An investigation is well under way after two explosions near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon left three people dead and at least 140 injured. The FBI has taken over co-ordination of what it described as a potential terrorist inquiry. Boston police say officers are working around the clock and all leave has been cancelled.
Three men who planned to become suicide bombers and hoped to eclipse the 7th July and 9/11 Al Qaeda-inspired terror atrocities have been found guilty of terrorism charges.
Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, from Birmingham in the UK Midlands, were found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court in London of being "central figures" in the plot.
Jurors were told they planned to set off up to eight bombs in rucksacks and probably detonate bombs on timers. The trio were arrested in 2011 amid fears their plans were accelerating. Detectives believe it was the most significant terror plot to be uncovered since the 2006 conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs disguised as soft drinks.
Karen Jones, a specialist counter-terrorism prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "These men had dangerous aspirations and whilst the precise targets remained unclear, the potential for damage and loss of life from their plans should not be underestimated.”
During interviews the three men who were arrested mentioned wanting to attack British soldiers and also a desire to wear explosive vests.
In court all three men who were charged acted in the same way as others who faced the same charges before them; having a hatred for western society and making excuses for their actions.
Detective Inspector Adam Gough of West Midlands Police led the investigation into the men.
"There's no doubt whatsoever that they were the real deal," he said. "They are committed, passionate extremists. They had a real stated intention to kill and maim as many people as they possibly can. More than that, they not only had that intention, but they had the capacity and training to make that intention a reality.”
It’s already been a suitably controversial year for far-right ‘political’ group, the English Defence League. Six members were jailed for rampaging Bradford enacting what the courts described as "sustained and unprovoked racial violence by a group acting together in a crowded town centre” last year; co-leader Stephen Lennon was jailed for using a fake passport trying to gain entry to the USA; other co-leader, Kevin Carroll, was arrested for inciting hatred on Facebook. None of this news is particularly surprising for those familiar with EDL tactics – their hatred shrouded ‘political’ bravado has long been known for its bullying associations.
But, behind the idiocy of the EDL flag-bearers of the right wing, is there an underlying movement towards right-wing, nationalist and anti-immigration views among the British public? Teesside University has set up a centre to look into trends among right wing trends in the UK and Dr Matthew Feldman notes that “cultural nationalism” is supposedly moving “into the mainstream”.
“For the first time since, I believe, the National Front in the late 70s and early 80s, the far-right is really going for popular support,” he told the The Guardian. “It's moving out into the mainstream, with some success.”
On the plus side, this growing popularity of mainstream right wing politics (most notably in the form of UKIP‘s rise) coincides with the decreasing of the already minimal actual influence of extremist right wing groups like the EDL. The lack of end-product by the usually disorganized and often illegal methods of groups like the EDL and BNP somewhat puts people off. Most right-wing people hold their views not because of genuine hatred (and, let’s face it, racism)but because of what they believe to be right for their country, because they want to defend what they perceive to be their comfort of living and the historic prestige of their British lives. With most of these people being more akin to old school conservative traditionalists rather than hate-filled radicals, the BNP and EDL have suffered – the BNP has reportedly lost 90% of its membership while the EDL is constantly dogged in controversy.
However, even with far right activism declining, a milder, wider and more tolerated form of “cultural nationalism”, directed against Muslims in particular, is still dangerous. Hostility against the 2.5 million British Muslims has increased following the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks in New York and London. Accordingly there were 1,200 anti-Muslim attacks in 2010 according to police data, while a Financial Times opinion poll showed that an awful lot of Britons are suspicious of Muslims – in fact Britons are the most suspicious of Muslims in Europe. While the latter more cultural statistic does not necessarily represent a general racist attitude in Britain towards Muslims, it does note an admitted hostility that, if not overcome and dispelled in the coming generations, could veer into a more ugly and concerning cultural attitude.
There are of course important things to consider with these reports of cultural suspicions – notably demographics such as older aged people being more likely to be suspicious than the younger more culturally diverse and liberal younger generations and the fact that people in cities are more likely to be exposed to myriad ethnicities. It also has to be remembered that in a country as big as the UK, there will always be extremists such as those that make up the EDL and BNP and presumably the majority of those reported attacks. Indeed the Teesside centre is looking into the possibility of such extreme right wing fascism spilling over into seriously destructive actions in the same way that it did in Norway in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people.
"I don't want to overstate the risk of it, but there is a conjunction between what the far right has always done – what we call lone-wolf terrorism, with Breivik the perfect example – and what you have on the internet in terms of logistics and communication," said Feldman.
Of course the internet has changed the face of extremism and it takes a lesser amount of people to cause great catastrophes than ever before. Fortunately, the EDL and BNP have never exhibited the kind of sociopathic intelligence required to do damage beyond the relatively small-scale thuggish beatings that they currently enact. However, if cultural nationalism really is becoming more of a thing, then people with the intelligence to do real harm could be so culturally affected that they could actually do this serious harm.
Let us also not forget that it was in a period following economic depression and growing liberalism that reactionary right wing fascism emerged in Germany in the 1930s. While history has hopefully taught subsequent first world societies like Britain the immorality of cultural extremism, it should be remembered that all hostility and suspicion is not conducive to a morally cohesive society. Should the growing “cultural nationalism” depicted by academics like Feldman actually be taking place, let us remember that hostility towards any law-abiding sector of society is bad for society as a whole.
For years, the U.S. State Department has called the Islamic Republic of Iran the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism,” For years, U.S. officials say the Islamic Republic of Iran has continued to provide funding, weapons, training, and sanctuary to numerous terrorist groups based in the Middle East and elsewhere, posing a security concern to the international community. And for years, the U.S. Administration has been unable to outdo the Islamic Republic’s propaganda machine and clearly has been unable or perhaps unwilling to help the Iranian people to end this nightmare in Iran.
President George W. Bush, of all U.S. presidents, at his annual State of the Union addresses, spoke numerous times about the plight of the Iranian people. He once said, “If the Iranian people stand for themselves, the United States will stand with them.” Throughout his presidency, the Iranians, of all people, hailed this courageous president, as an angel of freedom and his popularity was surging in Iran while his approval rating at home was low.
The extreme Islamist sect Hizb-ut-Tahrir claims it has “never resorted to armed or violent struggle as a way of bringing about political change”. Hizb ut Tahrir wishes to seek the re-establishment of an Islamic Caliphate as an independent state which will then go on to establish its extremist version of Islam throughout the world. Still it claims that it is a peaceful group with peaceful aims. It has made a point of teaming up with the far left in Britain and seeks to use as many voices as possible to oppose a British Government ban on its existence.
Glen Jenvey is the subject of a 2005 book by Neil Doyle called Terror Tracker. In Doyle’s book Jenvey comes across as something of an expert in sniffing out terrorists online. And it was with this understanding of him that I met him in 2006 and asked him to become involved in a project I had set up to help pass intelligence on Islamist extremists to the British and other authorities.
I had no reason to doubt Jenvey back then. He had a criminal record - but so did many talented people. At first I was wary that he sought the limelight. Yet when he set to work recording Omar Bakri and sent me some astonishing results I knew I’d chosen well. The year that followed was a great success.
I fell out with Jenvey in March 2007. He, Starkey and an Islamic crone called Ilham Frandsen wanted more cash than they were worth from the project we were involved in - more cash than the project could afford. I’ve never worked with any of them after March that year. Since then all three of them have gone about trying to wreck me in their own particular ways. Happily they have all failed and continue to fail, especially now they know that the police are aware of their motives and are keeping a beady eye on them.
USairport security is second to none. Iris scans, detectors of various kinds, pat-down inspections, screenings, biometrics and finger-print check-ins are increasingly current in US international airports. If you or your baggage have been in the vicinity of explosives or you are concealing a weapon, one or a combination of these security measures will be your undoing. Or one of the army of gruff, armed US visa officers or their CCTV colleagues will likely spot you and suspect you and you’ll be escorted into a side room full of even gruffer, armed colleagues where you’ll be forced to undergo further searches and tests and get a severe grilling by questioners before ever being allowed out of the arrival hall into America real. Even the dogs you find at US airports seem to be kept on their toes and appear to be on the permanent look-out for terrorists - scampering around as though the food they are given is drenched in Red Bull and their next dinner depends on their present alertness.