Terrorism trivia

My previous post on terrorism, here, received an anonymous comment that intrigued me a little:

Our public servants, our politicians and the media are now the most prolific terrorists in the land, keeping a swathe of the population in terror at all times. Constant repetition does bring on terror fatigue, so a near miss (real or imaginary) or an actual event does nicely to stoke the fires.

Time to do a little time line analysis of terror events vs media terrorism? What is the half life of the average terrorist scare?

I was going to get on Google and do a little research on actual incidents and scares but I found a list had already been compiled here.

It doesn't include media stories like the one on my original post but it does include stories of arrests without charge that amount to the same scaremongering tactics.

It also includes all the IRA attacks, which were numerous. I didn't concentrate on those because the country was not up it's own arse in the times of the IRA. I stuck to the "Al-Qeada" incidents since 2000.

There have been four actual attacks.
The first being the July 7 bombings in London
The second was a series of letter bomb attacks. This was not Islamic terrorism, but a man who wanted to highlight the rise of the surveillance society. He target companies he believed were part of the problem.
Third was the 2007 Glasgow airport attack where the hapless driver of a jeep loaded with propane managed to set himself on fire.
And finally a bombing in Exeter in 2008 that injured only the perpetrator.

As for aborted or foiled attacks, there were six, most relating to police seizing bomb making equipment.

All in all, that isn't a lot compared with the constant hype of terrorist dangers we get every day. Does that mean there is a real threat but the British police are very good at what they do? Not according to the list of arrests under the counter terrorist acts.

There are 17 high profile incidents on the list. Out of these, 11 resulted in no charges being brought, all charges being dropped or the defendants being found not guilty in court.

They include:

# 2003 5 January: Wood Green ricin plot, where police arrested six Algerian men accused of manufacturing ricin to use for a poison attack on the London underground. No poison was found,

# 2005 22 July: The Metropolitan Police tracked Jean Charles de Menezes onto a train and shot him seven times in the head at close range, because they thought he was a suicide bomber.

2005 28 July: David Mery arrested at Southwark tube station on suspicion of terrorism for wearing a jacket "too warm for the season" and carrying a bulky rucksack. All charges were dropped on 31 August. [30] It took four more years for the police to apologise for the "unlawful arrest, detention and search of [his] home". [31]

2005 28 September: 82-year-old Walter Wolfgang was ejected from the Labour Party Conference under the Terrorism Act 2000 for shouting "nonsense", and possibly "that's a lie"

2008 14 May: The Nottingham Two were arrested and detained for six days under the Terrorism Act 2000. A postgraduate student had downloaded a 1,500-page English translation of an Al-Qaeda document from the United States Department of Justice website for his PhD research on militant Islam. He sent it to a friend in the Modern Language department for printing. Both were cleared of terrorism-related offences, but the friend was immediately re-arrested on immigration grounds

2008 14 September: Oxford graduate Stephen Clarke arrested after someone thought they saw him taking a photograph of a sealed man-hole cover outside the central public library in Manchester. He was arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, held for 36 hours while his house and computer were searched, and then released without charge. No photographs of man-hole covers were found.

Added to that, 150,000 uses of stop and search per year with a 0.035% arrest rate.

There are also many more arrests under the terrorism acts that have not been high profile enough to make the msm or have been suppressed from the media all together.

To add a bit of perspective, going back to the 30 years previous to 2000, the list includes 50 IRA attacks. Some of these are described as a campaign of bombings but are just recorded as one incident.

That's 1.6 high profile attacks per year by the IRA and 0.4 from Al-Qaeda (My maths here is very crude) yet the freedom of the people was never taken away during the campaign of the IRA, largely conducted under a Conservative government.

The conclusion I come to is that Britain is at very little risk from Islamic terrorists. Only one well publicised incident, 7/7 has served to change the way Britain "deals" with terrorists.

However, Britain is at serious risk from within. The Government and police have changed from fighting terrorists through active police work and intelligence gathering, to severely curtailing the freedoms of the people and treating them all as suspect.

I would rather keep my freedom and live under the threat of terrorist than give it all up in order to feel a bit safer. Although looking at some of the above, I'm not sure I feel safe from our own security services.

(In answer to Anons musings, 6 months. More later)

2 Comments:

Smoking Hot said...

Bucko said...