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Will the Plotters Be Rewarded for Trying?

By David Warren

One really has to wonder about the efficiency of the British National Health Service, after seeing how incompetently a group of Islamist doctors carried off their weekend car-bombing and fire-throwing attacks in London and Glasgow. Not one death; not even a successful suicide.

We can thank the indiscretion of the British police for the information that the persons since rounded up were mostly doctors and laboratory technicians working for the NHS. "Of Asian origin." Am I jumping to conclusions, by guessing that they were all fanatical Muslims? (That not one of them was a fanatical Methodist?)

On the other hand, they seem to have been paid well -- doctors often are. Two almost identical, incompetently rigged Mercedes were found outside London night clubs. From what I can make of media reports, "controlled explosions" had also to be carried out on a car about to be dispatched from a Glasgow mosque, and on three fire hydrants placed suspiciously (if also ludicrously) on the pavement outside a London tube station. The general configuration appears to be (once again) according to current Islamist practice in Iraq: the two-part explosion. Not simultaneous, in any given location, but successive. The first bomb kills as many people as possible, attracting onlookers and a rescue operation. The second kills as many of them as possible.

Some parallel operation in Australia may also have been intended, judging from the urgency of police searches there. A man arrested at Brisbane airport, trying to flee to India, was a hospital registrar, recently arrived from England.

The attack on the Glasgow airport leaves us still scratching our heads. An SUV was driven into a passenger terminal. Failing to get inside, its two riders then emerged, in flames, shouting "Allah! Allah!" -- trying to hurl Molotov cocktails, before being wrestled to the ground by police. It sounded like the dress rehearsal for a Monty Python skit.

And yet it was a brilliant success. For within minutes -- just because this scene happened at an airport -- new regulations were being posted around the world to search all air travellers in new, more expensive, more time-consuming, and more demeaning ways.

In general, all these terror attempts were a brilliant success. The BBC and the rest of the British mainstream media immediately piped out sympathetic pieces about the poor beleaguered Muslim community, and aired demands for withdrawal from Iraq. In other words, exactly the publicity the Islamists wanted. And the new British prime minister, though he sounded firm and resolute, is understood to be looking for ways to get out of Tony Blair's unpopular war.

We can safely assume that the timing of the British terror attempts was intended to coincide with the change in government leadership, in exactly the same way as the terror hits on the Madrid railway system were timed for the Spanish general election in 2004. The tactic works. The terrorists successfully swung that election, to the party that would cut-and-run from Iraq. And had several hundred Britons been killed, as the NHS doctors intended, demands for British withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, in both the media and Parliament, would have been overwhelming.

The problem with defeatism is that it leads to defeat -- not to peace. Ask the Spaniards whose tour bus convoy was driven into by an exploding car in Yemen over the same weekend. At least, ask those who survived. They may well have thought they could safely visit that country's archaeological sites, since Al Qaeda must appreciate the lengths to which Spain has gone to make herself inoffensive. But no: Al Qaeda considers not the behaviour of Spain, but the existence of Spain, to be offensive. Their propaganda is unambiguous: the terror will stop when "Al Andalus" returns to Shariah.

It is ridiculous to imagine that the West will somehow surrender to the Islamists, from fear of (often slapstick) terror attacks. Or even, from fear of the luckier terror strikes, that have happened, and are sure to happen again -- for even a portable nuclear device, or packed biological weapon, is unlikely to kill more than a small proportion of a big city's population. Life could go on.

And yet, when one looks at the response to an attack in which there were no fatalities, the idea ceases to be ridiculous. For the prevailing view among our self-sainted elites, in media and government, is that we must always reward a terror strike with new concessions, and always retreat where the enemy confronts us. And among the deracinated urban masses who vote the latter into power, the demand is for safety, even at the price of slavery. This is perfectly expressed in the public outpouring of obeisance to Islam, after each Islamist hit.

Such spineless whimpering is, in turn, a powerful inspiration to the more ardent Islamists, to try further terror strikes. We might as well unroll a huge banner, that reads, "Please! Hit us again!"

© Ottawa Citizen

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