Bottle and baby used as bombKeeping firmly in mind that this report is based entirely on unfounded allegations, that no evidence has been led in court at this stage, and that no convictions have yet been requested by the prosecution let alone obtained, we offer some observations:
By Fiona Hudson | August 14, 2006 12:00
A HUSBAND and wife [we've added their pictures at right] arrested in the British terror raids allegedly planned to take their six-month-old baby on a mid-air suicide mission. Scotland Yard police are quizzing Abdula Ahmed Ali, 25, and his 23-year-old wife Cossor over suspicions they were to use their baby's bottle to hide a liquid bomb. The theory is one of the reasons security chiefs are now insisting mothers taste babies' milk at check-in desks before allowing them to take bottles aboard flights. The pair are among up to 23 suspects being questioned over a plot to bring down nine airliners over five US cities, killing thousands of people in the air and on the ground. The questioning of the group comes as British Government sources yesterday revealed many of those suspects posed as relief workers to travel to al-Qaeda training camps in Pakistan. It has also been revealed that security services are secretly monitoring "dozens" of fresh plots involving hundreds of suspects which could be unleashed at any time. One government source said at least 30 priority cases were under urgent investigation. " All those 30 are seen as serious, determined attacks that will happen unless we stop them," the source said. Police spent yesterday combing through the Alis' east London housing commission flat for clues. Cossor took her baby with her to the police station during last week's raids but her son is now being cared for by grandparents. Cossor's grandfather, Nazir Ahmed, 84, said Abdula had travelled to Pakistan about four weeks ago. "We didn't understand what the hurry was and why he needed to go," Mr Ahmed said. A neighbour at the flats where the married couple lived said he would be stunned if claims were true. "I simply cannot believe he could have been involved in a plot like this. He is religious and seemed to love his family," the neighbour said. "I would never have dreamed he could have been involved in anything like this." A family friend of Cossor said she had known the arrested mother 12 years and believed her to be innocent. "I think it is a case of mistaken identity. The last thing she'd be interested in is terrorism. They are just simple day-to-day people going about their own business," she said. Police in England have reportedly recovered bottles containing peroxide, including some with false bottoms, from a recycling centre close to the homes of some of the arrested suspects. It has emerged MI5 agents launched covert intrusions on the homes of some suspects several weeks ago in "sneak and peek" operations to plant listening devices and gather evidence ahead of the arrests last week. Links between suspects in the jet bomb plot and those behind the London 7/7 attacks have also come to light. There are reports as many as five of those arrested attended the same terror training camp in Pakistan as two of the July 7 London suicide bombers. And US intelligence sources said they believed at least two of the suspects had trained in Karachi and met al-Qaeda operatives in the lead up to the 7/7 attacks.
- Once upon a time, long long ago, it would have been beyond belief, simply incomprehensible, that a family would sacrifice their lives and the life of their baby. Now it's very much not incomprehensible. Furthermore, the mere insertion of the element of religion - and specifically Islam - together with the mass murders that would have gone along with the suicides makes the story credible and also compelling.
- The media, especially the British media, are once more (obviously 7/7 was a previous such occasion) doing contortions, trying to understand how native-born Brits, albeit Brits whose parents immigrated from the sub-continent, could possibly turn into merchants of death and self-destruction. We anticipate the process of vexation will go on for some time. Meanwhile the answer is staring them in the face.
- Already the dreaded search for "root causes" is underway. Those of us who watch Sky, BBC and CNN have already heard the plaintive cries of "How do we make them feel less estranged and more a part of our fine British society?" Based on past experience, this search will lead away from illumination rather than towards it.
- Comparisons have been made to the festering anger of America's black population. But Britain's Moslems, to the very last one of them, are in the United Kingdom because they wanted to be there; because they moved heaven and earth to get there; and they stayed there because they wanted to stay there. The option of leaving was always available, and perfectly feasible. Describing them as oppressed, disenfranchised, unconnected is misleading, dishonest and completely avoiding the issue.
- But even if it were possible to describe some of Britain's Moslems this way, even if some or many of them face bleak job prospects and poor education, the indications are that this group are mainly middle class and relatively well-educated. Nor is there any sign of their having fallen under the spell of the brand-name fringe-insane imams like Omar Bakri or Abu Hamza. And yet.
- Terrorism is routinely carried out, everywhere, by people who don't seem to fit the part. This remains difficult for some people to digest. If the terrorists had signs branded onto their foreheads, the global civil aviation industry would be able to cope a lot better than in practice it now is. And the kindergartens and supermarkets and buses and cafes of Israel would not need round-the-clock armed guards. Terrorists look like the rest of us.
- The emergence of a dominant death cult in Islamic society is no longer a subject for controversy. It's a reality, and the denials are an embarrassment to those who make them. With our personal experience of terrorist murder, we have a permanent interest in outrageous statements from outrageous personalities who insist on denying. For instance, the Palestinian apologist Dr Hanan Ashrawi who is on record making wildly irresponsible statements on the subject. Like this one in which she asserts that claims like the one we are making are the epitome of racism. "They're telling us we have no feelings for our children. We're not human beings, we're not parents, we're not mothers and fathers," says Ashrawi. "Sometimes I don't want to sink to the level of responding, of proving I'm human. I mean, even animals have feelings for their children."
- Dr Ashrawi is right. Animals do have feelings for their children and the people who produce the television films and documents (MEMRI freely provides access to an entire library of them, complete with English sub-titles and translation for those unfamiliar with Arabic) praising child martyrdom do not. Or to say that more carefully: the proponents of jihad have feelings for their children, for their own lives, for life itself, that most of mankind is incapable of understanding. They are baffling, appalling, terrifying. Such people, and there are millions of them, have stepped outside the family of man, and did it willingly and triumphantly.
- None of this means that Islam is at fault. Nor is the problem with Moslems. Yes, Moslem society in all its forms and wherever it is found, has an enormous problem on its hands, even if only the smallest of minorities of its ranks recognizes this and if denial is the standard posture. The problem is with the rest of us who have yet to identify appropriate ways of protecting our societies and our lives against an attack that defies analysis: an attack led by mothers armed with bottles of baby formula.
[UPDATE 25-Aug-06: There's more on the deranged parents from hell here.]