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"In a chilling lecture, she predicted waves of terrorist bombings, some involving chemical and biological devices, for perhaps generations to come."

If this is true, the 'containment' strategy MI5 advocates will become unfeasible. They seem to think that because it 'worked' vs the IRA (despite the murders of Mountbatten, Gow et al, not to mention several thousand others) it will 'work' vs Islamic terrorism.
It's true that the British people are incredibly tolerant and resilient, but IRA strategy was fundamentally different. The IRA had the capacity to kill large numbers of civilians in England, but for the most part chose not to do so. The only limitation on Al Qaeda is that they worry that killing too few civilians in any particular attack will immunise the enemy (us) from terror, the way we got used to IRA attacks in Northern Ireland, so they prefer only to attack when they cause vast numbers of deaths. Whenever they can, they will.

The IRA did not have the 'capacity' to kill large numbers of people. It had the capacity to murder the relatively small number of people the government tolerated it killing. Anyone who thinks that the government couldn't have shut down the IRA in a week, if it had put it's mind to it, has ignored a lot. That governments of both parties 'tolerated' the IRA thus is a disgrace. That our American friends encouraged this is equally so.

More to the Point, you are deluded. The suggestion that Lord Tebbit was any part of a government that tolerated the IRA is almost insulting.

The security services are doing an excellent job of containing al Qaeda but, thanks to our government, we are losing the war. Al Qaeda’s capability has not been diminished but our government has become ever-more authoritarian. While tanks at Heathrow may play out well in the tabloids, they do nothing to solve the political problem. If we continue as we are, I worry that eventually there will be an al Qaeda attack so atrocious that it will ignite a religious war against Muslims.

To actually solve the problem of al Qaeda it is imperative that:

1. moderate Muslims stand up against al Qaeda and protect their religion from being hijacked and perverted. The Labour government is ideologically inhibited in this respect, but government can and must take a lead in this;

2. we must understand that the West’s military might and our tendency to exercise it allow us to be painted as threat to Islamic peoples. The Iraq war budget spent on humanitarian aid would have had a greater, better result.

I must admit I hate that America phrase "homeland security". It is all a bit WWF for me.

Mark - I'm not so sure. I think successive governments were conscious not to give the republican movement any martyrs. Particularly after the Bobby Sands and death on the rock issues.

Government's largely ignored Northern Ireland. Why? I think a contributory factor was that neither Labour or ourselves elected MPs from there. We had no political stake in the country and were happy for gangsterism to take place. It was really only when the bombing came to London, Birmingham, Warrington and Manchester that notice was taken.

Mark Fulford,

There is not going to be any standing up to al Quaeda or to fundamentalist Islamic thought by moderate Muslims. Put the fantasy behind you.

You won't see any 'Just Say No' type campaigns I am afraid. This is not just because most of them would sensibly be far too scared to challenge these people but because violence runs through the heart of Islam. It is part of its warp and weft, part of its raison d'etre. It was developed as a weapon of war and tool of conquest and it has proved to be the most effective WMD in history.

Very few muslims will ever be co-opted into the struggle against Al Quaeda because Al Quaeda et al represent pure Islamic belief and culture as laid out by the most respected parts of the Koran and the hadiths. These beliefs (extreme as they seem) are actually mainstream in Koranic terms. It is 'moderates' who are the aberration and, by Islamic standards, are considered extreme and, in fact, apostate and worthy of death.

Why would any 'moderate' opt into that?

In response to your second point: Islam regards all non-Islamic thought and culture as an offence to itself and to Allah. Our existence is therefore a threat to Islam regardless of whether we decide to defend ourselves or not.

That is why the non-Islamic world is described as the Dar al Harb - the land of war. In Islamic thought and jurisprudence peace is only possible between Muslims and non-Muslims when the latter are conquered and pay tax to their overlords.

We must understand these facts and act accordingly. We may not be able to survive this war and maintain good relations with moderate Muslims. I know which I regard as more important.

"The IRA did not have the 'capacity' to kill large numbers of people. It had the capacity to murder the relatively small number of people the government tolerated it killing."

You're confusing 'capacity' with 'political will'. The IRA could have bombed the Tube if they'd wanted to. The UK government of the day was understandably unwilling to take the extreme measures (internment on the UK mainland? Sealing the Irish border?) that would have prevented the IRA's relatively limited campaign. If the IRA had chosen to kill as many English people as they could have, the UK govt's calculation would probably have changed.

Jonathan Mackie:
"Mark - I'm not so sure. I think successive governments were conscious not to give the republican movement any martyrs. Particularly after the Bobby Sands and death on the rock issues."

Yes, this was the containment strategy I alluded to. The British allowed the IRA to kill soldiers, politicians and civilians without retaliation because to retaliate would have strengthened IRA support, just as mass slaughter of civilians by the IRA risked weakening IRA support. The IRA were following Mao's precepts of insurgency warfare but were never successful in igniting a general war. Calculation in Al Qaeda's case is different on their side.

The comparison between the IRA and the current threat is not valid.

I regard ALL terrorism as morally repugnant, and would NEVER seek to defend the actions of the IRA. That would be an insult to their more than 3000 victims who died during their campaign. However, their aims and strategy were fundamentally different to those of Al Qaeda.

The IRA, though nominally a Catholic organisation did not seek to impose a religious state on anyone. Their aims were political - the unification of the island of Ireland under rule from Dublin. In the main, (and I need not be reminded of the exceptions such as the Birmingham Pub bombings or the Grand Hotel in Brighton) their targets were buildings, not people. Indeed, often (though again not always) they gave warnings to allow civilians to get out of the buildings. The above posters are correct - they could have caused MASSIVE loss of life on the UK mainline, but their strategy was not too. Most importantly, they did not seek to die for their cause. They weren't expecting the 72 virgins in the afterlife. I don't recall a single (intentional) IRA suicide bomber. There was no Roman Catholic 'mullah' calling upon IRA members to die for the cause.

Consequently, the response of British governments (of both parties) was not the same as the response to the current threat should be.

(I stress that I 100% condemn the actions of the IRA during their 30 year campaign. I do NOT defend it. I merely point out that the comparison with Al Qaeda is not a relevant one).

Lets get this clear...No one is going to trade their liberty and freedoms, enshrined for a thousand years, to this bunch of useless tossers, who are scare-mongering the country into the fait accompli of ID Cards and an even more repressive set of legislation against terrorism.
NuLab have had 10 years in power and despite the protestations of the Americans and the French did absolutely nothing about the Islamic radicals and their messages of hate.
Now that we have had 7/7, we have a raft of repressive legislation and we are supposed to lie down, roll over and take it up the Bourneville from this bunch of mendacious, corrupt.....(insert your own words).
David Cameron has a clear opportunity to show some statesmanlike policy options that will fairly deal with the issues, whilst pointing out the flawed Mid-East policy of Nu-Lab that has created much of the problem, coupled with their supine indifference to the Islamic radicals and the risk and danger that these people pose and posed to the population of the UK.
Carpe diem.

I think we have to be very clear that fighting terrorism and being free peoples are not mutually exclusive as Labour appear to be indicating. Indeed if we continue down the road of throwing away liberty and humanity we will make the world even more dangerous. Conservatives need to explain that by encouraging scoial responsibility along with freedom we make the world safer. We also unit voters worried about safety and those worried about liberty.


Patrick Mercer's proposals are:

"First, they need a single Minister of Cabinet rank who will oversee security in the round.
Next, our intelligence machinery must be streamlined along with the way that our police are organised to deal with counter-terrorism.
We need an effective force to secure our borders and to protect our energy sources and other parts of our critical national infrastructure.
Lastly, we have got to use our most precious anti-terrorist resource better. Every citizen can be trained to become a pair of eyes and ears that will frustrate the terrorist."

Excellent ideas but I would prefer to see co-ordinating all homeland security measures, not a politiciam but a person (or a team of people) experienced in crisis management, although that person would report directly to COBRA.
The remit would go far beyond terrorism and would take in contingency planning for pandemics, foot and mouth outbreaks, BSE etc.
What is needed are top class service personnel capable of reacting rapidly to crises, who can rapidly assess an evolving crisis and form an immediate response.
Who would you prefer: Sir Richard Dannatt or Tony Blair/Gordon Brown?
The latter would have to carry out a risk assessment of their own legacy before taking any action.

Actually it's not entirely irrational to fear the British state more than Al-Qaeda.

Look at the lying scumbags who have managed to worm their way into the present government, and how ready they are to abuse the power with which they've been entrusted. Who can be sure that over the coming decades or generations there won't be governments that are worse, maybe much worse?

Tired and emotional - sadly, you are absolutely right about Islam. It was started by a warrior, hiding from his enemies, hearing voices, which he then retold to his wife Khadija. He continued to hear voices, and continued to be a warrior.
Jesus Christ also heard voices - about peace and forgiveness.
Make your mind up time folks.

Spot on with your comments Annabel - and also Tired and Emotional! Sad but true - Islam is essentially an aggressive and expansionist faith. But the fact is that we have to find some way of peacefully co-existing - Islam is not simply going to disappear overnight. Just as in other faiths, there are the more "orthodox" and the more "liberal" - to use an analogy borrowed from Judaism! To foster good community relations we need to engage those of the more liberal persuasion and to encourage them to do what they can within their own community to encourage that peaceful co-existence.

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