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July 08, 2005

London's 7/7 - Who were the bombers? Why London? Why now?

Posted by Anthony McRoy

Dr Anthony McRoy - a writer on Islam in the UK - asks, who were the London bombers? Why London? Why Now? The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not those of the Social Affairs Unit, its Trustees, Advisors or Director.

After the euphoria of being awarded the Olympics, Londoners will remember the following day 7th July 2005 in the words of President Roosevelt, as "a day of infamy". At the moment of writing, there are fifty confirmed fatalities, and the number will probably climb. Reports are still sketchy, and we don't know if these terrible events are the result of what Al-Qaida view as "martyrdom operations" (suicide bombings), or whether they are Madrid-type cell-phone operated attacks.

It is likely this was the work of a foreign sleeper cell, since Al-Qaida know that British mosques are heavily scrutinised by MI5 and the Special Branch. The 9-11 hijackers were clean-shaven and dressed in Western clothing and they went clubbing and boozing before their action. Al-Qaida members believe themselves to be at war, and as such they will follow the hadith (narration of Muhammad) in Sahih Al-Bukhari 4.269, narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah:

The Prophet said, "War is deceit".
They are going to conceal their views and plans from everyone including Arabs and Muslims. Al-Qaida operatives act in camouflage dressing and acting like ordinary Westerners.

Reaction from Britain's Muslim community has been swift. The Muslim Council of Britain issued a statement declaring that:

The Muslim Council of Britain utterly condemns today's indiscriminate acts of terror in London. These evil deeds makes victims of us all. It is our humanity that must bring us shoulder to shoulder to condemn, to oppose and to overcome those who would spread fear, hatred and death. Our sympathies and our prayers are with the victims, their families and friends.
A leading British Arab Muslim, Anas Altikriti, observed that two stations where bombs exploded were Edgware Road and Aldgate East. The former is home to London's Arab community, the latter to the mainly Bangladeshi Muslim community. Al-Qaida often regards Western Muslims as apostates, and Bin Laden stated after 9/11 that the Shari'ah forbids permanent residence in the land of the Infidel. These bombs were as much directed at British Arabs and Muslims as the rest of the community.

Even though Britain had been expecting an attack, Prime Minister Blair looked shaken when he responded to the bombings. The question many Britons will be asking is why we were attacked. Spain was attacked on the eve of its election, and Al-Qaida literally bombed the government out of office and Spain out of Iraq. The Iraq war was incredibly unpopular and Blair was punished on this issue in the General Election, as he was in local, regional and European elections since 2003. There was nothing to be gained in bombing before the British election, since the main ppposition party was as committed to staying in Iraq as the Prime Minister. It is significant that the bombing occurred after the election. So why now?

A purported Al-Qaida statement exclaimed that Britain was attacked as:

vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Probably two other factors were in play. Al-Qaida undoubtedly borrowed its strategy from the Madrid train bombing and there was another symmetry just as President Bush was absent from the US capital during 9/11, so PM Blair was absent from the UK capital during (what may now be called) 7/7. Moreover, happening at the same time as the G8 summit, with Bush present, it humiliated world leaders the message being that they were trying to solve the world's problems, and they can't even solve this one.

Further, Bush and Blair's argument for invading and staying in Iraq to give us security from terrorists will look very hollow as the dust settles. Robin Cook and George Galloway have already made this observation. This bombing may well have been more directed at America than Britain. Bush's most recent speech on Iraq repeated the argument that "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here". Yet in the very midst of doing that "they" have hit us here. After thirty years of IRA terrorism, Britain is arguably the best equipped country in the world to deal with terrorist outrages especially London. Yet they got through. A bomb in London is worth two (or more) than one in Madrid for US public opinion.

Given the "special relationship" with America and Blair's zealous involvement in "the War on Terror", it will not escape the notice of the American public that Al-Qaida hit here and if they can do it here, they can do it in America. Perhaps the main reason for the bombing is that Bush was present in Britain when it happened, focusing US attention on the outrage. Inevitably, it will eventually raise questions as to whether both Iraq and "the War on Terror" are unwinnable quagmires like Vietnam. The message the bombers meant to send to America is this: four years after 9/11, two invasions of Muslim countries, draconian anti-terror powers and a massive global prison network have not crushed Al-Qaida. The bombs may have exploded in Britain, but the intended audience may well have been in America.

Dr Anthony McRoy is a writer on Islam in the UK. He is completing a study on the politics of British Islam for the Social Affairs Unit.

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Dr McRoy appears to be working himself up into a dither that is really irrelevant.

Pres. Bush as well as Prime Minister Blair have said from the start that this war will take years to achieve victory. Years is plural. The war is real. It is not a program on the telly that lasts precisely 30 or 60 minutes, and is totally predictible.

Why didn't Britain surrender to the Nazis in 1941 when that war had been going on for so long?

Posted by: John J. Coupal at July 8, 2005 08:49 PM

Every time that the West suffers a terrorist attack, we are subjected to a subsequent attack on our intellects by politicians and editorialists seeking to deny that it is Western political policies to which the terrorists respond -- not, as they endlessly repeat, that terrorists are somehow against our 'way of life' as if they attack because we go to movies or drink two pints afterwards.

This is intentional disinformation, of an Orwellian sort, inflicted on us by our masters in order to avoid responsibility for what they fear may be unpopular policies.

On this website, Dr McRoy quotes those claiming to be the terrorists, saying that the attacks respond to 'Zionist' Western governments occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. They did not mention binge drinking and vomitting into telephone kiosks, pop concerts, teenage pregnancies, drug abuse or any other integral part of modern Western culture -- they mentioned overseas political interference because, one supposes, it matters to them.

So let us at least be honest enough to call a spade a spade. If we think it is worth these kinds of casualties to stand by Israel no matter what, if we think it a worthwhile price to pursue our wish for political change in Iraq and Afghanistan, then let us say so. At least tell the truth and deal with this through democratic debate rather than through the strategy of Big Lies common to totalitarian states.

Posted by: s masty at July 9, 2005 11:17 AM

The first comment's analogy with 1941 is crass - international terrorism is simply not comparable with a war between States, however rogue.

We need to size the problem, and this includes recognising (however distasteful it may be to do so) that OBL often says what many, even a majority, of Muslims think. "The Shari'ah forbids permanent residence in the land of the Infidel" is an excellent case in point. (Of course, trying to argue whether this is so or not is as futile as to trying to discover whether the Bible forbids abortion.)

Posted by: Innocent Abroad at July 9, 2005 05:54 PM

You say: "It is likely this was the work of a foreign sleeper cell." Well, after today's news it looks like you got that wrong. Does today's news not do more to justify the views of Douglas Murray - also on this site - than yours?

Posted by: Anonymous at July 12, 2005 08:01 PM
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