Today is the official release date of my new book, "The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry" (Duckworth). We've set up a website for the book at www.independentinquiry.co.uk.
In one sense, it's an exciting time. I feel optimistic that the book will be able to help mobilize communities in support of an independent public inquiry into the London bombings.
There's been some half-decent publicity already.
By the end of last week, there was a Sunday Times
review of the book by Brian Appleyard, which looked at mine and three other 7/7 related books. Here's the excerpts about my book, which take up most of the space in the review:
"The state’s response — in the form of violence against an unarmed man — only heightened the anxieties of Britons and Londoners,” comments Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed in The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (Duckworth £8.99), on the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. Of course, it wasn’t the response of the state at all, but of something more familiar — an incompetent, unreformed police service. Ahmed is right, however, to speak of heightened anxieties. That killing and the recent Forest Gate farce both remind us that, in chasing terror in our midst, we are chasing shadows...
The books by Ahmed and Melanie Phillips, though utterly different in tone and intent, agree absolutely that British official nurturing of Islamic radicalism is at the heart of the matter. Ahmed’s book is a lucid and, in spite of the endorsement by John Pilger on the front cover, quite persuasive account of how our security mandarins talked themselves into believing we could make quiet, backroom deals with these terrorists. For Ahmed, it is a conspiracy theory, though, for me, his evidence could equally well point to a string of post-rationalised blunders. Essentially, the Anglo-American strategy in the Balkans from the early 1990s onwards was part of a great game designed to satisfy both corporate greed and strategic logic. Maybe. It is certainly true that the fact that our allies against the Serbs were Muslims did provide an opportunity for the radicals to exploit our Balkan strategy.
From there Al-Qaeda grew and grew within Europe. Uniquely, the British attempted to control the militants through discreet contact and it is this that lies behind Blair’s refusal to convene a public inquiry into the 7/7 bombings. The can is just too full of worms. “An entrenched and growing network of Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists of more than 100 in number — and consisting of possibly up to several thousand — has operated in the UK, with immunity from the law, despite being implicated in numerous instances of international terrorism.”
... these books make plain that the British official response to Islamic radicalism at every level has been inept and ill-judged. This may be a conspiracy, a cock-up or a symptom of our own decadence, but it is plainly a disaster.
I'm generally pleased with the review, but am rather disconcerted at Appleyard's depiction of my research as "a conspiracy theory". [On the same note, I don't get the bizarre dig at John Pilger, whose blurb is on the front cover of the book.] The label is rather odd, as I don't offer any overarching theory of what happened on 7/7, but merely establish the anomalies in the government's official narrative. In particular, as Appleyard notes, I focus on the relationship between the escalation of domestic insecurity and British state exploitation of radical Islamist networks abroad in pursuit of strategic and economic interests. It's a real shame that quite complex truths pertaining to the manner in which British govt foreign policy has undermined our security at home are misleadingly and casually described as "conspiracy", and thus automatically dismissed. The reality is that western co-optation of al-Qaeda networks in the post-Cold War period is well-documented on the basis of reliable sources, including western security and intelligence sources. The policy has been implemented in tandem with concerted military interventionism, overt and covert, in key strategic regions, especially the Balkans, Central Asia, and North Africa in relation to the London bombings. I don't believe this sort of policy, which Appleyard readily acknowledges did go on in some form, was simply a matter of ongoing bungling incompetence, but rather the product of cold strategic calculations in the pursuit of power and profit.
I'm going to elaborate on this in later posts, so keep your eyes peeled.
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