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04 July 2007 Blog Home : July 2007 : Permalink

More Stupid Bombers Please

The Jihadi Doctor plot in the UK, so wonderfully satirized by Iowahawk, really is the gift that keeps giving for those of us who think defending the Western ideals of freedom etc. are good ones.

Firstly we have (as Harry's Place points out) a veritable stream of Muslims (e.g. Sarfraz Manzoor, Hassan Butt, Asim Siddiqui) writing about how it will be up to the Muslims to reject the Islamist scum in their midst and hardly anyone writing about "root causes" etc. Indeed the NY Times "Disenfrachisement" story seems to have been far worse than anything seen in the nuttier elements of the UK press. This can only be a good thing. Furthermore it seems to me that the British government and its security forces haven't been quite so irritating in their response. The government has completely failed to suggest new powers of this or that and beyond looking at the reliability of various restraining orders nothing much appears to be being done.

Secondly, while there have been a few folks who have tried to exaggerate the lethality of the devices, it has become fairly clear that these "bombs" were little more dangerous than half a dozen near accidents caused by people with DIY projects to attempt and no brains. More bombs like these and Al Qaeda start looking like a bunch of losers which is a good thing because failed plots like this add to the impression of Al Qaeda as a force that has shot its bolt. The fact that over in Iraq and Afghanistan Al Qaeda appears to be losing too, despite the best efforts of AP etc., combines to make it look like Al Qaeda is on the way out. Of course it hasn't been destroyed yet but it is definitely losing its aura of "standing up to the imperialists". Depending on how the Red Mosque event plays out, this could be a very bad summer for Al Qaeda and its radical Islamist allies.

Thirdly the bumblers do allow us to see how European politicians seek to use anything as a way to ban things and get more power to themselves. EC Vice president Franco Fratini has proposed that ISPs block subscribers from viewing material about bomb making. The Times reports:

Internet service providers (ISPs) would face charges if they failed to block websites containing bomb-making instructions generated anywhere in the world, EU officials said.


EU officials denied that it would be impossible to track down websites based in remote places, insisting that the local provider based in the EU could be held to account. One said: “You always need a provider here that gives you access to websites. They can decide technically which websites to allow. Otherwise how would China block internet sites? There are no technological obstacles, only legal ones.”

But the Internet Services Providers’ Association (Ispa) said that it would fight any attempt to make ISPs criminally liable for content.

Tim W and the EU Referendum blog, not the mention the Reg, poor scorn on the idea, and for good reason. The comparison with the "Great Firewall of China" is a total joke fo rthe simple reason that, unlike the PRC, Europe's Internet connections to the rest of the world are extraordinarily diverse so having a few block points isn't going to work. If ISPs are supposed to block content then they will either over react and ban (say) all of typepad because Mr Worstall has just mentioned ammonium nitrate and fuel oil on his typepad blog or under react because it is impossible to create a list of bomb-making instructions that need to be banned. Consider how spammers consistently update techniques to get their V!AGR@ and pump'n'dump stock scams through our filters and see how easy it would be for terrorists and the like to create instruction manuals that are missed by the ISPs.

If Mr Frattini really wants to make the British public anti EU to such an extent that even British politicians have to bow to holding a referendum then proposals like this are the way to do it.