by Gerry Foley / August 2005 issue of Socialist Action newspaper
Some weeks after the bombings of London mass transport, it is more and more questionable whether the bombers were the agents of a professional
operation. The British police have now admitted that the explosives used were of a type that can be made by amateurs from easily available chemicals. In the attempted second wave of bombings, on July 21, the
detonators failed to go off, and the would-be bombers were quickly apprehended.
The most likely scenario is that the bombers were simply young people made desperate by the discrimination against people of color in Britain who
have originated from predominately Muslim countries, and whose bitterness was exacerbated by the imperialist outrages against the Iraqi, Afghan, and
They were probably inspired by the example of al-Qaida, which has come to be seen by many people of Muslim culture as an example of resistance to
imperialist arrogance. And al-Qaida has set a pattern of indiscriminate killing of people, not sparing even of Muslims. (Obviously, any bombing of a crowd in London transit would be bound to hit Muslims as well as Christians, given the cosmopolitan population of the British capital.)
Whatever the bombers thought they were doing, however, their action was blind and perverse and could only exacerbate the evils against which they likely thought they were protesting. It did not expose the cruelty of the imperialists and it could hardly threaten them. The rulers of Great Britain and the United States are not worried about the slaughter of dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of their citizens. They would sacrifice millions for the sake of their greed and power.
The bombings only made victims of racism and imperialist oppression appear to be as ruthless as their oppressors. This crime was in part against the very people the bombers apparently thought they were representing. And precisely these people are suffering the worst consequences of their action.
The British Guardian reported on July 26 the results of a poll it did, in conjunction with the ICM polling company, in the wake of the witch hunt unleashed by the British authorities after the London terrorist bombings that showed about two thirds of the country’s Muslim population are considering leaving the country.
In fact, it is unlikely that there will be a mass flight. British Muslims number 1.6 million and most of them have deep roots in the country, as did most of the accused perpetrators of the bombings themselves. But the poll results are a testimony to the unease felt by Muslims in the security scare that has followed the terrorist attacks.
Police and soldiers are being heavily deployed in public areas, especially around public transport. This is despite the obvious fact that no conceivable police or military deployment could stop the sort of actions that took place July 7 and 21.
Moreover, some of the police raids in Muslim areas allegedly in search of terrorist suspects have been extremely violent. The Guardian has pointed out, quite reasonably, that a much more effective means of stopping terrorist attacks would be to get a better idea of what is happening in the Muslim community and get the cooperation of the Muslim public. But the tactics of the government seem most likely simply to cause a very justified fear, which is more effective in intimidating the public than in preventing terrorism.
The British security forces are now following a “shoot-to-kill” policy toward people who act suspiciously. It has already resulted in the fatal shooting on July 22 of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian who was totally innocent of any harmful intent but fled from the police—probably out of fear since he had overstayed his student visa.
In its July 31 issue, The Guardian reported: “It emerged yesterday that the Met’s [Metropolitan Police Authority] guidelines for confronting bombers allow armed police, in some cases, to fire a ‘critical headshot’ without even challenging the individual to stop, if it is feared an explosion is imminent. Until
now, it has been assumed that suspects would be given a chance to surrender.”
The Guardian/ICM poll revealed that one in five British Muslims have suffered mob attacks on themselves or a member of their families in the terrorist scare following the July 7 and 21 bombings. The Guardian’s article on the poll results noted: “Police have recorded more than 1200 suspected
Islamophobic incidents across the country, ranging from verbal abuse to one murder in the past three weeks. The poll suggests the headline figure is a
More than two thirds of the respondents to The Guardian /ICM poll thought that discrimination against people of Asian origin in Britain was a factor
motivating the bombers.
There has been extensive commentary in the British press pointing out that the bombers were a problem created by racism and unemployment in Britain, not by al-Qaida. The British rulers undoubtedly know this and
they know that a similar, if more diffuse, rage and frustration extends to white British youth as well.
That suggests they are using the terrorist scare to create an atmosphere of police surveillance and intimidation to try to deal with that problem as a whole, and not to simply prevent Islamist strikes.