Why won’t they stop them all? Because they didn’t take the threat seriously, and still don’t. Because they lack, and have rejected, a conceptual apparatus that would allow them to see that jihadists who are a “French problem” are also a British problem — in other words, they refuse to face the sources, meaning, and implications of the jihad ideology, despite its being the patent and self-avowed motivation of the terrorists themselves. Because they persist in assuming without any evidence, as does Tony Blair, that the vast majority of Muslims in Britain are on their side, and that those who are not involved in any overt terrorist activity must eschew such activity and believe it to be evil.
From The Telegraph, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
‘We will not stop them all.” Eliza Manningham-Buller’s frank admission that further attacks by Islamic extremists are unavoidable is alarming and depressing.
Whose fault is it that “more resources” were not in place sooner? Even after its recent expansion, MI5 still has only 2,500 officers working for it.
By contrast, the Government has allocated 3,500 civil servants to try to sort out the problems with implementing Gordon Brown’s system of tax credits.
Of course, it is true that MI5 received from the Treasury all the increases that it asked for. The question is: why did it not ask for more?…
MI5 did not take the threat from Islamic radicals as seriously as it should have done, even after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
One officer who works on MI5’s Islamic desk spoke to The Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity.
He explained that “during the 1990s, MI5 reduced its ‘international terrorist’ desk significantly.
The then director general refused to apply the term “terrorists” to Islamic radicals whom other governments had told us were involved in terrorism.
So, for instance, the Algerian radicals involved in bombing the Paris Metro, who settled in London, were not regarded as terrorists by MI5. They were seen as a French problem, not a problem for the UK.
It drove our counterparts in France to distraction – as it did the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians, all of whom were among the governments which alerted us to the fact that there were Islamic extremists involved in terrorism living in London, and who were using Britain as a base for plotting terrorist operations.
They warned us that by not co-operating with them, we were storing up terrible problems for ourselves.
“That is exactly what happened. MI5’s policy during those years was astonishingly short-sighted.
“We let Islamic terrorists raise funds in the UK, and fund their terrorism abroad from the UK. We let them broadcast their terrorism-inciting poison from the UK. It has to be seen as part of the background which led to 7/7.”
MI5’s failure to recognise the threat posed by Islamic terrorism at the end of the 1990s is the best explanation of its inability to prevent the bombings on July 7, 2005. More than any other factor, it explains the organisation’s lack of experienced officers to track terrorists in the period leading up to 7/7.
And even after September 11, 2001 – what another MI5 officer has termed “the ultimate wake-up call” – MI5 still appears to have been slow to realise how great a threat the Islamic extremists in Britain were. Abu Qatada, who arrived in Britain seeking asylum in 1993 and was allowed to stay, was called “the spiritual leader of al-Qaeda in Europe” by a Spanish judge.
He would later be termed “a very dangerous individual” by a British one. Qatada was left alone by MI5 in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
It would later transpire that at least three of the 9/11 hijackers had been influenced by him: 18 videotapes of his sermons were found in the apartment they frequented in Germany.
Yet one MI5 officer told this newspaper in October 2001 that Abu Qatada was a “joke figure” – a description he also applied to Abu Hamza, the preacher who turned the Finsbury Park Mosque in London into a centre for Islamic radicalism. Hamza has now been incarcerated.
“The problem in the UK and in Europe is fundamental,” says Andrew McCarthy, an American federal prosecutor.
“[The problem] is that you haven’t recognised that you are at war. You continue to treat Islamic terrorism as if it were a problem of law enforcement. It is not. You are not dealing with criminals.
“You’re dealing with an enemy who is at war with you, and who wants to destroy your society. So long as you treat them as if they are ordinary criminals who should be put through the courts, you will not be able to deal with them effectively. The process of the criminal law will hamstring the security agencies in their efforts to frustrate terrorism.”
That is an extreme judgment, and one not yet generally shared within MI5. But everyone in the organisation accepts Dame Eliza’s judgment that it will not succeed in preventing every attack.
The question that should concern everyone, however, is this: what can be done to increase MI5’s success rate?
That question is not addressed by the ISC report, nor by simply accepting that MI5 can never provide 100 per cent security against terrorism.
Until the Government takes it seriously, we’re going to suffer more terrorist outrages, more deaths and more injuries from terrorist bombs – of the preventable variety.
McCarthy is right. It is astonishing that so long after 9/11 his observations are not accepted as axiomatic.