Terrorism and Nuance 934

There is no question to which the answer is to wander round killing people. It takes a few words or keystrokes for any right thinking person to condemn the killings in Paris today. But that really doesn’t take us very far.

It is impossible to stop evil from happening. Simple low tech attacks by individuals, a kind of DIY terrorism, cannot always be pre-empted. If you try to do so universally, you will end up even further down the line we have gone down in the UK, where people are continually arrested and harassed who have no connection to terrorism at all, often for bragging on websites. These non-existent foiled terrorist plots are a risible feature of British politics nowadays. Every now and then one hits the headlines, like the arrests just before Remembrance Day. Their defining characteristic is that none of those arrested have any means of terrorism – 99% of those arrested for terrorism in the UK in the last decade – possessed no weapon and no viable explosive device.

In fact the only terrorist in the last year convicted in the UK, who possessed an actual bomb – a very viable explosive device indeed, was not charged with terrorism. He was a fascist named Ryan McGee who had a swastika on his wall and hated Muslims. Hundreds of Muslims with no weapons are locked up for terrorism. A fanatical anti-Muslim with a bomb is by definition not a terrorist.

I am assuming that the narrative that Charlie Hebdo was attacked by Islamists is correct, though that remains to be proved. For argument, let us assume the official narrative is true and the killings were by Muslims outraged at the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

It is essential to free speech that it includes the freedom to offend. That must include the freedom to offend religious belief. Without such freedoms, the values of societies would freeze. Much social progress has caused real anguish and offence to some people. To have stopped Charlie Hebdo by law would have been wrong. To stop them by bullets is beyond any mitigation.

But that doesn’t make the unfortunate deceased heroes, and President Hollande was wrong to characterise them as such. Being murdered does not make you a hero. And being offensive is not necessarily noble. People who are persistently and vociferously offensive are often neither noble nor well-motivated. Much of Charlie Hebdo‘s taunting of Muslims was really unpleasant. That they also had Christian and other targets did not make this any better. It is not Private Eye – it is a magazine with a much nastier edge. I defend the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish whatever it wants. But once the shock dies off, I do hope a more realistic assessment of whether Charlie Hebdo was entirely admirable or not may be possible. This in no way excuses the dreadful murders.

The ability to say things that offend is an important attribute of a free society. Richard Dawkins may offend believers. Peter Tatchell may offend homophobes. Pussy Riot offended Putin and the Orthodox Church. This must not be stopped.

But that must cut both ways. Abu Qatada broke no British laws in his lengthy stay in the UK, but was demonised for things he said (or even things newspapers invented he had said). Most of the French who are today in solidarity for freedom of expression, are against people being able to express themselves freely in what they wear. The security industry who are all over TV today want to respond to this attack on freedom of expression by more controls on the internet!

I condemn, you condemn, we all condemn, and so we should. But the amount of nuanced thought in the mainstream media is almost non-existent. What will now happen is that conservative commentators will rip individual phrases from this article and tweet them to show I support terrorism. The lack of nuanced thought is a reflection of a general atmosphere of anti-intellectualism which has poisoned public life in modern western society.

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934 thoughts on “Terrorism and Nuance

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  • Mary

    Mystérieux « suicide » du policier chargé de la connexion Charlie Hebdo-Jeannette Bougrab

    Exclusif. Panamza a recueilli le témoignage troublant de la famille d’Helric Fredou, commissaire de police chargé de rédiger un rapport sur l’entourage familial de Charlie Hebdo et retrouvé mort d’une balle dans la tête quelques heures après l’attentat.


    Corporate media blackout.

  • Mary

    Watch before video disappears! shows Coulibaly with tied hands, no weapons shot down & killed

    Posted by MikeD on January 18, 2015, 12:36 pm

    ….shows Coulibaly with tied hands containing no weapons shot downand killed when he could easily have been captured.

    Charlie Hebdo: Report from Europe
    Paul Craig Roberts
    Here is a video of the execution of Amedy Coulibaly. It is a German website with the actual live French video of the police assault on the deli. There are three videos. The first one repeatedly shows Coulibaly with tied hands containing no weapons shot downand killed when he could easily have been captured. It is as if the order was to make sure that there is no live suspect whose story might have to be explained away. The first video also repeatedly shows the execution in slow motion.
    Commentary in French accompanies the video.

    also can’t see how all the gunfire didn’t break the glass windows! ? nm

    Posted by MikeD on January 18, 2015, 12:40 pm, in reply to “Watch before video disappears! shows Coulibaly with tied hands, no weapons shot down & killed”

    Re: also can’t see how all the gunfire didn’t break the glass windows! ? nm

    Posted by gloriousrevolution on January 18, 2015, 1:17 pm, in reply to “also can’t see how all the gunfire didn’t break the glass windows! ? nm”

    It’s disturbing. One special forces soldier enters the supermarket. Then a stun grendade seems to explode inside which would have both deafened and blinded Coulibary. Coulibaly is deliberately shoved into the doorway. His hands appear to be tied at the wrists and a machinegun hanging loosely at his back. The police then immediately open fire on him, execution style.

    Medialens Message Board

  • Je

    If he was executed then that would make the coverage about him killing hostages in they say “cold blood” ironic. I haven’t been following the detail that closely but it seems the hostages he killed were ones who tried to sieze one of his guns and kill him. If they hadn’t done that they would all have survived.

    For some reason they never label drone operators as killing in “cold blood”.

  • Clark

    I’ve watched the videos on the page Mary linked to very closely, and saved copies of them. I dispute MikeD’s commentary, and the spoken commentary on one of the videos.

    There is a flash like an explosion, and immediately a man appears to come running towards the door of the store, where he apparently stumbles and falls through. His hands are together, possibly as if tied, and an object that could be a gun falls away as if it had been hanging from his shoulder. He is immediately gunned down by armed officers.

    I see no sign that he was “shoved”. It seems more likely that he was running from the area of the explosion. The glass “windows” (doors actually) were drawn back before the metal shutter was raised, but you can see that they do get damaged. Officers on the left of our view were unobstructed in their firing because the glass doors retracted to the right. Officers on the right presented their shields to the glass of the doors, thus gaining a little cover while they took position to fire past the doors into the store.

    The second video has commentary in an Australian accent. This commentary is highly misleading and I find it offensive.

    This second video shows an armed officer using a small black car for cover as he fires into the store. The commentary says that this must be fake, as he’d be firing at the backs of armed officers closer to the store. But the same black car is visible on the other videos, where we can see that the officer’s position behind the front of the car grants an ideal unobstructed firing line into the store between the two closer groups of officers left and right.

    The Australian commentator is contemptuous of the officers and calls them “idiots”. This is a pathetic insult of those people who risked their lives performing their duties for the public. In particular, the one officer who first entered the store must have had exceptional courage and deserves great respect.

  • Clark

    Mary, I think you should distance yourself from this sort of nonsense. Those officers were just doing their jobs; many people had already been killed in the recent incidents, including four people in the store. Those officers were serving the public, and they must have been terrified.

  • Mary

    This comment has been added.

    Re: Watch before video disappears! shows Coulibaly with tied hands, no weapons shot down & killed
    Posted by Poster123 on January 18, 2015, 3:28 pm, in reply to “Watch before video disappears! shows Coulibaly with tied hands, no weapons shot down & killed”

    Witness claiming one of the attackers had blue eyes ?!!;


  • Macky

    Stop being a condescending arse Clark, and watch the video.

    The woman speaking is not the witness, but a journalist who interviewed the witness; my French is pretty poor, but the gist of that I think I understood, was that the witness was a female, at whom one of the gun men aimed his weapon at her face, and she recall that he had startlingly very BLUE eyes; the point being the two brothers were definately not blue-eyed.

    Just a guess, but perhaps this female witness is the one who was forced to let them into the building.

  • Clark

    Macky, I had watched the video. My comprehension of French is also poor. I didn’t know that the brothers did not have brown eyes. I’d rather you didn’t insult me.

    OK, so it’s a matter of possible misidentification. Thank you.

  • Macky

    Clark; “so it’s a matter of possible misidentification”

    That’s some conspiracy theory ! That a witness who was face to face with one of the killers, stared into his eyes, was struck by how vividly blue they were, yet because the official narrative is that the brown-eyed Kouachi brothers were the killers, it’s all due to a simple “possible misidentification” ! By whom, the authorities perhaps, as I don’t think a person would forget the face of somebody pointing a gun into their face !

    (Your “advice” to Mary was both very condescending & rude, so don’t play the innocent victim)

  • Macky

    Interesting Je, but I don’t think these studies hold any relevance in a situation of staring into the eyes of somebody pointing a gun into your own face.

  • Je

    Macky – yeah they do. I’ve just been reading this one (the hunting for bears bit is particularly interesting)


    Its easy to imagine a mechanism here. Blue is everyone’s favourite color. Big bright blue eyes is practically an idiom. The eyes strike her during the attack… but she doesn’t think “blue eyes” at the time. Its later on she’s thinking about it… and decides they were blue…

    I just made that up… its just ideas… but the mind doesn’t just store events. When we relive them we reinvent them too… add bits.. make choices about what things were.

    One witness say eyes another color – not enough.

  • Je

    Hunting for bears from that link:

    “Two men in their mid-twenties were hunting for bears in a rural area of Montana. They had been out all day and were exhausted, hungry, and ready to go home. Walking along a dirt trail in the middle of the woods, with the night falling fast, they were talking about bears and thinking about bears. They rounded a bend in the trail and approximately twenty-five yards ahead of them, just off the trail in the woods, was a large object that was moving and making noise. Both men thought it was a bear, and they lifted their rifles and fired. But the “bear” turned out to be a yellow tent, with a man and a woman making love inside. One of the bullets hit the woman and killed her. When the case was tried before a jury, the jurors had difficulty understanding the perceptual problems inherent in the event; they simply couldn’t imagine how someone would look at a yellow tent and see a growling bear. The young man whose bullet killed the woman was convicted of negligent homicide. Two years later he committed suicide. “

  • Clark

    Macky, I would never intentionally be rude to Mary; I have great respect for her and all the effort she’s put into years of activism. My criticism is of the misleading commentary overlaid onto videos linked to in the article she quoted.

    There are masses of such nonsense on the Internet, generating industrial quantities of red herring and sparking pointless debates that distract from the core issues. I’m working on a comment about those, but it takes considerable time to really clarify what I’m trying to say. Meanwhile, I find it shameful to see the time and effort of Mary and of others like her wasted and discredited by idiots such as that Australian commentator on the second video.

  • Clark

    I’m thinking of suggesting the term “Saudi Wahhabist extremists” as a more informative and accurate replacement for “Islamic extremists” – any help with this would be appreciated.

    Many of us here oppose the extremist and paramilitary attacks plaguing the people of Syria, but when those same extremists and paramilitaries attack in Paris, many rush to label them “false flag”. It really doesn’t help to clarify thought on the matter.

    To understand how such violence is generated, please read the articles linked below concerning Saudi Arabia, remembering that the Saudi monarchy is allied to both Israel and the “Western” UK/US powers:





  • Je

    Blue eyes are about 3 times more popular. Google results:

    “blue eyes” 48,300,000

    “brown eyes” 17,900,000

  • Macky

    Thanks Je, still highly skeptical though, your made-up scenario might have had some traction if the woman was recalling an event from some time ago, but surely not on the following day !

    The bear story has barely any relevance at all 🙂

    Of course I don’t discount that you can still be right on this.

    I’ve just read this, which mentions another woman, Sigolène Vinson, so now there’s a choice of two;


  • Clark

    I find the quality of discussion on this matter to be depressingly simplistic. Consider how matters have progressed:

    1) An atrocious massacre is committed in Paris, against civilians working for a minor corporate media publication which seems to specialise in offensive material. The perpetrators seem to be, to use the most widespread term, “Islamic extremists”.

    2) Various major corporate media organisations go into overdrive, declaring the incident a “war on freedom of speech”.

    3) A widespread public meme arises; “Muslims done it!”

    4) A knee-jerk reaction follows; “No, it was False Flag”.

    My first objection is to the use of “Islamic” in “Islamic extremists”; a term effectively popularised by the corporate media, and unfortunately accepted by those who do not support that media’s dominant narrative. Its use inevitably gives rise to point (3) above.

    Regarding point (2), the corporate media claim to be speaking on behalf of the public, but no mention is made of their self-interest in this matter. Just exactly whose free speech are they standing up for? Certainly not mine.

    By the time we reach point (4), we’re hopelessly caught up in the double-bind inherent in the dominant narrative. Unless we start postulating “false flag”, the crime is attributed to Islam itself, and we get these ridiculous calls that all “Muslims” be required to denounce the actions of four criminals, as if all “white people” should apologise for the crimes of Anders Behring Breivik.

  • Clark

    Unless conclusive proof emerges, it really doesn’t matter whether the Charlie Hebdo attacks were “false flag” or not. Someone was prepared to commit that atrocity, and they seemed to be acting towards the same objectives as those Saudi-Wahhabists who are in reaction to official Saudi-Wahhabism.

    Can you see the problem with language here? Wahhabism is the official, state-sanctioned “religion” of Saudi Arabia (it’s not a religion, it’s a tool of political oppression). Millions of people are brutalised and degraded by this system. So a small minority react against it and become “opposed” to it. But both sides are still “Wahhabists”.

    How incredibly convenient for the NeoCons. Wherever these extremists crop up, another NeoCon war becomes justified, or more NeoCon state surveillance, or more NeoCon drone strikes. You never hear the NeoCons criticise Saudi Arabia, do you? Nor even mention it for that matter.

    And the manufacturers of high-tech armaments and surveillance technology and the post-war reconstruction companies just rake in more and more money.

  • Clark

    Mary is so close to hitting the bulls-eye. She frequently criticises the British royal family for visiting the Saudi monarchy, dancing round the crossed swords with them and then encouraging them to buy high-tech weapons systems from British companies. Mary clearly smells the rat, but can’t quite see it.

    The Saudi monarchy doesn’t produce these extremists directly, but it does so just as effectively by provoking opposition. The extremists thus produced are already well primed in Wahhabism, but the Saudi monarchy escapes all responsibility, as does the entire “Western side” (including Israel) that props them up.

    Given this background, I doubt that the recent attacks were “false flag” (whatever the “real” flags might be amid the overall confusion), and if secret services of any country were involved, or double or triple agents thereof, we’re unlikely to ever achieve conclusive proof. So I hate to see Mary and others running the risk of being discredited by linking to that idiot Australian, or the outpourings of those US gun-nuts claiming that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged.

  • Je

    Amongst the Islamaphobic attacks in France – a man is stabbed to death. In the UK London mosques are sent death threats and Prophet Mohamed drawings.



    Meanwhile, at the same time as going all out in the media against anti-semitism today the government appears to have zero to say about attacks against Muslims.

    Instead, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has written to Muslim leaders urging them to help “explain and demonstrate how faith in Islam can be part of British identity”. Why should they! Are Muslim leaders in this country responsible for anything in this? Imagine if we replaced “Islam” by Judaism in that sentence…


  • Macky

    Ok, after speaking with a French friend the explanation I was given was that the journalist in the video, Caroline Fourest made a “serious mistake” as she must have misunderstood; the woman being quoted is, Sigolène Vinson, who gave an account to Le Monde – 13/01/2015. Caroline Fourest made her comments before this account was published. In the Le Monde account, the killer discovered the hidden Sigolène Vinson after killing 10 people. She looked straight into his eyes and gazed at him because behind her under a desk was hidden another journalist and as he was a man, the terrorist would have murdered him. “I looked at him. He had large black eyes, a very sweet glance etc”. He was Saïd Kouachi. The title of her testimony : “Its” Charlie. Come quickly. They are all dead”.

    T haven’t tried to verify this account by cross-checking the quoted Le Monde account, as my French is not good enough, but if this is correct than we have to accept that yes, an experienced, well known journalist made such an inexplicable mistake due to a simple misunderstanding, which is quite possible, but still quite odd, as real life sometimes is.

  • Mary

    Just to say I am not disassociating myself from any of my posts, nor do I wish to get into any argy bargy for obvious reasons.

    I am very sceptical about the events in Paris as they were reported to us and prefer to keep an open mind. None of us will ever know the real truth in any case.

    The swill of Islamophobia that has arisen out of the attacks from European and our own pocket pols (May, Cameron and now the execrable Pickles) certainly gives food for thought.

    I have never felt so concerned as I am now about the threat posed by the US/UK/Zionist axis to world peace.

    Read Oded Yinon for the agenda. One’s suspicions are then confirmed that there is a master plan and they are half way there. A white European ersatz Jew is steering it. Whereas the Sephardic Jew, the true Jew, assimilates as they did 2000 years ago. And they know too that the Muslims gave them succour when strappado (Wiki – applied to Palestinians, as the Spanish did to Jews) and the rack faced them in Spain.

    “Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East
    The Infamous “Oded Yinon Plan”.
    Introduction by Michel Chossudovskywww.

    Scroll down to Yinon’s words as translated by Israel Shahak – a humanist

  • Clark

    Mary, I find myself feeling terribly sad. Have you come to doubt my integrity?

    I watched the videos closely. The Australian commentator misleads his audience. If he did so by accident then he should have made more effort and applied more care. But his error is clear to anyone who watches both videos.

    You once used the handle “Mary, for Truth and Justice”. I’m trying to ensure that you are not misled.

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