July 8, 2005


Evil disciples of Osama (BRIAN FLYNN and JOHN KAY, 7/08/05, The Sun)

THE bomb blitz is feared to be the work of a new breed of terrorists — young, well-educated British Asians loyal to Osama bin Laden.

Last night a terror cell based in the Midlands emerged as suspects behind the outrage.

They are Muslim extremists — yet the bombs aimed to deal out death and injury indiscriminately to people of ALL faiths.

The gang — mostly ex-students in their 20s — have had their homes watched for months, but there has not been enough evidence to arrest them.

Intelligence agents have monitored calls between members and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

A US security source said: “The suspected cell is not the only one being looked at but is one of the most serious lines of inquiry. The suspects are British — disaffected graduates who graduated in the UK, then went to Islamic schools in Pakistan, near the Afghan border.”

Security services tried to locate the gang yesterday but it is understood not all could be found.

But all the legal niceties have been carefully observed....

The quiet-life option ensures that attacks go on (Mark Steyn, 08/07/2005, Daily Telegraph)

[I]t's easy to stand before a news camera and sonorously declare that "the British people will never surrender to terrorism". What would you call giving IRA frontmen offices at Westminster? It's the target that decides whether terror wins - and in the end, for all the bombings, the British people and their political leaders decided they preferred to regard the IRA as a peripheral nuisance which a few concessions could push to the fringe of their concerns.

They thought the same in the 1930s - back when Czechoslovakia was "a faraway country of which we know little". Today, the faraway country of which the British know little is Britain itself. Traditional terrorists - the IRA, ETA - operate close to home. Islamism projects itself long-range to any point of the planet with an ease most G8 militaries can't manage. Small cells operate in the nooks and crannies of a free society while the political class seems all but unaware of their existence.

Did we learn enough, for example, from the case of Omar Sheikh? He's the fellow convicted of the kidnapping and beheading in Karachi of the American journalist Daniel Pearl. He's usually described as "Pakistani" but he is, in fact, a citizen of the United Kingdom - born in Whipps Cross Hospital, educated at Nightingale Primary School in Wanstead, the Forest School in Snaresbrook and the London School of Economics. He travels on a British passport. Unlike yours truly, a humble Canadian subject of the Crown, Mr Sheikh gets to go through the express lane at Heathrow.

Or take Abdel Karim al-Tuhami al-Majati, a senior al-Qa'eda member from Morocco killed by Saudi security forces in al Ras last April. One of Mr Majati's wives is a Belgian citizen resident in Britain. In Pakistan, the jihadists speak openly of London as the terrorist bridgehead to Europe. Given the British jihadists who've been discovered in the thick of it in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia, only a fool would believe they had no plans for anything closer to home - or, rather, "home".

Most of us can only speculate at the degree of Islamist penetration in the United Kingdom because we simply don't know, and multicultural pieties require that we keep ourselves in the dark. Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of Britain's Islamic Human Rights Commission, is already "advising Muslims not to travel or go out unless necessary, and is particularly concerned that women should not go out alone in this climate". Thanks to "Islamophobia" and other pseudo-crises, the political class will be under pressure to take refuge in pointless gestures (ie, ID cards) that inconvenience the citizenry and serve only as bureaucratic distractions from the real war effort.

Since 9/11 most Britons have been sceptical of Washington's view of this conflict. Douglas Hurd and many other Tory grandees have been openly scornful of the Bush doctrine. Lord Hurd would no doubt have preferred a policy of urbane aloofness, such as he promoted vis à vis the Balkans in the early 1990s. He's probably still unaware that Omar Sheikh was a westernised non-observant chess-playing pop-listening beer-drinking English student until he was radicalised by the massacres of Bosnian Muslims.

Abdel Karim al-Tuhami al-Majati was another Europeanised Muslim radicalised by Bosnia. The inactivity of Do-Nothin' Doug and his fellow Lions of Lethargy a decade ago had terrible consequences and recruited more jihadists than any of Bush's daisy cutters. The fact that most of us were unaware of the consequences of EU lethargy on Bosnia until that chicken policy came home to roost a decade later should be sobering: it was what Don Rumsfeld, in a remark mocked by many snide media twerps, accurately characterised as an "unknown unknown" - a vital factor so successfully immersed you don't even know you don't know it.

This is the beginning of a long existential struggle, for Britain and the West. It's hard not to be moved by the sight of Londoners calmly going about their business as usual in the face of terrorism. But, if the governing class goes about business as usual, that's not a stiff upper lip but a death wish.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 8, 2005 12:00 AM

Time for a little game of Blackbridge? (The Wolf Brigade seems effective enough in Iraq.)

Posted by: ghostcat at July 8, 2005 1:07 AM

The discouraging remarks by Steyn appear overblown. True, it appears that Islamic planners and terrorists are running circles around clueless Britons.

But appearances are not necessarily reality.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at July 8, 2005 1:25 AM

The Unreality Based Community is outdoing itself in its idiocy trying to find a way to absolve Bush of incompetence today in his handling of the Global War on Terror. Bush's venality let this attack happen, simple as that. The Brits were on the verge of rolling up their Al Qaeda cells last summer. Then the administration leaked the capture of Al Qaeda asset Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan in order to bolster its public relations. The cells thrived to live another day. Which brought on today. The people Al Q are running circles around live in Washington D.C., and they affix an (R) to their name.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 8, 2005 1:36 AM

After the Madrid bombings in March 2004, London's senior police official revealed that British security services had thwarted several major terrorist attacks targeted against London. But he grimly acknowledged that "there is an inevitability that some sort of attack will get through." [...]
Look for Tony Blair [...] to take the fight to the enemy. Britain is not Spain, which responded to the Madrid attacks with surrender and appeasement. Last week Britain celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, which turned the tide against Napoleon's totalitarian project. It is to be hoped that Blair will rise to level of Nelson's exhortation that "England expects that every man will do his duty."
~ John F. Cullinan

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 8, 2005 3:51 AM

Rick Perlstein:

Did Bush also make it rain in Colorado Springs on the 4th of July ?

The Bush administration surely could be doing better, but blaming this operation on them is tenuous, at best. The Brits have stopped quite a few attempted or planned terror attacks since 9/11. How did Bush prevent them from stopping this one ?

We might as well blame the Clinton administration for not taking Usama bin Laden off of the Sudan's hands, when they were willing to hand him over.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 8, 2005 3:58 AM

Rick: That is the most incoherent post I have read on BrothersJudd in quite a while.

Posted by: jd watson at July 8, 2005 4:59 AM


Welcome back--it's been awhile.

But I'd have to go with JD on this one.

I have an idea for rolling up these cells: the moment they--including Imams--start making Islamist noises, instant and irrevocable deportation.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at July 8, 2005 6:42 AM


That's quite right, but the question is why the CYA was necessary. Al Qaeda isn't a serious threat--the folks attacking their own government are,

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2005 6:50 AM

Jeff: I'll go you one better. The moment they--including Imams--start making Islamist noises, instant and irrevocable application of Rule 303.

Posted by: Mike Morley at July 8, 2005 7:54 AM


More of your anti-human rhetoric ?

While al Qaeda clearly isn't a threat to the government or culture of America, I certainly want the Feds to be extremely concerned about the possibility that I might get killed in a futile attack by death-loving fanatics.

Otherwise, we're getting close to Stalin's "tragedy/statistic" formulation.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 8, 2005 7:57 AM


With all due respect, should we go back to bombing aspirin factories as the previous Administration has done? Should we focus on the 'root causes of terrorism' as a particularly idiotic(even by their knuckle-walking standards) NYTimes editorial insists we should?

Has the Administration made mistakes in the WOT? Of course. Our decision not to carve Iraq up into its three constituent parts has essentially created this 'insurgency.'

One important point. In the Congress it is the Democrats who have made us vulnerable in the WOT. Let us assume that Bush is a stooge for Big Oil, there have been ample opportunities for Democrats to drive home the point to the American people and the American people would have thrown him out on his derriere. First, CAFE standards. It is the Democrats like Lyin' Joe Lieberman who have refused to impose fuel economy on the American people. He and others like him in the Senate have repeatedly opposed CAFE standards and any limit on SUVs. Over 40% of all oil used in the US is used for vehicular fuel. About 25% of our oil is imported from OPEC sources and about 12% from the Middle East. That's a lot of oil and that's a lot of cash going to support terror.

Second, during WWII, the Germans made gasoline from coal. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal. Don't believe me? Take a drive along I-64 and look around. Where is Robert Byrd? Too busy ironing his white sheet and hood or playing with his Muslim grandchildren to increase employment opportunities for West Virginia coal miners? American gasoline should be made from coal not oil and much of the terror threat would go away. How long would it take for American technology to wend its way across the Atlantic to coal-rich Eastern Europe or across the Pacific to coal-rich China and Korea?

There was an article here a few days ago about fuel from biomass, which costs about $1.79/gallon. Why not place a tax on gasoline, put the tax to Homeland Security, and raise the price of gasoline enough to make it economically feasible to convert to biomass? A Hawaiian company is doing this. Where's Inouye'? Having sex with his hairdresser again? Where's Akaka? Asleep under a palm tree somewhere?

IOW, Rick, even accepting the notion that the GOP is worse than even Michael Moore portrays it, as a coterie of scoundrels, idiots, zealots, corporate stooges and traitors, the Democrats have failed too, and failed miserably. The WOT is primarily an economic struggle, as all wars are, and we should be treating it like one. The Democrats, who in theory are not in the tank for Big Oil and the Saudi 'Royal' Family, have no excuse for their absence from the field on this central issue of our day.

Posted by: bart at July 8, 2005 8:57 AM

the esteemed Mr. Perlstein notes:

'..The Brits were on the verge of rolling up their Al Qaeda cells last summer.'
let's assume this is true (I'm skeptical that RP posesses metaphysical certainty on this, but let's assume..)

'..Then the administration leaked the capture of Al Qaeda asset Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan in order to bolster its public relations.'

Now we have a second bit of information (Khan's capture), which RP helpfully explains for us. How does RP know the reason for the leak? It certainly sounds plausible, but maybe leaking this info had other, beneficial consequences that remain secret. Maybe the admin made the call that those benefits outweighed the risk. Maybe if Kerry didn't make such a big deal out of not capturing OBL, the admin might have seen more value in suppressing the info. hmmm..


'..The cells thrived to live another day. Which brought on today.'

ah, so RP not only knows which cells continued to thrive, but is certain that one (or more) of those cells are the ones responsible for 7/7.

It is quite remarkable that Perlstein has such a confident grasp of cause-and-effect even amid the shadowy world of terrorism and the counter-intelligence forces arrayed against it.

Or, more plausibly, he's just blowing smoke out his a**.

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at July 8, 2005 9:25 AM

G.W. Bush should reflect on his Texas heritage and tell his good friend Tony Blair about it. Tony should do the same with Britain's colonial past. Then W. should get in touch with his inner Judge Roy Bean, and Tony should channel the officer in the British Raj who said that he understood the important custom of sutti and explained that it was his custom to kill anyone who committed it.

9/11, 7/7,
Send Islamist scum to heaven.

Posted by: Ed Bush at July 8, 2005 9:26 AM


Yes, people like Rick who want to abort children, experimet on the genome and kill the elderly and disabled are more of a threat than the occassional terrorist murders.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2005 9:36 AM

As loopy as Rick may be, I don't feel any threat from him. He may want to abort children, but the terrorists want to kill us all.

You might want to get your priorities straight or you'll be as irrelevant as Falwell was after his imbecilic statements about 9/11.

Posted by: bart at July 8, 2005 10:04 AM

A bit of editing is all that would be required to bring Sir Charles up to date.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

--Sir Charles Napier (1782-1853), a British general, responding to Indian locals who complained about his interference with their native ritual of "suttee.

Posted by: erp at July 8, 2005 10:15 AM

It sounds to me as if Steyn and others here are reevaluating the military model of fighting terrorism "over there" to embracing an internal policing model (without all the unnecessary "legal niceties" of course )and yet nobody wants to admit that the military model, particularly in Iraq, has been a massive failure.

Terrorism requires serious, critical thinking. And yet, for reasons I fail to understand, people continue to be more interested in sub-rational, feel-good bravado then trying to figure out a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the problem.

Steyn's knee-jerk response above is empty macho posturing, and is likely to be just as ineffective as all the previous macho posturing we've done since 9/11. Most police agencies, including the FBI, believe that keeping a lid on the Muslim community is better done with a little more subtlety and a little less "round 'em up" nonsense. Harrassing and imprisoning hoardes of innocent people (which is the natural consequence of the abrogation of the "legal niceties") will actually dry up sources of information and prevent the authorities from penetrating cells and stopping terrorist attacks --- as some of you here have pointed out the British have successfully done a number of times. Terrorism is a complicated problem that requires a little bit more deftness than emulating George Roy Bean (who was a psychopath, by the way.)

Perlstein's point about outing the Pakistani CIA agent is a perfect example of what we are doing wrong. The facts clearly show that we screwed the pooch and the Brits, who because they know very well that their security (much more than ours, for a variety of reasons) depends on sophisticated policing and surveillance, were livid. Once again, we played a PR card when we should have STFU. It's a constant mistake this administration makes.

Our terrorism policy is incoherent. We should not be fighting this war in Iraq and we should not be using extra-constitutional methods as a form of PR to "scare" the terrrorists. If we use them, we should at least be smart enough to keep them completely under wraps. Instead we have MP's freely running around taking pictures of their buddies forcing prisoners to masturbate and stories inevitably dripping out about torture and abuses that serve bin Laden a hell of a lot more than they serve us. We don't need to do it and it's a direct result of the jejune "taking the gloves off" mentality that pops up like a whack-a-mole every time something happens.

And for that you have to blame the administration who really, truly seems to think that if we just get angry enough and beat our chests enough ("show resolve") that the terrorists will back down. The largest component of our terrorism policy is puerile trash talk of one form or another (especially the invasion of Iraq) and just like Steyn's vapid piece it's actually pathetically flaccid and ineffectual.

George Bush may not have personally been responsible for yesterday's attacks, but very little he's done since 9/11 has been rational and competent responses to the problem. It's presidential malpractice.

Posted by: at July 8, 2005 3:36 PM


All that matters in the long run is the liberalization Bush and Blair have unleashed.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2005 3:55 PM


Thank you for identifying the soldier I referred to and for correcting my spelling.


Posted by: Ed Bush at July 8, 2005 5:09 PM

Ed. You're welcome, but I didn't mean to correct you. When I posted that comment, I hadn't seen your post. I was running late and wanted to find and post that quote before I left, so I pasted in the comments box and ran out the door without checking the previous comments.

I believe what we have here is further proof that great minds think alike.

Posted by: erp at July 8, 2005 5:22 PM

Orrin I'm afraid "liberalization" and "legal niceties" are synonyms. No liberalization without rule of law. Ontologically so, and also as a matter of public relations: how can you sell liberalization through illiberal means. Ordinary Arabs will call bull***t.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 8, 2005 6:09 PM


True colors come shining through. As opposed to the open-comment period of the U.N. General Assembly as represented by the rest of this thread.

Never mind maneuvers. Just go straight at 'em.


Posted by: Ed Bush at July 8, 2005 6:16 PM

Liberalization always comes by illiberal means. We firebombed the Krauts into it and nuked the Japs, with FDR persecuting Americans of Japanese to the fullest extent and going after hapless German-American ninnies.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2005 6:17 PM

Think, for once, about the difference between correlation and necessary-and-sufficient causes.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 8, 2005 7:15 PM

Everything correlates, nothing is necessary or sufficient.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2005 7:17 PM

Your position always seems to be that cataclysmic violence is the necessary and sufficient cause of reform, and then you ex post facto take cataclysmic violence as evidence of progress towards reform. I've always just suspected you take a perverse pleasure in cataclysmic violence. And they call liberals humorless.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 8, 2005 7:24 PM

Libya, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. are reforming without much violence.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2005 7:36 PM

Well, then. Let's assume you're right (you're not: Iran elected an Islamofascist). What's your theory then about the violence in Iraq is necessary?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 8, 2005 7:49 PM

Some Sunni don't want to be governed by the Shi'a. They'll either have to be killed or reconcile themselves. No big thing.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2005 8:15 PM

Funny how Rick can bring himself to spar with OJ, because, as a theocratic knucklehead, he is an easy punching bag, but is apparently incapable of dealing with the response of a secular Jew whose opinion profoundly disagrees with his.

But then the Village Voice crowd hate us neo-cons even more than they hate the theocons, the paleocons and the neo-Nazis, because we have too many of the same experiences, too many similar values. It's easier to find some clod who has no clue about the last two centuries of American history and beat him like a red-headed stepson, than to deal with someone who shares aspects of his worldview and disagrees with his formulations.

Posted by: bart at July 8, 2005 8:38 PM


No one hates you for neoconservative reasons. Indeed, just hating blacks and Arabs doesn't make one a neocon.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2005 8:45 PM