The terrorist attack that never was
Convictions for terrorist offences in the UK are on the up, apparently showing that the increased resourcing for anti-terrorist police and the heightened security measures at airports are working. In reality, however, each and every one of the alleged terrorists convicted in a UK court has been someone who might have contemplated or dreamt about doing something, possessed intellectual material (usually freely available on the internet) of use to somebody contemplating a terrorist attack, or would have been capable of doing some damage if only they had the means. The latest conviction of a "Muslim terrorist" threatening to "blow up Bluewater shopping centre in Exeter" is a prime example of this madness.
This is the case of a prisoner who, whilst in prison and therefore unable to move freely, never mind to organise a major crime (to state otherwise would imply that UK prisons are unsafe hotbeds of criminality), made a threat in anger to blow up a shopping centre with three limousines packed full of explosives. When a prison officer told him that the shopping centre he was talking about was actually not in Exeter but in Kent, he retorted he hadn't finalised his plans yet. There is nothing new about prisoners getting frustrated and angry, nor about them making wild threats in order to attract attention. To take such nonsense serious, however, exposes the immature emotionality and hysteria by which the current anti-terrorism effort is characterised.
Of course, stupid threats like that, which in the past would have earned a "watch your mouth or you'll go down the block (prison segregation unit)" from a prison officer, is welcome nourishment for politicians and media keen to cash in on the ever-present Orwellian terror threat lurking at every corner. "Is Exeter now a hotbed of Islamic terrorism?" was one of the headlines in the UK media, since another man with a history of mental illness injured only himself by trying to set off some incendiary devices in Exeter. When a former BNP political candidate and his friend in Lancashire were charged under the "Explosive Substances Act 1883" (not the Terrorism Act 2000!) for having amassed the largest chemical explosive haul ever found in a private house in the country, together with rocket launchers and a chemical protection suit, the national media had to be pushed to even mention the story (after it was first reported on Mathaba.net). The two right-wing extremists had serious plans of causing major damage, they weren't just dreaming about it or writing poetry (like the "lyrical terrorist" Muslim lady recently convicted under UK terrorism legislation), but to their credit, they were white and could not be described as having Islamic tendencies.
Consequently, the public remains uninformed about any real danger whilst willingly giving up privacy and freedom in the face of a hyped up alleged Muslim terror threat so serious that travellers have to endure long queues at airports and surrender tweezers and knitting needles (you can pick up metal cutlery after check-out at the restaurants in the departure lounge!), put their toiletries into clear plastic bags and discard any bottled water or other drinks they might have brought along. None of these measures are going to make anybody even an iota safer than they were before, but they provide a lucrative income to security contractors and support to governments wanting to control their citizens, monitor their movements, lock up opponents indefinitely without charge and without having to deal with defence lawyers, and stifle any meaningful political discussion. Welcome to the free world! On the other hand, in the much maligned third world, allegedly run by dictators restricting any kind of freedom, I can take my tweezers and bottled water onto the plane. I can then fly to a major European airport and from their transit to another European airport without being subjected to the harassment passengers boarding at that very same airport have to endure. It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?