Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
Useful, well intentioned but not a great read
on 14 September 2009
I must admit, having just finished reading this, that I am somewhat disappointed by the book. Having read the absolutely brilliant "The War on Truth" by the same author, I had hoped to find some more ah-hah! insights relating to the 7/7 London bombings. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Ahmed does point out inconsistencies in the evidence presented and debunks the official line that essentially, the bombing was perpetrated by a few disaffected Yorkshire Islamic militants without much outside support, instead of being a fully-fledged Al Qaida operation. So far so good. But he then presents the inconsistencies without really offering an alternative scenario. He points out the possibility that the bombers left the bombs without dying themselves (though this seems unlikely - where are the bombers supposed to be now?), that they were fixed to the undersides of the tube trains (how? surely impossible in the rush hour), and that the CCTV evidence of the bombers at Kings Cross is incomplete, owing to the timing of the arriving trains.
This mixture of doubt does his essential thesis no favours as it is not helpful to present the implausible along with the justifiably dubious. His contention that there were adequate warnings that the bombing was due to occur also lack credibility: to know that the Tube is to be bombed in the 6 months leading up to the fateful July wouldn't help anyone much. Was London supposed to live without it for 6 months? Was the public supposed to be panicked on to bicycles?
A lot of the book doesn't really address the bombings at all, but rather the state's connivance at radical Islamists within Londonistan. Here it becomes evident that the major radical figures are double agents for the security services and that they are allowed to remain at large in the hope that they will supply ever greater amounts of information. The world becomes increasingly murky. Ahmed draws useful parallels with the way the security services acted in Northern Ireland, where double agents are allowed to carry out atrocities as to prevent them would blow their cover. This is all very valuable stuff and useful to understand.
The book, though, makes dull reading as the reader is bombarded with dates and people and events without making these the illustration of a real thesis, or rather that the accumulation of this detail will make the reader understand that the "War on Terror" is itself a conspiracy - which I had already learnt from reading other books - notably the aforementioned War on Truth.
Ahmed is doing valuable work and can be seen talking about it on YouTube. I just felt that this book was not hugely entertaining and didn't add as much to the debate as I had hoped.
I think my greatest take-out was that for the secret services, information is a currency, the more the better. But there has to come a time when you trade in that information to do something useful with it. And this can only be predicated by government. Otherwise, MI5 and MI6 and all the other secret organisations will just continue accumulating moles, double agents and information until they themselves are hopelessly implicated in the very scenarios they are being paid to help avoid.
So useful, yes, but not a great read.