Summer: More Dangerous than Radical Islam?

21st July 2013

In recent weeks the UK has been hit by a 'heat wave', or as it is known in most countries, 'summer'.  This is not a common experience for citizens of this island nation, who have not known sustained, moderately hot sunshine for several years.  The experience has largely been received very well, with the ladies pleased to have an ongoing excuse to eat ice cream and wear revealing clothes, while the gents are pleased to have an ongoing excuse to drink beer and watch the aforementioned ladies.  However, it is not all fun and games.  Last weekend, as temperatures soared, two soldiers died during a training exercise endurance race in the Brecon Beacons.  As such, summer has been responsible for precisely twice the number of British soldier deaths in Britain this year as radical Muslims. 

The incident saw a total of six soldiers collapse leaving two dead and one seriously ill in hospital.  So far only one of the dead soldiers has been named and unlike Lee Rigby there appears to be no huge-scale media campaign to heroise the dead and build statues in their memory.  Perhaps it would have been different if the soldiers had been running through the hills as part of a Help the Heroes PR event, but we won't know until something like that actually happens.  Meanwhile the alleged murderer of Lee Rigby, Michael Abebolajo, has been injured in prison when several guards were forced to 'subdue' him, leaving Adebolajo with two less front teeth. 

The Beacons are dangerous

It is perhaps significant that the two men who died last weekend were apparently trying to get into the British Special Forces.  The area is a well-established location for SAS exercises and other activities, including of course being one of the places where in the mid-late 1990s Al Muhajiroun capo Abu Hamza ran training camps for young jihadis being prepared for covert warfare in the Balkans.  Among those providing the training were two 'ex' British soldiers. 

To be sure, it can be a dangerous place.  In January this year another soldier, Rob Carnegie, died while on a similar SAS-type training exercise march through the mountains.  In his case it was of course cold, not heat, that made the conditions especially difficult.  The following month yet another soldier, Craig Johnson, died when a Land Rover struck him during a training exercise in icy conditions.  That makes four in the area since the turn of the year, suggesting that the deadly combination of weather and the Brecon Beacons are considerably more deadly to soldiers in Britain than radical Islam.

But not as dangerous as the army itself

We should not forget that it was of course the British army who sent these men out in potentially hazardous weather in difficult terrain so that they could separate the wheat from the chaff.  Presumably some soldiers have survived training exercises in the area and are being considered for Special Forces selection.  But it isn't just those soldiers who are being told to run around Welsh mountains who are at risk. 

Last year, a total of 21 soldiers in active service in the British armed forces either committed suicide, or are thought to have committed suicide.  A further 29 veterans of armed service took their own lives, making a total of 50, compared to the 40 killed in combat in Afghanistan in the same period.  Though media coverage might make you think otherwise, if you are a British soldier then you are more likely to die on a poorly-managed training exercise in Wales or by opting to kill yourself than you are to be killed by angry Muslims. 

Exactly why these men killed themselves, and why others will continue to do so, isn't clear, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that being used and abused as pawns of globalised power games and experiencing the horrors of war might have something to do with it.  The fact that the US military also saw this same phenomenon in 2012 substantiates the idea that fighting people you know nothing about for the sake of banks, oil companies and national 'glory' (bloodlust) is a pretty miserable life. 

The Backlash

Despite radical Muslims managing to kill the grand total of one soldier in Britain in the whole of 2013, or indeed in a much longer period, the media has turned it into a massive focal event.  The backlash against this, both in the form of aggressive but mostly non-violent demonstrations by the EDL and violent attacks on mosques, has received far less media coverage, and of course much less critical media coverage. 

Last week also saw a nail bomb explode on a disused railway line near the Kanzul Iman Central Jamia Mosque in Tipton, a town in the West Midlands.  That the bomb went off near to the mosque, and on the first Friday of Ramadan, suggests that it was designed to at least scare Muslims.  Two Ukrainian men have been arrested and have been accused of carrying out the Tipton bombing as well as two others in the West Midlands in recent weeks. 

The older of the two men has also, as of this morning, been arrested (despite already being in custody) for the murder of Mohammed Saleem, an 82 year old grandfather who was stabbed in the back while on his way home from his mosque back in April.  This was before the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich and received little media coverage, and it is no surprise that this news of developments in the case was released on a Sunday.  Naturally, most people have never heard of Mohammed Saleem. 

We know very little about these Ukrainian men, except that one is 25 and the other is 22 and they are accused of three bombings/attempted bombings on mosques and now the murder of Saleem.  If they are responsible for these attacks then we must wonder why.  Why would two Ukrainian men carry out a murder on a Muslim living in Britain, who posed no threat to anyone and according to all reports was a peaceful, community-oriented man?  Why would they then, when two Nigerian-British Muslims apparently killed a British soldier in Woolwich, carry out a string of relatively incompetent bombings near mosques? 

State involvement?

The crudity of the attacks and the murder of Saleem, as with the murder of Rigby, does not suggest any kind of serious training, preparation or planning.  As with Adebolajo and Abedowale, it appears the Ukrainians had no exit plan, or possibly they intended to be arrested.  However, this doesn't rule out any state involvement, because low-level violence and the occasional horrible murder can be whipped up into an effective strategy of tension via the mainstream media.  This doesn't require serious training or planning, unlike for example carrying out a 9/11 or 7/7 or Mumbai-style attack.  It just requires getting hold of a few people willing to commit acts of violence, which aren't exactly in short supply. 

Some would say that the fact that the alleged suspects were not who they were expected to be shows that this is not part of a state-sponsored strategy of tension.  The predictable candidates for those around either pole in this polarised dialogue would either be right wing extremist EDL members or Muslims attacking their own mosques to make them seem like victims.  No one would have predicted two young Ukrainian men.  That said, the police have been very cagey about releasing information on the men, by contrast with Michaels Adebolajo and Adebowale, and if the Ukrainians did carry out this murder and these attacks then they did not let themselves be filmed shouting about their reasons for doing so. 

At this point it seems unlikely that the violence is going to cease, though one telling factor is that despite the provocations of Mohammed Saleem's murder and the attacks after Lee Rigby's murder, there has been no counter-backlash by British Muslims.  Instead it is the oh-so-liberal Unite Against Fascism who are taking on the EDL in a rather fruitless and moronic war of words and banner-waving.  As this article suggests, there may be more significant threats out there than the EDL, or Al Muhajiroun, or even army training exercises in Welsh mountains.  When I know more, so will you. 

Related pages:

Woolwich 'Terror' Reigniting the Fire

Secrets, Spies and 7/7

Operation Gladio: A conversation with James Corbett

22/7: A Strategy of Tension? - A Conversation with Brit Dee