News Commentary – January 31, 2007
British police arrested nine men in and around the city of Birmingham in anti-terror raids early Wednesday morning.
Although police stressed that their investigations were still at an early stage, there was speculation that the raids may have foiled a plot to kidnap a British Muslim soldier
The raids were carried out after intelligence was received from “security sources”; quoted by the BBC as claiming the plot marked a “different approach” to terror in the UK.
It's nothing if not lurid.
The alleged plot was to carry out a "close quarters" style abduction of a Muslim soldier, which would have mirrored the kidnappings of the British hostages Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan by Iraqi insurgents.
The victim would have been filmed, made to plead for his life and ultimately executed, it was alleged.
Rather than plans to bomb trans-Atlantic airliners, as the mainstream media reported last year, the latest terror outrage would have involved a "beheading" in front of cameras.
You could almost imagine a seasoned scriptwriter writing it for a TV thriller.
The reported switch of tactics by terror suspects had been worrying the police for some time, according to security analyst Crispin Black. "The best thing British intelligence services can do is to study the methods used in Iraq and prepare themselves to see them appearing here," he said.
It was also claimed that a target for the alleged plot had already been identified.
However, locals in the areas where some of the men were arrested expressed disbelief and cynicism over news reports.
Mohamed Barber told BBC News his cousin was one of the men arrested. "We can vouch for him he is innocent. He doesn't even have time to go to Friday prayers - that's how busy he is," he added.
Leaders at the Alum Rock Islamic Centre, the main mosque in the area where several of the suspects were arrested, said the community was shocked at events, but urged calm and appealed to people to co-operate with the police.
Ayub Pervaz, the mosque's president, said: "If people have broken the law they should be brought to justice…but we also appeal for no trial by media. If any of those arrested turn out to be innocent, this should be made clear."
In point of fact, many of those arrested in previous “anti-terror raids” have later been freed, without charge and with minimal media attention
So this is becoming a familiar tale and with each new “terror plot” foiled public cynicism grows
. Largely because with repeated official talk of “imminent” and “immense” terror threats
, it is all beginning to sound a little hollow, if not contrived.
Particularly as no hard evidence has yet been presented for public scrutiny.
Could it be then that the authorities are actually fomenting a climate of fear and mistrust in the communities involved? This is not so outlandish as it may sound, particularly when one considers what Britain’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray has pointed out
: that many of the alleged plots exposed have little real substance and are often more propaganda ploy than plot.
Almost as if a team of PSYOP specialists were writing the scripts and using the police and media to flesh out the prospect of an “imminent threat”. Like stage conjurers of yore, contriving "terror"
out of nothing at all.
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Last updated 03/02/2007