Thursday, July 07, 2005

More on London

According to the latest from ITV, the death toll in this morning's attack on London stands at 33, with up to 1,000 injured. A separate article includes eyewitness statements.

Who did it? That's still not clear. Without leaping to conclusions, though, the attacks do seem to match the recent modus operandi of al Qaeda and its partner organizations in the international Islamist terror network:

- Multiple sequential blasts. The first bomb creates casualties, but it does more: It concentrates police resources on the blast area, making it more likely that other attacks in other locales will proceed unimpeded. It creates an atmosphere of chaos, so that subequent attaccks feed into an already raging fear and confusion.

- Targeting of mass transit, a la Madrid -- and, for that matter, 9/11.

- Despite earlier reports, no prior warning. Some witnesses initially reported being ordered off trains and out of stations before blasts, thus creating the impression that British security forces might have known what was coming. Had that been the case, fingers would naturally be pointing at the IRA, which has some history of working that way (set a bomb, tell everyone it's there, then set it off). As it turns out, the witnesses in question seem to have simply been people who were being evacuated after the first explosion, in areas where subsequent attacks took place.

The English tend to be an orderly, stoic people under fire. They hunkered down through the Blitz, they suffered the IRA bombing campaigns with aplomb, and they'll probably weather this with less turmoil on the streets than normally accompanies a controversial jury verdict in California. But they shouldn't have to die for Tony Blair's sins.

If it was the Islamists, then we can expect the War Party to call for the prevention of future attacks by doing more of the things that, uh, didn't prevent these attacks. For four years now, the West has played at "regime change" and "nation-building" instead of (and in a manner counterproductive to) pursuing an actual war on terror. London paid for the politicians' penchant for games today, and I'll be surprised if an American city isn't up for another turn soon.

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