Sunday, January 20, 2008


This is Sohail Qureshi, the dentist who was jailed for four and a half years last week on terrorism charges.

The picture is the one used in the Sun newspaper in its coverage of the trial on January the 9th.

In other pictures he appears without a beard, or with a small goatee.

Have you noticed how unreal that beard looks? It looks like it has been scribbled on the photograph with a felt tip pen. Look at it more closely and it appears to be the product of some cack-handed manipulations in Photoshop. The question is why? Why bother to put up a fake photograph when there are real photographs available? We can only wonder. Maybe the real photographs weren't intimidating enough.

Qureshi was arrested at Heathrow airport in 2006 as he was getting ready to board a flight to Pakistan.

He had several thousand pounds in cash taped about his person. In his baggage were night-vision lenses, sleeping bags and rucksacks, plus a removable hard-drive containing copies of US combat manuals.

According to security sources – as reported in the Sun - he was intending to go on to Afghanistan where he was planning to take part in actions against British and American troops.

You see this is what I find absurd. How seriously are we supposed to take this? The threat from jokers like Quereshi is about as real as that beard of his, and as effective as that Kalashnikov would be against an F16 fighter or a B1 bomber.

This is not to say that he didn’t intend harm, or that he shouldn’t be punished.

Who knows what was going on in his mind or what he intended? It's just that, on a relative scale this man is decidedly small-fry. A nothing. A nobody. A jumped-up idiot with delusions of grandeur.

The threat of terrorism is now a world-wide phenomenon. But the majority of victims of terrorism are not people in the relatively safe West; they are Muslims in the conflagration of fear and terror that is the Middle East.

Over a million people have died violently in Iraq as a direct consequence of the actions of the British and American governments. When violence happens in an occupied territory it is always the occupiers who are to blame.

It is no less a terrorist act to be killed by an American warplane armed with Mk 82 general purpose bombs in a raid against al-Qaeda positions in a civilian area on the outskirts of Baghdad, as it is to be killed by terrorist bombs in London or Madrid; the difference being the sheer frequency of the attacks.

Two attempts in the last five years in London.

One a week in Baghdad.

The trouble is, when I say something like that I can already feel people’s hackles rising.

Nothing justifies attacks on civilians.


And that goes as much in Iraq – where attacks on civilians are an everyday occurrence – as it does in London.

There is no such thing as “collateral damage”.

There are people dying, that’s all. And mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters grieving. And families and friends driven literally insane with grief.

And one grief does not compensate for another, it only adds to the store of grief.

This is a grieving, sad, hopeless, desperate world right now and I don’t know what the answer might be.

Grief on grief. Never ending grief.

But what I suspect - what I very strongly suspect - is that the routine response of enraged Muslims like Qureshi to these horrors is expected, and that the customary noise of newspapers like the Sun - their manufactured outrage - is merely a ploy, a front, a slight of hand in a game of masks and appearances covering far more devious plans.

The vultures are feeding on the blood of war.

It’s rich pickings amongst the carnage.

In the midst of a collapsing economy war is the one sure-fire way to increasing profits.

And just as I celebrate the capture and punishment of one would-be terrorist like Sohail Qureshi, so I would be even more pleased to see the real war criminals brought to justice; to see the likes of Bush and Blair hauled before a jury and tried in a properly constituted court of law.

You see, I believe in Justice.

Which is more than you can say for them.

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