Saturday, May 02, 2009

CIF:'To understand 7/7 we need an official account'

It's good to see the issue of an independent inquiry into 7/7 getting support from across the board. On Newsnight, Keith Vaz seemed to be suggesting a Home Affairs Select Committee might consider looking at the matter. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have both come out in support of an inquiry, with, for example, Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling is known to support a judicial inquiry. The subject was the subject of debate on TALKSPORT radio last night. Jonathan Githens-Mazer is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Exeter, and is conducting research on political mobilisation amongst British Muslims. In today's Guardian Comment is Free, he writes

'All of this raises the question: is the lack of a public enquiry into 7/7 about the power to control policy agendas, being uncomfortable about the domestic effects of foreign policy, or both? The lack of an enquiry means it is impossible to challenge any government position, because no interpretation of the attacks can be supported in the absence of a full official account, and there is no official account to derive adapted policy responses.

But holding a public enquiry into 7/7 is more than about good governance: in the absence of a rigorous evidence based examination of 7/7, public debate and commentary always breaks down into ad nauseam political sectarianism and point-scoring – take your pick from it's the fault of a) religion, b) ideology, c) foreign policy, d) the intelligence services, e) psychological vulnerability, f) social factors, g) ethnic background etc. This means that we have little ability beyond the anecdotal to support or dismiss arguments such as that put forward recently on Comment is free by Tahir Abbas, that social forces can contribute to terrorist attacks. And this is more than an academic debate: for Muslim communities themselves, the lack of a public enquiry has served to fuel conspiracy theories, often variations on the themes of false evidence (for example, the invalidity of CCTV evidence of the 7/7 bombers at Luton railway station) and a hidden State hand (for example, a covert US or Israeli action).

So the lack of an enquiry on 7/7 cuts many ways. It means that we are no closer to a meaningful and demonstrable understanding of how and why this terrible incident happened, it prevents a publicly-sanctioned and audited learning process for counter-terrorist best practice, and it fuels conspiracy theories and ideological (often sectarian) accounts of why it happened because fact and knowledge are being replaced with guesswork, speculation and emotion'

UPDATE: from a CIF commenter - a much fuller transcript than I've seen before of MSK and Tanweer in conversation with their terrorist friend Omar Khyam. Worth reading and asking yourself, if I saw this, would I think these men talking to Khyam were worthy of identification, listing as terrorists and investigation? Or does it seem reasonable to belive that they were petty fraudsters only?



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