Sunday, December 26, 2004
The Scotsman features the thoughts of James Brandon on the recent conseqences of hostage taking in Iraq. Note the role played by the Arab media in providing the 'oxygen of publicity' as the airing of these snuff videos acts as an incentive for the jihadists.

But I had underestimated the brutality of her kidnappers, and Margaret Hassan was murdered as Iraqi militants, frustrated by their inability to do any real damage to the US army, resorted to attacking vulnerable civilian targets. Now vast political power could be wielded by any gang able to get their hands on a knife and a video camera. In a sense this is nothing new - assassins and terrorists have always had an impact disproportionate to their numbers. But now, as if distant footage of burning buildings and grieving relatives after a typical terrorist attack is no longer enough, we get to know the victims Big Brother-style, and to see them suffer from the comfort of our living-rooms. And, like Big Brother, with every episode the ritualised humiliations become more extreme.

Yet, as Brandon's clarity sets out, the chaotic immigration system and the self-serving short term attitudes of politicians who measure power in terms of communal votes rather than potential threats, brings terror closer to home.

When the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered last month, allegedly by a man named Mohammed B, who disagreed with his portrayal of domestic violence in the Muslim community, it seemed to bring the horrors of Najaf and Fallujah one step closer to the UK. Van Gogh’s death proved that Europe’s aggrieved Islamists no longer needed to travel to distant war zones to kill infidels; it is just as easy to do so in the heart of Europe. Hearing of Van Gogh’s shooting, which was followed by ritual throat-slitting, I recalled the words of a senior officer on Scotland Yard’s hostage negotiation team, who had debriefed me after my kidnapping in Iraq. "We all know that it’s only a matter of time before this happens here," he said grimly. "We’re just waiting for that call, waiting for the video to pop through the post. And there’s nothing we can do to prevent it." The next few years will surely reveal whether he was being unnecessarily pessimistic.

I don't think so.


Post a Comment

Blog Archive