By Jon Moran, Mark Phythian (eds.)
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Additional resources for Intelligence, Security and Policing Post-9/11: The UK’s Response to the ‘War on Terror’
As Phythian argues, it is this political nature of intelligence that also calls into question its efficacy. One only needs to mention the British government’s 2003 dossier on the threat from Iraq (which incorporated plagiarized detail from an American PhD thesis on Iraq) to see both how politicized and how poor it can be as a result. Searching for perfect intelligence on which to make decisions is always going to be a difficult process, considering the practical limits of resources and the highly charged arena in which intelligence agencies operate.
Sometimes it’s described as a franchise outfit, like 7-Eleven, renting out its name to any small-time independent shopkeeper who’s prepared to subscribe to the company program, and sometimes as a single store, or bank, owned and operated by Osama bin Laden (Raban, 2005). And as Gilles Kepel has pointed out, by the time of Operation Enduring Freedom and the hunt for Osama bin Laden: Al Qaeda was less a military base of operations than a database that connected jihadists all over the world via the Internet.
Peter Taylor argues: ‘The common denominator in London and Madrid is undoubtedly Iraq. The Madrid bombers planned to force the Spanish government to withdraw its troops from Iraq – and succeeded. London has long been in jihadi sights because of Tony Blair’s unswerving support for George Bush’ (Taylor, 2005). BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, himself a victim of an al-Qaeda attack in Saudi Arabia in 2004, when asked by BBC Political Editor Andrew Marr whether it In the Shadow of 9/11 43 was the ‘very diversity, that melting pot aspect of London’ that led Islamist extremists to kill members of the British public, replied: ‘No, it’s not that.