Daily archives: June 29, 2007

Bombs and the Great Wen

London is an extraordinary, teeming, multicultural metropolis. It is a great hub of international finance, politics and intrigue. Extraordinary things have happened in London throughout my adult life. Beneath the surface events are bubbling which most Londoners neither know nor understand.


An Italian banker, custodian of Vatican money and secrets, is found swinging under Blackfriars Bridge. Businessmen purchase seats in the national legislature simply for payments of cash. A Bulgarian dissident is killed with a tiny ricin pellet injected from an umbrella. A Brazilian electrician is executed by police on the London underground. The dismembered torso of a small African child floats down the Thames. The country’s most flamboyant businessman, a lawmaker, steals his workers’ pensions and leaves for a yacht cruise. Muslim lads from Yorkshire kill themselves and 67 people on public transport. Etonian mercenaries plan coups in Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea before finding respectability and the jackpot in Iraq. A Russian defector is poisoned with polonium and dies a slow horrible death. Politicians and civil servants concoct a dossier of lies to provoke a war. A girl is arrested for reading out the names of the dead at the Cenotaph, and a man for carrying Vanity Fair outside Downing St. A small black child bleeds to death in a tenement stairwell. Gays die as a nail bomb rips through a pub. The IRA run a long, slow war of death and attrition. Every year, scores of people simply disappear. Homeless people curl up like bundles in neon-lit doorways.

Two remarkable things happened in the last two days within half a mile of each other, at either end of Piccadilly. One, the car bomb, you have probably heard of. The second you probably haven’t.

This is a straight reproduction of a small article from The Metro newspaper, Friday June 29, 2007

“Mossad Spy” Found Dead

An Egyptian financier accused of spying for Israel has been found dead outside his London home in mysterious circumstances. Ashraf Marwan was alleged to have worked for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad during the 1973 Yom Kippur war with Egypt and Syria. He was accused of tipping Israel off about the war. Police said “He appears to have fallen from a balcony. The death is being treated as unexplained.” The 62 year old son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser was found on Wednesday in St James’s, Central London.

The fact that these two incidents are less than ten minutes walk apart does not make them connected. They may or may not be. But I note this, and the list above, to help those who have difficulty imagining that there is any need to consider any possibility other than Islamic terrorism to explain the apparent Haymarket car bomb. Astonishing things do happen in London.

A good rule is to look at what did happen, not what might have happened. Consider this:

a) Nobody committed suicide. Rather than follow Scotland Yard’s Peter Clarke and speculate that was because the driver lost his nerve, let us admit that it is at least possible that nobody was intended to commit suicide. If suicide was not part of the modus operandi, that vastly increases the number of groups and individuals who might have been responsible.

b) No bomb exploded and nobody was killed. There seems a general presumption that was because the trigger failed, or was defused in time. That is possible, certainly. It could well be so. But there is another possibility that cannot be ruled out yet – perhaps the thing was not meant to explode, perhaps no-one was meant to be killed. Perhaps it was meant to look like a convincing bomb, even like a convincing failed bomb. If you accept that as a logical possibility, that would bring in even more individuals and organisations who might have been responsible. To be up for a bomb scare is very different to being up for a bomb.

Let me be quite clear again: Islamic extremists may very well be responsible. I am not saying they are not. I am saying nobody knows yet. But let me expand a bit on my Cui Bono theme.

There are plenty of companies – and wealthy individuals – making huge amounts of money from both the War on Terror and its equally ugly sister, the War in Iraq. There has been much speculation that Brown will edge away from both of these. If British troops were to withdraw from Iraq, for example, that could reduce the access currently enjoyed by companies, including Aegis and BAE, to billions of dollars of US government contracts for arms and mercenaries. These companies make money out of killing. Death is their business. Today’s car bomb – and the immediate media presumption it is Islamic terrorism – certainly forces Brown further into the War on Terror. The fact that the Iraq war is the root cause of an upsurge of terror in the UK, strangely does not negate the surge of political support for the War that this sort of incident brings as a reflex reaction from our leaders.

I am not saying it was Aegis or BAE. I am saying don’t be one-eyed about the possibilities. Look at the list of amazing things in London above. Do I really believe that there are wealthy people in London who would stage this sort of thing to protect or further their financial interests? Yes, I do.

It could well be Islamic terrorists. That remains the most probable explanation – but by no means the only possible explanation. It could have been a preparation for an attack on tomorrow’s Gay Pride march. Mossad? Why not? We just don’t know yet. There is also of course the possibility that whoever planted it has tried to make it look like another group, by planted forensic evidence or disguising the driver. Presumably we will see CCTV footage of the driver shortly.

I am also saying that I have first hand experience of the fact that governments lie about who plants bombs. See my posting on Lockerbie below. Read pages 325 to 339 of Murder in Samarkand. Or read Darkness at Dawn by David Satter, or The Quiet American by Graham Greene.


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London Bomb – Cui Bono?

Whoever was behind the apparent car bomb in London, it almost certainly wasn’t the police explosives experts who made it safe, and we should acknowledge the heroism it takes to do that job.

Peter Clarke, the Met’s anti-terrorism point man, gave a press conference claiming he was not going to speculate, but then doing everything he could to indicate it was an Islamic plot. He referred to other recent cases, including the Barot case, in which night clubs were mentioned as targets, and the use of gas canisters in cars discussed. The one bit of modus operandi pointing another way – the fact it wasn’t a suicide bomber – he was at pains to explain away by speculating that the driver had lost his nerve.

Of course the last time a nail bomb was actually exploded among clubbers in Central London, it was by a homophobic fascist. So it is right to keep an open mind. But whoever did this, the only people who can possibly benefit are the vast and ever-burgeoning security industry of all kinds, and those who want discord between the Islamic World and the West. Unfortunately, the extremists on all sides are strengthened by this incident.

Brown had already made plain he supports further anti-civil liberties legislation. This produces just the kind of febrile atmosphere in which that can be done. The television news is already pushing 90 day detention without charge again.

I am adding this para in response to blogs attempting to say that I am claiming the bomb was planted by the State. I have not changed the above, and plainly it does not say that. In fact, I think that is one of the least likely explanations – in terms of the British State, at least. I have no idea who planted it. I am saying we should not leap to the conclusion it was Islamic fundamentalists. It could be, or it could be other extremists, or interests, who benefit from the War on Terror. The Cui Bono test throws up a number of possibilities.

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Reading through Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, and accepting his definitions, confirms that I am a Deist rather than a Theist, Atheist or Agnostic. Except I have days when I go agnostic. I will blog about Dawkins another day.

I mention God because I have no way to prove what I am going to tell you now. I would swear any oath to its truth, but that might not convince you. Actually, I have nothing much left to me now but my reputation for honesty, and nothing to gain by sticking my neck into this one.

From late 1989 to 1992 I was the Head of the Maritime Section of the FCO and No 2 in the Aviation and Maritime Department (for those into FCO arcana, the Maritime Section was headed by a Grade 5 First Secretary and the Aviation Section by a Grade 6 First Secretary). This was the period of the invasion of Kuwait and first Gulf War, in which the Maritime Section, including me, mostly got picked up and deposited in an underground bunker as the FCO part of the Embargo Surveillance Centre. We did intelligence analysis on Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement and organised interdiction worldwide.

In this period I mostly lived in my underground bunker, quite literally, and didn’t get back to the FCO much to keep an eye on the rest of my section. On one occasion when I did, I was told something remarkable by a colleague in Aviation section.

At this time we suddenly switched from blaming Iran and Syria for the Lockerbie bombing to blaming Libya. This was part of a diplomatic drive to isolate Iraq from its neighbours in the run-up to the invasion. Aviation section were seeing all the intelligence on Lockerbie, for obvious reasons. A colleague there told me, in a deeply worried way, that he/she had the most extraordinary intelligence report which showed conclusively that it was really Syria, not Libya, that bombed the Pan Am jet, and that the switch was pure expediency.

I asked if I could see the report, and my colleague declined, saying this was too sensitive and dangerous; the report was marked for named eyes only. That in itself was extremely unusual – normally we would pass intelligence reports freely to each other, signing the register for them.

That is all I know. I never saw the report myself, and I do not know what it said, or why it was so conclusive. I am sorry to say it was such an incredibly busy time, we never discussed it again. I do not know, for instance, whether the intelligence contained an actual admission the charge aganst Libya was fake, or merely evidence that proved Syria did it (a communications intercept, for example). I suspect it will never be made public.

But the knowledge has remained with me ever since, and I was extremely sorry at the conviction of al-Magrahi. I do hope his appeal is successful. I am particularly impressed at the upright stand of Dr Swire and other victims’ representatives on this issue.

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