THE REACTION PIECE
Expat Yank, in Britain, is watching news of the suspected plans to attack Heathrow and today’s arrest of a dozen suspected terrorists in the UK with more than casual interest. He quotes the Beeb:
As police continue to detain a dozen young men arrested in anti-terrorism raids across the UK, Britain’s Muslim community has reacted with dismay.
Detaining the men, all of Asian origin, has prompted complaints in some Muslim circles that they are being unfairly singled out.
Let’s break that down: When one is searching for al Qaeda “operatives”, one tends to follow an evidence trail that usually does NOT lead towards, say, Irish Catholics. Nor towards Italians.
On the other hand, the Irish were obviously “unfairly singled out” during operations over the years that were aimed at breaking up I.R.A. cells. And Italians are obviously “unfairly singled out” during police investigations aimed at the mafia.
It reminds me of all the pomp surrounding movie stars arriving for the Oscars and going through security checkpoints. How much did that help the War on Terror? Whew! Tom Cruise isn’t going to suicide bomb the Academy Awards! Would that time and effort maybe have been better spent checking for terrorists in a place where terrorists might actually be?
Expat Yank also notes that the Beeb points out that fewer than 1 in 5 of the over 500 people (“most of them Muslim”) arrested under anti-terrorism laws have been charged with a terrorist offense.
After all, “fewer than one in five” of “the more than 500 people” sounds to me like somewhere around 100 people is what they got enough on to be able to charge. Given such, it would seem reasonable, too, that some others were let off, probably simply because the evidence against them was too thin to stand up in court.
So let’s say that every suicide hijacker needs four guys near the base of operations supporting him. That would mean that 20 suicide hijackers and 80 support personnel have been arrested and charged. How many suicide hijackers pulled of 9/11?
And never mind that the Beeb cleverly points out that only 100 or so “have been charged with a terrorist offence“. That leads me to believe that some of the other 400 were charged with something else.
In any event, taking 100 likely terrorists or active terrorist supporters off the streets seems like a worthwhile pastime to me, even if it means inconveniencing 400 others for a time. Obviously you have to be careful with this, but I don’t think I see anything out of line here.
What if the FBI had arrested 500 Muslims in the first 10 days of September, 2001 but only charged 19 of them? Obviously worth it if they had been the right 19. But we would have got an earful from the human rights and civil rights and anti-war types.