Se dice con cierta frecuencia que en todas partes cuecen habas. Verdad en grado absoluto si se permite la afirmación. Les he seleccionado cinco editoriales correspondientes a los cinco periódicos más importantes del Reino Unido. Encontramos cinco puntos de vista que podríamos agrupar en tres posiciones totalmente diferentes entre sí. El legendario THE TIMES apunta a la efectividad de las medidas antiterroristas del Gobierno Blair (y Bush). También incide en un punto esencial, la política de la nación no define la actuación de los extremistas, de los terroristas. El odio hacia occidente es irracional y está incrustado en su macabro "discurso ideológico". THE DAILY TELEGRAPH pone la lupa en el fracaso de las políticas de integración y el "multiculturalismo" desarrollado en la isla afirmando que únicamente las familias musulmanas británicas pueden frenar esta amenaza. Nos e trata de concesiones ni acuerdos con los líderes religiosos.
El FINANCIAL TIMES y THE GUARDIAN expresa una postura moderadamente crítica celebrando el éxito policial y cuestionando el tremendismo, el caos creado en los aeropuertos, y el miedo (o terror) creado entre la ciudadanía. Es una postura que evidentemente no puedo compartir, mucho menos al día siguiente del suceso, pero que en cualquier caso puede considerarse con respeto, aunque me surge necesariamente una pregunta ¿Qué dirían estos prestigiosos medios informativos si hoy tuviésemos más de tres mil asesinados diseminados en mitad del océano? Afortunadamente nunca obtendremos respuesta al interrogante sugerido.
La nausea la provoca una vez más el despreciable THE INDEPENDENT, un panfleto ideológicamente ubicado en la izquierda más cavernaria en línea con el "pancarterismo" instalado entre nosotros desde hace dos años. En su editorial sólo le falta culpar a Blair de los atentados al acusarle, sin ningún reparo, de utilizar esta operación policial como cortina de humo para "tapar" otros "escándalos" como las "inexistentes armas de destrucción masiva de Irak", el error en el homicidio de Jean Charles de Menezes y otras cuestiones que no merecen ni comentario ¿Les suenan los "argumentos"? Lamentablemente sí y, lamentablemente también, tenemos que afirmar por enésima vez que en enemigo de occidente está dentro, que hay una auténtica "quinta columna" empeñada en destrozar y derribar nuestra civilización desde dentro.
"Extremists are influenced by political events, but not defined by them" (Editorial de THE TIMES)
Had the terrorist plan to blow up five American airliners succeeded, the consequences would have been, as Scotland Yard said, "mass murder on an unimaginable scale". At least 1,500 people could have been killed: men, women and children, Christians, Muslims and atheists, holidaymakers and businessmen, burnt and mutilated by pathological fanatics whose perverted idea of Muslim salvation prompts them, allegedly, to conspire at carnage.
The horror of what may have happened is matched only by the relief that this plot was thwarted. But although innocent lives have been spared, the consequences are as profound as those that followed the London bombings a year ago. Air travel, public security, religious tolerance, social harmony and national priorities all will be affected.
After the London bombings, the police and security services gave numerous warnings that the terrorist threat had not diminished; that fanatics would try again to kill on a mass scale; and that in Muslim neighbourhoods zealots were still trying to recruit disaffected youths to the jihadist cause. But over the past year complacency has grown. The report on the London bombings highlighted mistakes that the security service should have avoided. The police have been unable to stem damaging detail on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. The Forest Gate fiasco raised questions about the reliability of intelligence and the police response.
Cynicism has crept into the discussion, not least among Muslims, who mistakenly see themselves as the target of the campaign against terrorism and insist that Islamophobia has grown. Their disaffection has been fuelled by the war in Lebanon.
Complacency ended yesterday. The scale of the plot, the number of arrests and the continuing investigations into a conspiracy that reached back into Pakistan as well as across the Atlantic show that the threat is acute. The call yesterday by both the police and by John Reid, the Home Secretary, for vigilance should need no reinforcement: as they pointed out, the public gathers the best intelligence. And the best reaction of any citizen determined to play a role in defeating terrorism is to remain alert, informed and watchful.
That message applies especially to the Muslim community. For the past year, British Muslims have been in a state of turmoil, profoundly shocked by the discovery that the London bombers were born and brought up in Britain: instead of integrating, they sought their identity in alienation. Most Muslim leaders have accepted offers by the Home Office, community leaders and other faith groups to help in reaching out to the young, the angry and the potentially violent.
A certain amount has been done, and some Muslim leaders have emerged from a paralysing state of denial to argue vigorously for a better understanding of their faith by young Muslims as well as by outsiders. There have been welcome initiatives: task forces sent to Muslim communities to tackle extremism; programmes to ensure better training for imams; and a more concerted attempt to inculcate the duties of citizenship.
Nevertheless, it was dispiriting to find yesterday that several Muslim groups were openly sceptical, saying that the police had been trying to intimidate Muslims with earlier raids and accusing the Government of timing the latest arrests to distract attention from the criticisms of its stance on Lebanon. Such self-deception is extremely dangerous. Islam has an identity crisis that it must combat. A virulent strain that mixes testosterone and a nihilistic theology has afflicted a small minority of young Muslims.
There will also be critics and cynics who are not Muslim, who would like to believe that if only foreign policy would change, the threat would immediately recede and the extremism evaporate. Those who would commit mass murder are not to be appeased by this or that policy fluctuation. Jihadists see Western society as innately evil, an existential threat to their puritanical, obscurantist version of Islam. They cannot come to terms with sexual equality, Western values, tolerance or democracy. To them, the Palestinian or Iraqi contexts are only settings for the introduction of an ideology that is utterly intolerant and regards moderate Muslims as apostates. If policy on either changed, they would look for other justifications for their fanaticism.
Both the police and the Government yesterday had clearly drawn lessons from earlier terrorist emergencies, especially the de Menezes killing. They were swift to give clear statements on the arrests, while being careful not to speculate or prejudice future criminal trials and the continuing inquiry which will be long and spread far wider. Already it has been made clear that Pakistan, from where many of those arrested or their families came, has been helping in the international surveillance of the suspects. If the public is to be convinced of the threat, accept temporary travel restrictions and not be unduly alarmed by the raising of the security alert, the police must provide as much accurate information as possible, as swiftly as possible. If there have been mistakes, they must be admitted, and if there are residual concerns, they must be explained.
It was revealed last week that Britain's security services have foiled 13 terrorist plots. There are certainly others still being hatched. Defending Britain's security is a costly, secret and often thankless task. But it is vital.
And while the details of how this latest plot was thwarted may never be known, the public will be grateful that the intelligence services have, for now, proved up to their task. This is a long battle, in which the police and MI5 will be engaged for many years. They deserve all the backing that a vigilant public can give them.
Editorial publicado en el diario THE TIMES el viernes 11 de agosto de 2006. Por su interés informativo reproducimos íntegramente su contenido.
"Only Muslim families can stop this infamy" (Editorial THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)
For anyone sanguine enough to believe that the July 7 terrorist atrocities last year were simply an aberration, yesterday's events must have disabused them. Once again we learnt that British-born Muslim fanatics are prepared to commit slaughter on a mass scale in the name of jihad. The apparently successful thwarting of a plot to blow up transatlantic aircraft with bombs fabricated aboard the planes is a sorely needed success for Scotland Yard and MI5 following the controversial Forest Gate raid and the tragedy of the killing of the innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes. We are all too ready to criticise them when they get it wrong, but we must understand their need to act decisively on the intelligence they receive.
The terrorist strategy of combining suicide bombing with easily concealed explosive ingredients is not new. It first surfaced in 1995, in a suspected al-Qa'eda plot when nitroglycerine was carried aboard a plane in the Philippines in containers for contact-lens solution. What is new is the scale of the alleged plot, with as many as 10 aircraft being targeted, in which thousands of people could have perished. This has led America's Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, to offer the view that it is ''suggestive of an al-Qa'eda plot''. The British authorities are wisely more reticent, stressing that their investigation is at an early stage.
What is not open to doubt is that most, if not all, of the 21 arrested suspects are British-born Muslim youths, most of them of Pakistani ethnic origin, and even one white, middle-class convert to Islam. After the July 7 bombings, Tony Blair called Muslim leaders together in Downing Street for a summit. Its purpose was to encourage the ''Muslim community'' to foster a climate that would prevent young Muslims becoming so radicalised that they are prepared to blow themselves and their fellow citizens to smithereens. Too late, of course. The global loathing for the United States and its ally, the United Kingdom, has helped corrupt the minds of a generation of disaffected young Muslims, a process speeded by extremist clerics who, in far too many cases, have been allowed to come and go with impunity.
And what precisely is this ''Muslim community''? Is it represented by Khurshid Ahmed, a member of the Commission for Racial Equality, who yesterday expressed his shock that young Muslims could be involved in such a plot and voicing relief that they had been apprehended? Or is it represented by Fahad Ansar of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, who depicted the operation as a cynical ploy by the Government aimed at ''diverting attention away from its policy in the Middle East''? In truth, there is no such thing as a single ''Muslim community''. The Muslim Council of Britain is held by the Government to be the authentic voice of this frequently disparate group, which hails originally from at least a dozen different countries. But is it? A trenchant analysis - When Progressives Treat With Reactionaries - written by Martin Bright, the political editor of the Left-wing New Statesman, concludes: ''The Government has chosen as its favoured partner an organisation that is undemocratic, divisive and unrepresentative of the full diversity of Muslim Britain.'' Too frequently, its leaders depict as mainstream what most people would describe as extreme. Its stand against terrorism has been muted.
For any government grappling with a problem of such dangerous complexity, this may be an understandable mistake. It is time it was rectified. Alienated young Muslims will not be won round by convening Downing Street seminars or sending out gimcrack road shows manned by the very community leaders for whom they have little but contempt. Of course, the Government must maintain a dialogue with all shades of Muslim opinion, but if ministers seriously believe that this will deter potential young terrorists, they are being alarmingly naïve.
In reality, this is not a job for government at all. The one thing that unites Muslims in this country is their respect for the family. It is the bedrock of their society, something that many in this country look at with envy, given the catastrophic social impact of family breakdown among other groups. The long march to win back disaffected Muslim youth must start in the home, and the neighbourhoods of which they are a part. This is not a problem that lends itself to top-down solutions. It has to start at the bottom, with a recognition that fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and the extended family are the people most likely to spot, and most able to stop, emerging radicalism.
Meanwhile, the events of the past 36 hours have once again achieved the enormous disruption and uncertainty that is always a key element of the terrorist game plan. Air travel will became even more tiresome as security checks become ever more rigorous. There are also profound commercial implications for the way airports and airlines conduct their business. John Reid, the Home Secretary, rose to the occasion yesterday, speaking with quiet eloquence of the sheer evil of the plotters and the heinous nature of what they were attempting. He carefully avoided any note of triumphalism, despite what appears to have been an exemplary operation by the police and the security services. He also, quite rightly, warned against complacency. A wounded animal is always dangerous and, if this is an al-Qa'eda conspiracy, it means the days and weeks ahead will be perilous.
Editorial publicado en el diario THE DAILY TELEGRAPH el viernes 11 de agosto de 2006. Por su interés informativo reproducimos íntegramente su contenido.
"The most powerful response to terrorism Neither complacent nor chaotic: in search of proportion" (Editorial FINANCIAL TIMES)
The chaos in the UK's airports yesterday, caused by exhaustive efforts to screen and sift hand baggage, was a small victory for terrorists. The murder of hundreds of travellers would have been an incomparably larger one. That is the nature of the balancing act that we entrust to our government.
The immediate question will be whether the security clampdown prevented an attack. The police seem confident, but the truth is likely to emerge only over time. The police and intelligence services have not been discouraged by earlier false alarms. In June they launched a vast security operation in east London, based on intelligence reports. They shot a man but found no sign of the chemical weapons they had expected. Last year police shot and killed a Brazilian electrician, Jean Charles de Menezes, whom they had mistaken for a suicide bomber. Yet they also failed to anticipate the July 7 bombings last year, in which 52 people were murdered.
It has long been clear that no matter how sharp the intelligence services get, we cannot rely on their detective work as the only line of defence against terrorist attacks. If we are to believe the police, the UK's airports were wide open to attack on Wednesday. They were in a state of near paralysis yesterday. This is not sustainable.
Big airports need to upgrade their security so that they will be safer in times of low alert while continuing to function when security is tighter. There is no single answer: some new technologies promise to detect a wider range of explosives and weapons with a quick scan, while it would do no harm to hire more staff and open some more checkpoints to maintain the flow of passengers in a crisis.
Yet no system is perfectly secure, and even if the world's aircraft could be made secure at a reasonable cost in time and money, terrorists will always have other options as simple as truck bombs or explosives on trains and buses. There will be more attacks, perhaps deadly and dramatic ones.
The first response must be to adopt a foreign policy that saps terrorists of support without pandering to their demands. It should not be necessary to remind either the US or the British government that it is not possible simply to kill or catch all the terrorists until there are none left, a pointless strategy based on what one might call the "lump of terror" fallacy.
The second response must be a sense of proportion. More than 3,000 people died last year on our roads, but the roads stay open. Even the worst acts of terrorism reap their largest toll in hysterical responses. Scotland Yard's statement that they had disrupted a plot to cause "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" was alarmist even if it is true. Journalists - and terrorists - are perfectly capable of spreading hyperbole without any help from the police. The most powerful answer to terrorism is not to be terrified.
Editorial publicado en el diario FINANCIAL TIMES el viernes 11 de agosto de 2006. Por su interés informativo reproducimos íntegramente su contenido.
"Tackling terror" (Editorial de THE GUARDIAN)
"They just don't get it," said John Reid as he charged large parts of Britain's political, legal and media establishment this week with willfully ignoring the threat from "unconstrained international terrorists". Britain faced "probably the most sustained period of severe threat since the end of the second world war", he added. As the home secretary spoke on Wednesday the stridency of his language appeared remarkable and, to many, excessive. Yesterday that changed, with the successful disruption by the police and security services of what appears to have been an advanced and merciless plot to kill many hundreds of travellers on flights across the Atlantic. Exactly what Mr Reid knew when he spoke, hours before raids which led to 24 arrests across England, is unclear. But yesterday's actions go far to support his and the prime minister's calls for a resolute drive against a terrorist threat that exists, is active, perhaps increasing and which must be confronted.
Resolution comes in many forms, however and yesterday's firm and justified response does not excuse the government from showing equal resolve in defence of principles that have defined this country and served it well. In his statements yesterday, the home secretary displayed commendable urgency in response to immediate danger but he must take care before extending this into a political environment that is not as unthinkingly obstructive as he suggests. Mr Reid cited with approval the prime minister's recent statement that "traditional civil liberty arguments are not so much wrong as, just made for another age". But this is to misunderstand a debate that should be about measures, not values. Few people question the fact that changing threats require changing laws, resources and priorities, but that must not be allowed to wash away the liberal foundations on which they are built.
So much remains uncertain about the causes and course of yesterday's events across Britain that certainty, on the part of ministers and the police as well as the media, is hardly possible. All that can be said is that much that was unknown yesterday will become known in the weeks to come and some of what appeared clear will turn out to be wrong. That was true of the July 7 and 21 attacks last year, too, as well as of the unsuccessful Forest Gate raid more recently. The scale of the criminality that was halted yesterday was perhaps among the greatest that this country has faced, described by the security services as Britain's 9/11, but even this is not confirmed. What is certain and right is that Britain has a system that controls not just terrorists who hope to destroy civilisation but, in a very different manner, regulates the authority that allows the state to stop them, too. Yesterday that balance worked. However terrible, the goals of demented individuals should not overturn it. Fresh restrictions must be fuelled by more than fear.
Writing on the Guardian's Comment Is Free debate website yesterday, Jack Straw's former press secretary, John Williams, described the then foreign secretary's response to 9/11: "at a moment like this, the job of ministers is to reassure the public that the state remains in control". Yesterday that reassurance was provided not just by Mr Reid himself and by the police, but by the airlines and airport workers who worked admirably to keep services going. There was no overreaction, no panic and plenty of preparedness on display. That resilience is a guide to what should follow. There are bound to be misguided attempts by some to dismiss the threat tackled yesterday as invented; the product of hysteria, or manipulation. The threat was and is real and the response to it was proper. But a serious response should recognise that scrutiny, debate and liberal principles are allies not enemies in fighting criminality.
A year ago, cross-party agreement on this was undermined by the prime minister. Mr Reid rightly consulted the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats yesterday and should sustain this in the weeks ahead. He may do it in a parliament whose return before October looks increasingly essential. There should be consideration of the causes of terror and an acceptance that these are not simple. The government should recognise that the need for action against terror to take place largely in secret raises the responsibility on ministers to be calm and accurate. A public that has heard talk of WMD dossiers and seen tanks at Heathrow has become wary of what it is told. But doubters should remember the story of the boy who cried wolf. In the end, there was a wolf.
Editorial publicado en el diario THE GUARDIAN el viernes 11 de agosto de 2006. Por su interés informativo reproducimos íntegramente su contenido.
"Intelligence, security and the need to know more" (Editorial THE INDEPENDENT)
National security is not something to be toyed with. Nor is the safety of airline passengers, or - for that matter - any other k members of the public. The very notion of a conspiracy to launch synchronised suicide attacks on passenger planes over the North Atlantic conjures up horrific images. They are images which - in the light of air atrocities that run all the way from Lockerbie through the twin towers to the thwarted efforts of the shoe-bomber, Robert Reid - are all too plausible.
Assuming that intelligence and surveillance reports showed what the police and government ministers have said they showed, there can be little doubt that the authorities had to act. The safety of citizens is one of the chief duties, if not the chief duty, of national governments. Not to have raised the threat estimate to its highest level - "critical" - and not to have introduced the most rigorous checks on cabin luggage for airline passengers would have been irresponsible in the extreme.
In this case, the losses sustained by the airlines, by passengers, by travel companies and by the economy as a whole must be seen as negligible compared with what might have happened if such measures had not been taken. The stock market and sterling may have fallen yesterday at the news of the alleged conspiracy and the airport terrorist alert, and the damage is likely to be felt long after transatlantic flights are back to normal. But this must be weighed against the consequences of doing nothing: "Mass murder", as Scotland Yard put it yesterday, "on an unimaginable scale".
Better safe than sorry is a necessary guiding principle, not least for the government of a country that so recently experienced the death and destruction of the London bombs. Yet there were aspects of yesterday's alert that none the less prompt a certain unease.
It may be that when the Home Secretary warned earlier this week that Britain faced the most sustained period of serious threat since the Second World War, he was speaking with knowledge of the conspiracy targeted by yesterday's operation. To those not privy to this information, however, this massive alert might look like a cynical effort to illustrate the immediacy of the threat. It just so happened, too, that yesterday was the scheduled publication day of a Commons report claiming that troops in Iraq were under-equipped and overstretched. The bad news was buried. So, too, for the time being, was the gathering call among MPs for Parliament to be recalled over the crisis in the Middle East.
It is possible to have misgivings, too, about the dramatic edge with which yesterday's operations were presented and the grave relish with which Mr Reid seized his chance to take charge. Nor was it altogether consoling to learn of the extensive intelligence co-operation with the United States and the months of surveillance and intelligence-gathering that had preceded this operation. We recall Iraq's non-existent weapons, the notorious episode of the tanks at Heathrow, the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes and the dawn raid at Forest Gate - to select but a few - as instances of media-manipulation and fallibility. If we instinctively feel we need to know more about the background to this operation before taking it as face value, the Government has only itself to blame.
All that said, we have long argued that the way to combat terrorism is by sophisticated intelligence-gathering and thorough police work, not by the rush to pass repressive legislation that has too often been this government's response. If this operation turns out to have thwarted a plot on the scale outlined yesterday, it will be a triumph of which all involved can be truly proud.
Editorial publicado en el diario THE INDEPENDENT el viernes 11 de agosto de 2006. Por su interés informativo reproducimos íntegramente su contenido.