Two muslim terrorists held under Britain’s controversial “control order powers”—an Iraqi with possible links to Al Qaeda and a British citizen likely connected to the London Underground bombings last year—have escaped, as Tony Blair’s government reluctantly acknowledged on October 16. Both were suspected of being linked to international terrorist groups, and, in a sane world, both should have been held under lock and key until the investigation into their cases was complete. They were granted theoretically supervised freedom under “control orders” instead, a device created in March 2005 after the Law Lords ruled four months earlier that the detention without charge of 12 foreign suspects in London’s Belmarsh prison was illegal.
Under this system, suspects are subjected to curfew in their residences, electronically tagged, banned from associating with certain people or using the internet, and may get unannounced visits from the police. The orders are intended to control the movements of suspected terrorists whose cases are unlikely to come to trial any time soon, mostly because the evidence against them would expose another ongoing investigation. Only 15 such orders are currently in force, 9 against foreign nationals and 6 against British citizens, although MI5 (Britain’s FBI equivalent) has identified some 1,200 individuals suspected of being involved in some form of terrorist activity. Six others were removed last spring, after the High Court ruled that they were “conspicuously unfair” and incompatible with the Human Rights Act.
An additional absurdity of the case is that the authorities refuse to disclose the names of the two suspects, even though, by violating the terms of their control orders, they have committed a criminal offense. Another is the emphatic assurance by a London-police spokesman that “every effort is being made by police to ensure no particular community is criminalized or victimized in any way.”
The only real reason the two escapees and most of the other 1,200 suspects are at large instead of serving long-term sentences in top-security jails is the refusal of the Blair government to change the law and allow “intercept evidence”—obtained from tapping phones and e-mails—to be made admissible in court. According to one frustrated law-enforcement official, “[T]here could be hundreds of hours of material in Urdu which need to be translated by MI5 translators [taking] months of work when these linguists are also needed on live operations.”
The case of two escapees provides a primer on how not to fight the “War on Terror.” Flawed laws and bizarre cultural assumptions have ensured that today’s England is a breeding ground for Muslim terrorists. In some ways, it is a hotbed more dangerous than even Pakistan: The jihadists are often British-born and educated, and the country’s ruling establishment insists on describing them as “Britons,” because such a designation has wonderfully multiculturalist implications.
It can hardly be otherwise in a country led by the man who declared that September 11 “was not the work of Islamic terrorists, it was not the work of Muslim terrorists, it was the work of terrorists, pure and simple.” Echoing the prime minister, two weeks after September 11, former Home Office Minister John Denham pledged to cut out the “cancer of Islamophobia” infecting Britain; declaring that “the real Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and understanding,” he urged the media to avoid promoting “a distorted or caricatured or prejudiced” view of Muslims. The director of public prosecutions, for his part, insists that the War on Terror must stop “alienating whole communities” in England. The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, went one better and blamed Britain’s role in the war in Iraq for the explosions that killed 56 Londoners in July 2005.
Top brass toe the line: When asked if the bombings were the work of Islamic terrorists, the Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Brian Paddick responded that the culprits “certainly were not Islamic terrorists, because Islam and terrorism simply don’t go together.” Paddick’s boss, Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, declared that “there is nothing wrong with being an Islamic fundamentalist.” They merely follow their political masters into a state of denial and willful self-delusion regarding the threat. The courts, for their part, routinely interpret the criminal, asylum, and terrorism laws in a manner damaging to the security of the Realm and favorable to the Islamic underground.
Meanwhile, that underground thrives in hundreds of mosques, state-supported educational institutions, and community centers. There are 200 after-hours Islamic schools all over Britain in which Muslim children start formal indoctrination in the “prophet’s” creed. That message, rooted in rock-hard certainties, very effectively overrides the tepid multiculturalist message of the state curriculum. Maintaining the loyalty of the Muslim diaspora in Britain has been the mullahs’ top priority, and the country’s rulers have facilitated their task.
With the Blairites in charge, T.S. Eliot may yet be proved right in his warning that the West would end, “not with a bang but a whimper.” Some decades earlier, in 1899, a 26-year-old Winston Churchill expressed hope “that if evil days should come upon our own country, and the last army which a collapsing Empire could interpose between London and the invader were dissolving in rout and ruin, that there would be some—even in these modern days—who would not care to accustom themselves to a new order of things and tamely survive the disaster.” Even his prescience could not envisage the possibility that “the invader” would have his friends and allies at No. 10 and London’s County Hall.
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