4 May: The suicide terror attack at the Blues cafe Mike’s Place near the US Embassy in Tel Aviv last Wednesday, April 30, was made possible by grave security lapses – British and Israeli.
British security and intelligence services have paid in the past – and will continue to pay long and dear – for their government’s policy of giving extremist Muslims free rein in the country, a policy dating back to the 1950s. When Washington pointed to the dangers posed by this policy, London explained that their presence facilitated the penetration by the British services of extremist groups and enabled them to nip terrorist outbreaks in the bud.
In the last two years, since British Muslim fundamentalists began joining al Qaeda this “intelligence” argument lost its credibility. It is no coincidence that at least three of the most vicious terrorist attacks in the last two years were perpetrated by radical Muslims who worshiped, studied and joined activities centering on the Finsbury Park mosque. Britain’s security service knew about the pair of British bombers who later attacked Mike’s Place and their links with Islamic extremists but did not place them under surveillance. According to London’s “intelligence” argument, British security on the spot should have been able to uncover the plans afoot there and acted to prevent them. That this did not happen lays Britain – and not just Israel – open to the threat of terror.
Some US terror experts suggest that they have turned the tables on British intelligence. Instead of accessing the militant groups, MI5 and MI6 have themselves been penetrated.
Because of this suspicion, the Americans denied the British any real military or intelligence role in the Afghan War. Today, they take into account that the British government has not abandoned its indulgent asylum policy and favors a pro-Arab stance in the Middle East – even after the Iraq War and even after three British terrorists linked to al Qaeda gained logistical support and a Palestinian jumping off or training base in the Gaza Strip in the last two years. There, in 2001, the “shoe bomber” was instructed in the craft of blowing up airliners and in April 2003, Hanif and Khan followed in his explosive footsteps. Palestinian security would scarcely have missed the two British terrorists’ arrival. At best, their plans were known: at worst, the local Palestinian services extended the two British terrorists a helping hand for preparing their operation and moving in and out of Israel. In any case, Fatah and Hamas publicized their role n what was clearly a combined operation.
This is the point at which Israeli and British security must share responsibility for failing to pick up on the terror conspiracy in motion.
Some Israeli media echo the British campaign that glorifies the actions of the “foreign peace activists” who provide armed Palestinians with human shields against Israel counter-terror operations. During the first Palestinian uprising in 1987, scores of British pro-Palestinian welfare workers entered the Gaza Strip, most of them Oxfam volunteers. Many converged on the strategic Rafah sector. The few Israeli security experts who took note of their presence remarked that the worst excesses of the uprising erupted in the very areas frequented by the British anti-war activists. Sixteen years later, the “peace activists” are back in the Rafah region close to the Israel-Egyptian frontier and the arms smuggling tunnels. Since they arrived, this sector is fast becoming one of the most militarily sensitive of Israel’s many fighting fronts, no less than the Israel-Lebanese frontier. As the presence of “peace activists” expands, Israeli-Palestinian clashes gain in ferociousness and the death toll rises.
Hanif and Sharif posed as peace activists to pass between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Another gaping hole in Israeli security was used by the two terrorists when they smuggled unknown explosive substances into Israel for use in their bomb belts. These substances may have passed through Israeli security screening at two border crossings without being detected. Even carried in a Koran, they should have been found.
7 May: From the intelligence treasure trove unearthed in Baghdad, America has distributed to its war allies some materials relevant to their national security. In addition, the administration has secretly handed over to various Middle East and Persian Gulf governments the names of ministers and public figures who were handsomely rewarded by Saddam Hussein for supporting his case in deliberations at the United Nations, other international bodies and inter-Arab forums. Washington was given to understand that these public officials would be held to account by their governments. This process has started quietly in Qatar and Jordan, where our intelligence sources expect overnight resignations of senior cabinet members.