webofevil: (Default)
Yet more proof of what happens when you convince the young and devout that a hedonistic paradise awaits them just the other side of this detonator. All the rage and hate of the genuinely downtrodden, along with the riotous energy and frustration of adolescence, can be fast-tracked into violent upheaval with a simple injection of folklorish babble. If there were ever a pressing need to persuade five year-olds to run amok with automatic weapons—which might yet happen if the mujahideen were to use up their stock of enthusiastic young men—the story would have to be altered a bit: instead of the virgins, you are guaranteed 72 vats of ice cream.

The people who sent them will have encouraged them to think of themselves as brave warriors, and the smile on the guy on the right displays his pride in what he’s doing. But shooting into crowds of unarmed commuters or hotel guests can hardly be described as going into battle. It tests your mettle about as much as scrubbing mould from your fridge, especially when you’re certain that as soon as the situation starts to get a bit tough, you have only to press a button and instantly it’s wall-to-wall virgins and/or ice cream. When you do not fear death, there is no bravery.

That’s why the hostage-taking is really unsettling. It’s not as if the gunmen are going to request a few million rupees and a helicopter. They went to Mumbai to die, and they wanted to take as many people with them as they could. This “spectacular” isn’t over until the last of the gunmen are dead or in custody. Meanwhile, there will be people all around the world not seeing the wanton, cowardly destruction of people’s lives but rather believing that they are watching the deeds of heroic martyrs, poster boys for their cause who are setting out a new blueprint for how their struggle must be conducted. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of us just trying to live some kind of life, the god-fearing and us unsaved heathens alike.
webofevil: (Default)
I’ll be honest: I was getting a little jittery. The only sign of activity recently had been the anniversary release of a tape of Shehzad Tanweer, another of the 7 July bombers, regurgitating the usual blah about why God wanted him to pull the ripcord, this time with a director’s commentary by Al Qaeda’s own Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who mentioned Tanweer’s “enthusiasm for PE and sport”. Nothing else on the radar, though. To give the cliché its due, it really was too quiet.

And it looks as if that was precisely because something was brewing. Recent intelligence-led operations have left us feeling understandably sceptical about what we’re told, but I really don’t think the security services have precipitated all this just to get attention. (Again with the passenger jets—is there a verse where God condemns flying? 29. The wrong-doers leap into the air, and rejoice (that) they do so. We will strike them down, for the air is Satan’s domain. Note to v.29: According to the Prophet, “in the air” is classified as “anything taller than me”.)

Credit where it appears to be due; I spend enough time on here berating the security services when they get it wrong and then take cover from any comeback behind the words “national security”. (It’s the second part that grates even more than the first, in truth; I strongly believe, not least because of its frequent application to my own life, that “it’s not the fucking up, it’s the making good”. Though, that said, I’ve never actually shot a Brazilian man in the face, and I’m not about to try—after all, who could live with the omnipresent threat of being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive?) So: the police seem to have genuinely stopped in its tracks an advanced plan to detonate a bunch of airliners, possibly over cities, for the glorification of an apparently psychotic God. If they have, they’ve done a great job, but of course we won’t know the truth behind this craziness for months.

I’m quite pleased that the arresting and cordoning-off isn’t going on around me this time, but again East London is in the thick of it. I lived in Leytonstone in the late 1990s, and given that your late teens and early twenties is the perfect time for your brain to be diverted towards one-track idiot radicalism—religious, political, even artistic—I wonder how many of the kids I used to pass in the street back then have since become would-be martyrs and “good Muslims”. I also wonder how difficult it is not to get sucked into that mindset if all around you many of your peers are becoming radicalised. Distrustful, heavy-handed police on one side, and on the other fervent nutters with the gleam of God in their eye: I wouldn’t be an ethnic Asian Muslim teenager in London right now for all the sultanas in heaven.
webofevil: (Default)
And then through the melée and the craziness comes this: IRA statement 'could emerge soon'

Reduced to running teaser campaigns? They'll be complaining about disappointing distribution deals next.

“Yeah, it’s fashionable right now, your al Qaeda and whatever, but it’s the tunes that count. We always had the tunes. But we just can’t get the airplay these days.”
webofevil: (Default)

I suggest a new word for kids who dream of emulating terrorists but haven’t the faintest idea what they’re doing: terrorettes.

I left my flat at about 1.15 yesterday to discover a world of police vans and fluttering cordons. As I rounded the nearest van and saw the entire road cleared of traffic and filled with about 70 police in full dayglo, I began to realise that I was smack bang inside the cordoned area. The police stared at me as I walked, unnerved, down the centre of the street, in my own pocket-sized that-bit-in-Vanilla-Sky moment. Eventually one of them had the wit to call me over, and we were able to establish that I was merely a confused resident and the bag slung around my shoulder only contained books. We also established that there was no way on God's earth that I was going to be allowed back to my flat.

I went into a web café down the road, checked what little news there was, posted my rather bewildered comment, and then had to leave as we were evacuated further down the street. This happened twice more, as buildings were cleared and the crowd swelled, until we were fully half a mile down the road, my block now completely out of sight.

I spent three hours at that police cordon, wondering uselessly if I was suddenly going to see a plume of smoke where Oval tube—and my flat—used to be. We were told precisely nothing. After a while we began to hope they weren't setting up a controlled explosion, but checking the site for any traces of chemical agents, or indeed of the terrorette. People following the news knew long before us that the attacks seemed to be a lame copycat effort, with only one injury. As elements of the story filtered through to us—the small detonations, the attempt to replicate the exact pattern of the previous bombings including the fuck-up on the bus, the fact that these particular “jihadis” apparently didn’t want to die—it became clear that it wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d feared, or as it actually could have been. The moment this became a certainty was when I saw the Channel 4 News anchorwoman sitting near me turn to her colleague and say “England are 39 for 5!”

I don’t know at exactly what time the cordons around my house were removed, because I went to the Palace of Westminster and got drunk. [livejournal.com profile] strictlytrue was already there, and kindly offered to let me sleep over at his (thank you again to you and yours), but the nightbus route we took happens to pass by mine, and we found that the flat was now unsurrounded. Words truly can’t express how it felt to be back home, having possibly had to wave the bloody thing goodbye twelve hours earlier.

So: the little fuckers who did this are still at large. Everyone who was arrested, or even suspected, has been released. For all that police are saying that the devices were similar to the ones used in the earlier attack, though, it’s clear that something was a little different about this one. The terrorettes’ apparent variety of methods for trying to detonate the bombs, for example, similar only in their failure to work. Is it really conceivable that this is the same group, but they’ve run out of actual detonators?

Then there's the fact, as I mentioned, that this lot demonstrated absolutely no desire to be Islamikazes, while apparently trying to make the death of Hasib Hussain slightly less ignominious by making out that he’d intended to bomb that bus after all. The fact remains, though, that an 18-year-old kid, memorialised by those who knew him as a "dork", managed to blow up a bus by accident, while this bloke yesterday couldn't even do it on purpose.

The police are, laudably, saying they’re keeping an open mind about who did this. It could be a rival group to the one that sent its idiot warriors to die in London a fortnight ago, one less inclined to suicide; they might not even be sympathisers, but people acting as agents provocateurs. Or perhaps it was a sarcastic impression of the original attacks.

Right now, I don’t care. I only know one thing: my home is still standing, and I’m in it.
webofevil: (Default)
A high-ranking al-Qaeda operative has been captured in Pakistan. The US administration, intent on portraying al-Qaeda as some kind of rigid corporate structure (though whether that's to keep things simple for the general public or for themselves is anyone's guess), are saying he's "Number 3 in the organisation".

He was captured by Pakistani security service (ISI) agents, most of whom appear to have been wearing the ultimate disguise: a burqa. If this tactic becomes widespread in capturing Islamic radicals, do you think we might see a change of heart among Islamist ideologues about the desirability of imposing a style of dress on half the population that entirely obscures the wearer's identity?

December 2015

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