Archive for the ‘terrorism’ category

Dave on IS: Iraq my brain about this Syria’s problem

The war on terror is more than made-up threat levels and political posturing in one place in particular: Iraq. The UK committed forces to a war on the Islamic State (IS) after an astounding 524–43 Commons vote. (It’s hard to get a consensus about what to call IS/ISIL/ISIS, but apparently it’s easier to get MPs to agree that ISREALLYBAD. Boom boom.)

IS is clearly devastating the lives of local populations, as well as brutally executing westerners. But equally, war has unforeseeable consequences, sometimes creating legacies of dependency, destabilisation and/or hate. It’s complicated. Which is why it’s a relief to hear Home Secretary Theresa May saying:

Dealing with those threats requires a deep understanding of what is going on in the world and a studied, careful response.


A pick-up truck, similar to the bombed one, in that it has four wheels

That’s presumably why our opening salvo last week was to send two Tornado GR4 ground assault aircraft armed with Brimstone missiles to destroy a pick-up truck.

It is also presumably why, in the debate in Parliament that secured the staggering 481-strong majority, David Cameron laid out the studied, careful case for our response:

Isil is a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before. The brutality is staggering—beheadings, crucifixions, gouging out of eyes, use of rape as a weapon. This is about psychopathic terrorists who are trying to kill us. Like it or not they have already declared war on us.

Psychopathic terrorists!!! They’re trying to kill us! Do you like your eyes all non-gouged, in a head that is still attached to your body? Then it’s time to vote for an expensive foreign intervention with unclear objectives and indefinite length!

It’s disappointing: this man is the Prime Minister of an advanced economy which he’s just led into war with incredible haste, and yet his rhetoric is more over-blown than a light goods vehicle annihilated by a £175,000 missile.

Written by Statto and Tom

October 10, 2014 at 10:01

Terror review reviewed after terror levels levelled up


The threat from terrorism is so serious that MI5 didn’t even have time to make a proper graphic to illustrate how serious it is (© Crown Copyright 2014, MI5)

The BBC today reported:

Home Secretary Theresa May has abandoned plans to review the structure of counter-terrorism policing, because of the increased security threat level.

Weirdly, this sentence seems to imply that the security threat level is a measurable, objective variable—like unemployment in Q4 2013, or the weather in Stoke last Tuesday—as opposed to a made-up quantity controlled by Home Secretary Theresa May herself.

Another way to word this story is: at exactly the time when counter-terrorism has been arbitrarily deemed by the Home Secretary to be at its most important, we are going to emphatically not even check whether it could be done better.

So, when will we perform this review instead?

The plans have been shelved until after the general election.

Thank God that, whilst the terrorists might not respect our freedoms or our way of life, they do at least have the common decency to respect election cycles.

This delay couldn’t possibly be explained by governmental fear that, if the structure of counter-terrorism were changed and a terrorism then happened, that they would be blamed. Or by the cynical observation that, if they don’t change anything, no-one will be blamed, even if a terrorism happens, because it won’t be (quite possibly incorrectly) attributable to something having been changed.

Could simplistic media narratives scare the government more than terrorism?

Written by Tom and Statto

October 9, 2014 at 23:43

Posted in terrorism, Tories

Theresa may be an extremist

Theresa May

It is unfortunate that some members of a group will always extrapolate stereotyped, or even erroneous, beliefs of that group to undesirable and destructive ends. Some rise through the ranks and are able to use their charisma to win impressionable people over to their odious ideologies. Indeed, as the government said in its document Tackling extremism in the UK,

Extremists take advantage of institutions to share their poisonous narrative with others, particularly with individuals vulnerable to their messages.

And yet Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was still allowed to take the lectern at the Conservative Party conference to say

Where [British people who have gone to Iraq or Syria] have dual nationality, I have the power to deprive them of their British citizenship and keep them out of our country. Thanks to our recent Immigration Act, in certain circumstances I can do the same to naturalised British citizens and keep them out of the country too.

Mrs May has taken the generally laudable principle that we shouldn’t let people blow us up, and ended up granting herself permission to make British citizens stateless, in spite of the fact that it says that nowhere in the Bible, Qu’ran or Dave’s Bumper Book of British Values.

(Tories do seem to love denationalising things without evidence, but normally it’s trains, schools and prisons, rather than citizens.)

It is now actually a law that the Home Secretary can take away the nationality of naturalised Brits without needing to disclose any evidence of their extremism, which has essentially created two tiers of UK citizenship. We’re pretty sure that’s not a British value.

(The only caveat is that the Home Secretary has to have a ‘reasonable expectation’ that another country will take on the prospectively stateless person. So presumably, as long as the King of Swaziland continues his quest for new wives, any female ‘extremist’ will be denationalisable, as will any male ‘extremist’ for whom MI6 can find a plausible wig and dress.)

Tackling this kind of Conservatist extremism is one of the defining battles of our age, and we hope that moderate Conservatives will speak out against it.

A video of Mrs May’s speech was posted to online video site YouTube. ‘At this point we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of this video, or the seriousness of the threat,’ a security analyst from GCHQ told Headline Superheroes.

Written by Statto and Tom

October 6, 2014 at 16:13

Posted in terrorism, Tories

US vs them: Credible threat, incredible response

A ‘credible threat’ of bombs and terrorism and stuff aimed at the US means that a number of UK airports have increased security. According to the BBC,

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the measures were being taken to keep the public safe. While he would not specify what steps would be involved, he ruled out ‘significant disruption’ to passengers.

I would love to have sat in on that meeting.

‘Minister, we’ve implemented a policy of using the backscatter X-ray machines on all passengers with beards or who look like they could grow one, and we’re considering giving people special “plane shoes” to wear onboard.’

‘Will that be enough? Could a terrorist still sneak something through? After all, this threat is credible.’

‘There is one more thing we could try.’

‘What is it?’

‘We could deploy…significant disruption to passengers.’

‘Sorry, what?’

‘The idea is quite simple really: if the delays in going through security are tedious enough, most terrorists probably won’t bother and they’ll give up their impassioned jihad against the West and maybe get a job in a shop or something.’

‘WHOA. That sounds serious. Have the Americans specifically requested it?’

‘Not yet, minister.’

‘Well, let’s keep that in reserve. Tell the press I’ve ruled it out for now.’

Written by Statto

July 3, 2014 at 15:19

Posted in terrorism, travel

Anti-terror paranoia: give us arrest

The Metropolitan Police this week launched the ‘It’s probably nothing, but…’ campaign. Comprising adverts in ‘local and ethnic minority press’, it reminds people that it’s your civic duty to assume that a beardy man doing his bins at an unusual hour is planning to blow up Parliament. Your civic duty, not a sign of advanced paranoia. Because, as Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne said:

Terrorists live among us. We want you to tell us about anyone or anything you see which is out of place in your normal day to day lives.

Terrorists live among us. They mix up the cutlery in our drawers. They twist cables around each other in the night. That jumper you lost on the walk home from Tesco’s? Terrorists. There’s one hiding under your bed, next to the skeleton of a commie that McCarthy failed to purge.

The number of people killed in terrorist atrocities in the UK in the last 6 years, 7 months, and 7 days is zero. This leaves a couple of possibilities:

  1. Highly effective policing—which, incidentally, seems to be getting on fine with the current paltry level of information from the public—is catching all the would-be bombers. This fact is going largely unpublicised, because to tell people about successfully-thwarted plots would be a risk to national security, and is unlikely to be a good incentive for those currently wondering whether to report vaguely suspicious activity to the cops.
  2. There are no terrorists.

The fact that Britain’s Top Anti-Terror Cops have resorted to a parodically weak-sloganed campaign like this surely torpedoes hypothesis #1. And the conspicuous absence of atrocities, combined with the ease of killing people if you really want to means that, if #2 is slightly wrong, those few terrorists who do exist must be pretty dim, unimaginative losers more deserving of inclusion on You’ve Been Framed than the 10 O’Clock News. Long may it stay that way.

Not wishing to chase shadows like some kind of over-imaginative police ‘informant’, we concede that it’s unlikely these cack-handed ads are part of a populous-subjugating, power-grab cop-conspiracy. It’s probably nothing but another scaremongering police campaign.

Written by Tom and Statto

February 14, 2012 at 22:49

Posted in police, terrorism