As a rejoinder to those who contend that the war in Iraq is part of the larger war on terror, and that the recent threats somehow prove that terrorism is being effectively rooted out by the Bush Administration--rather than being brought about by its conduct during the last 5 years-- I give you this telling comment from one Magnus Ranstorp, chief scientist at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College, who spoke last night on the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer (emphasis mine):
MARGARET WARNER: Magnus Ranstorp, again, we don't want to speculate here, but all the raids took place -- well, most of them -- in these South Asian neighborhoods in London. And all the authorities are saying, at least on background, that these people were of Pakistani descent. What you can tell us about the strength of and the appeal of this kind of extremism among the second-generation Muslim communities in Britain?
MAGNUS RANSTORP: Well, I mean, I guess it's a very difficult thing to generalize about, but I think that it's very clear that the British authorities have said that, first of all, beyond this, I mean, apart from this news today, that they have thwarted other plots that have been in the making.
And that, since the Iraqi invasion, the threat level and the number of suspects that they have, you know, that they are watching, I think that the official number of individuals that they are sort of quoting is in the ballpark of 1,200 to 1,500 individuals that represent, in their view, you know, potential national security threats that may be engaged in direct terrorist activity. And then, of course, they have approximately 70 live, ongoing investigations of potential, you know, pieces of the puzzle in which they are, you know, launching surveillance on individuals.
In terms of the sort of the mood in the U.K., it is not very positive. You had not only the U.K. involvement in the Iraq conflict that had become the tipping point for certain individuals to move from being radical into violent radicalization, and of course you had, you know, a number of -- you know, you had the ongoing conflict between Israel and Lebanon that certainly doesn't help the general environment.
And so I think that, you know, this is a special problem case, I think, in the U.K., in that not only is the U.K. very close to the U.S. in foreign policy terms -- and that, of course, makes it even more of a hated country, a likely target.
But hey, bring 'em on.