Thursday, July 07, 2005


London Insights...

A UK journalist friend e-mails:

"[T]hanks for your emails. We're in shock here, calling friends -- a routine I imagine you are only too familiar with. I have a few early thoughts...

1)Londoners have lived under terrorist threat since 1970 when IRA was bombing us. But the IRA never hit the tube. It would have alienated all support for them in Ireland: al-Qaeda, of course, is free from such restraints on their murderous tactics.

2) A tube attack is the sum of all fears for Londoners. Six tube attacks will have a profound psychological impact. They put up signs, encouraging us to ask "Whose bag is this?" - the IRA left unattended bags. Suicide bombers do not. The bus explosion is the first-ever UK sucide attack.

3) This may mean deeper economic repercussions than in New York. No one in London is from London: visitors are more nervous, many have not taken the tube since 9/11.

4) For Londoners, it was a case of when, not whether. The chief of police said two years ago he considers it inevitable. Hence the well-rehearsed media and medical response today.

5) Unlike the Spanish, who turned on their gvt on 3-11, I suspect British sentiment will now harden against terrorists. How this will manifest itself I dont know.

6) Had this taken place 24 hours earlier, before the IOC voted, London would have lost the Olympics. It was a 4-vote majority.

7) Yesterday was Blair's best day: the Olympics was a personal victory for him. Today is his worst. Al-Qaeda will delight in such symmetry (like today being 7-7).

8) The casualty figures are suspiciously vague - six deaths so far. If they hit six tubes, I imagine it would be 250-350. I pray I'm wrong.

9) The aim was obviously to disrupt the G8 (many London police are in Gleneagles, the focus of our counter-terrorism forces). It was an agonising decision for Blair whether to go to London, or carry on. He's decided to do both, and heads back to Scotland this evening.

10) We did not need this attack to bind Britain and America together in our resolve. But we are closer still - in a macabre way we are now blood brothers: and this can only mean surer and earlier defeat for those who seek to disrupt our way of life."

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