Failed Tube bomb puts UK on highest ‘alert’ | Sunday Observer

Failed Tube bomb puts UK on highest ‘alert’

Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing Burmese military operations swell to nearly half a million.
Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing Burmese military operations swell to nearly half a million.

For regular London visitors, Parsons Green Underground Railway Stop may be part of one’s commute between the glamour of central London and quiet residential suburbs. Last Friday morning, at the height of the office rush hour, it became the latest ‘terror’ attack site.

No one has died in what appears to have been a partially failed detonation of explosives seemingly hidden inside a regular grocery freezer storage bag. Up to 30 people have been reported injured, all passengers inside the packed carriage.

While one man has now been arrested on suspicion, the so-called ‘Islamic State’ insurgent group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Reports from London indicate that the authorities have CCTV records of a man carrying the innocuous looking bag on to the train, although it not clear whether the suspect arrested on Saturday in the port city of Dover (on the British Channel, south of the capital) is the perpetrator.

The UK authorities say that the bomb was of amateurish design and are busy investigating whether the bomber was a loner who acted on his own or together with a team. Most importantly, the counter insurgency forces want to know whether the perpetrators are directly affiliated to IS or are autonomous ‘self-starters’ the new term coined for those independently inspired by IS’ cult of violence but operating without any links for the West Asia-based Islamist insurgent group.

Already, the UK authorities have identified the ingredients of the failed bomb as being based on the same TATP explosive chemical used by several other previous bombers or those caught designing similar bombs. These have all been home-made bombs using chemicals and equipment commonly available and some – like the electric festive bulbs used as detonators – are available at any department store. (Don’t go on the Web to check on TATP – you could get arrested!)

This is the fifth time this year that the UK’s insurgency readiness level has been raised to its highest, i.e. ‘critical’ and reports from London indicate that the UK security forces and agencies are yet to have the capacity to sustain such a high level of attack readiness due to sheer lack of manpower. Already, apparently, the UK Police is having its leave allowance drastically curtailed due to the security work load.

Sri Lanka’s defence forces

Readers will recall the mushrooming of Sri Lanka’s defence forces in response to the JVP’s second insurgency and, as the Tamil separatist insurgent movement expanded multi-fold after the July 1983 anti-Tamil riots. From a single Ministry of Defence in the early post-colonial decades, by the mid-1980s, Sri Lanka had no less than five ministries handling various aspects of security from the military forces to civil defence to industrial security, to ‘national security’ to ‘home guards’ in the villages.

And, as the urban bombings inevitably became frequent, body and bag check became a part of daily life. Indeed, one wonders why, after so many urban attacks in UK cities, bag checks are not in place in the railway system – checks that would have surely detected the bomb-laden freezer bag.

The British news media says that the ‘critical’ alert level yet cannot be sustained for more than a few days due to the human resource shortage. A massive expansion, then, of the UK and other first world internal security forces, must be anticipated soon as the Western powers, especially, gear up for a long term battle.

They are faced with these seemingly politically motivated insurgent groups and, also with emboldened hoodlum types in the West’s own inner cities who may have little understanding of Islamist militancy but may just want to indulge in nihilistic expression of their social-psychological frustrations.

Meanwhile, the leader of the world’s sole superpower has gone and put his foot in his mouth again!

CNN reported that “Even as British police were still sorting out exactly what had happened in the London Underground on Friday morning, President Donald Trump was using the incident to prove a point.”

"Another attack in London by a loser terrorist," the President had tweeted. “These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!"

Since, at the time on late Friday morning, the UK authorities had made no announcement about the identity of the bombers (they still have not officially), from the UK Prime Minister down to London’s Mayor and the London Police Chief there were expressions of ouotrage. Premier Theresa May when asked for her response to Trump by the BBC, primly observed that there should not be speculation that would harm the investigation and forewarn the ‘terrorists’.

President’s ‘betrayal’

Red-faced officials in Washington were soon making statements to downplay the impact of their President’s off-the-cuff remarks that implied that the UK security agencies had failed to pre-empt an attack by persons they already suspected.

Critics in Washington blamed Trump for deliberately attempting to distract his domestic audiences some of which were upset over him new deal with the opposition Democrats to soften his previous hardline against the temporarily domiciled children of illegal immigrants. Originally Trump had promised his supporters that he would summarily throw out these approximately 800,000 children who had grown up in the US after former President Obama had allowed them to stay on.

Trump’s hardline white supremacist supporters are outraged by what they see as their President’s ‘betrayal’ by crossing party lines and doing a deal with the Democrats just as he did the previous week on the raising of the US government’s debt ceiling. Trump’s own Republican Party is also mad with him over these deals with the opposition.

Critics of Trump’s previous reluctance to name and label as racist those American white supremacist organisations that supported him, are now pointing out that the US President has never hesitated to openly condemn Muslims wholesale and collectively for any violence. They are asking why Trump would never describe white supremacists as ‘sick’ even though one white activist recently rammed his car into a crowd of anti-racism demonstrators killing a white woman protestor.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump can do little about North Korea’s latest rocket test other than loudly threaten “overwhelming” military attacks even though the world doubts whether America would dare do something that would immediately endanger the whole populations of two of its oldest and closest Asian allies, Japan and South Korea.

At the same time, the situation in Myanmar is worsening as the number of Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing Burmese military operations swelled to nearly half a million. Protests by Muslims have begun to spread worldwide.

Is Myanmar willing to add to the feeding grounds of Islamist terror with this ethnic cleansing? We, in Sri Lanka, have learnt the lessons of such inter-ethnic strife the hard way. Do we want a part of our own neighbourhood now become another theatre of internal war? 

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