The Complexity of Truth 11

I have now returned from Russia to Shepherd’s Bush.

This post started as a response to a comment by Bridget Dunne on the post below, who was concerned there may have been a miscarriage of justice in the fertiliser bomb case. My own view is that the fertilser bomb, 7/7 and 21/7 cases deserve to be discussed in a much more penetrative and complex way than is being done at present. I have a strong feeling that few on any side will agree with this posting, which is probably why I need to make it.

Bridget has a good point in that certainly the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four should make us very wary. I can now reveal that I went to the Old Bailey at the request of the defence to discuss giving expert evidence in the fertiliser bomb plot case.

In closed session, a representative of the security services had given evidence that, in no circumstances would we accept intelligence from the Pakistanti secret services if we thought it was obtained by torture. He was simply lying, which may be a point of appeal. In the event the defence did not call me.

My own view is that there was indeed a bomb plot here, but whether all five defendants were involved is another matter. I fear some might have been unfairly dragged into the net. There are also questions to be asked about apparent agent provocateur activity by the Pakistani ISI, a deeply complex organisation which contains its own jihadists, and its own anti-jihadists, either of which factions might have felt their interests served if an actual bomb had gone off in London.

But we should be wary of the attitude that there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism and that those convicted are always innocent. I think at least some of these were guilty, and MI5 and the police do indeed deserve a measure of congratulation.

I also accept that there is a great deal of truth in MI5’s defence on 7/7, that you simply can’t follow up on every lead. Bluntly, I would not want to live in the kind of Police State that could, and the logic of many of those posting on 7/7 failure would tend to lead us towards the kind of massive surveillance and intrusion of Karimov’s Uzbekistan. I have seen that, and believe me, we do not want more of it here.

The truth is also that it would require levels of pressure on the Muslim population that would lead to a still greater and justified feeling of oppression, and engender more terrorism in reaction. Let’s not head for vicious spiral country. On balance, MI5 and the police do a good job despite constant political spin, pressure and interference in their work. Hindsight is a wonderful thing; identifying cause is so much simpler once you actually have an effect.

But where the security services and police did go wrong was after 7/7, in repeated lies to the public, the media and parliament over how much they did know. It turns out not to have been true that these bombers “Came out of nowhere” and “Had not crossed the radar screen before”. This overly defensive reaction was perhaps understandable as a first instinct before all information could be collated from the files, but maintained far too long. Why? And how involved were the spin doctors?

There is material here which indeed needs public inquiry. But let it not be based on the notion that security must never “fail”. That is a false direction. Much more important is how to reduce the despair that drives young British people to contemplate desperate acts of violence. As has frequently been proven, the most important step that can be taken is to stop our blind support for the appalling Bush policy of aggression in the Middle East. In the bigger picture, the dead, maimed and bereaved of 7/7 should count as part of the Blair legacy.

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11 thoughts on “The Complexity of Truth

  • Roger Whittaker

    The point you make that "we should be wary of the attitude that there is no

    such thing as Islamic terrorism and that those convicted are always innocent" is an important one: I would say that anyone who doesn't accept that is not taking the discussion seriously. The fact that the fear of Islamic terrorism can be used for political purposes by the Government depends on that fear being a plausible one. This applies even if one suspects or believes that false flag incidents have taken place.

    I also agree with your comments about hindsight: however, in this case the

    "incompetence defence" does not look very plausible. There has been a cover up: the reason for the cover up could be to cover up incompetence, but it could be more sinister. The question of who benefitted from the events of 7th July 2005, while not decisive, is certainly pertinant.

    There are fine lines between infiltration, observation, agent-provocateur activity and actual direction of terrorist activity by the intelligence services.

    In the case of 7th July 2005, the means, motive and opportunity for a "let it happen" scenario are all present: most people dismiss the question out of hand because they cannot believe that our rulers and those who are paid to protect us could be so wicked. I'm afraid they could be wrong about that.

  • Tom Griffin

    "There are fine lines between infiltration, observation, agent-provocateur activity and actual direction of terrorist activity by the intelligence services."

    That was certainly true in the Pat Finucane case, which is why the Inquiries Act 2005 was brought in to give ministers control over the Finucane Inquiry.

    Presumably, any 'public' inquiry into 7/7 will be held under the same legislation.

  • cmain

    Shouldn't we also be wary of the attitude that anyone who dares to raise the possibility that there may have been a miscarriage of justice believes that "there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism and that those convicted are always innocent"?

    I agree completely that we should not go down the road of increased surveillance, particularly of the Muslim population, for the reasons you give.

    Tom Griffin is right that any 'public' inquiry under the Inquiries Act of 2005 is futile.

  • writeon

    I agree that "Islamic terrorism" is a fact, to argue anything else would be absurd, but is it "real" and is it a "threat" in any truly meaningful way?

    Now the loss of innocent civilian lives in a terrorist bombing is a terrible, wasteful, event; and all sensible people should condemn such, almost meaningless atrocities. Good, that's got that out of the way. In no way do I support terrorism as a tactic. On the face of it, it's also counter-productive.

    Did IRA terrorism work? Thirty years of bombs, shootings and killing. Or did people just, finally, get tired of the violence?

    Terrorism is a form of "warfare" almost exclusively used by the weaker part against the stronger. Palestinian "terrorism" could be "cured" overnight, if we levelled the playing field by supplying them with artilery, helicopters, fighter jets, and tanks!

    But how real is the perceived threat of "Islamic terrorism" really? In my opinion there is no real terrorist threat to our way of life at all. The whole thing is a sham. Given how many Muslim's we've blown up with our bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palistine, it's surprising we don't get attacked more often in pure, bloody, revenge. All this killing can't just be a one way street can it?

    For most of my teenage years, Britain's major cities were under "theat" from the IRA, but no one ever believed the IRA posed an existential threat to "our way of life".

    Then there was the Blitz. Bombs going off all over the place. Did this terror bombing of Britain's cities, night after night, cow our spirit or actually make us stronger and more determined to resist Hitler's dark forces?

    Compared to these previous threats, the plots by a handful of young Muslims seem almost pathetic. A few homemade bombs going off every couple of years in London, whilst terrible events in themselves, are not going to bring down the state. These attacks are more "irritating" than "threatening" when looked at coldly, calmly and without undue emotion. And surely this is the sensible attitude to adopt? We need to keep our heads and above all we musn't over-react.

    Terrorists often want us to over-react and thereby prove their thesis that the State is opressive and at heart, a brutal dictatorship when stripped of the veneer of "democracy".

    One could argue that the American response to 9/11 was the biggest over-reaction to a terrorist outrage in history. One is almost tempted to see Bin Ladin as a masterful and brilliant strategist!

    Unfortunately, the right-wing cultists around Bush, were just waiting for some excuse or pretext like 9/11 to begin their war to secure the American century and world domination.

    Our politicians in Britain seem to have decided to go along with this crazed project, no matter the cost. An awful lot of people are using this "terrorist threat" to get rich, get publicity and get power. Almost all aspects of a fully-funtioning police state are in place, and the demise of "democracy" could be closer than most of us would care to admit.

    But, the real threat to our way of life, doesn't come from these misguided and distrubed terrorists, the real threat comes from our political leaders who are milking and prostituting the situation cynically, in order to frighten us into accepting severe limitations on our liberty as the price for fighting terrorism and remaining "safe". At the same time these draconian measures also make the position of the ruling elite more secure, not against the terrorists, but against us, the people.

  • Craig


    You are of course right. It is vastly exaggerated as a threat and as a cause of death is actuarially insignificant. It in no way justifies – or requires – the attacks on our civil liberties. But it does still require best efforts by the police and security services.

  • The UK Daily Pundit

    Do you have evidence that evidence was obtained under torture? Not hearsay or conjecture from a disaffected ex-Ambassador. But the sort of evidence that would stand up in court. Because if you did, then surely you would have been called to give it.

  • Randal

    "In closed session, a representative of the security services had given evidence that, in no circumstances would we accept intelligence from the Pakistanti secret services if we thought it was obtained by torture. He was simply lying, which may be a point of appeal. "

    This is an important point that ought to be more widely known.

    The problem, as often the case when dealing with government lies, is in going from a general knowledge (however confidently held) of the falseness of a position adopted by a state functionary, to a specifically proven counter-example. A high standard of proof is required before the mainstream media or the courts will risk confronting the state on a security-related matter, and functionaries tend to word their lies carefully, so as to make them difficult to directly refute.

    In this case, for instance, if you have quoted the position correctly, the phrase "if we thought it was obtained by torture" leaves plenty of room for wiggling in the face of evidence that particular sources of information in the past had in fact been tortured.

  • blue_monday

    Spot the difference between this case from 2006 & the case under discussion.

    "A FORMER British National Party member has been accused of possessing the largest amount of chemical explosives of its type ever found in the country."

    If you noticed that they were charged under the Explosives Substances Act 1883 and not for terrorism award yourself 10 points.

    If you were unaware of this case until now don't worry too much, it failed to make it into the national press.

  • Craig

    Daily Pundit,

    I have a great deal of evidence that intelligence was – and is – collected under torture. In this particular instance, I do not know if intelligence was collected under torture or not. Nor did I say I knew.

    One of the defendants claimed information was given under torture in Pakistan. The security service representative stated that we would not accept intelligence from torture in any circuumstances. That is most certainly untrue, and I have a great deal of evidence on that.

  • JimmyD


    There's an interesting article here about the 'Islamic' threat to Europe judging by a recent report by Europol:

    Really interesting read. Craig, you should definately try and check it out.

    Anyway, my own view is scepticism, and I think alot of other people are sceptical too, like Bridget Dunne. Personally, I am convinced that 9/11 was definately a false flag event, and I think 7/7 was too. Check this film

    which shows that there were preplanned 'drills' and exercises at the same time, the same day, the same stations, and using the same scenario as actually happened on 7/7.

    So I am very sceptical and don't believe anything that the government professes.

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