27 July 2005


Paul Anderson, Tribune column, July 29 2005

First it was George Galloway and the Socialist Workers Party. Then came Robin Cook and Chatham House, then a leak from the Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre — and this week even John Major joined the club.

Yes, they’ve all come to the conclusion that 7/7 was “linked to” the war in Iraq, something the government has spent the past three weeks vigorously denying.

And it seems that most Brits agree with them. A Populus poll for The Times published on Tuesday showed that nearly two-thirds of voters think that Tony Blair’s decision to take Britain to war in Iraq has “increased the risk of terrorist attacks like the ones this month in London”.

All of which has got the cretino-leftist tendency in the anti-war camp very excited. “The stoicism that was largely a media-political construct is already turning into frustration,” wrote John Kampfner, editor of the New Statesman, in the Guardian this week. “Watch it turn into anger as Blair refuses to acknowledge a link between Iraq and terrorism on our streets.”

Well, maybe — but I suspect it won’t work out as Kampfner and others like him expect and want. “Linked to” is one thing; “caused by” quite another. There’s a massive difference between believing the war in Iraq “increased the risks of terrorist attack” and believing it was the main reason the bombers did what they did. And most Brits (some 80 per cent according to a YouGov poll) don’t reckon it was the main reason.

I think they are right. There is no evidence of any direct connection between Iraq and the perpetrators of either 7/7 or the attempted repeat performance a fortnight later.

None of them, as far as we know, ever lived there or had family or friends killed or wounded in the war. As far as we know, the Iraq war could have been a factor in their actions only insofar as they were opposed to or angry about it.

And a decision to commit indiscriminate murder of civilians on the streets of a city does not flow easily (let alone automatically) from this — even if you see the war as an assault by infidels on your religion and your co-religionists.

Millions of people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, were or are angry about Iraq and have never even considered setting off bombs on public transport. (I am one of them.)

Something else is at least as important here as anger at the war, at minimum a belief that random terrorist murder is justifiable in certain circumstances. This could in theory be simply a matter of the bombers adopting a brutal utilitarian calculus related solely to Iraq — “If we let off bombs in London we will kill innocent people but will hasten withdrawal of the west from Iraq, which will result in fewer deaths in the long run” — but somehow I doubt it was as rational as that.

All the evidence suggests that the bombers were fanatical Islamist jihadists, committed to unremitting war by any means possible to secure a worldwide totalitarian Islamist state and convinced that their self-immolation would guarantee them the highest possible status in the afterlife. If we’re looking for the causes of or reasons for the London outrages, we can’t ignore or explain away this vile, narcissistic, fascist ideology.

The rise of jihadist Islamism long predates the Iraq war. And although jihadism has undoubtedly fed upon popular antipathy among Muslims towards what they see as US and British imperialism in league with (or indeed controlled by) the forces of Zionism, it is much more than a response to particular, in principle reversible, western policies.

The jihadists are not just sworn enemies of western intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere. They are also sworn enemies of tolerance, democracy and freedom to act autonomously in every area of everyday life, all of which they consider anti-Islamic.

They want to eliminate secularism, political pluralism and intellectual and sexual freedoms not just in historically Islamic societies but throughout the world. They think they have a God-given right to use any means to achieve their goal and they glory in dying for the cause.

It is wishful thinking to believe they would simply leave us alone if we got out of Iraq and disowned Ariel Sharon. We would still be targets.

So how do we deal with them? There is a superficially simple answer: we should relentlessly expose their ideology for what it is and oppose them wherever we find them, with force if necessary.

The problem is putting this into practice. No one really knows who they are or where they are.
Jihadism is not run by an Islamintern that could be disabled or at least significantly damaged by pin-point military strikes on some HQ in north-west Pakistan. As we have seen in the past three weeks, even in Britain, with its long experience of IRA terrorism, the domestic security state finds it hard to keep tabs on the jihadists. Even the bombers’ families were unaware of their plans.

This means that rooting out jihadism will be a long, slow, frustrating policing process with plenty of setbacks. But there really isn’t anyfeasible alternative.

16 July 2005

7/7 - 3

Ian Buruma has a characteristically insightful piece in the FT magazine today, taking on leftist attempts to pin the blame for the London bombings on Tony Blair and George Bush:
It would be foolish to deny that western powers have done many bad things, but the arrogant assumption that almost all the world’s ills, from African hunger to mass murder on the London Underground, can be laid at the door of western politicians is not only stupid, but deeply harmful to those who live outside the western world. It lets their own rulers, however murderous, off the hook, and prevents people from taking responsibility for their own societies. After all, if everything is the fault of Blair or Bush, or “neo-colonialism”, or “globalisation”, why bother?

The war in Iraq may not have been a sensible move. It probably did galvanise religious extremism. For the record, I was against it. But to claim that we should not have gone to war with Saddam Hussein because it puts us in the firing line of holy warriors seems a bad, and certainly cowardly argument. Britain would have been in their firing line anyway. Contrary to what Faisal Bodi says, jihadis do have an axe to grind with the western world. Long before Iraq was a gleam in Blair’s eyes, the west was in the holy warrior’s “sphere of hate”. Another false argument against action against Middle Eastern despots is that “we put them there”. Even if it is true that, say, Hussein or Osama bin Laden once had the support of Britain or the US, this is hardly a reason not to oppose them now. Should we have turned a blind eye to their crimes just because Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney once did business with them? This smacks of the same perverted logic which holds that an imperial past should prevent Europeans from condemning the bloody dictatorships that followed the independence of former colonies.
Read it all here.

12 July 2005

7/7 – 2

If the Metropolitan Police are right, 7/7 was the work of British subjects. The Met says that four rucksack-carrying men, three of them from West Yorkshire, were caught on CCTV at Kings Cross at around 8.30am last Thursday; that their personal effects have been discovered at three of the four murder sites; that all four are British-born; and that material associated with the bombings has been discovered at one of their addresses in West Yorkshire and in a car parked at Luton station.

The cops have been wrong before, and they could be wrong again. But hunch tells me that they are not making this up in desperation, as they did after the IRA’s Guildford and Birmingham bombings 30 years ago. Although the police are at present being studiously vague about the identities of the Yorkshiremen they suspect of murder, everything suggests they were jihadist Muslim suicide bombers. How people respond in the next few days will be critical in determining what sort of society we live in.

The nightmare scenario is a spate of attacks on mosques and on individual Muslims. I hope nothing will happen, I suspect there will be sporadic incidents, I fear it could get very nasty indeed. The fascists of the BNP are stoking up hatred – with a message that echoes in significant ways that of the Stop the War Coalition and Respect, condemning “Blair and his Labour regime which has committed British troops to a war in the Middle East” for the outrages – and there will be plenty of drunk racist bigots leaving pubs tonight and tomorrow and later in the week intent on “doing something”. The police will have to be particularly vigilant to stop them.

But the best way to counter any surge of anti-Muslim viciousness is to demonstrate our calm opposition to terror. Go to the TUC's gathering in Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening, or organise something similar in your own locality.

8 July 2005

7/7 – 1

I spent most of yesterday thinking I’d had a lucky escape. I overslept and missed the 7.21 train from Ipswich to London. If I’d caught it, I’d have arrived at Liverpool Street just as the first bomb exploded there. As it was, my train was stopped at Chelmsford and turned back. It was clear something major was up – and I suspected a terrorist attack even though the BBC’s WAP news service was telling me it was a power surge. Back home late in the morning, I switched on the TV and watched in horror as the full extent of the outrages became clear. For the next few hours I anxiously text-messaged and emailed friends and family to find out how they were and to reassure them I was alive and well.

I discovered when I woke up today that I wouldn’t have been harmed if I'd caught the 7.21. The bomb went off on a Circle Line train travelling into Liverpool Street underground from Aldgate. It wouldn’t have got me even if I’d decided to take the tube rather than my usual bus. And as far as I am aware, no one I know or love was killed or injured in any of the blasts, though five or six people had much closer shaves than I did.

I am of course pleased to be alive and relieved that my friends and family are OK. But this in no sense diminishes either my horror at what these evil murderers have done or my solidarity with those who were killed or mutilated or who lost loved ones. “Only” 50 (or maybe a few more) may have died, a death toll that is small by comparison with 9/11 or even Madrid. But precisely because, like millions of others, I know that with just the simplest twist of fate it could have been me or my family, my friends or my colleagues, I empathise completely with everyone whose luck ran out.

And I mean everyone. Ken Livingstone has been widely praised for his emotional condemnation of the attacks, in which he emphasised that the victims of the bombings were ordinary working-class Londoners going about their everyday business. I’m sure he didn’t mean to imply that the bombings would have been legitimate had the victims been stockbrokers travelling to their clubs in the West End – but I’m not so certain about others who have emphasised the humble origins of the dead and injured. The Socialist Workers Party in particular gives the impression that the main problem with the bombings was that they were directed at proletarian opponents of the war in Iraq rather than the G8 leaders in Gleneagles.

The SWP and the rest of the cretino-left that blames the bombings on the Iraq war – George Galloway, Tariq Ali et cetera – are beneath contempt. Their mealy-mouthed apologias for terrorist murder cannot be taken seriously and their take on the impact of the 7/7 outrages is risible. But they are not alone in failing to grasp what happened yesterday.

The Guardian’s comment pages today include – as well as a rant from Ali – pieces from Robin Cook, Polly Toynbee and Sher Khan arguing, respectively, that poverty is at the root of Islamist terror, that it doesn’t really matter much who was responsible for the outrages – “the minds of those who did it seem too remote to understand, too unknowable” – and that the bombings have nothing to do with Islam as a faith, which roundly condemns murder.

All three articles make valid points, but their common refusal to accept the religious motivation of the jihadists who appear to have been responsible for the bombings is extraordinary. If London is indeed the latest in the series of outrages that includes 9/11, Bali and Madrid – and I accept that it might not be, though like me all three writers assume it is – it is essential to take seriously the professed ideology of the perpetrators rather than dismiss or ignore it.

I have no desire to provoke anti-Muslim hysteria: the overwhelming majority of Muslims are people who would have no truck with the theory or practice of Osama bin Laden and his henchmen. But, as Amir Taheri makes clear in the Times, the unavoidable facts are that the jihadists are Muslims, of a particularly fanatical kind, and that they do what they do because they believe what they do. Their appeal to the dispossessed, the strangeness of their beliefs to everyone else and their antipathy to most Muslims are all important. But liberals and leftists need to grasp that even though Islam is not in itself the enemy, one strain in it very definitely is.

As Christopher Hitchens and others have made clear, there is a civil war going on in the Islamic world, and the jihadists are the enemies of tolerance, of democracy, of decency, of humanity – everything that most Muslims, and indeed most non-Muslims, hold dear. I think, after seeing the heroic efforts of the emergency services and the rock-solid determination of Londoners to carry on in defiance, that most Britons know which side they are on. I have never felt more proud to be British than in the past couple of days. And I'm not at all worried that, if we demonstrated against terror, the show would be hijacked by either the apologists for Islamofascism or by the racist right. We should get out on to the streets – and show the world that we will never surrender our tolerant secular society or our democracy to murderous religious bigots.

7 July 2005


The outrages in London are the work of enemies of humanity. There should be massive demonstrations throughout Britain this weekend to show our solidarity against them.