the Disillusioned kid: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.
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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

The whole Islamic-terrorist-beheading plot seems to have got the media very excited. Predictably the dubious (i.e. vastly exaggerated) nature of past "plots" (the ricin plot, the red mercury plot, last year's explosive liquids plot, Forest Gate etc.) has been forgotten or ignored by the bastions of objectivity in the corporate media. Why demur about the details or even existence of any plot when you can have an exciting headline about beheading? If it all turns out to be nonsense later you just ignore the fact and everyone can carry on cowering in fear before the awesome threat to our very bodily fluids posed by Islamic Fifth Columnists.

This isn't to suggest that this has necessarily all been made up. There might have been a terrorist cell. They might have planned to kidnap somebody. They might have wanted to lop that person's head off. They might have intended to post the video on the internet. It's just that when somebody's cried wolf as many times as the British counter-terrorism establishment, simply taking what they say at face value is the height of naivete.

Things become particularly murky when we turn to the leaks which have populated various articles in the media following the raid. According to the Grauniad (via), police investigating the alleged plot "expressed growing anger yesterday at a series of leaks and briefings which they say are hampering their inquiry":
Whitehall officials briefed journalists early on Wednesday before all of the suspects had been found, with the result that lurid details of the alleged plot were broadcast while one suspect remained at large. At least one tabloid newspaper had even been tipped off the night before the dawn raids, and its reporters put on standby to race to Birmingham...

Paul Snape, vice chair of West Midlands Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: "The police force is asking the question, where did it all come from? There may be political reasons for it, such as what was going on at the Home Office and at Downing Street."
The timing is indeed convenient with the Cash for Honours and BAE scandals, the problems in the Home Office and, as Davide Simonetti points out, John Reid's renewed campaign to get support for holding terror suspects for more than 28 days without charge.

Whatever the truth or otherwise of the various claims made about the plot, there is little question that raids such as this don't play well in the Muslim community who feel persecuted. A sentiment which can't be helped by the mainstream media's eagerness to run with any story about Muslim intransigence, no matter what its basis in fact (recall the niqab/pantomime horse story). Insofar as the "War on Terror" is synonymous with the struggle against militant Islamic fundamentalism (as opposed to simply an excuse to invade other countries), it cannot be won without the support of the vast majority of the Muslim community. We won't get that if our default settings instruct us to accept every bad thing said about them. Scepticism is your friend.

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