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Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Ruling Class Loves Terrorism So Much They Married It

In their article for the New York Times ("Tracing Plots, British Watch, Then Pounce") Philip Shenon and Neil A. Lewis report on the differing methods and styles employed by British and American police agencies in monitoring, detecting and breaking up supposed terror cells.
The disclosure that British officials conducted months of surveillance before arresting 24 terrorism suspects this week highlighted what many terrorism specialists said was a central difference between American and British law enforcement agencies.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said, “Our philosophy is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible because we don’t know what we don’t know about a terrorism plot.” One of the reasons for the different strategies, according to the piece, is that the Brits benefit from "a greater store of foreign-language speakers, giving British authorities greater ability to infiltrate conspiracy groups."

However, some report a growing shift in American surveillance policy.
John O. Brennan, a former official of the Central Intelligence Agency who set up the government’s National Counterterrorism Center two years ago, said in an interview that he had been involved in a number of recent cases — most of them still classified — in which the F.B.I. had placed suspected terrorists under surveillance rather than rounding them up.
Brennan said that "...over the past two years, I think the bureau has become much more adept at allowing these operations to run and monitor them.”

The recent arrest of seven alleged terror suspects in Florida would suggest as much. The Feds worked an informant into the supposed cell, going so far as to misrepresent himself as an al-Qaeda operative and finally suggesting the plot itself. When agents made their raid, they turned up no bomb and little in the way of evidence.

According to the LA Times,
The indictment suggested they never came in contact with anyone from Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. The only materials they received during the seven months they were monitored by an undercover informant appear to have been six pairs of boots and use of a digital video camera.

"You want to go and disrupt cells like this before they acquire the means to accomplish their goals," U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said at the federal courthouse in Miami, flanked by two dozen federal, state, county and local officials involved in disrupting the alleged plot.
Disrupting or creating? In an age in which terrorism has become in many ways the foundational myth of the post-9/11 era propagated by the American and British ruling classes, we ought to be very skeptical of police agencies claims of disrupting terror cells. Said another way, what may appear in one light to be the infiltration for purposes of disruption may in fact be infiltration for the purpose of propagating terrorism and, with it, the logic of ruling class domination.

Take, for instance, the story that broke in August 2001 detailing the infiltration by British agents of Real IRA bomb cells. British agents, it turned out, were integrally involved in the plot. According to the Scotland Sunday Herald,
Security forces didn't intercept the Real IRA's Omagh bombing team because one of the terrorists was a British double-agent whose cover would have been blown as an informer if the operation was uncovered.

The security forces were forced to hope that their agent would provide them with intelligence to ensure that the bomb would go off without casualties. In the event, due to blundered telephone warnings, 29 people died on August 15 1998.
But it wasn't the first time that British security forces had been involved in terrorism against the British people. The Times of London reported in March that in the 1990's the British police agency, MI5 (with help from the CIA), provided the IRA with "detonators, later used by terrorists to murder soldiers and police officers."

The infiltrator, Kevin Fulton, spent more than a decade in the IRA, building bombs and participating in assassinations for them.
Fulton, a married Catholic now in his forties, was serving in the army when he was recruited by military intelligence to infiltrate the IRA. He later worked for the Force Research Unit, a covert branch of the Intelligence Corps set up to infiltrate paramilitary groups.

For 13 years Fulton was an IRA terrorist, involved first in courier runs, later as a driver and enforcer, and finally as a master bomb-maker in a unit in Newry, Co Down, credited with numerous advances in explosive technologies. “I was recruited as a serving British soldier,” he said. “I was in the Royal Irish Rangers. I agreed to go into the IRA as a soldier.”

Security sources have said Fulton was implicated in numerous bombings and shootings, allegations on which he declines to comment. He has said his handlers knew the nature of his role but ignored his warnings of forthcoming bomb attacks, including the Omagh atrocity, which killed 29 people in 1998.
This last point is interesting, because it offers us a glimpse into the shadowy world where counter-terrorism and terrorism merge and which ought to give us pause whenever officials trot out allegations of terrorism or supposed successful disruptions of terrorist cells. Neither may be what it seems.

The line between disruption and enabling is a thin one, often crossed by police agencies operating in the murky and very political world of terrorism and counter-terrorism. As Fulton himself told the Times, "You cannot pretend to be a terrorist. I had to be able to do the exact same thing as the IRA man next to me. Otherwise I wouldn’t be there.”

The Fulton case provides evidence of infiltration by security forces that, while under the guise of disruption, in fact represents state-sponsored terrorism, or what intelligence agencies call "false flag operations" - the carrying out of terrorist acts by the state in the name of official enemies for the purposes of political control, manipulation or discrediting opponents.

As for the bomb technology Fulton provided the IRA? Later, it passed into the hands of Iraqi insurgents who, ironically, used it to bomb British troops occupying Southern Iraq. According to the Independent:
The soldiers, who were targeted by insurgents as they travelled through the country, died after being attacked with bombs triggered by infra-red beams. The bombs were developed by the IRA using technology passed on by the security services in a botched "sting" operation more than a decade ago.

This contradicts the British government's claims that Iran's Revolutionary Guard is helping Shia insurgents to make the devices [my emphasis].

The Independent on Sunday can also reveal that the bombs and the firing devices used to kill the soldiers, as well as two private security guards, were initially created by the UK security services as part of a counter-terrorism strategy at the height of the troubles in the early 1990s.

According to security sources, the technology for the bombs used in the attacks, which were developed using technology from photographic flash units, was employed by the IRA some 15 years ago after Irish terrorists were given advice by British agents.
While we're at it, it's worth remembering a story that seems to have been forgotten by the major media, all too eager to repeat uncritically the latest government pronouncements on terrorism. In September 2005, Iraqi police arrested two undercover British agents, dressed as Arabs and driving a car filled with explosives and weapons.

What were they doing there? Given the British history we have discussed above, there is reason to be skeptical, especially given the determination the British showed in retrieving them from the local hoosgow, raiding the jail with dozens of tanks and hundreds of troops. One month later, the senior British military police officer charged with the investigation was found hanged in his room. The British appear to have been running a false flag operation aimed at implicating the Iranian government in terrorist operations in Basra.

But we've seen this in the US as well. Looking back at the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, it's worth remembering that Feds had an infiltrator in that cell as well. Their man, Emad A. Salem, was employed by the agency allegedly to keep tabs on the group. At least some sections of the FBI were aware of the plot to bomb the tower and at one point, Salem was supposed to substitute a harmless powder for the explosives. However, at the last minute, a new FBI supervisor came on the scene and blocked the action, thus allowing the plan to go forward "live" with tragic results.

Unknown to his FBI handlers, Mr. Salem, an Egyptian immigrant, secretly recorded many of his conversations with agents. Writing in the New York Times, Ralph Blumenthal quotes Salem saying to an agent, "Do you deny your supervisor is the main reason of bombing the World Trade Center? We was handling the case perfectly well until the supervisor came and messed it up, upside down."

Blumenthal cites transcripts of the conversations Salem had, which were entered as evidence in the WTC bombing trial. In this section, he is talking to an Agent Floyd about his frustration at having his warnings ignored, which he felt was directly responsible for the success of the bombing.
"Since the bomb went off I feel terrible. I feel bad. I feel here is people who don't listen." Ms. Floyd seems to commiserate, saying, "hey, I mean it wasn't like you didn't try and I didn't try."

In an apparent reference to Mr. Salem's complaints about the supervisor, Agent Floyd adds, "You can't force people to do the right thing."
Indeed, there are patterns that often emerge in large terrorist operations like these, and bureaucratic and seemingly unexplainable roadblocking is one that recurs again and again. Is it a case of incompetence, or is it something more sinister? Knowing what we know about the history of intelligence service-sponsored terrorism, there is certainly at least cause to doubt government claims of vast al-Qaeda networks of terror bent on complicated and spectacular acts of terrorism. At least some government involvement seems obvious in many of these crimes.

Of course, more likely it is a case of overlapping interests. No doubt Britain, for instance, is a hotbed for jihadist sentiment. Intelligence services for years have been referring to London derogatively as "Londonistan" because of the prevalance and British support for Islamic militant groups in the city. Interviewed after the September 11th attacks on Al-Jazeera by a BBC reporter, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi put it this way:
QADAFFI: (Qatar, Tripoli, October 25, 2001)

"I am actually puzzled. I mean, if America were serious about eliminating terrorism, the first capital it should rock with cruise missiles is LONDON."




London. It is the center of terrorism. It gives safehousing to the terrorists. I mean, as long as America does not bomb London, I think the US is not serious... London is far more dangerous than Kabul. How could it rock Kabul with missiles and leave London untouched?
In an Washington Post article Sunday, writers Kevin Sullivan and Joshua Partlow report that
Britain's long tradition of tolerance has made it an oasis for immigrants and political outcasts from around the world, with its large influx of Pakistanis and other Muslims leading to the nickname Londonistan. Especially during the 1980s and 1990s, Britain became the refuge of choice for scores of Islamic radicals who had been expelled or exiled from their home countries for their inflammatory sermons and speeches.

More than any other country in Europe, Britain is struggling to cope with a surge in recruits and supporters of radical Islamic networks, according to interviews with British Muslims, and European and British counterterrorism officials and analysts. Officials said the threat is growing much faster than British authorities had expected or planned for.

"The U.K. is at the forefront of the wrath of extremists," said Magnus Ranstorp, terrorism researcher for the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.

The British security service, known as MI5, disclosed last month that it had about 1,200 Islamic militants under surveillance who were considered capable of carrying out violent attacks. Peter Clarke, the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism branch, said police were engaged in 70 separate terrorism investigations, the most ever. "This is unprecedented and the flow of new cases shows no sign of abating," Clarke said. "If anything, it is accelerating."
Like many countries in the region, Britain has failed to deliver on it's promises to immigrant and British Muslims.
Despite the prosperity of some Muslims, statistics released by the government earlier this year showed that unemployment rates were higher among Muslims than for any other religion. Among Muslims aged 16 to 24, almost 28 percent were unemployed, compared with about 12 percent of Britons overall in that age group. Many here argue that isolation and disenchantment among young Muslims provides a fertile environment for extremist groups recruiting new members.
Further, the special policing focus on the community has bred further resentment and disillusionment with British society.
Still, many young Muslims believe they have been unfairly targeted by police. Scotland Yard released statistics on Friday showing that 1,047 people had been arrested under the Terrorism Act between September 2001 and the end of June. Of those, only 158 were eventually charged with offenses covered by the law. Officials did not say how many of those arrested were Muslims. But Muslim officials have complained that the vast majority of those arrested were Muslims, and that the low number of people charged suggests that most of the arrests were unwarranted.

Many Muslims have been especially skeptical of the police since last summer, when officers shot and killed an innocent Brazilian electrician they mistook for a terrorism suspect. Then in June, police conducted a massive raid in the Forest Gate neighborhood of East London and arrested two brothers they suspected of preparing a chemical attack on London. Police shot one of the brothers during the raid and later released the men with an apology, saying officers had acted on incorrect intelligence.

In East London on Friday, many people said that the police track record made them skeptical that the 23 suspects still in custody were guilty. "They said this was intelligence-driven and we have seen intelligence of the British," said Hamza Qureshi, 20, a student.
There is no doubt that London, for a variety of reasons, has become fertile ground for jihadist ideas. Interestingly, the Sunday Mirror reported on the 13th of August that one of the alleged plane bomb plotters had been the victim of a brutal racist attack in the months before his arrest in which the perpetrators were never apprehended. His neighbor, Akin Salusu is quoted saying, "Shamin was very down after the incident. He became very close to his religion."

Still, the question remains, to what extent are British intelligence services actively manipulating and infiltrating such cells - and to what ends? Are the alleged bombers sophisticated plotters or manipulated patsies? We know, for instance, that the alleged mastermind of the London bus and subway bombings of 7/7, Haroon Rashid Aswat, was a British MI6 asset, who was under their protection for some time. And it seems clear that there was at least some police collaboration in those attacks, which shouldn't be very controversial since it's consistent with past operations. The hard to believe coincidence of terrorism drills running on the London subway on the very same day, at the very same time and running an almost carbon copy scenario of what actually happened, combined with the strange police manipulation of bus number 30 raises more than a few questions.

The man named by police as the alleged mastermind of the newest plane plot, Matti-ur-Rehman, was reported by the Sunday Mirror "to have a 'Rolodex of terror' containing details of tens of thousands jihadi fighters who have passed through al-Qaeda's training camps in the region." Given those kinds of connections, and using the case of Aswat as a precedent, one wouldn't really be going out on a limb to suggest that such a Rolodex would include British MI5 and MI6 agents.

After all, British operational co-operation with al-Qaeda was as recent as the attack on Serbia and the enlistment of al-Qaeda support for the Muslim Kosovo Liberation Army. Writing in 2003 for AsiaTimes.com, K Gajendra Singh said that
[t]he Jerusalem Post reported in 1998 that KLA members, like the Bosnian Muslims earlier, were "provided with financial and military support from Islamic countries", and had been "bolstered by hundreds of Iranian fighters or mujahideen ... [some of whom] were trained in Osama bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan".
The SF Chronicle reported in July 2004 on the rise of militant Islam in Britain and the potential for police collaboration on shared goals.
Syrian-born Bakri, whose group's Web site often carries statements purportedly by Osama bin Laden and advocates support for al Qaeda activities, has lived in Britain since 1985, after being deported from Saudi Arabia. Police and intelligence organizations number his adherents between 300 and 800. He has bragged about recruiting young Muslim men to fulfill "religious obligations" by doing three months "military training" in such battle zones as Afghanistan, Chechnya and the Balkans. Since the Persian Gulf War of 1991, he has named British Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair as "legitimate targets."

Bakri claims the protection of a "covenant of security" under which he is left alone as long as he does not sanction attacks on British soil. Security forces deny that such an arrangement exists.
It's hard for us to say whether such an agreement actually exists - or whether it perhaps exists with some sections of the intelligence service but not others - but it wouldn't be terribly outside the realm of historical precedent. After all, according to the old saying, "Britain supports all revolutions except her own." As in the case of Haroon Rashid Aswat, the relationships for co-operation existed in this case between British intelligence and Al-Qaeda. One of the alleged wannabe bombers worked at Heathrow Airport, a job that required police clearance.

The Sunday Mirror reports that British MI5 agents did a secret "sneak and peak" break in at one of the homes of the most recent alleged plotters ten days before the arrests.
Using lock-picks, the spooks carried out the extraordinary "sneak and peek" raid. They found liquid explosives and detonators and false-bottomed bottles in a shed at one of the London addresses.

The agents then retreated, leaving no evidence of the break-in. But they were convinced the would-be bombers were serious about their plan to blow up nine planes, so they left hidden listening devices to gather vital evidence and MI5 upped their surveillance operation.
Of course, one doesn't have to be a conspiracy nut to realize that a sneak and peak can just as easily plant evidence as document or remove it. Remembering that the Feds in the WTC plot of 1993 had originally planned to swap out explosives ought to remind us that police agencies at least consider such operations. It is interesting that despite the sneak and peak at this point we still have not been told about the exact type of explosives the bombers planned to use. It might be worth remembering the arrest not so long ago of several Canadian Muslims in a RCMP terror sting. It turned out that the explosives - several tons of fertilizer - had been provided by the government through an informant planted in the group.

Indeed, while a NBC report on August 13th provides further cause for skepticism, it also sheds some futher light on the different strategies used by American and British agencies.
A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

The source did say, however, that police believe one U.K.-based suspect was ready to conduct a "dry run." British authorities had wanted to let him go forward with part of the plan, but the Americans balked.
Which raises the question, were the Brits really intending to break up the cell, thus preventing the attack? Or was their wait and see attitude perhaps more darkly motivated? Certainly, given what we know about past British police agencies' complicity in domestic terrorism there is fair reason for skepticism.

Was the plot a genuine manifestation of the political and social situation in Britain? Or were state security forces manipulating the group, either hoping the attack would take place or, as in the case of the arrests in Florida and Canada, so that the government could "foil it" at a time of their choosing, thus reminding us of the ongoing war on terror, our continuing vulnerability and, therefore, the continuing validity of the 9/11 myth and the need for the elite's police state.

Indeed, it wasn't long after the bust that Bush trotted out that old familiar mantra in his radio address on Sunday:
"This plot is further evidence that the terrorists we face are sophisticated and constantly changing their tactics. We must never make the mistake of thinking the danger of terrorism has passed. This week's experience reminds us of a hard fact - the terrorists have to succeed only once to achieve their goal of mass murder, while we have to succeed every time to stop them."
The Democrats quickly chimed in with their uncritical support. Echoing the President's words, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor spoke for the party in their weekly radio broadcast.
"My fellow Democrats and I believe our government must do more to protect Americans at home and around the world. We also understand there is no time to waste. Five years after 9/11, our country is not as safe as it needs to be or should be. More needs to be done."
Clearly, whatever the case, the elite class has wedded itself to terrorism as the defining element of the 21st century and the key to their ongoing power. It's usefulness to them is broad, spanning policing, white supremacy, jingoism, ongoing war, imperialism and technological development, among others. It's not too far of a leap to believe that under those conditions they would actively support its growth.


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