What's on and where
The Muslim News
Contact The Muslim News
The Muslim News on your PDA
Back to index
Issue 208, Friday 25 August 2006 - 1 Sha'ban 1427
For four days this month, the security alert in Britain was raised for the first time to its maximum ‘critical’ level, but by the grace of God, no terrorist atrocity was carried out.
Police claimed, to their credit, that they had disrupted an alleged plot to cause up to 10 simultaneous mid-air explosions on flights to the US. Some 24 suspects were arrested, houses and businesses premises searched, while unprecedented precautionary measures were imposed at all UK airports, causing chaos with thousands of flights being delayed or cancelled. The new alarm was about the danger of fluids being detonated on board passenger aircrafts.
The plot, repeatedly emphasised to be alleged, was said by police that it would have caused “mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” Despite Home Secretary, John Reid, calling for “all parties to exercise considerable restraint” in reporting a lack of official details, newspapers ran amok with scare stories, including babies being used to carry out explosions. One of the few calming voices came from the Financial Times, which called for a “sense of proportion” in Britain’s reactions, warning that it was “alarmist even if it is true.” But Reid later went on to proclaim that Britain was “confronted by a new form of terrorism unconstrained by its evil intention.” The threat was “mass murder,” he said after meeting several of his EU counterparts on August 16.
The alarm is reminiscent to the aftermath of 9/11 with US President, George W Bush, descending to new lows in saying that the so called war on terror was a crusade and more recently, he said that America was at war against “Islamic fascists.” And yet any real facts from the latest scare are unlikely to be known for a long time, and if any cases come to trial, it could take at least a year. During the vacuum it will be impossible to know the scale of any threat like in the other four major terrorist attacks the Home Secretary claimed were prevented. But the record of previous false incidents, including the Ricin affair, the plot at Manchester United football club, the mistaken police killing John Charles de Menezes and the bungled Forest Gate raid, leave plenty of scope for scepticism. There are also questions about whether the arrests were the result of earlier arrests in Pakistan, rather than there being any ‘imminent’ mid-air explosion. Seemingly none of the suspected terrorists had even made a bomb, let alone had bought a plane ticket. Many reportedly also did not have the basic requirement of a passport. And perhaps the most telling, why did Prime Minister, Tony Blair, not even bother to interrupt his holidays in the Caribbean as Britain faced its biggest-ever terror alert.
This is not to say that there is no terror threat of possible international dimensions. But as some commentators have suggested, it needs to be put into perspective. The risk of being involved in a train accident or run over on the road is statistically far greater but there is no such alarm about an imminent need to put red flags in front of every car or for zero tolerance on railway safety. And in any case, how many terrorist attacks would have to be carried out to equate with the destruction and civilian deaths in Lebanon caused by incessant indiscriminate Israeli bombings, which the Government chose not even to condemn let alone call for an immediate ceasefire.
It may be a bit flippant to suggest that the terrorist scare was orchestrated to distract attention away from Israel’s slaughter in Lebanon, as some conspiracy theorists have claimed. But the threat we all face from terrorism is too important to be politicised or used for any hidden agenda.
There is no need to terrorise terror, it is an evil that needs to be stamped out by addressing the root causes, which are political in themselves and have very little to do with religion.
Back to the front page
The Muslim News