Warning: This post was published more than 12 years ago.
I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!
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Many thanks for your understanding.
My problem with the government’s anti-terror plans as they stand, including the (unnecessary) proposed new legislation, is that it focuses on attacks as they have happened in the past.
If I were a terrorist (interesting concept – as someone who’s not particularly relgious, what would I be fighting for?), then I’d be thinking that huge terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and the Madrid train bombings have been done. People are already scared of these things, which (I would imagine) are difficult to co-ordinate, and potentially subject to being reasonably easily stopped if the plans are uncovered. So I wouldn’t do that kind of attack.
Imagine instead the massive psychological damage which could be caused to nations across the globe if, for example, a series of comparatively minor attacks were co-ordinated to occur simultaneously in towns across the US and UK. Nobody would feel safe anywhere. It would be a massive psychological blow, and would also be relatively easier to co-ordinate. All that would need to be communicated to local operatives would be a chosen time and date, and then those operatives could simply plan something to happen at that time – even something as simple as arson or a small explosion, with no need for any illegal materials or specialist equipment or knowledge that might pick up a security service tracking. Imagine: Burning or exploding shopping malls, for example, across the small towns of the UK – those small towns where the people feel safest. That would cause true terror.
Of course, the problem with this idea is that extremeist groups, by nature of their very extremity, would never be able to recruit enough people to make this the truly terrible event it could be. I suppose, due to the smaller nature of the area, the UK could be targetted in this way, but the US is just too big a place to recruit enough people to get the density of small-scale attacks which would be necessary.
So my problem here is that the UK Government seem insistent on protecting the big institutions, like Parliament and the capital as a whole, but that isn’t where the greatest threat lies, because a massive and fundamentally more damaging attack than 9/11 could very easily be co-ordinated without raising many, if any, red flags with the security services. The Government need to think outside the box, and a law to allow people to be detained in their homes doesn’t help that: Whilst it could stop a 9/11 style attack, it couldn’t even begin to stop a terrorist attack such as that I’ve described. And, as we’ve seen on 9/11 through the transformation of passenger jets to effective guided missiles, the terrorists can be far more creative than the spooks.