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The Steve Beauchampé column



The timing of the latest alleged terror plot was interesting to say the least, coming as it did less than 48 hours after Home Secretary John Reid warned that Britain faces a new kind of threat. In a speech organised by the think-tank Demos, he said that we are facing "the most sustained" challenge to our way of life since the end of World War Two. And he warned that we may have to give up some of our freedoms in the short term to preserve them in the long term. Steve Beauchampé is unimpressed.

According to John Reid, the latest neo-Lab Home Secretary, "some people never get it".

Reid, petulant, irritated and annoyed following a series of minor set backs and criticisms from judges, Labour MPs and political commentators told Demosthat we should all be prepared to forgo (apparently without question) the freedoms and rights traditionally expected in a democratic society.

Well, Mr. Reid, it is you and your Government who never learn.

Those would-be plane bombers (I'll assume for now that the security services have got this one right) weren't planning to blow up aircraft flying between say...France and Germany, or China and Japan, they were targeting routes between Britain and America.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Khan and his three fellow 7-7 bombers chose to attack Britain for very specific political reasons.

They weren't mad in any conventional ‘commit them to a sanitorium' sense, or even sadistic like say, the Yorkshire Ripper or Ian Brady, they were motivated by a sense of injustice, anger and utter frustration, at British foreign policy.

We know this because they told us so in videos released after the bombings.

Like a man denying that it gets dark at night, Tony Blair dismisses these statements, claiming that Britain's foreign policy, of which he is the chief - and at times seemingly sole - domestic architect (how often do Gordon Brown or John Prescott contribute publicly to the debate?), had nothing to do with the bombings.

Palpable nonsense.

Indeed, recent research by American Robert Papps found that it was political rather than religious discontent that was the prime motivation behind the majority of suicide bombings (with Sri Lanka's secular Tamil Tiger group topping the charts with more such attacks than either Hamas or Hezbollah).

This should come as no surprise; both Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Al Zarqawi have repeatedly cited western involvement in middle eastern politics as the catalyst for their actions and those of their followers.

In fact, Bin Laden's original argument was with the Saudi Arabian royal family, the House of Saud, whom he views as a corrupt, despotic regime propped up by western military support, in particular that of the USA.

Granted, Al Qaeda's leadership would impose a fascistic, mysoginistic state, sitting politically somewhere between the Khmer Rouge and the Taleban...and frankly, they'd be no fun at all, but like Hezbollah, they do articulate the alienation of a small section of young western-based Muslims, and their actions and derring-do radiate a romantic, swashbuckling appeal to a political underclass whose cultural views and beliefs are not just off the mainstream radar but trashed daily in newspapers, radio ‘phone ins, by white van man and large swathes of Joe and Josephine Public.

I've no problem with security services taking the utmost vigilance - and at least this time we didn't have to endure the pointless showboating of tanks placed around airport perimeters or arresting officers shooting their way into private residencies.

Clearly it's important for intelligence agencies to remain ahead of those political criminals who have crossed the moral line whereby they feel able to kill with impunity.

However, instead of the enormous expense and inconvenience created by even more layers of security, instead of tying society up in knots and eroding the values and beliefs that our government always claims to be at the core of democratic society, neo-Labour should learn that the most important and effective instrument in winning their war on terror is to abandon their disastrous foreign policies and military escapades.

So take a trip to the classroomDr. Reid.

Learn to stop invading and occupying countries whose regimes you don't like, especially when your invasion is predicated on a lie and undertaken without UN approval.

Show your famous and oft-trumpeted zero tolerance to the Israeli government and army for their crimes against Lebanon and it's people.

Stop supporting despotic and murderous pro-western governments such as those in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Recognise and support the democratic will of the Palestinian people to choose their own government and understand that after 39 years of occupation and humiliation it is hardly surprising if they choose one of a radical hue.

Make the withdrawal, charge or release of all Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners currently held by Israel, along with the demolition of West Bank settlements and withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanese and Palestinian territory a fundamental plank of your both short and medium-term Middle East peace plan.

Call for the immediate closure of Guantanemo Bay - and say it like you mean it.

Stop deporting ‘terror' suspects to countries with records of torture and human rights abuses and stop using Britain's airports for the ‘rendition' or transport of such suspects.

Provide justice for the family of Jean Charles De Menenzes and the Forest Gate brothers.

Stop undermining the independence of the judiciary.

Stop your latest plans to introduce further anti-terror legislation, you've got more than enough already. Abandon your ID card scheme, it will not work and will divert resources and attention away from criminal investigations. Finally, recognise that much of Britain's wealth, power and status to this day is the fruit of 300 years of British economic migration and often exploitation, and that you can hardly blame the contemporary populations of those countries Britain once ruled if they now choose to do the same in reverse to us.

And stop being so cavalier with the lives of Middle East and Afghan citizens - their lives have the same value as those of westerners, yet are taken in far greater numbers by British, American or Israeli bombs and bullets.

These then Dr. Reid are your lessons. Learn them!


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