back to article Is Europe's war on Islamist terror running out of terrorists?

The terror threat to Europe - Islamist or otherwise - may not be all it's cracked up to be, statistics published by Europol this week indicate. Europol, a criminal intelligence support service for European law enforcement agencies, maintains that the Islamist terror threat remains high despite a 22 per cent drop in arrest …


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  1. Neil

    Now the government will have to.....

    ....come up with other ways of keeping us distracted while they bugger up the country.

    Although they may not need to bother any more as they seem to have succeeded in that department rather nicely.

  2. George

    Dangerous game of figures...

    I think comparing different terror threats is a dangerous game and then to conclude that because arrests are down that it's all over is rather foolhardy.

    Lets not forget that while Basque separatists and Corsican groups do (as you rightly point out) lesser crimes, the Islamists killed untold numbers in Madrid and over 50 people in London, the two should not be compared.

    And our rate of arrest shouldn't be compared with Germany who so far have committed little to Iraq (probably wisely) and a little to Afghanistan, the same goes for France, we have positioned ourselves as a target (rightly or wrongly) through our actions and likely to have different results.

    Lastly success should not be measured in number of arrests but length of time between attacks. Target based policing was the worst thing this country introduced in terms of crime and punishment.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    A few points (some flamebait)

    Firstly, how exactly does one terrorise a cemetary? THEY'RE DEAD. Desecrating a grave may be a little grizzly and distressing for the families, but it's hardly life-threatening in the same way an IRA pub bomb was.

    Secondly, what exactly constitutes a terrorist attack? Do people have to feel terrorised by the actions of another person? If so, I can show you a some drivers along a certain section of the A38 who are CERTAINLY guilty of terrorism. Let's not forget, either, the charming little sh*ts who hang around dark alleys urinating on the elderly and posting videos of it on YouTube. I'm feel more terrorised by seven yoofs loitering outside a convenience store than any so-called Islamist terrorist.

    Thirdly, who cares about terrorism anymore? The biggest terrorist I know of isn't Osama Bin Liner, or some fundamentalist nutter who thinks there really are 70465874 virgins waiting for him if he blows his pecker to pieces, but the idiot in charge of passing laws which further constrain public freedoms in the name of fighting terr'rism.

    Terrorism isn't the problem; this is a pre-emptive strike against revolution.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does the Uk number include the Muslim Goth poet?

    I'm curious does the UK numbers include stuff like that muslim girl who wrote pro Al Quaeda poetry?

    Seems they're justifying their own inflated budgets, just like the USA has 1 million USA people on the domestic terrorist watch list. Gotta justify that 20 billion budget somehow...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Heavens to betsy! Untold numbers?


    How can you claim the Madrid bombings killed untold numbers? Are you suggesting that the Spanish police kept the casualty numbers secret? Why would they do that? How could they do that?

    What John is doing is to point out the large discrepancy between arrests and convictions for terrorism in the UK. That surely points to poor intelligence or over-zealous policing I'd say.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Re: A few points (some flamebait)

    <i>I'm feel more terrorised by seven yoofs loitering outside a convenience store than any so-called Islamist terrorist.</i>

    And ya know what - you f*** deserve it. Yesterday 3 such youfs in an H-ref Ford Fiesta tried to jump the congestion on the Cambridge ring road in front of me by going through the streets and knocked a woman off her bicycle. They showed her the V and a couple of throat-cut gestures and drove off.

    Guess what, the only people to stop and check if she is OK were foreigners. Me and some chap in a car with a french registration (though after seeing that she is OK he drove off without getting off). All the f*** c**ts in the queue on the road drove off like nothing has happened.

    It is a pity that I was talking to my son at the time and did not get the number plate. Not that the police would have given a f***. Last time I called 999 they asked me if someone is dead or about to die and if not told me to hang up the phone.

    Sorry, a nation that behaves like that deserves to be terrorised by youfs. In fact they should urinate on every single middle class c*** in that car queue. Several times. And guess what - all the other c*** will simulate that nothing has happened.

    Move along, the problems of other are not our concern. After all we are told to fear only the terrorists, right?

  7. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Up

    @AC: Re: A few points (some flamebait)

    A masterly summation of our social ills, effortlessly asterisked - nomination for FotW?

    And yes, you're absolutely right.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Re: A few points (some flamebait)

    I agree with everything but the manner of delivery; came of my motorbike outside a building site (mud on road) and my bike hit the car in front after skidding some 20 yards, me narrowly missing it as it stopped. Who came to see if I was ok? A Polish chap working on the site. Didn't speak much English, but the concern on his face told me what he meant.

    Who didn't bother? The people behind me who drove around my bike on it's side, the car it hit (lightly, but they still stopped), and MY BODY IN THE ROAD.

    A truely sickening state of affairs.

  9. david
    Paris Hilton


    ...terrorism hasn't been on the high profile risks for a long time (ever?)

    This is what the Cabinet Office thinks are the main dangers that are worth planning for:

    * Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

    * Flooding

    * Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

    * Human Flu Pandemic

    If I was a terrorist I'd feel a bit put out...

    I'm trying to come up with a putting out link to PH but I'm sure she's a nice girl really.

  10. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Does the Uk number include the Muslim Goth poet?

    I presume she would have appeared in the 2006 figures as an arrest, and as a conviction in 2007.

  11. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Dangerous game of figures...

    Actually I don't recall concluding anything, just drawing attention to a couple of mismatches. But if we're doing numbers, according to the Spanish ministry of the interior ETA has killed 822 people since 1968. It hasn't been particularly effective in recent years, but historically it's been way more dangerous than Islamist terror in Europe has been. So far, I concede...

    But I don't quite grasp how measuring success through time between attacks works. If we have massively repressive terror laws plus an absence of attacks for say, five years, does that mean what we're doing is successful, and we should therefore pass more repressive laws? I'll grant you number of arrests isn't particularly meaningful, but I don't think either I or Europol presented it as a measure of success anyway.

  12. Steve

    @ George

    "Lastly success should not be measured in number of arrests but length of time between attacks. "

    Which leads to the obvious conclusion that our counter-terrorism people we're far more effective before the 7/7 bombings than they were after. Ergo, all the extra "security measures" that have been brought in have made us *less* safer.

    In other news: scientists develop rock that wards off tigers...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can see the problem

    I can see why they don't break the numbers down... it's because it weakens their case.

    See, we have

    'committing a terrorist act' and...

    'conspiracy to commit a terrorist act' and now with the new Blair laws,....

    'planning to commit a terrorist act' and 'conspiracy to plan to commit a terrorist act' and now even....

    'saying stuff that might inspire someone to conspire to plan a terrorist act' and last but not least, lets not forget the eCommerce/terrorism bill....

    'not removing stuff on a website that a police constable doesn't like is tantamount to saying it yourself which is tantamount to inspiring someone to plan to commit a terrorist act....'

    The claim is that these are all the same thing, if they broke up the cases into types they're automatically accepting that they're different, which defeats the argument. For the argument to work, writing bad goth poetry *must* necessarily lead to terrorism that they nipped in the bud.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Dangerous game of figures...

    @ George:

    "Lets not forget that while Basque separatists and Corsican groups do (as you rightly point out) lesser crimes, the Islamists killed untold numbers in Madrid and over 50 people in London, the two should not be compared."


    Let me get this straight:

    The 822 systematic, sustained killings attributed to ETA are "lesser crimes" than the 243 one-off, random killings attributed to "Islamists".

    Ah, so that's why you said "the two should not be compared": because if we did, we'd see that your argument was entirely facile and without merit.

  15. dodge


    I'd love to see how many of those UK arrests were actually turned into prosecutions (i.e. the authorities demonstrated that they had enough evidence to actually move forward in a case, rather than quietly letting go the islamo-goth (thought all Muslim chicks wore black?) or random poor sap guilty of being brown in the wrong house).

    And then see how many of these prosecutions actually resulted in a guilty verdict.

    That, maybe, is a reasonable reflection of terrorist activity. Accusation /= guilt.

  16. Shakje

    Re: Dangerous game of figures...

    Over 50 people in London? While it's terrible that over 50 people died, that number is dwarved by the number of innocent civillians dead in Iraq and Afghanistan because of us. Also, I don't have the figures so I'm not going to do a comparison, but I imagine that the casualties from IRA bombings over a 10 year time period (when we were told they were most active) is probably greater than Islamic terrorism in the last 10 years. Bear in mind the police and the army were doing their utmost then to prevent it.

  17. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: John Lettice and various Anon Twits

    "....ETA has killed 822 people since 1968. It hasn't been particularly effective in recent years...." The drop in "effectiveness" has been largely due to a drop in funds. Their old funders ranged from the KGB through to Quadaffi Duck, including the moronic Septics that gave funds to NORAID. No, the IRA never did come clean and admit to all those American fund-raisers that they have previously shared resources and funds with other terror groups such as ETA and the PLO. A drop in funds coninciding with several Spanish police successes has forced ETA's decline.

    Also, in the UK we have a completely different Muslim demographic to other European countries. Germany has little ex-colonial immigration, but instead has a large number of economic migrants from Turkey. These do not share the same historical fundamentalist doctrines as the UK's immigrants. Similarly, the Fwenchies have their Muslim immigrants mainly drawn from the North African arena, which has been outside AQ's influence until recently, and their immigrants do not have the same level of economic gains and therefore usually do not have access to the large amount of online jihadi material that is aimed at UK Muslims.

    In the UK, we have a large Muslim population that worked hard in the first generation to give the second and third generation the education and cash to have internet access. Unfortunately, they did not remove the inherent ability to blame everything that might go wrong on "the racist Imperialist English" and half the Muslims in the UK walk around with a chip the size of a van on their shoulders. This, and their family ties back to the AQ heartlands of Pakistan, have made our Muslim population (especially the moronic yoofs that take any opportunity to exclude themselves and blame it on "white racists") much more of a target for AQ. AQ targets 80% of its propaganda at English-speaking audiences outside the Middle East, even taking into account the Dutch blips caused by the Mohammed cartoons and Geert WIlders' "Fitna" film.

    Only in Spain, which Islamic fundamentalists claim as previously Islamic land and therefore theirs by divine right has there been a higher level of sustained AQ propaganda activity compared to other European countries, and it is dwarfed by that targeted at the UK.

    Sarkozy knows it is only a question of time before AQ uses its new links to Algerian fundamentalists to start a more active campaign in France. It is suddenly in France's interest to get stuck in to Afghanistan, hence the announcement of the new Fwench mission. Hopefully they'll bring more than their white flags....

  18. punks unite
    Paris Hilton

    @ AC, a few points (flamebait)

    Well said mate. It's not only youths that are the issue, but also many adults that are causing todays issues. More people are killed and assaulted on the streets of London in 6 months that Islamic terrorist kill in a year (*in this country)

    While I agree that there is a minor threat from religious nutters, i believe the bigger threat is Feral children with no respect for anything or anyone, and adults that encourage/excuse/stand by and do nothing their behaviour. Of course we can expect the goverment to do nothing about this.

    Paris cause she has more sense than Gordon Brown and the Nu-luser party, conservatives and lib dems put together.

  19. Adam Foxton

    Possession of materials likely to be of use to terrorists?!

    It's a good thing that T5's in such a bad state- BA would be for the high jump if aircraft could actually get off the ground... [reference to 9/11 using planes, of course]

    Also, are they banning the use of fertiliser [omagh]?

    Cars? [Flaming Muppet attacks]?

    How about Rucksacks- you can covertly carry loads of explosive in one of those and get it into very public areas (like busses) can't you [London Bombings]? Remote Controlled Cars [I can't imagine it'd be impossible to blow up a bus with one]?

    How far are they going to take this? Banning the sale of Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinear in the same week, in case you make a bang outside an old-folks-home and shock them to death?! How about banning air in aircraft- all terrorists so far use air!

    We're finding more "terrorists" because we're looking for them. And creating more of them.

  20. Ferry Boat


    because there weren't that many in the first place.

    Please Mr Government give me something new to be afraid of.

    What's that Mr Government? I should read the Daily Mail.

    Ok then.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Problem in the UK

    Is that the government has drawn the definition of 'terrorism' so broadly that anything much beyond dropping a crisp bag is going to fall foul of one or another pieces of terror legislation.

  22. Laurent Leconte


    Matt, methinks you should get your head out of your a**e long enough to do some basic fact checking.

    First, a quick reminder : islamic terrorist != AQ.

    As far as France is concerned, I'd think the demographics are largely similar to those in the UK.

    Second and third generation immigrants ? Check. The high point of immigration from Northen Africa was during the 60s and the 70s, following the economic boom of the time, the need for cheap labor, and the independence of our former colonies.

    Education and cash to get internet access ? Check. Although earning levels are lower than average for that demographic group (as in the UK, I suspect), it's still plenty enough to afford ADSL; and although they don't usually have stellar academic records, they still go to school long enough to learn how to read; and, more importantly, to become disillusioned with their prospects if they stick to school and try to make something of themselves.

    As a sidenote, the biggest French blog site is run by Skyrock, a hiphop / rap radio mostly popular in poor suburbs and housing estates (IIRC they pride themselves on being the rap radio with the most listeners *in the world*).

    Chip on their shoulder ? Check. They've been brought up with a culture that doesn't mesh with the society they live in; they see themselves as unfairly put upon; they couldn't give a toss about lawful behaviour; they see the rest of France as racists peasants who'd toss them out given half a chance, not that they may be far wrong on that count unfortunately.

    Islamic background ? Check. Algeria has been having problems with fundamentalist groups for more than 20 years now, and some of that has spilled over into France. AQ may have done a marketing coup recently by rebranding those terrorists as their Algerian branch, but they were along long before the world had heard of Osama. The biggest islamic terrorist attack in France dates back to 1995, when a couple of subway stations were blown up by these same Algerian radicals. 1995 ? The US was probably still selling weapons to OBL at that time.

    Honestly, I think the main difference comes from government attitude towards radical preachers. You have a metric sh*tload of them in London; we have few if any. They find safe haven in the UK, so they settle there and do their thing. Most of the French blowhards who've been arrested in Irak or elsewhere under suspicion of terrorist activities have spent time and been coached in the English mosques.

    So when French yoof want to fight back against society or become confused with their life of loafing around and selling drugs, they stand less chance of becoming indoctrined by radical preachers and learning how to make bombs. They keep dealing drugs instead, or try to ambush police and firefighters in street guerillas...

    And that behaviour isn't yet classified as terrorism (whether it should be is another question entirely)

  23. Pierre

    Half of you

    will feed next year's statistics. I'm talking about the non-believers who posted comments minimizing the threat, therefore encouraging muslim nutcase to "do better" while discouraging law-abidding Daily Mail readers to beat the crap out of their tanned neighbours (a tanned complexion indicates terrorist inclinations nowadays -10 years ago, it was red hair and nasal accent, the times they are a-changing)...

    Y'all are guilty of expressing ideas that might lead to independant thinking, which in turn might lead to scepticism and might encourage disrespect towards the authorities and at some point in the future might lead to increased free speach, which is the ground on which terrorism blooms, as we all know. So you're terrorists. So to G-bay you go, you filthy enemy combattants!

  24. Phillistine

    A little off topic but....

    I live in the US and as such am familiar with the middle finger gesture. It essentially means 'Up Yours' in an abbreviated form(with finger indicating the proverbial phallus), since the original involved using the whole forearm with clenched fist. Or so I think.

    What exactly does this two fingered 'V' gesture signify ?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @Untold numbers

    202 in Bali 2002

    191 in Madrid 2004

    52 in London 2005

    Some of us might see a trend and conclude that having your best people commit suicide is a long term recipie for fail.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    re: scientists develop rock that wards off tigers

    Link or it didn't happen (where are teh tech specs?)

  27. John Imrie


    In the gold old days when Blighty went to war against our traditional enemy, France, we came up with the long bow. This was the WMD of its time as it allowed a highly trained peasant to kill French amour waring knights at a distance.

    This was considered unsporting by the French.

    In order to discourage this practice any English archer caught by the French would have his first and second fingers, those used to draw a bow, of his right hand cut off.

    English archers, and then other English troops, would therefor wave these two fingers at the opposing army before a battle.

    The meaning being that a French knight in armor was going to end up as a foil wrapped kebab.

  28. Shabble

    While no-one is watching...

    I worrying thought - as terrorism has fallen down the public's 'fear list' (now well behind a possible house market collapse, global warming, the English Premier League's 39th game suggestion and the forthcoming release of Carry on London), no-one is paying propper attention to the fact that the government is trying to sneak through its police state-esque legislation to increase the length of time suspects can be detained without evidence.

    It now seems that the only people interested in anti-terrorist laws are the police (who are instinctively favourable towards any laws that reduce the freedoms of the citizens) and Gordon Brown (who seems to think its his job to turn the UK into a weird cross between the USSR and a Tesco megastore). All the human rights protestors are worrying so much about Zimbabwe and Nepal, they've forgotten about the proto-despot we have at home.

  29. brian

    Helping people on the road

    An AC said "Guess what, the only people to stop and check if she is OK were foreigners"

    I've stopped to help people before and I've had very mixed reactions. One older lady fell off her bike and couldn't get up so I called an ambulance and she was grateful. She was also the exception.

    Twice I stopped to help someone broken down on a country road. In one "incident" the woman in the car told me to go away. The next time (some years later) I was told by another woman that she had my registration and would phone the police to report me if I didn't go away. So I no longer stop to help.

    I won't help with children either. These days any man who shows any concern or interest in a child *must* be a child-molester. I've been told that by a social worker.

    So, women and kids, you're on your own because I'll be damned if I'm going to jail for just trying to help some lilly-livered nitwit afraid of her own shadow.

  30. brian


    The "V" gesture also symbollises "Up yours" and is rumoured to originated at the Battle of Agincourt where English archers (who used a v finger grip to draw arrows) are supposed to have used it on the French....

    United States president George H. W. Bush, attempting to give the "peace sign", once gave the insulting V sign to onlookers while touring Australia, unaware of what it meant to Australians

  31. Old Man - Grey Fleece

    Re:A little off topic but...


    The 2 fingers are those a bowman would use to draw the string back. Hence around the time of Agincore the French would amputate those fingers from any English bowman they caught. So this particularly English gesture was used towards the French to indicate "You haven't caught me and you are likely to get an arrow through you shortly as a result".

    Not that the English like a good grudge or anything.

  32. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up


    V for victory with palm facing out.

    Similar to the "up yours" or "F off" with palm facing in.

    Check the wikipedia "Insult" entry for V sign. :)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dare I say it

    I understand that attributing anything good to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan is anathema to Europeans but have any of you considered the possibility that the low level of terrorism is a direct result of these wars? I imagine that the groups that are organized enough to launch successful terror campaigns have their hands quite full fighting coalition forces right now and therefore aren't up to making mischief beyond their borders.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC: Dare Dare

    There ya go, confusing the issues with facts...

  35. Rich
    Thumb Down

    Untold numbers

    191, just to tell you.

    About the same as in the first few shots of the Iraq or Afghan wars.

  36. heystoopid


    Reason , more money to found in the hands of the Lichtenstein tax evaders and think of the penalty interest charges and numerous other fees that can be made as well !

    But like all phoney wars of mass deception and propaganda it was basically all hype and not much real substance anyway , as the real world of the living and the standard Health Department annual preventable death statistics show along with those wonderful down to earth pre pay funeral insurance adds tell us so delightfully to our face we are all mortal !

    Sorry the coat is out getting a new MET resistant Bullet Proof Lining for the next foray to terminal T5 as the fire from the BA side of the bench can be very cutting and sharp at times !

  37. Anonymous Coward

    "very few actual incidents of, or attempts at, Islamist terror attacks were reported"

    And, let's face it, those that were, were fairly comic, including as they did the magnificent spectacle of Ji-beavis and Jihad-head running around outside Glasgow airport with their hoodies on fire getting kicked in the nuts by radge 'weegies!

    If that's terrorism, I'm all for more of it!

    @"Dare I say it":

    Yes. Yes, we have considered that possibility. And we decided it has bugger-all to do with the wars, which have only made things worse, and bugger-everything to do with the fact that the pumped up threat was goebbels-scale bullshit FROM START TO FINISH.

    Hooray for the end of the war on terror. As the FBI guy said, it's all virtually wrapped up. SO WE CAN HAVE OUR FUCKING HUMAN RIGHTS BACK NOW AND NO MESSING - ARE YOU LISTENING, GOVERNMENTS?

    Because this shit has come to the end of its run. And good riddance. A shameful black mark in our history that will not be missed.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC - Iraq and Afghanistan

    The Afghanistan war was generally popular in Britain, it was the frankly f*cking stupid invasion of Iraq that created tensions with an ally that backed you, truly, to the hilt.

    The Iraq war was cited by the 7/7 bombers as their reason, although without it they would have had some other reason.

  39. Nomen Publicus

    Wrong numbers ?

    Arrests may be "disruptive" but how many convictions result from them?

  40. Colin

    The Numbers Game.

    Laws and their application are not a good indicator of the risk of terrorist attack.

    The thing I think that people sometimes forget is that the perception of the British public of islamist terrorism has been skewed by the politicians in recent years. Britain has had a good working relationship with the Islamic world for years. Not always the friendliest relationship admittedly, but usually Britain was seen as largely neutral in it's dealings.

    The fight against the Taliban had by and large a general level of cross community support. It was not until Blair and his cronies decided to support Bush in his illegal war in Iraq that the UK was really made into a target. Then once he successfully made the terrorist nut jobs consider the UK as a threat, Blair had to be seen to be doing something about it. Hence the idotic restrictions that only affect the law abiding people of the UK.

    Come on does anyone for one second believe that making laws to criminalise things will stop terrorists? Britain has had some of the most draconian anti-terror laws for decades. Up to and including internment without trial (GitMo is only copying the British authorities of 30 years ago). None of those laws stopped the IRA and that lot from their activities. None of the current laws will stop the current terrorists either.

    The only way to stop terrorists attacking you is to remove their support and you cannot do that by shooting them. The only reason IRA stopped their activities is because the Americans stopped sending them money after after 9/11. Pity it took the horror of 9/11 to make the Americans realise what their support had meant over here.

    But the result is a perfect example in how to stop terrorists, cut off their support, both monetary and their popularity base. Taking direct action against the terrorists and all you do is enable them and those you kill become martyrs to the cause. But if they have no money and no mandate from the people the claim to fight for. Then you have effectively removed the ability of the organisation to remain effective.

  41. Sceptical Bastard


    Terrorism generates far more heat than light (as many of the comments above demonstrate - for example, WTF has dangerous driving in Cambridge got to do with pan-European terrorism).

    The story wasn't about motoring in university towns - it was about the different approach to law enforcement by European states and how the UK seems to be leading the way with action - or over-reaction.

    I think we'd be wise treat most statistics and claims relating to terrorism with scepticism.

    I do not deny there is a threat of so-called 'terrorism' here in the UK. But during the war with the IRA, we Britons faced an equal, if not greater, threat throughout the 1970s. We handled that problem without today's torrent of official FUD and without wide-ranging draconian legislation (or, more accurately, without legislation affecting mainland Britain - the law in Northern Ireland was a different matter).

    As is often said, criminal actions by 'terrorists' only become terrorism if a population feels terrorised. So the government, the security services and the media should refrain from unnecessary scaremongering, hyperbole and totalitarian lawmaking - otherwise they become the terror-spreaders.

    The madmen (be they Islamist, Basque, or Irish) murder people but it's the Daily Mail and the Home Office who fuel and spread widespread terror.

    As I say above, be sceptical - in the sense of thinking about and questioning state-sponsored orthodoxies and special pleading by the police and security services.

    And, of course, never drive to Cambridge ;)

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    creata a climate of fear, remover the barriers to freedom and individuallity, feed the willing and compalint media full of drivel, provide psudeo education for the masses, manipulate socia-economic facttors, removal of civil rights, ciminalise the marginals and dissenters... this mugagbes zimbabwe, al quaidas afghanistan or browns britian?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dare to respond

    You may be right about the Afghan intervention reducing the capability of "Al Qaeda" to develop new attacks post-World Trade Centre. That's the reason that that war has far more widespread support than the politically and economically motivated invasion of Iraq.

    Lumping the two together in order to generate legitimacy for the Iraq action has succeeded only in eroding support for the dismantling of the Taleban.

  44. Andrew Poodle

    Deterrents and policing?

    I've got anti-elephant devices planted around my garden to prevent elephants from destroying my vegetable patch.

    They must work, I've not suffered an elephant attack ever.

  45. Spleen

    Re: two fingers thing

    A lot of things are unclear and debatable about the origin of the up yours/V sign gesture, but one thing can be stated with almost complete certainty: the idea that the French cut off longbowmens' drawing fingers when they captured them is complete bollocks. If you were a longbowman and the French captured you, they would kill you. Horribly. There was no percentage in merely mutilating you and then releasing you into the wild. The only captives who would be kept alive would be nobles so they could be ransomed, and as has been pointed out, longbowmen were peasantry and worth nothing.

    The V-sign is probably just a variation on the 'up yours' gesture which has been documented in Roman times and has probably been around for ever. I believe in some places the gesture is to place one hand on the inside of the other elbow and make an upward thrusting motion with the fist clenched - even more painful.

    At least no-one's trotted out the even more ridiculous story that 'f--- you' is a corruption of 'pluck yew'.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Al Who?

    Shock horror - fabricated terror organisation turns out to be less than major threat. I think everyone knows the biggest threat is from inside, the secret services and the shit they start to try and further government agendas. Is this really a story?

  47. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Al Who?

    Is this really a story? Well...

    The Europol report itself does not appear to be a story as far as the papers are concerned. The Herlad Trib ran it as "Home-grown terrorism rising in Europe" (which seems a bit of a desperate stretch to me), and the UK press doesn't seem to have touched it at all.

    The 2007 report didn't get much news traction either, but if Europol's figures had shown even a 20% rise in Islamist terror arrests I guarantee you we'd have headlines a go-go. They go nuts every time a senior spook tells us how many plotters they're investigating, they don't want to know when some armed to the teeth fringe crazy gets busted, if the crazy happens not to be an Islamist crazy.

    Huge terror scare stories build circulation, statistics that suggest that the huge terror scare stories are somewhat overblown do not. But round here we think it's worth doing a corrective every now and again. So as far as we're concerned, yes, it's really a story.

  48. Dave Sparrow

    Up yours, Boyo

    As Spleen said, I don't think anyone has any real evidence for the origin of the V sign being Agincourt (or any other longbow-based evidence). It's just another good old story that everyone is convinced is true due to it sounding fairly reasonable and then being trotted out on regular occasions - not unlike the myth about being able to see the Great Wall of China from the moon for instance.

    I read somewhere that many or even most of the archers on the English side at Agincourt were probably Welsh not English due to the way army 'recruitment' used to work in those days.

    Mine's the flameproof coat.

  49. Sceptical Bastard

    @ John Lettice

    Quote: "we think it's worth doing a corrective every now and again."

    I'm bloody glad you do: we rely on The Register for a bit of sane analysis amid all the hype and spin.

    Quote: "as far as we're concerned, yes, it's really a story."

    Yup, I'd go along with that too.

    As I've already commented, we're force-fed a diet of paranoia and FUD by the media quite out of proportion to the threat. And the debate is all too often skewed by vested interests and hypocrisy.

    For example, I don't remember this degree of state-sponsored hysteria during the 1970s when the British people were faced with a barbarous and ultimately futile campaign of violence by Northern Irish protestant and catholic paramilitaries. That 'war' was tacitly supported by outsiders who took seriously the self-serving mythologies of both criminal factions. Today, we stand shoulder to shoulder with these outsiders against Islam - but when the boot was on the other foot, it was a different story as shown by the support radical republicanism received from Noraid.

  50. George

    OK I'll answer a couple of the @s

    So here goes:

    @ Brian Morrison, sorry I meant untold as in it was lots of people but I don't know the figure. I guess the implication was lost in written words. And what I was doing is pointing that considering the countries involved were as a country are likely to be a much bigger target due to our actions.

    @ Anonymous Coward, ETA have a different goal, different tactics and require a different approach and possibly be resolved in a political manner. That is why they are different, I used the term "lesser crimes" because that was the language used in both the El Reg article and report.

    @ Steve, yes that would be true. Whether they had knowingly prevented attack or not it had not happened before so they were more successful.

    Heart, because a I love a big debate.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Cause and effect

    Robert Pape and others have argued that in nearly all cases, terrorism is caused by a (usually valid) grievance. Algerian terrorism against France was caused by French occupation and we know that the London and Madrid bombers were influenced by the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Such foreign policy blunders are used to recruit people willing to blow themselves and any unfortunate bystanders to pieces.

    If the West (read mostly the US and UK) continue to support oppressive regimes and dictators in the Middle East, then they can expect some blowback.

    Now please can we bring liquids back on aircraft?

  52. Mike Crawshaw

    @ Brian "Helping People On The Road"

    I know exactly what you mean. At a shopping centre, I saw a woman struggling to get through some doors with a large number of bags. I stopped, and opened the door for her.

    She slapped me across the face and yelled that I was a "sexist bastard" and that I shouldn't "patronize" her. I was too shocked to even move or reply for a number of minutes whilst she stormed off - I had a true "WTF?????" moment going on.

    So now, if you're a woman struggling to get through doors in MeadowHell, Sheffield, and you see a long-haired guy in a leather biker jacket watching and smiling - don't wait for me to come over and help!!!!*

    *unless Gordon decides that not helping women with bags through doors is Incitement to Assist the Planning of Incitement to Plan to Think About Making Available Materials to Assist in the Planning of Incitement to Plan Incitement to Commit Planning a Terrorist Act. Which is very possible.

  53. Steve


    "If you were a longbowman and the French captured you, they would kill you. Horribly. There was no percentage in merely mutilating you and then releasing you into the wild."

    I'm not so sure. Kill a hundred archers and you have a pile of stinking corpses to get rid of. Keep them prisoner and you have to feed them. Mutilating them so they're ineffective troops and then releasing them dumps the problem on your enemy, who has to feed useless mouths and deal with the resulting morale issues in the surviving ranks as well.

    I've absolutely no idea if the story is true, but in terms of psychological warfare it makes some sense.

  54. brimful


    "dumps the problem on your enemy, who has to feed useless mouths and deal with the resulting morale issues in the surviving ranks as well."

    And no doubt the french claimed that they were being kind to said archers by not killing them and so winning huge public support. Politics - you gotta love the game.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    re: scientists develop rock that wards off tigers

    Kodos: It seems the earthlings won.

    Kang: Did they? That board with a nail in it may have defeated us. But the humans won't stop there. They'll make bigger boards and bigger nails, and soon, they will make a board with a nail so big, it will destroy them all!

    [both aliens laugh evilly, for quite some time]

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