Tuesday, November 14, 2006

UK nuclear attack?

Why are the British authorities scaring the hell out of the Brits?

This morning in the Guardian we have the headline Al-Qaida plotting nuclear attack on UK, officials warn

This follows unprecedented remarks by head of MI5 last week who said that there were at least ‘30 active plots to attack Britain’, including nuclear attack.

How do they know that some evil mastermind is plotting to nuke London? “An awful lot of chatter" on jihadi websites, apparently, expressing the desire to acquire chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

‘An awful lot of chatter’ is not enough reason to scare Brits witless in this way. I mean, what can ordinary Londoners do about such a ‘threat’? Maybe we should be alert for Muslims carrying large bundles of uranium on public transport?

I can only imagine that the government will be unveiling more restrictive laws in the coming days, and that MI5 wants an increase in funding. Whatever, this is an irresponsible way for the UK authorities to carry on. All it is doing is further ratcheting up the fear.

10 comments:

georgesdelatour said...

Simon Jenkins wrote an article in The Times exactly one week before 7/7, arguing that the threat of a terrorist attack in the UK was all hype. I hope you aren't reuted in the same way.

georgesdelatour said...

Err, that was "refuted".

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Harry said...

Georges: perhaps we can agree that the threat is 99% hype?

For example no scientist anywhere has been able to explain how it might be possible to blow up a plane using explosives you've cooked up in the plane's lavy using liquids smuggled aboard in a can of red bull and a mineral water bottle. No military mind (or person with more than half a brain cell) has been able to explain how stationing armoured vehicles outside the terminal buildings at Heathrow would have stopped terrorists from using stinger missiles to shoot down a plane on its final landing approach.

Anonymous said...

1. The Guardian misquoted the speech. The word used was 'aspirations', not 'plot' or 'plan', so blame the media for acting irresponsibly and ratcheting up fear. Aspirations are just that, and not a current imminent threat. However, people have at least twice (9/11, August 2006) had 'aspirations' to fly planes into buildings, so I suppose it was just as well they were ignored too, right...

2. Do you think the head of MI5 might, just, as a professional with umpteen years experience, possibly, perhaps, maybe be better qualified than you to comment on the terrorist threats to the UK? Just a thought. If you lived in the UK and used the Tube everyday, including on 7 July last year, perhaps you would be more inclined to accept there are reasons for what she said. Or perhaps all that does not sit comfortably with your idealism and being nice to everyone?

Renegade Eye said...

It is not a new idea, that an interest group create a scare, to get funding.

During the tsunami in Asia, groups were falsely saying pedophiles, are running rampantly around, collecting children. It was a ploy for $$.

sonia said...

I think you're beating up the wrong horse here. Whatever a governments can do in 'ratcheting up the fear' pales in comparison with what an actual attack would do. I prefer to live in a World where the government scares me with its over-protective hysteria, and the terrorists don't, than vice-versa...

Top Cat said...

But so many warnings from the government about terrorist attacks really wares you out. Plus you get too many and people stop taking them seriously.
In the US, our government says that if they learn something, they're gonna to tell us. That way, at least we were warned. I think this is true too. It beats not knowing anything.

Euronet 2010 said...

Anonymous wrote: "Do you think the head of MI5 might... be better qualified than you [Harry] to comment on the terrorist threats to the UK?"

Yes, but not necessarily more honest or truthful. "Just a thought," as our condescending anonymous friend might say.

beatroot said...

Of course, George, anytime I write about the terrorist threat being exaggerated in the West I know that I run the risk of waking up the next day to one of those occasional ‘spectaculars’ from the latest bunch of suicide freaks, But I take the risk because I know the odds that happening and loooooong.

We have seen from that Bart guy who got 40 years in prison in the UK recently that there are fantacists with beards running around the place making wild and crazy plots (he never came even near actualizing any at all).

But I repeat: why announce a ‘possible nuclear attack’ not once, but two in the space of a few days? What possible use can we put that information to? And even if I believed that this was likely, what can I do about that? Nothing.

The MI5 has grown in number by 50% since 9/11. But it is chronically under funded. So she’s pushing for more. New Labour are champing at the bit to get longer time to keep suspects without charging them. Etc.

But the cost of these statements (and there is always an ‘opportunity’ cost to everything) it is the fear that they put into people. And the fear of terrorism is much more powerful than the thing itself.