London Bombing by Less Sophisticated Group
London began digging out on Friday, dealing with the aftermath of the attacks. AP reports:
‘ Much of London was eerily quiet. Bombed stations were shrouded in security curtains, and refrigerated trucks waited outside to carry away bodies. Bouquets of fresh flowers and cards scribbled with thoughts for the victims of London’s worst attack since World War II piled up outside the stations near the bombed lines. “Yesterday, we fled this great city, but today we are walking back into an even stronger, greater city,” said one card near St. Pancras Church, near where a bomb shredded the bus. “The people who did this should know they have failed. They have picked the wrong city to pick on. London will go on.” ‘
Recovery of bodies and clean-up was impeded by structural damage in the tube system.
Muslims across the United Kingdom prayed Friday for the victims of the July 7 bombings. Many feared reprisals. The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents the UK’s 1.6 million Muslims, said it received 30,000 hate emails. One organization suggested that Muslims just stay home for the time being to avoid being beaten up. Wire services reported, ‘ “The whole world now will point at me and say I am an Arab and Muslim terrorist,” said Zakaria Koubissi, a 29-year-old manager of a Lebanese restaurant. ‘
Two physical attacks on Muslims and suspicious fires at a mosque and a Sikh temple were reported on Friday. Prime Minister Tony Blair and other UK officials were stressing the country’s multi-cultural character and Britain’s traditions of tolerance and human rights.
Muslim organizations in the US vocally denounced the London bombings. Many fear a backlash against their communities in America, as well.
Oxford Analytica argues convincingly that the London cell that carried out the July 7 bombings was much less sophisticated logistically and tactically than the Moroccan Islamic Combatants Group that pulled off last year’s Madrid bombings.
Investigators continue to argue that the attack has all the hallmarks of the al-Qaeda modus operandi. But the cheap plastic explosives used were nothing like as powerful as semtex, and are fairly easily available on the black market. Investigators are speculating that the bomber on the double decker bus had gotten late and could not get on the Underground because the others had already closed it down, and that he was fiddling with the bomb in his bag, accidentally setting it off and blowing himself up.
By the way, if the communique issued by Qaeda al-Jihad in Europe is authentic, then this attack cannot be linked to Zarqawi. They say they are taking revenge for British troops’ “massacres” of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. But Zarqawi’s Salafi group would never celebrate “Arabism” or speak of “heroes” (abtal) when referring to the “holy warriors” or mujahidin. Urubah and batal, Arabism and hero, are typical of the vocabulary of secular Arab nationalism– in, say, the tradition of Gamal Abdel Nasser. That message is coming from a group of terrorists that is much more comfortable with this language than are typically the extremist Salafis like Zarqawi. “Hero” would sem a term of humanistic pride to them, and Arabism would seem narrow and idolatrous as a competitor with Islam. There are Muslim thinkers who meld political Islam and Arabism– this is common in Egypt, e.g. But they belong to a different religious and intellectual tradition than Zarqawi.
Michael Kanell explores the economic implications of the London attack. So far they appear slight. Although tourism and the airline industry could be hurt, analysts point out that tourists were out and about in London already on Friday, and that New York and Madrid recovered quickly in that regard.
Iraqi clerics roundly condemned the bombings in London in their Friday prayer sermons. Al-Jazeera repofts:
“Muslims oppose attacks targeting civilians, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims,” said Shaikh Abd al-Ghafur al-Samarrai, during Friday prayers at the Sunni Umm al-Qura mosque in Baghdad.
Other clerics were also condemnatory. But some criticized the British government, as well. One Shiite said the British were giving asylum to Iraqi Baathists, an unwise move given that the latter were dedicated to terrorist violence. Another complained that the world deeply mourned a single bombing in London, but seemed not to care about daily bombings in Iraq. It writes:
‘ Another preacher, Shaikh Zakaria al-Tamimi, speaking at the Ibn Taimiyah mosque – home to the Salafist orthodox brand of Sunni Islam – wondered why the world would not react to the daily killing of innocent people in Iraq, just as it did to the latest London bombings. “This is because Iraqis are like chicken and nobody cares about the killing of a chicken, but the British are the lords of this world.” ‘
Sheldon Rampton carefully examines the opportunistic uses to which the Right blogosphere has been putting the London bombings.