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17 Jan, 2010

Intelligence Failures? Really?

Originally Published: 17 January 2010

An investigative report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has heightened scepticism about whether these so-called “intelligence failures” related to recent terrorist attacks are in fact “intelligence failures” at all, or whether they are in fact great successes in serving a far broader geopolitical purpose.

The reputed paper, one of the few Israeli media outlets that exercises a strong sense of check and balance on the actions of its government, reported last week that “the Israeli firm ICTS International (not to be confused with ICTS Europe, which is a different company), and two of its subsidiaries are at the crux of an international investigation, as experts try to pinpoint the reasons for the security failure that enabled Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest flight 253 and attempt to set alight explosives hidden in his underwear.”

According to the newspaper, “At this time, ICTS and the Dutch security firm G4S are hurling recriminations at each other, as are the authorities at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Federal Aviation Authority and U.S. intelligence officials.”

Set up by former officials of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, and El Al Security, ICTS and its subsidiaries are involved in providing security at Schiphol airport and a number of airports in France, Britain, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Russia, Haaretz reported.

It said that the attempted attack was “the result of a twin flop: An intelligence failure, which U.S. President Obama has already stated, in the poor handling of information that arrived at the State Department and probably also the CIA from both the father of the would-be bomber and the British security service; and a failure within the security system, including that of the Israeli firm ICTS.”

For both of these to have “failed” at the same time is perhaps too much of a coincidence.

Recall that the 9/11 attack was also said to have been the result of an intelligence failure. Since then, attacks have occurred at the rate of about two or three a year, in Bali, Madrid, London, Mumbai and various other places, including UN facilities and military camps like Fort Hood.

If the sceptical scrutiny of these so-called intelligence failures is expanded to include the circumstances and timings of these attacks, they way they get spun in the public domain, and their outcomes, an umistakeable pattern emerges of behind-the-scenes manipulation and evidence of some, if not all, being cunningly contrived false-flag operations designed to meet broader objectives.

At the geopolitical level, the reaction to these attacks helps fan the flames of Islamophobic hysteria, demonise Muslim minorities, and give governments an excuse to start probing Islamic charities and activities. It paves the way for expanded military and security operations in entire countries under the guise of “fighting extremism.”

At the financial level, it promotes sales of outdated military equipment seeking additional revenue streams in the commercial world.

At the personal level, individual privacy, civil liberties, fundamental democratic rights and freedom of movement get stripped away. Racial profiling and surveillance are stepped up. Muslim minorities are pressured to “prove” their loyalty to their country of domicile, and denounce and condemn the terrorists. Mosques and Islamic religious leaders become suspects.

Half-baked and scanty information is boiled down to a few stereotype sound-bites and spun as facts. Those dissenting against the official version are tagged as “terrorist sympathisers.”

All of this unfolds like a well-scripted, pre-planned manual that is swung into action the moment yet another “terrorist” plot is unearthed or an attack mounted.

But who is actually gaining and/or profiting from these attacks and plots? Put all these “dots” on to a large global map and start connecting them in terms of timing, circumstances, the language used by security authorities and political leaders as well as the actual outcome, and it will become clear that “officialdom” and the intelligence community are lying through their teeth, just as they did in the buildup to the Iraq war.

Just take three “dots”, for example.

After the Bali bombings, Indonesia came under pressure to crack down on its “Islamic extremists”. Today, its customs and border checkpoints are using American security equipment, which of course has to be operated and maintained by Americans (and, no doubt, a few Israelis).

The attacks in Mumbai also created opportunities. It is still not clear how a rag-tag bunch of attackers could go undetected through months of training, sail from Karachi to Mumbai, land their boats just a few kilometres from one of India’s largest naval bases, and stage a huge attack, with the first casualties being some of India’s top anti-terrorist fighters.

The lone surviving terrorist has made a fool of himself in court with confusing, contradictory and conflicting statements that belie the mental composure of a well-trained, hard-core terrorist.

Conveniently, the terrorists attacked a Jewish centre, which gave Israel the opportunity to gain massive publicity by solemnly underscoring its “shared-values” with the Indian public, and the need to deal with “common enemy” both countries face. Since then, Israel has sold more defence and security equipment to India.

And now, we have a Nigerian crotch bomber who, we are supposed to believe, went undetected by Israeli security companies and all the aviation watch-lists, and even apparently had a valid U.S. visa.

But the guy, who looks just as dumb as the Mumbai terrorist, is set to generate windfall profits for suppliers of body scanners which will soon be installed at airports and perhaps in future at railway terminals, bus stations, department stores, movie theatres, sports stadiums and any place where crowds gather.

Indeed, the intelligence, defence and security establishment is having a field day. American drones can kill at will in Pakistan, with no accountability about the loss of innocent lives. The “war on terror” has expanded from Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan into Yemen and Nigeria.

Yemen, especially, is another strategically located country, right opposite the Horn of Africa and at the mouth of the Red Sea leading up to the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most important waterways.

All this is probably an appetiser for the big-daddy prize goal, an attack on Iran.

For those tracking the war on Islam that began in the aftermath of 9/11, these are the real dots to be connected. Good journalism like the report in Haaretz helps to both strengthen the linkages and debunk the rush to trash scepticism as a “conspiracy theory.” Most important, good journalism ratchets up the pressure for accountability which will explode into the open only when the public feel it has had enough of being lied to.

That pressure is building. Unfortunately, so is the body count.