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Is the UK safer now than on 9/11?

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Is the UK safer now than on 9/11?

Post by Guest on 10.09.11 14:59

8 September 2011

Last updated at 05:52 130.

Is the UK safer now than on 9/11?

By Frank Gardner

BBC security correspondent

When those heavy black crash barriers were lowered into place outside the Palace of Westminster in 2003 they raised a lot of eyebrows.

Yes, America had been attacked on 9/11 but over here in Britain would anyone really want to ram a truckload of explosives into the Houses of Parliament?

It seemed almost unthinkable. After all, Britain had provided sanctuary to so many dissidents fleeing oppressive regimes in the Middle East. Why would anyone want to attack such a beacon of democracy and free speech?

But in that same year, 2003, Britain took part in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

For al-Qaeda, driven out of Afghanistan and running short of recruits, this was like breathing new life into dying embers.

Here was a cause that could ignite anti-Western fury and propel countless numbers of international jihadists to go and fight the invader in Iraq.

Strategic mistakes like disbanding the Iraqi army were followed by scandalous revelations of abuse by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and further, isolated allegations against British troops.

Back in Europe, jihadists struck Madrid's commuters as they rode trains into work in 2004.

And yet, when on the morning of 7 July 2005 Mohammed Siddique Khan and his accomplices murdered 52 people on London's buses and tube trains, it still took Britain's intelligence and security community largely by surprise.

They had been expecting an attack sooner or later, but very few had predicted suicide bombings by British citizens on British soil.

The London bombings, "7/7", as they became known, sparked a major rethink in counter-terrorism circles because whatever measures were being taken were clearly not enough.

The police and the security service, MI5, would need to co-operate more closely. Far more needed to be done about addressing the root causes of terrorism.

Those working in counter-terrorism would need to be more agile in their thinking.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, the Met's senior national counter-terrorism co-ordinator, said: "Over the last 10 years we've become more accustomed to making high-risk decisions based on imprecise information on assessed intelligence, often within rapidly declining timeframes."

'Lone far-right extremists'

So what sort of terrorist threats does Britain face today?

The government has set the current threat level at "substantial". That's only the third highest out of a range of five, but it still means that an attack is thought to be a strong possibility.

The threats range from al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists to dissident Irish republicans and lone far-right extremists like Anders Breivik, the man who attacked his fellow Norwegians in Oslo this summer.

To say that young people don't want to express their anger against the West or its interests by launching terrorist attacks would be very naive - we've still got a problem”
End Quote
Hanif Qadir

So while far more is known about terrorism at home and abroad, the nature of the threat itself has diversified.

The mass hostage-taking and murder in Mumbai three years ago seriously got British and European officials thinking: "Could it happen here?"

Since then, Met police units have been training intensively alongside the SAS in a series of "worst case scenario" exercises codenamed Wooden Pride. To deal with the possibility of multiple terrorists, police firepower has been significantly upgraded.

Meanwhile, the early and misleading post-9/11 rhetoric about a "War on Terror" has given way to a more pragmatic approach.

Terrorism is being treated for what it is: a crime.

In the second of her keynote Reith lectures recorded this week by BBC Radio 4, Baroness Manningham-Buller, who ran MI5 from 2002 to 2007, stressed the importance of using the law to tackle terrorism.

"I am proud that some 240 individuals have been subject to proper legal process and convicted of terrorist offences since 9/11. That is the way to deal with terrorist crime," she said.

'Tough on causes'

Yet questions over British and Western foreign policies in general continue to overshadow the efforts to choke off the supply of extremists turning to terrorism.

As Britain's ambassador in Tel Aviv, then Riyadh, and then Kabul, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles has watched anti-Western resentment fester and grow. Like many British diplomats, he opposed the Iraq invasion.

"You've got to be tough on terrorism, tough on the causes," he said.

The post-9/11 rhetoric about a "War on Terror" has given way to a more pragmatic approach "You have to have serious counter-radicalisation programmes, but you also need to look at the wider foreign policy issues. Why are young Muslim men and women so angry?"

In London's East End, Hanif Qadir hears their answers every day. He's one of those trying to stop people getting drawn into terrorism.

"To say that young people don't want to express their anger against the West or its interests by launching terrorist attacks would be very naive - we've still got a problem," he said.

Soon, Britain will face its biggest peacetime security challenge and the authorities are taking no chances.

Planning for the London Olympics is being made on the basis of a terrorist threat level being at "severe", meaning an attempted terrorist attack of some sort, whether successful or not, is thought highly likely.

So there is no definitive answer as to whether the UK is safer now from terrorism than it was 10 years ago.

More knowledge does not necessarily mean greater safety since the threats have multiplied and diversified.

The death of Osama Bin Laden in May, while quite possibly having a cooling effect on jihadist attack planning in the long term, will not mean an end to terrorism.

As a tactic of desperation it can be hindered, reduced, sometimes foiled, but never eliminated altogether.

10 September 2011

Last updated at 14:42

Tony Blair denies military action 'radicalised' Muslims

Tony Blair talks about how he heard about the attack on the World Trade Center
Tony Blair has denied that military intervention in the Middle East has radicalised Muslims and encouraged them to engage in acts of terrorism.

The former prime minister said the fight against Islamic terrorism would only end "when we defeat the ideology".

And Mr Blair said the death of Osama bin Laden was "immensely important".

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Blair also revealed he once almost had to order a passenger jet to be shot down over UK airspace in the wake of 9/11.

In an interview with Radio 4's Today programme, marking 10 years since the 9/11 attacks, the former prime minister said: "The reason why these people are radicalised is not because of something we're doing to them. They believe in their philosophy.

"I see this out in the Middle East all the time. There is this view, which I'm afraid I believe is deeply naive in the West, that somehow these people, you know, misunderstand our motives, that we've confused them, that that's why they've become radicalised.

"Understand one thing - they believe in what they believe in because they believe their religion compels them to believe in it."

Mr Blair added that he did not believe the provision of democracy in Middle Eastern countries "by the way a process, as I say, not imposed as an act of imperialism should radicalise anybody.

"And until we stop accepting that somehow we, by our actions, are provoking these people to be as they are, we will carry on with this problem."

He went on to say that people in Iraq and Afghanistan wanted democracy and that this ideology was not being imposed on them.

"The Taliban party or the Saddam party could have come and won the elections. The fact is the people in those countries were glad to see the back of them. Now what they want is to see the back of the terrorism."

'Defeat ideology'

Mr Blair also said that while Bin Laden's death had dealt a blow to al-Qaeda, the fight against terrorism was not "just about one man".

Start Quote
There was a moment later in my premiership where we were really not very far away from having to take a final decision as to whether to bring the plane down”
End Quote
Tony Blair

Bin Laden, widely thought to have been the 9/11 mastermind, was shot dead in Pakistan by US forces in May. He had been on the run since 2001.

In an interview with the Reuters news service, Mr Blair said: "The risk is still there, but we have gone after them [al-Qaeda]. We have degraded a lot of their capacity and capability. We have either captured or killed many of their leading people."

He added that, although there had been "significant advances, the struggle still goes on".

Mr Blair said: "I think the narrative and the ideology of the movement is still there. So killing him [Bin Laden] was actually immensely important.

"It dealt a huge psychological blow to their movement but it doesn't alter the fact there are still large numbers of people out there who buy the narrative of this terrorist movement, even if they do not share or even agree with the methods."

He also said the war against terrorism would only end when the ideology was defeated, and that this battle would continue for a generation.

"The way to defeat this ideology ultimately is by a better idea, and we have it, which is a way of life based on openess, democracy, freedom and the rule of law."

But Lord West, who was a security minister in Gordon Brown's government, said Mr Blair "was wrong" about his views on radicalisation.

He told Sky News: "There's no doubt that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with a terrorist threat to this country.

"There's no doubt that foreign policy does impact on radicalisation. It is not the sole cause. I'm afraid prime minister Blair was wrong in thinking it didn't impact, because it does."

Libya relations

Mr Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy, recalled when he first found out that the World Trade Center in New York had been attacked.

He said: "I was preparing to give a speech to the Trades Union Congress in Brighton. I was in my hotel room. I was then interrupted by one of my aides who said 'Come and see what's happening on the television'. The first plane had already flown in and hit the tower.

"I was actually very, very clear right from the very outset that this was not just a terrorist attack of an extraordinary magnitude but one that had to change global policy. So really everything that followed from that, in a sense, followed from that event."

Mr Blair remained a close ally of then US President George W Bush as he launched a "war on terror", sending UK troops on US-led invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.

Mr Blair has been criticised in recent weeks for his links to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader who was ousted last month amid allegations of widespread human rights abuses.

But the former prime minister defended his government's decision to restore normal relations with the regime in 2004.

He said: "The external policy of Libya changed. They gave up their chemical, nuclear weapons programmes.

"It was a great thing for the world, really important. They gave up sponsoring terrorism, co-operated in the fight against it.

"The trouble is, in the end they were not prepared to reform internally, to their people. So they were less of a threat to the outside world, but inside, they were a threat to their people."

Plane incident

Mr Blair said that military force should be considered to stop Iran developing a military nuclear programme.

"I don't think it would include invasion but I think you cannot rule out the use of military force against Iran if they continue to develop nuclear weapons in breach of the international community's obligations on them."

And he revealed how there was an incident some time after 9/11 when a passenger jet in UK airspace was deemed a potential threat, because it was not responding to air traffic control.

"There was a moment later in my premiership where we were really not very far away from having to take a final decision as to whether to bring the plane down," he said

"I ended up talking directly to the officer who was in charge of the operation and trying to work out whether the plane in question had [encountered] a mishap, which obviously was the overwhelming likelihood, but what if it wasn't?

"It was an extremely frightening moment."

He also said that fighter jets had been "prepared" in readiness to intercept the jet, which was later found not to be a threat.


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Re: Is the UK safer now than on 9/11?

Post by Big Vern on 10.09.11 16:05

Load of nonsense.
False flag attack

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive
Big Vern

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Re: Is the UK safer now than on 9/11?

Post by littlepixie on 10.09.11 18:04

I think the Government use the threat of terrorism to control people and to cause racism and unrest.

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Longer perspective wouldn't go amiss

Post by tigger on 11.09.11 7:38

Terrorism is nothing new. The public's expectation that it has the right to a life free of danger is quite a recent phenomenon.

There were about seven attempts on the life of Queen Victoria.
Anarchists' bombs went off quite regularly in Victorian London.

Myth creation is nothing new.
Almost in living memory is Tonypandy, where policemen shot and killed two unarmed protesters. This is false.
The police were asked to come and had nothing more lethal with them than their batons. One man suffered a broken arm. The bobbies were quartered with families in the area and warmly received. They prevented rioting and looting. But that's nowhere near as good a story.

Further back there is the battle of Culloden, where there were more Scots with the English army than there were on the other side. And so on - Pearl Harbour has now been shown to have been set up by the US.

Why people choose to believe in Al Quaida as an organisation at all, beats me. Quite a lot of the redundant Mudjahadeen were deployed in the Balkans after the Russians had left Afghanistan. No doubt they're busy in Libya at the moment, if they're not drawing a pension from the US. They've got to keep going, otherwise who is going to pay them?

This is a very long! video in three parts, which I think is excellent. Worth a look on a rainy Sunday.


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Re: Is the UK safer now than on 9/11?

Post by Smokeandmirrors on 11.09.11 8:31

As Tigger mentioned there have always been threats and attacks. London suffered quite enough from the IRA over the years and bomb scares were rife. What 9/11 has created is a raft of new laws and rights for the Governments of US and UK (and possibly others) to search, spy and control. A trip to the airport now is quite horrendous, the suspicion is palpable.

Whether Big Vern is correct in a falseflag (been on David Icke site? There is a lot of interesting material on false flags there) or it really was the event we were told it was, it was a golden opportunity for the powers that be to further encroach on our liberty.

As to our general safety, those that control the world and who do so for financial gain will ensure that the world is never safe. Without fear they cannot control the several billion inhabitants of this planet.

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