Doctors of murder, part II — what to do about them

More is known about the two doctors that were arrested in connection with the attempted terrorist bombings in London and Glasgow:

Dr Mohammed Asha, 26, from Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs, was arrested with a 27-year-old woman believed to be his wife on the M6 on Saturday night.

Originally from Lebanon, he trained in Jordan and worked at the North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke under a provisional GMC registration. He lived there with his wife and baby boy.

The second doctor is thought to have been one of the two men who drove a blazing Jeep packed with gas canisters into a terminal building at Glasgow Airport.

He was employed at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, where police yesterday detonated a car in a controlled explosion. One of the men involved in the Glasgow attack is also receiving treatment at the hospital. — Daily Telegraph, UK

In my previous post, I suggested that entirely new categories of thinking are needed in order for the West to deal with the assault against it exemplified by these attacks.

In the past, areas of concern for security forces included agents of enemy states, members of organized terror groups, mentally disturbed individuals, and criminals.

Today the threat appears to come from a combination of a particular ideology — radical Islamism — with ‘facilitators’ such as certain nations as well as independent groups like al-Qaeda, all amplified and ultimately coordinated by internet communications. Some of these radical Islamists are prepared to use violent means to achieve their goals; this group can be called ‘jihadists’.

Jihadists, inspired by Islamist websites, may develop plans for terrorist actions with or without the help of facilitators. They may establish a connection with a facilitator earlier or later in the planning process and the ultimate result can be amateurish, like the “Fort Dix six” plot, or horrendous like the London Transport bombings.

There are 1.5 billion (1.5 x 109) Muslims in the world. How many of these support radical Islamism? Estimates vary, both by who is doing the estimating and what population is being studied; but Daniel Pipes puts the figure at 10% worldwide (the UK, interestingly, tends to have one of the highest figures). Let’s be conservative and use 5%. Now assume that of this 5%, one out of a thousand is prepared to take direct, violent action in support of his belief. That comes out to 75,000 violent jihadists, with possibly ten times as many prepared to offer material support.

There is no way that security agencies can determine who these people are in advance of their actions by traditional intelligence techniques, because they may have no connection with any known terrorist group; and if they are in contact with a facilitator, it will be an electronic one buried among millions of harmless web views, chats, or emails.

What I am about to say will be highly offensive to some, but I don’t see an alternative.

The only way to stop this kind of terrorism is to develop techniques of profiling to determine who, among the Muslims living in the West fit the category of ‘radical Islamists’, and which of these are most likely to belong to the smaller category of violent jihadists.

There is no way to do this with the limited amount of resources available other than by investigating people who have not committed any crime and who have no demonstrated connection with terror groups, people singled out only for their beliefs.

I am aware that this is anathema to many in our society where such great value is placed on privacy, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of association, etc.

The alternative — which we may decide to choose — is to simply accept a certain amount of random terrorism from those like the British murder doctors, and hope that they do not come to possess weapons with more potency than propane canisters.

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