On June 4 a Guardian report uncovered a scandal that surveillance cameras initially promoted to local communities as anti-social deterrents are actually part of a government anti-terrorist initiative targeting Muslim communities in Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook. However, not discussed is the fact that the increasing encroachments on the civil liberties of Britain’s Muslim communities is linked to Britain’s terrorist actions in the Middle East.
In the last few months over 150 automatic numberplate recognition cameras were installed in Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook, two areas in Birmingham with large Muslim populations. Local residents were told that the cameras were to deter local crime such as as burglary, yet councillors were not even told that the funding for the cameras had come from the Terrorism and Allied Matters Fund, a government fund. Councillors only became aware of this after the Guardian report.
When the cameras become active residents driving through Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath will be monitored. This has sparked an outcry from local residents, community activists and councillors.
Referring to the initial meeting about the cameras Salma Yaqoob, a member of the Respect party and councillor for Sparkbrook, told the Guardian, “The terrorism aspect was certainly not emphasised in that meeting. In fact it was me having to be portrayed as the awkward squad, or even paranoid, for even raising the issue of whether this was really about counterterrorism. They were very much saying, ‘No, this is about burglary and crime.” (Lewis: Guardian: 4 June)
Steve Jolly, a local activist calling for the removal of the cameras said, “Nick Clegg has made a real point of emphatically drawing attention to the surveillance society and promising to stop unnecessary infringements of privacy. I think we should hold him to his word, and say, ‘Look at what is happening in Birmingham – are you going to allow it to go ahead?‚′”
The police said that the project code-named Project Champion is for monitoring populations in the UK that are seen at risk of becoming extremists which leads on to the next point.
The roots of extremism
What leads young Muslims in Britain to turn to terrorism? While the government have pointed towards economic deprivation and cultural alienation as factors to why young Muslims turn to terrorism, the most obvious factor is often ignored. This factor is the terrorist actions of the British government in the Middle East.
In November 2008, Twenty-nine year-old Bilal Abdulla, a doctor in the National Health Service, and 28 year-old Jordanian neurologist Mohammed Asha were both accused of conspiracy to murder and cause explosions in a failed double car bombing in London on June 29, 2007.
When Abdulla was asked by his lawyer in the trial at Woolwich Crown Court, southeast London, whether he told a police officer that he was a terrorist, he replied: “I said something along those lines, but it was more like a question. “Everyone was saying you are a terrorist, you are arrested under the Terrorism Act and so forth…I am told I am a terrorist, but is your government not a terrorist, is your army not a terrorist? “By the definition of the act, according to English law, yes. This my aim, to change opinion using violence, using fire devices.” (ITV: 17 November, 2008)
Abdulla raised vital questions which the British government and the mainstream media refuse to properly debate in a public domain.
The invasion of Iraq has left western corporations in charge of Iraqi oilfields. Does the government believe that Muslims are naive enough to believe that this is a coincidence?
In an article by Phillip Thornton and Andrew Gumbel for the Independent on September 22, 2003, it was found that Iraq’s Finance Minister, Kamel al-Gailani had drafted Iraq’s economic policies under the approval of both the US and UK governments. The economic policies included 100% foreign ownership in all sectors of Iraq’s economy.
According to scientific journal, The Lancet, 650,000 Iraqis have died since the invasion in 2003. These are Muslim lives massacred so that the west can control the world’s energy resources.
In regards to Afghanistan reports point to the same economic motive behind the conflict. In a report by Michel Chossudovsky on the Global Research website, on June 17, titled “The War is Worth Waging“: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas. The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War“, he says “According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).”
Chossudovsky also said that “Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves…” (Chossudovsky: Global Research: 17 June)
Is it a coincidence or does there seem to be an economic strategy behind the so called ‘War on terror’?
Muslims are not naive about the motivations behind the British government’s wars in the Middle East, this is the root of terrorism which the mainstream British media and government refuse to discuss for obvious reasons.
Although the cameras in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath have been suspended pending an inquiry, unfortunately as long as some British Muslims continue to see the actions of the British government as terrorist, they will be seen as a threat to British interests, alongside anyone who takes an oppositional view to what the British government is doing overseas.
There will be more cameras, there will be more surveillance and there will be more extremists simply because Bilal Abdulla’s questions will never be addressed for the foreseeable future.
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