RACISM, WAR: Issues behind the ‘terror plot’ in Britain

By Larry Hales

Headlines across the world on Aug. 10 announced that an alleged “terror plot” to bring down 10 to 12 airliners, on route from London to the U.S., was “foiled” by British, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services. The plot involved chemical and/or gel explosive compounds that were to be brought on planes separately and mixed in flight. Aircraft passengers were told they would not be able to carry any liquids onto planes.

Four days later, British and U.S. federal authorities downgraded the threat levels of both countries. British authorities lowered the threat on British flights from critical to severe. The Homeland Security Department reduced the threat level of an imminent attack from a red “severe” to an orange “high” on flights to the U.S. from Britain. All other flights remained at orange “high.” The Transportation Security Agency eased the carry-on baggage restrictions.

The decision to magnify this case and make it appear that it was close to coming into fruition was calculated to divert attention away from Israel’s brutal assaults against Lebanon and the Palestinian people. The resistance was holding its ground as Israel was massacring children, women and men and dropping huge payloads in Lebanon.

British and U.S. authorities sparred over the timing of the announcement. One senior British official said that an attack was not imminent.

An article in the Aug. 11 New York Times alludes to the collusion of Britain and the U.S. on the timing of the arrests and subsequent announcement: “According to a senior administration official who spoke anonymously about how Mr. Bush handled the plot inquiry behind the scenes, it became clear that the British investigation had ‘a significant U.S. element to it.’ By Friday [Aug. 4], the investigation had become ‘a significant focus’ of the president’s morning intelligence briefings, the official said. ... [On Aug. 6] Mr. Bush spent 47 minutes on the telephone with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain. ‘At that point [t]here was no sense of timing as far as when the takedown would take place,’ the official said.”

The released details surrounding the plot are sketchy still. So far, 25 arrests have been made, of people who are mainly of Pakistani descent. All are Muslims born in Britain. Police said 46 warrants were executed with 22 still going on, and that 20 vehicles were confiscated.

However, what was not revealed was what kind of evidence had been found, if any, although British authorities are saying they located the house where chemicals might have been mixed.

According to the sparse information released, the bomb was to be composed of organic peroxides, to be mixed with other chemicals aboard flights to create an explosive reaction. However, one chemist says such a plot would require a lot of highly concentrated materials, and mixing them on a plane would be difficult—the mixer might kill him or herself, but not cause much damage to an airplane. Additionally, the materials would have needed to stay cool, which would have been extremely difficult.

Much like in the case of the young African-American men arrested in Miami in June [see Workers World, June 29], residents in the town where many of the suspects were arres ted say that they were friendly and ordinary.

Supermarket owner Mohammed Nazam was with Tayib Rauf, one of those arrested, until 2:30 a.m. the morning of the arrests. Rauf had made a delivery and was picking up a check from Nazam, and they talked for a couple of hours.

“He probably still had my check in his pocket when he was picked up—around four in the morning—from his home. If he were a person involved in a gang, he wouldn’t be sitting with me chatting, would he?” Nazam said. A business associate of the family said that Rauf thought police had been following him for four or five months.

One of the two women arrested was pre gnant, and a male arrestee had recently posted a profile on a dating website. These are odd circumstances for people that were supposedly within days of killing themselves.

Some of the suspects had not obtained passports, and none of them had purchased airline tickets.

Claims that the suspects were part of al-Qaeda or some other group are also coming under question. British, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence are now admitting that they are not aware of any of the suspects meeting with al-Qaeda operatives.

The “terror plot” was an attempt by the Bush and Blair administrations to ratchet up fear and anti-Arab sentiment. In racist and jingoistic terms, Bush related the plot to the U.S. “war with Islamic fascists”—an attempt to justify the current U.S./Israeli war and occupation and prepare people for an expanded war throughout the Middle East.

Bush’s statement will no doubt be used in an attempt to heighten anti-immigrant sentiment as well. At an Aug. 2 rally of South Asians in Edison, N.J., protesters were met by counter protesters making anti-immigrant and racist slurs. The rally was to condemn police brutality experienced in July by an Indian man, Raj Parikh. Immigration and Customs Enforce ment officials arrived at the rally—apparently in collaboration with police—and arrested Parikh for being out of status.

Muslims in the area of Britain where most of the arrests took place are suspicious of the charges and fear that they will be targeted by police or attacked. British authorities have revealed that they had indeed been watching the suspects for months.

However, why such an attack would be planned at all invariably has to be pointed out—regardless of whether or not this current plot really existed.

Great Britain was one of the most ruthless and despicable colonizers and enslav ers of people the world over, and has more recently been the junior partner of U.S. imperialism.

Both countries have embarked on a failing mission to subjugate Iraq and steal the Iraqi people’s resources, and both are ardent supporters of Israel and its proxy war against the Palestinian and Lebanese people. Both are seeking wider war in the Middle East region.

As Bush re-labels the racist “war against terror” a fight against “Islamic fascism,” people around the world are increasingly starting to buck back from being held under the foot of western imperialism.

The governments of the imperialist west, especially Britain and the U.S. and their client governments, are at odds with the masses of people and will denigrate any people’s resistance, no matter how justified.

It is important to point out that the aggressors in this case are the imperialists. It is their policies that lead to acts like the tragedy of 9/11 and the attacks on the subways in Britain.


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