There Is No Intelligence Solution to Britain’s Rivers of Blood

There Is No Intelligence Solution to Britain’s Rivers of Blood, by John Schindler.

After three jihadist attacks in as many months, the United Kingdom is facing a protracted insurgency — not mere terrorism. …

This is, at root, a numbers game. Britain’s intelligence and policing operation devoted to counterterrorism is efficient and skilled, yet utterly dwarfed by the scope of the threat. As The Times reported last week, British intelligence estimates that the number of jihadists in the country is a staggering 23,000 people — of whom something like 3,000 pose a potentially imminent threat to public safety. …

A good rule of thumb is you need two dozen operatives to closely watch one suspect. In other words, it’s severely challenging for British cops and spooks to keep even 300 potential terrorists under constant surveillance — much less 10 times that number. …

Britons trying to remain optimistic note that they survived and eventually defeated Irish nationalist terrorism not all that long ago. But this is a flawed analogy. In the first place, at any given time during the Troubles, the number of active Provisional Irish Republican Army terrorists seldom exceeded a hundred. Moreover, the PIRA was a “normal” terrorist group with rational political motives, not a religiously-motivated death cult, and it generally eschewed killing civilians for its own sake. …

Britain’s political class, on all sides, has ignored this problem for years — indeed decades — and now it faces a security nightmare without any palatable solutions. They were warned many times where this was leading, to no avail. In perhaps the most infamous case, nearly a half-century ago, Enoch Powell, a free-speaking Conservative MP gave an immediately notorious speech on rising immigration to Britain and its consequences.

By any accounts a remarkable figure — among his accomplishments, Powell enlisted in the British Army as a private at the beginning of the Second World War and by 1945 was a one-star general — he was a classical scholar, so his speech in April 1968 referenced the ancients. As he memorably concluded about the instability he saw coming:

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood”…Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now. Whether there will be the public will to demand and obtain that action, I do not know. All I know is that to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.

Polite society turned its back on Powell after that speech, which was castigated as racist and antediluvian, and he became a pariah. However, 49 years later, the blood in British streets which he prophesied has come to pass, and it’s difficult to say Powell was wrong in his essential point.