Friday, November 10, 2006

The Terrorist Threat

Reuters Alertnet reports that the Director General of MI5 is tracking at least thirty terrorist plots. Five major plots have been foiled since 7/7. I think it is now moving beyond doubt that the frontline in the War on Terror in the West proper is not the US but here. There is no large homegrown population of discontented Muslims in the US like there is here and that means that the threat has to come from abroad. We are not so lucky and that changes the scale of that danger.

It would appear that our intelligence services are doing a good job. However, it would also seem likely that, sooner or later, another major attack will get through.

Yesterday evening I attended an LSESU Question Time society discussion at which the topic of a rumoured government request for universities to watch for radicalism came up. Sajjad Khan opposed this as asking people to spy on each other and then threw in a few other examples of similar government requests such as Reid's call for parents to watch their children. There was an almost pathetic myopia to what Khan was saying. Here were ministers trying to plot the moderate course of, not asking people to spy on each other - that implies something more, but just to keep an eye out for anything suspicious which is pretty standard practice when facing a violent threat. If Khan's condemnation contributes to an atmosphere that people feel they are "spying" for the government if they report something suspicious that might inadvertently allow something horrible to happen. If something horrible happens it seems likely Khan will wind up remembering the kind of moderate measures that Labour ministers are asking for now with real nostalgia.

Also, I asked the speakers whether they thought that, if a book with contents similar to the Satanic Verses were to emerge today it would be published and should be legal that it be published. Khan's response was no and, after some meandering, no claiming that this was analagous to libel and incitement to hatred legislation. His calls for liberalism lost what little credibility they might have had.

Update: Reading the full story in the Sun it is considerably stronger even than the description I sourced from Reuters.

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