The Terrorist Follies: Part One (The UK)
As reported in a series of articles in the British newspaper, The Guardian, a perfect example of this is the "Forest Gate Terror Raid" that took place last week, June 2nd, in the UK. During this raid, British police were responding to a "tip" that a pair of terrorist brothers were building a "poison vest" to attack the people of England with (it seems that ever since the "shoe bomber", people think that Q of James Bond fame is working with Osama Bin Laden in a secret cave, concocting all sorts of bizarre terrorist bombs).
As the The Guardian reported on June 3:
The raid on an east London house in which police shot a man yesterday was carried out because intelligence suggested that a viable chemical or biological weapon could be inside, according to counter-terrorism sources.
More than 250 officers swooped on the house in the early hours, after a two-month surveillance operation led by MI5. Security sources say the timing of the raid was dictated by fears that an attack on a British target using an unconventional weapon could be staged soon. The shot man and a man believed to be his brother were arrested under the Terrorism Act.
True to form, the police didn't find any evidence of terror despite their lengthy two month investigation. Again, as reported by The Guardian on June 5th:
Counter-terrorism officials conceded yesterday that lethal chemical devices they feared had been stored at an east London house raided on Friday may never have existed.
To make matters worse, police conduct during the raid (shooting a man without warning, needlessly roughing up innocent bystanders) was unnecessarily violent and may lead to legal action against the British government:
Yesterday a family detained by police during the raid also denied any involvement in terrorism activity and said it was considering legal action. In a statement, the family, who lived in the terrace adjoining the brothers' house, said they 'would like to make it clear that we are completely innocent and in no way involved in any terrorist activity'.
The family, reportedly four adults and an eight-month-old child, said that police had questioned them for 12 hours before releasing them without charge on Friday afternoon. They added in a statement: 'We would like to express our deep shock and anger at the operation that took place. My family members and I were physically assaulted. I received serious head injuries that required hospital treatment. We are liaising with our legal team on the course of action to take.'
And in fact, the shoddy police work and overly aggressive detainment of the suspects and of the innocent bystanders, not to mention the 250 police rampaging through the neighbourhood, have managed to strain relations between the police and the Muslim community in the UK:
The leader of Britain's biggest Muslim organisation today warned that the east London terror raid could severely damage the relationship between the Muslim community and the police.
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, urged police to give "clear details" about the raid on a house in Forest Gate in the early hours of Friday morning.......
Dr Bari, who visited residents and businesses in Forest Gate yesterday, said the community was angry, confused and frustrated about what had happened.
"People want to know what exactly happened and about the intelligence - is it genuine information, is it flawed? These are the questions police have to answer as soon as possible," he said.
Dr Bari said trust between the community and the police could break down if the questions were not answered.
Clearly, the whole thing was a disaster from start to finish. No terrorists were captured, millions of pounds of the budget for anti-terror activities were lost, tensions between the Muslim community and the police have escalated, and people were needlessly frightened by the police beating their chests about another deadly terror plot that could kill hundreds, if not thousands. All of this could have been avoided by more careful investigation, better vetting of the "intelligence" that led to the raid, and a more restrained approach to the police entry into the suspects' home and the detainment of the suspects.
Given the total failure of the raid, one would think that the British government would reassess its anti-terror policies to ensure that mistakes such as this are minimized, but no, British Prime Minister Tony Blair went out of his way to defend the police and their response. Again, as detailed by The Guardian:
Tony Blair yesterday defended the police decision to raid an east London house after receiving intelligence that a chemical device might be stored there for use in a terrorist attack.
In an interview, the prime minister discounted talk of a backlash among Muslims after the raid by 250 officers found no device and led to a man being shot.
As George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". Maybe Tony Blair, George Bush and Stephen Harper should start taking some vitamin pills to improve their short-term memories before things get any worse.