novel Nicholas Nickleby”

    Old habits are hard to break.

  22. “It is immensely convenient to wrap up suicide bombing as the act of the mentally ill. Granted that suicide bombing is not the act of a sane individual, the question remains as to why the bomber considers this the appropriate expression for manifesting their religious convictions.”

    It’s also immensely convenient to wrap up suicide bombings as the act of the socially oppressed.

    But I think you’ve answered your own question. If you want to know the religious motivations of an individual, you should study their religion, no?

    Suicide bombers/killers cross all social strata. They are rich, poor, educated, and ignorant. That in and of itself should dismiss the ‘social trauma’ theory Bob wants to push. As the facts come out about these killers, I suspect you won’t hear a word about prison abuse or racism, but many words directly quoted from the Koran/hadith.

  23. “Suicide bombers/killers cross all social strata. They are rich, poor, educated, and ignorant. . . ”

    Any citation to substantiate the claim that suicide bombers appropriately represent the whole social spectrum?

    Brian Walden, in a BBCR4 talk last Thursday, commented that there is nothing especially novel about suicide bombing. Russian Nihilists used it as an effective method of assassination in the 19th century – for example, in the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881, despite the fact that he had liberated the serfs – and before the US liberated slaves.

    In WW2, with the Kamikaze planes, it was used by the Japanese as an effective way of accurately bombing warships of the US fleet in the Pacific theatre.

    To suggest that we shouldn’t look into the social and political factors which make suicide bombing a credible attack option, and an apparently honourable one, seems both dogmatic and absurd to me. Shortly after 9-11, I suggested that al-Qaeda is best considered as an example of a cult, successful in its own terms, and that we might sensibly recognise cults are capable of exercising a powerful influence on their followers. An outstanding instance of just that, completely unrelated to al-Qaeda, is what happened with the Peoples Temple in Guyana in 1978:

    “In 1978, 913 followers of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple committed a mass suicide in northern Guyana at a site called, Jonestown. The charismatic leader of Jonestown, was Jim Jones, a preacher who set up the Peoples Temple in San Francisco and ultimately moved his followers to a more clandestine site in Guyana. While Jones was preaching in San Francisco, he helped out many local and even national campaigns and was seen as a healer which much power in the community.”
    http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~reli291/Jonestown/Jonestown.html

    Understanding the rationales of the motivating religion or ideology is only one aspect: we also need to understand the social influences which motivate people to come to espouse that religion or ideology.

    Seems to me that recent crime trends in Yorkshire are certainly a relevant factor in considering the social context which resulted in four young men becoming members of a cult that promoted suicide bombing:

    – There were significant regional variations in the number of sex offenders as a proportion of the population. The lowest was in Hertfordshire with 27 for every 100,000 in the population, while the highest was in West Yorkshire with 67.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3931791.stm

    – Yorkshire and Humber’s average of recorded crime is 137 per 1,000 population, Yorkshire and Humber rates 2nd highest with London being the highest with 145 per 1,000 population of recorded crime.

    – Yorkshire and Humber has the highest recorded burglary rate of the 9 regions, with 24 per 1000 compared to the England and Wales average of 16 per 1000 population.

    – Yorkshire and Humber has the 3rd highest count of recorded violent crime with 21 per 1,000 population, this is the same as the England and Wales average at 21 per 1,000 population.
    http://www.yorkshirefutures.com/cb.aspx?page=974DDEFC-A3E8-468C-BC9E-48745584A230

    “Our violent crime figures rose by 49.6 per in 2004/05 and the first few months of this financial year show a rise of 97 per cent on this time last year. However, this increase now appears to be slowing down, indicating that our tighter application of national recording standards has had a significant effect on the rise in violent crime figures.”
    http://www.southyorks.police.uk/news/details.php?id=1243

    On that official evidence, it seems likely that violent crime is coming to be regarded as the norm in Yorkshire. Cheating is verging on respectable which is how a prioner’s official record in Wakefield prison came to be fraudulently changed retrospectively and why a prison officer who reported that offence was bullied and ostracized by her colleagues – Wakefield prison is only a few miles south of the Leeds suburbs where the bombers lived.

    For all that: “the UK has one of the lowest murder rates amongst the European Union, with London being below average for EU capital cities”
    http://www.gos.gov.uk/goyh/149232/149234/?a=42496

  24. “It is immensely convenient to wrap up suicide bombing as the act of the mentally ill. Granted that suicide bombing is not the act of a sane individual, the question remains as to why the bomber considers this the appropriate expression for manifesting their religious convictions.”

    It is the manifesting their religious convictions part I do not agree with.

    Part of what I write about the London suicide-bombers is supported by what we hear about the Dutch van Gogh-murderer. He most certainly was a suicide-type as well. Not only did he make his detailed testament shortly before his act: he got into a gunfight with the police to get killed.
    Take note: he let his lawyer tell that he did not want any defense. His lawyer remained silent. He remained silent himself as well except for a few minutes at the end. In this minutes he directly addressed the police-officers who themselves testified they were not sure he was trying to kill them telling: I did try to kill you, but I am a poor shooter.
    So in effect we have a suicide bomber still alive here.

    There was one moment before were he mumbled some words looking up *religiously* and saying some lines that could be understood that for himself he is still busy convincing himself that this murder was what allah had told him.

    I go further. Although I am atheistic myself your suggestion that these madmen “express religious convictions” this way is insultive to people with a religion.

    (An amazing and instructive discussion related to this one I had before at the site Risq with a guy named Peter Waterman: here)

  25. “Any citation to substantiate the claim that suicide bombers appropriately represent the whole social spectrum?”

    This is common knowlege Bob. That I have to provide links for you puzzles me. But I find it odd that you ask for substantiation when you provide none yourself, other than crime statistics. Furthermore, you started this whole social context canard before you even knew who the bombers were.

    But I would suggest that if what your saying is true, then we would see this sort of behavior across all cultural boundries: Hindus, Sihks, Africans, but we don’t. The fundamental motivating factor here is Islam. Looking for tangental causes is futile.

    And what was the point of mentioning Kamikaze’s and Jim Jones?

    Here’s your citations, of many that are available by googling.

    One:
    “Among Hamas and PIJ members, Berrebi found, only 20 percent were poor – fewer than the 32 percent who qualified as poor among a similar slice of the general Palestinian population between ages 18 and 41. But among suicide bombers, the contrast was even more pronounced: Just 13 percent were from poor families.

    Educational backgrounds of people aligned with those groups showed similar results. Among suicide bombers, 36 percent had finished at least secondary school. Only 2 percent had not gone past primary school. It looked as if the pundits might be wrong: The suicide terrorists were fairly well educated and were far from being poor.”

    Two:

    “Noting these patterns, at least a few observers have drawn the correct conclusion. The outspoken Algerian secularist, Sa?d Sadi, flatly rejects the thesis that poverty spurs militant Islam: “I do not adhere to this view that it is widespread unemployment and poverty which produce terrorism.” Likewise, Amayreh finds that militant Islam “is not a product or by-product of poverty.”

    Three:

    “But the evidence reveals that the relationship between poverty and religiously motivated violence is weak. Radicals and revolutionaries historically have emerged from the middle to upper classes of society.”

    Four:

    “But a careful review of the evidence provides little reason for optimism that a reduction in poverty or an increase in educational attainment would, by themselves, meaningfully reduce international terrorism. Any connection between poverty, education, and terrorism is indirect, complicated, and probably quite weak.”

    Five:

    The Deep Intellectual Roots of Islamic Terror

    Six:

    “Today, though, suicide bombers are middle-aged and young, married and unmarried, and some of them have children. Some of them, too, are women, and word has it that even children are being trained for martyrdom. “There is no clear profile anymore?not for terrorists and especially not for suicide bombers,” an exasperated senior officer in the Israel Defense Forces told me last year.”

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