London Bombings had nothing to do with Al Qaeda
April 9, 2006 4:31 PM   Subscribe

London Bombings had nothing to do with Al Qaeda - The official Government report into the July 7th bombings in London has concluded that the attacks were carried out on "a shoestring budget" and "with no direct support from al Qaeda", according to an article published in The Observer on Sunday. They instead were organized through "terror sites" on the internet. This is apparently not good enough for the Conservative opposition. "I find that very hard to believe," said Tory homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer. The lack of connection further reinforces ideas that Al Qaeda is nowhere near as widespread and organized as we are often led to believe.
posted by Acey (45 comments total)

 
same goes for Madrid
posted by Substrata at 4:36 PM on April 9, 2006


This is in keeping that Al Qaeda is really more of a brand name than an organization.

So this might have been Al Qaeda "brand" terrorism but not Al Qaeda organized terrorism.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 4:39 PM on April 9, 2006


Film at 11.
posted by fire&wings at 4:41 PM on April 9, 2006


Al Qaeda is nowhere near as widespread and organized as we are often led to believe

yes. some people that i'm too lazy to look up right now are doing a good job of covering it. link.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:44 PM on April 9, 2006


The tactic of contradicting whatever the Government says is starting to look stupid.

"What do you mean there are no WMDs? Have you looked hard enough?"
posted by Acey at 4:46 PM on April 9, 2006


The BBC documentary called The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear should be seen by anyone who wants to understand the dynamic of immediately hyping these events as AlQaedaTM brand terrorism, followed months later by some retraction that no one notices. Alas, it's not on DVD, but if you get the chance to see it, don't miss it.
posted by digaman at 4:47 PM on April 9, 2006


al qaeda really only exists these days in the minds of easily-fooled white people.
posted by wakko at 4:49 PM on April 9, 2006


Digaman: I agree, it was a superb documentary and shed some light on the situation. See the "ideas" link for more about it.
posted by Acey at 4:49 PM on April 9, 2006


robert fisk on democracy now on friday makes the case that zarqawi is a bogeyman - who had been dead for some time.
posted by specialk420 at 4:53 PM on April 9, 2006


Nothing to do with Al Qaeda, but according to the UK Security Services, motivated by the Iraq war.
posted by 999 at 4:54 PM on April 9, 2006


Concur on "Power of Nightmares".
posted by stbalbach at 4:56 PM on April 9, 2006


"I find that very hard to believe," said Tory homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer.

Cue Maxwell Smart....
posted by JHarris at 4:57 PM on April 9, 2006


Yup Power of Nightmares is a very interesting documentary that one can find on the interwebs with a little looking around.
posted by elpapacito at 5:09 PM on April 9, 2006


This is in keeping that Al Qaeda is really more of a brand name than an organization.

indeed. just wanted to repeat. al Qaeda = brand name.
posted by destro at 5:11 PM on April 9, 2006


Alas, it's not on DVD, but if you get the chance to see it, don't miss it.

You can download it for free, here:
http://www.archive.org/details/ThePowerOfNightmares
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 5:29 PM on April 9, 2006


The Power of Nightmares was available on archive.org for a while; it shouldn't be too hard to find. It's as good as everybody says.
posted by muckster at 5:29 PM on April 9, 2006


Thanks mr.curmudgeon and everyone else. I've been dying to see this one more time.
posted by Acey at 5:42 PM on April 9, 2006


"al qaeda really only exists these days in the minds of easily-fooled white people."

So are you saying that the certificate of membership, the ID card, the secret decoder ring and the spy scope they sent me was all part of some scam?
posted by 2sheets at 6:00 PM on April 9, 2006


Did they use myspace? It wouldn't surprise me if religious fanatics were organizing themselves on it here in the US.
posted by delmoi at 6:04 PM on April 9, 2006


It's not even that Al Qaeda=brand name-- for this, or for Madrid, or for Bali, etc---these people weren't even franchisees.

Our invasion and occupation of Iraq has directly caused the rise in incidents, and until things are set right (which would be never, i fear) we'll be seeing many more--and none of them will be Al Qaeda. Every day that we remain in Iraq we're generating future incidents--every death of an innocent person, every bombing of a mosque, every child who loses their parents, every family forced out of their home and village, etc...
posted by amberglow at 6:09 PM on April 9, 2006


Also on archive.org is the Adam Curtis documentary Century of the Self, it's a low quality copy, but a stunning documentary.
posted by fullerine at 6:12 PM on April 9, 2006


Pay attention to that man behind the curtain!
posted by furtive at 6:37 PM on April 9, 2006


It's kind of a metabrand rather than a brand per se, like a brand umbrella for groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq or J. Islamiya and what not. In that sense Al Qaeda is kind of like "Beatrice" or Proctor and Gamble.
posted by mikojava at 6:58 PM on April 9, 2006


Except the brand promise is less "we deliver top quality food products for the health and well being of your family" and more "we provoke top notch martyrdom to incite global holy war for the establishment of a sharia-based modern Caliphate".
posted by mikojava at 7:01 PM on April 9, 2006


"The tactic of contradicting whatever the Government says is starting to look stupid."

Really? In the US it seems to be the best way to have a shot at being actually right about something. And contrary to what people might think about me, I really really really look forward to this changing, hopefully a little sometime this year, and a lot more over the next two years.
posted by illovich at 7:45 PM on April 9, 2006


Was the second round of London bombings (where they failed) related to the first? Or was it just a copycat?
posted by b_thinky at 7:56 PM on April 9, 2006


So it didn't take a well-organized international terrorist network to carry out the worst bombing attack in the UK since World War II and murder 52 innocent people in under an hour, thus we should all feel safer?

Arguing that the terrorists aren't as organized as the government would like you to believe is supposed to reassure us that what -- the threat of terrorism is even more random and unpredictable?

What's scarier, that a disciplined ruthless cadre of militant Islamic terrorists are in control of a secret network of sleeper cells spread across the globe that have killed thousands in the past 5 years - or that all the attacks are spontaneous, semi-random, cheaply executed manifestations of Muslim rage, and yet have still managed to killed thousands in the past 5 years? Take your pick...

Nobody with any sense believes that if we got rid Osama, or "Al Qaeda" proper, that the militant fundamentalist Muslim problem would go away. We're facing a combination of organized cells and random lone-wolf operators, but how is former particularly scarier than the latter? Is it sinister and manipulative or just imprecise and lazy to associate all Jihadist terrorism with Al Qaeda? If our governments are lying to us about how organized Al Qaeda is so that we don't assume this is just how a certain random and hard to detect minority of Muslims express themselves, it's probably helping to protect the majority of Muslims.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:08 PM on April 9, 2006


What's scarier, that a disciplined ruthless cadre of militant Islamic terrorists are in control of a secret network of sleeper cells spread across the globe that have killed thousands in the past 5 years - or that all the attacks are spontaneous, semi-random, cheaply executed manifestations of Muslim rage, and yet have still managed to killed thousands in the past 5 years? Take your pick.

Why is it either or? Couldn't both be true? I'm sure that in Iraq, for example, there are huge organized networks. In Brittan, probably not so much.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 PM on April 9, 2006


Al Queda Al Schmeda.

Islamists or NOT Islamists, only question.
posted by HTuttle at 8:57 PM on April 9, 2006


Zarqawi's group isn't really Al Qaeda either. They were called Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad before 2004, when they rebranded as Al Qaeda in Iraq. If President Bush hadn't avoided attacking Zarqawi three times before the invasion, there probably wouldn't be any "Al Qaeda" in Iraq.

I'm sure that in Iraq, for example, there are huge organized networks.

About 90%-95% of the people we're fighting in Iraq are Iraqis, not foreign terrorists.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:11 PM on April 9, 2006


techgnollogic, have you seen the Power of Nightmares documentary? It answers some of your questions.

Not sure how you reason that the demonisation of Muslims as the other using the Al Qaida monicker as the buzz word helps to protect the majority of Muslims.

Admitting that terrorist attacks are most likely to be performed by extremists independent of their chosen religion would go some way to creating some middle ground for people. This seems to be the opposite of the US led WAT which seeks to divide moderates on both sides by promoting radicalisation e.g. 'If you are not with us, you are against us'.
posted by asok at 9:11 PM on April 9, 2006


As I said in the paragraph after the one you quoted, we face a combination of the two. Few would argue otherwise. It just doesn't make sense that the government of the UK or the US would manufacture Al-Qaeda involvement in order to control us through fear.

Indeed:

That Al Qaeda was apparently not involved in the blasts will undoubtedly increase the debate within the United Kingdom as to the question of integrating its large Muslim populations into mainstream society and fostering in them a sense of loyalty to Britain.

...
That the group picked up bomb-making tips from the Internet will also raise fresh concerns over Britain’s vulnerability to an attack by small, unsophisticated groups with no access to trans-global terror network funds.

I mean this fits right in with any number of ridiculous Orwellian brainwashing conspiracy theories, too. Or maybe it's, you know, true.

It is rather odd to see people jumping up to defend Al Qaeda from hasty attributions of blame, though.

Not sure how you reason that the demonisation of Muslims as the other using the Al Qaida monicker as the buzz word helps to protect the majority of Muslims.

I didn't reason that at all. I reasoned that broadly identifying militant Jihadist terrorism with the "Al Qaeda" moniker might propogate the idea of an organized network of specific, radical agents comprising the terrorist threat, as opposed to a random, unpredictable, spontaneous minority of all Muslims everywhere. I reasoned the latter would pose a greater risk to Muslims through discrimination, unwarranted suspicion, hate crimes, what have you.

Besides, I don't see much "demonization of Muslims as the other" by the same government entities assuming Al Qaeda involvement in terrorist acts.

An no, I haven't seen that documentary yet, but I'm sure I'll get a kick out of it.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:35 PM on April 9, 2006


It just doesn't make sense that the government of the UK or the US would manufacture Al-Qaeda involvement in order to control us through fear.

They're already controlling everyone through fear, and alleviating it through panem et circenses.

Who's got time to worry about terrorists, anyhow? I'm more worried someone's going to crash into my car, or getting hit by lightning, getting TB or something... all of which are much more likely to be the cause of my demise.

Shit, making enough money for food and rent take up much more of my consciousness than worrying about some nebulous terrarist threat®, brand name or no.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:31 AM on April 10, 2006


This just in: If you read Metafilter you are in Al Qaeda.
posted by Joeforking at 12:47 AM on April 10, 2006


What's scarier, that a disciplined ruthless cadre of militant Islamic terrorists are in control of a secret network of sleeper cells spread across the globe that have killed thousands in the past 5 years - or that all the attacks are spontaneous, semi-random, cheaply executed manifestations of Muslim rage, and yet have still managed to killed thousands in the past 5 years? Take your pick...

Would you feel safer if we took out the word "Muslim"? Because very soon you may just be left with..

...all the attacks are spontaneous, semi-random, cheaply executed manifestations of rage, and yet have still managed to killed thousands...

I think that this is the direction it's going,rage rather than religion specific.
posted by Balisong at 5:54 AM on April 10, 2006


Arguing that the terrorists aren't as organized as the government would like you to believe is supposed to reassure us that what -- the threat of terrorism is even more random and unpredictable?

No, that the people who planned this are dead and aren't plotting something else.
posted by cillit bang at 9:11 AM on April 10, 2006


It's also that our government's current response to the situation is entirely predicated on there being a widespread, highly-organised trans-national network (with a common ideology, method and goal) that can be tracked, disrupted and eventually beaten. "The War On Spontaneous, Semi-Random, Cheaply Executed Manifestations of Rage" just doesn't have the same ring to it. It also doesn't have the same authoritarian legislative powers attatched.

Arguing that the terrorists aren't as organized as the government would like us to believe is supposed to reassure us that no, we we really don't need to take these steps in order to protect our civilisation.
posted by flashboy at 9:35 AM on April 10, 2006


Washington Post, Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi:
The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:09 AM on April 10, 2006


Goldstein?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:09 AM on April 10, 2006


We're facing a combination of organized cells and random lone-wolf operators, but how is the former particularly scarier than the latter?

What techgnollogic said. Benjamin and Simon call the London and Madrid attackers "self-starters."
Especially after the US and its local allies forced al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan, the threat of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism is not centralized, but globalized and dispersed. The subway bombings in Madrid and London in 2003 and 2005 were the work not of disciplined al-Qaeda agents acting on orders from above but of small bands of young men with little or no connection to al-Qaeda, and little or no previous record as terrorists. Benjamin and Simon see these attacks as signs of a "new breed of self-starting terrorist cells," and argue that the development of such cells has been vastly facilitated by the Internet. In 1998, they report, there were only twelve Web sites for terrorist groups; in 2005, there were 4,400. The Web sites spread both religious doctrine calling for violence and practical instructions for carrying it out. The consequences have been dire: according to the RAND Corporation, three quarters of all suicide bombings since 1968 took place in the four years after September 11.
Emphasis added.
National security policy, the authors argue, should reject the model of a military "war on terror," and instead adopt an intelligence-based approach that (1) seeks to identify, capture, and disrupt terrorists; (2) safeguards the most dangerous weapons to keep them out of terrorists' hands; (3) identifies and protects the most vulnerable targets in the US; and (4) reduces the creation of new terrorists by addressing the grievances that drive people to extreme violence in the first place.
posted by russilwvong at 2:52 PM on April 10, 2006


Al Qaeda are a bunch of pussies. come get me you dumbass terrorist fuckers i BOP YOU UP
posted by tranceformer at 3:31 PM on April 10, 2006


Are Al Qaeda T-shirts going to replace the red Che with the star berret T-shirt craze?
posted by Balisong at 5:15 PM on April 10, 2006


What's their official logo, anyways? Was it thought up in a Pentagon war room, just like the actual Al Qaeda was?
I just want to get in on the marketing wave early enough to sip a couple umbrella drinks in Tahiti before it passes.

Can you get on a plane with either a Che shirt or a Soviet hammer and sickle shirt? Why not an Al Qaeda logo?

Should WE have a contest to choose their unofficial "Official Logo" for them? Would they approve or disapprove?

Lots of questions. I expect answers promptly, or I'll unleash Al Qaeda on your asses!
posted by Balisong at 5:21 PM on April 10, 2006


I'm pretty sure this is their logo.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:18 PM on April 10, 2006


Damn Bert!
I never trusted that guy! Always riding Ernie about every little thing.
posted by Balisong at 9:16 PM on April 10, 2006


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