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Clarke announces anti-terror laws concession

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 15 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 15 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 15 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

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.

This 373rd post was filed under: News and Comment.

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