On Friday 13th July I made the short journey to the Indian YMCA in the West End to see Nafeez Ahmed speak.
Organised by the London 9/11 Truth group, the talk was billed as "Creating Terror: A Lateral Look At 9/11, 7/7 and the War on Terror". The meeting started with introductions from the plummy Belinda McKenzie of the London 9/11 group, who clearly believes in letting her audience down gently - we were quickly told that Nafeez can hardly say 9/11 was an inside job in his position (he is an academic at Sussex University) and that he would be concentrating on international relations in his talk.
Hammering A Message Home
Much of Nafeez's talk was familar to me, and indeed anyone who heard him speak at the London Islamic Centre last year. A summary of that talk, can be viewed here. Basically, he argues, with clear sources, that the US/UK long exaggerated the Soviet threat, and has happily got into bed with and promoted Islamists in a series of conflicts - from Afghanistan in the 1980s through to the wars in the ex-Yugoslavia more recently. Much of this behaviour has been aimed at isolating the USA's real enemies - China and Russia - and at ensuring access to key resources - usually oil.
What Was New?
Choosing his words carefully, Nafeez argues that since the atrocity of 7/7, Islamist terrorism in the UK has been characterised by its incompetence and that this may be evidence of something else occuring. Has Pakistani and/or British intelligence manipulated some of the groups involved in attacks since 2005? He certainly believes that media coverage has been distorted, and argues that explosives expert Nigel Wild is adamant the reported liquid explosives plot of 2006 is simply not credible. Just what is happening here?
Where Do We Go From Here?
This has always been the great weakness of progressive forces in the UK. We have been very good at saying who and what we are against, not so good at developing hegemonic ideas of our own, or replacing those we don't like! Nafeez argued that standard leftie calls to leave Iraq (or indeed Afghanistan) are in effect pointless - the thrust of US/UK policy would continue, with different proxy wars in different areas, but no radical shift in behaviour.
Worse, the left, civil liberties and the "Truth" movement have not been able to grasp the nature of US/UK covert activities - geo-politics really does matter.
To put it bluntly I thought some of the talk was wasted on the audience, which was a shame. The question and answer session rambled through a series of points of varying quality - from the now cliched "Mossad were behind 9/11, hundreds of their agents were arrested in New York then released" through to Optimum Population Trust (!) who look to reduce over population. I rather think that if messrs Bush and Bin Laden have their way, population may indeed be reduced over the next few years!
The low point was probably hit by Tim Sparke, an executive producer of the 'Loose Change' 9/11 video, who wanted to tell us that many media executives now realised that they have been 'hi-jacked' and wanted us to know that they are 'with us' even if they cannot say so. Oh please - whatever happened to seeing the media as part of the problem, and indeed replacing them?
Which Way Now?
About 80 people attended the meeting, with a book stall run by London 9/11 Truth. How many of those people will go away and really think about the geo-politics aspect of the evening, or will they simply remain immersed in their views on 9/11 and 7/7? I would like to think the former, but fear the latter.
For more on Nafeez Ahmed, please see the Global Crisis website.