In hindsight I'm sure there are many lessons that can be learned about intellegence and all of the rest of it - but unless they keep us all under surveilance 24 hours a day it's just impossible. Sadly, they do not have the resources to control the actions of every living being on the planet, such are the imperfections of life. Let's hope Gordon Brown sorts them out with the cash to recruit half a million of us to spy on each other night and day.
Today's papers are full of reports about the inquiry into the 7/7 bombings, that took place four years to the day after the Bradford riots and during the G8 summit in Scotland.
Worryingly I agree with this government report when it says that "foreign policy was an element in the radicalisation of the bombers, but [the report] will not conclude that the Iraq war was the key contributory factor behind the attacks." because whilst it's easy for the left to say everything is about the war I think that analysis ignors some of the underlying reasons for the attacks.
The lead bomber gave us his own reasons on video (read about it here) Classroom assistant Mohammad Sidique Khan cited Iraq and Palestine and claimed that "We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation." He praised Bin Laden and spoke of his opposition to the 'Crusaders'.
So it would be difficult to deny that Iraq and Palestine were to the fore in their minds when they choose to undertake their mission, but what turns those who oppose western imperialism into those who are willing to commit mass murder? I would say that part of the answer lies in the following...
"Our words have no impact upon you, therefore I'm going to talk to you in a language that you understand. Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood."
"Until we feel security, you will be our target."
Ultimately the one person each of the bombers knew they were going to kill was themselves - and maybe the war they were engaged in was partly a war against themselves. The two quotes above, to me, scream with impotence. How they have no impact, how they feel insecure, how their words are dead - and that not only did they wish to strike back at those they blamed for these feelings, and identified with others they could see taking extreme measures, but they also chose a method that seemed to be the only thing to give their lives meaning - a glorious death.
When Marx and Engels described religion as “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world. It is the opium of the people.” It could not fit more closely with how this form of radical Islam fuses the soullessness of capitalism with the rage at its oppressive consequences.
The furious anti-Muslim response experienced, particularly after 9/11, was for many Asians their first real experience of racism in this country (see Salma Yaqoob in the ISJ for instance) and that to chose the anniversery of the massive Bradford riots to carry out these attacks may say more about how they viewed their own lives, here in the UK, than anger at events that were happening in far away countries.
The arrogant dismissal of the the mass anti-war movement by Blair and co was one the greatest blows against democracy this country has ever seen and left millions feeling utterly distraught and disenfranchised. For Asain Britains this feeling must have been ten times what it was for the rest of us.
The atrocious attacks of July 7th were not part of the Iraq war even if that war enfuriated these four young men, but I suspect it suited the bombers to see themselves as soldiers to give themselves identity, coherence and courage to take the final step of obliterating the lives of others and themselves. This was a nihilistic product of an alienated society where millions feel they have little significant control over their lives.
When I was a teenager it was my deepest desire for the USSR to invade the UK, and I genuinely used to daydream about Soviet tanks rolling down the high street greeted by red flag waving crowds. I may not have hit upon the most popular solution to Britain's problems but it was certainly a product of my hatred for everything that I felt the country stood for. When the IRA atempted to blow up the Tory cabinet in Brighton I whooped and danced for joy, playing Stiff Little Fingers 'suspect device' over and over - but whilst all of these were direct comments on the UK's foreign policy they had as much to do with my experience of what I felt was constant police harrassment, the degeneration of the lives of those I loved and the hopelessness I felt about my future.
Ultimately it is not just an end to the war that is key to all our problems but a fundamental shift in society away from the factors that create impoverished and alienated individuals. As it happens, if we take that shift we abolish war along the way.