Compare and contrast

With Galloway, that is.. he’s been making more ridiculous statements. Peter Taylor has just completed a new series for the BBC – The New Al Qaeda – and he has an article in The Guardian with some interesting comments on the attacks.. and on the background to them. While, over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens agrees with Galloway that the attacks were to be anticipated, and that they’re probably not the last.. but that’s about all they agree on. Hitchens notes Blair’s response – “he was reacting not so much with shock as from a sense of inevitability.”Peter Taylor suggests that the bombers were British jihadis –

Al-Qaida’s new modus operandi is a combination of strategy and necessity. After the US coalition destroyed its training bases in Afghanistan, word went out, allegedly from Bin Laden himself, that jihadi veterans should return home to their countries of origin, recruit locally and prepare to attack domestic targets. The attacks in Casablanca and Madrid were illustrations of this. What made the Madrid bombers so difficult to detect was that some members of the cell were takfiris, Islamist militants committed to jihad while continuing to live a western lifestyle, drinking, smoking and taking drugs. The leaders of the cell deliberately set out to radicalise and recruit street criminals so they could bring their expertise to the cause. Jamal Ahmidan, the Madrid takfiri who got hold of the explosives, was a drug dealer. One of the critical questions to be answered is: where did the London bombers come from? Were they British jihadis, some of whom, Peter Clarke admits, have gone to fight in Iraq?

Christopher Hitchens looks at the timing of the attack (and also considers the homegrown cell or gang theory) –

Another possibility is the impending trial of Abu Hamza al Mazri, a one-eyed and hook-handed mullah who isn’t as nice as he looks and who preaches Bin-Ladenism from a shabby mosque in North London. He is currently awaiting extradition to the United States, and his supporters might have wanted to make a loving gesture in his favor.

Hitchens ends with a prediction and a warning –

If, as one must suspect, these bombs are only the first, then Britain will start to undergo the same tensions—between a retreat to insularity and clannishness of the sort recently seen in France and Holland, and the self-segregation of the Muslim minority in both those countries—that will start to infect other European countries as well. It is ludicrous to try and reduce this to Iraq. Europe is steadily becoming a part of the civil war that is roiling the Islamic world, and it will require all our cultural ingenuity to ensure that the criminals who shattered London’s peace at rush hour this morning are not the ones who dictate the pace and rhythm of events from now on.

And I’ll just take this opportunity to note Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s recent statement, via RTE

The Taoiseach has said there are a number of al-Qaeda sympathisers in Ireland who are being taken very seriously by the Gardaí.

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