Yesterday morning - 90 minutes before the first bomb struck London - Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair was telling Radio 4 listeners that his force was seen as the ‘envy of the policing world in relation to counter-terrorism’. The terrorists have final responsibility for yesterday’s attacks but Sir Ian’s boast was not just untimely – it was ill-founded.
We all know that London is not as secure as it should be. We can all remember when Tony Blair was struck by purple powder during Prime Minister’s Question Time, then how hunt protestors successfully invaded the Commons chamber and how a rather plump Batman breached security at Buckingham Palace. It was only a matter of time before terrorists stepped into the shoes of pranksters.
Melanie Phillips uses her platform in today’s Daily Mail to highlight the many failures of British security.
Top of her list is our failure to police our borders. Labour recently admitted that half-a-million illegal immigrants are in Britain. How many of those are terrorists?
She also complains (1) that the Human Rights Act prevents the Government from incarcerating people who threaten us and (2) about Met political correctness that has caused pussy-footing surveillance of Muslim extremists. The article is well worth reading.
Also worth reading is this piece by Aaron Mannes on National Review Online. Mannes spotlights the weak response of the British authorities and contrasts that response with the French. He concludes:
”Perhaps the most telling example of Britain's inadequate policies towards Islamist terror is that of Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri. Having lost both hands and an eye fighting in Afghanistan and espousing vitriolic anti-Western rhetoric, Abu Hamza was a well-known figure on London media long before 9/11. He was wanted in Yemen for links to kidnappings of Westerners in 1998. Numerous figures linked to al Qaeda had worshipped at Abu Hamza's Finsbury Park mosque. Although British police raided his mosque in early 2002, he was not arrested until May 2004. His trial just started this week.
Considering the scale of Islamist activity in Britain and its role as America's leading ally in the world, the shock is not that that attack took place — but that it had not happened much sooner. Britain has long been in Islamist crosshairs. Heathrow had been targeted on 9/11, but the airport was shut down after the New York and Pentagon attacks. The apparent success of the Madrid bombing, both at creating mayhem and at influencing Spanish politics no doubt further inspired Islamists to attempt to hit Britain.
The attack on London is a terrible, bloody wake-up call that, unless the ideological and logistical infrastructure that supports terror is targeted, no one is invulnerable.”