An old, racist stereotype, popular in Britain, slurs the Irish as unintelligent. Yet, over a period of three decades, Irish terrorist groups successfully planted bomb after bomb in Northern Ireland and the British mainland, running rings around British police and intelligence services.
It was the British response that truly made records for ineptitude: racist policing of the Irish migrant community, banning IRA spokesmen from speaking on TV, shooting civilians and making martyrs of IRA leaders; all of which helped bolster support for the IRA and other Republican groups.
Anyone who remembers the power of the IRA bombing campaign will smirk when the current “Islamist threat” is described as a global movement. Britain was never a target for Islamist extremists until our ludicrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, and in the decade since, there has only been a single serious attack, in London in 2005.
Other attacks by British would-be jihadis have been notable only for their ineptitude – my personal favourite being the Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid, who successfully boarded an aircraft with explosives in his shoes, but failed to ignite them because they had become damp.
In general, British Muslims who have become “radicalised” have tended to be small groups young Pakistani men with limited education, lacking detailed knowledge of either their own religion or the complex politics of the “war on terror”. They are more British than Pakistani, confused about their identities at a time of increased racism and police harassment, and – being nice about it – tend not to be the sharpest tools in the box.
These radicalised morons were beautifully portrayed in the Christopher Morris comedy film Four Lions, about four inept young British-Pakistani men and their attempt to commit a terrorist act.
In an example of life imitating art, six young British “jihadi” morons have pleaded guilty of trying to bomb an English Defence League rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, last year. The story makes an even funnier plot than the Four Lions one: the six set out, with explosives, for the rally; fortunately, the EDL (also a group renowned for its low intelligence) had run out of speakers and adjourned to the pub. The moronic six arrived late, were pulled over by police and found to have no car insurance; this resulted in the detection of their plot and their arrest.
The British people can breath a sigh of relief at the stupidity of the would-be martyrs. No doubt, British Muslims are experiencing the greatest relief of all, knowing that an act like this would have resulted in bloodshed, blame being placed on all Muslims as a group, and a rise in EDL credibility. The EDL’s status is little above “laughing stock” – a bomb blast at an EDL rally would have changed that.
A Muslim community organisation issued a statement saying: “The Muslim community in Birmingham wishes to make one thing absolutely clear: These acts are not carried out in our name.” Doubtless, Muslim groups are sick and tired of having to disown small groups of idiots, and more than happy to see the Moronic Six sent to prison for a long time.
But if there’s a silver lining, it’s that British jihadis appear to be very British indeed, in their half-arsed approach to terrorism. We British have a strange pride in doing things ineptly, from roadworks that take months to complete, to failed Mars missions. What could be more British than screwing up a terrorist attack with such style?