Daily Ireland, 16th August 2006


There are benefits that come with middle age. The fact that you’ve been an adult for 30 years does equip you with perspective you didn’t have when you were twenty.Last week the world’s busiest airport was paralysed in a way that the IRA with its mortars could only dream about. It also made me think about the security people in charge and what they did to my community in Britain in the 1970s.

In news management, as in life, timing is everything. The week before a pack of backbench labour MPs are about to go for Blair on his Lebanon “policy” suddenly the conspiracy to end all conspiracies is uncovered.

One thing was clear in the coverage from London of the “plot”. If truth is the first casualty in any war then the presumption of innocence comes a close second. What has actually happened that can be verified is that twenty-three young Moslems are being questioned about an alleged plot to blow up passenger airliners flying between Britain and the United States. They are aged between 17 and 35 and come from east London, Birmingham and High Wycombe. Most were named by the Treasury when it froze their assets. None has been charged.

We have been here before, of course, recently excellent intelligence was gleaned on a dastardly plot by, yeah, and you guessed it, two young Moslem men to do something, well, dastardly. One June 2nd this year two young men were arrested after the police “foiled” a chemical bomb plot. They were arrested in a paramilitary operation. One of them was shot.

Middle England breathed a sigh of relief that the ruffians had been nabbed. It turned out to be nonsense. There was no chemical bomb, no plot. The young men brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23, and Abul Koyair, 20, were released without charge. Mr Kahar, were released without charge after a week of questioning. The news management of their release was audibly different to the frenzy that had welcomed their arrest.

The police claimed they were acting on a “credible sensitive source”. This is policing a socially excluded community by tout. Sound familiar? Sir Ian Blair, Britain’s most senior police chief, said sorry, but the raid had still been justified he affirmed. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said that while he believed the operation was justified, “we were wrong” because police had not found the suspected chemical bomb they were looking for. The commissioner later emphasised that his force had not been “wrong” to act, but only because officers had not found what they were looking for. “The raid itself I am perfectly content was justified and the raid was carried out extremely well by the Metropolitan Police, ” he added.

Spooks who faced redundancy after the IRA decided to take Tony Blair at his word about wanting to peacefully resolve the conflict on this island are now rubbing their hands in anticipation at the overtime as they eavesdrop on Mosques in Bradford. The rules of evidence are as they were for the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four. It is ethnic guilt. “Innocent until proven Islamic” is totally understood with the Moslem communities in Britain. In the Irish communities there in the 70s it was also understood that we were all guilty. For sure you could put yourself in the frame by becoming “involved”. You could raise your profile, you could wear an Easter lily, and you could discuss the north in your local. These things were best avoided. However, the Birmingham Six and Annie Maguire let every Irish person living in Britain know that being Irish was all that was needed to get you the best seat in the Old Bailey. The PTA terrorised the Irish community in England into silence.

Now MI5 and the Branch have new victims to use General Kitson’s method’s on. That this state repression will radicalise a whole swathe of Moslem youth in England’s cities is beyond doubt. What is also not in doubt that the military industrial complex needs action like this.

It thrives on a “threat” If the threat isn’t up to scratch then it has to be embellished. After the attacks on 7/7 the threat is clearly real and the anger felt by those young men was clearly connected to the British role in the middle east. What Tony Blair would genuinely fear isn’t suicide bombers on London buses, but the mobilisation of the Moslem vote in British cities in the way that the Irish vote played a role in the Home Rule crisis over a century ago. George Galloway’s legacy maybe to have instructed Moslem Britain of their real power, the power of their votes. A Moslem civil rights movement would create far more difficulties for Blair and his Scottish heir than the killing of commuters. Blair’s own travel plans does not seem to have been disrupted by the dastardly plot. The statement from Downing Street about Blair’s itinerary and his fore knowledge doesn’t appear to add up. Downing Street had said Blair did not know the raids would be launched on Wednesday night, so felt safe to fly to Barbados the day before. Why then did he believe the surveillance operation was sufficiently significant to brief George Bush about it the previous Sunday? Timing is everything.

If this latest, much larger, batch of young Moslems are also released without charge do not think that the operation was a failure. The operation terrified England. In that Al Qaida and the Blair government are on the same side. A scary thought.

Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion