Syria-related terrorism arrests in Dover

On Friday morning (3 April 2015) West Midlands Police reported some breaking news as follows:

Good, I suppose is the thing to say – police following up tip offs, chasing down the bad guys and generally protecting society. Doubly good because this is Syria-related and we’ve heard on the news about the sort of things going on over there and we definitely don’t want it over here.

But it’s important to remember they have only been arrested – not charged; and only on ‘suspicion’ – they have not been convicted of anything yet. So for all we know they could be normal folks like you and me. There but for the grace of God go I, etc.

This isn’t much to be going on with. Really, it could mean almost anything: from the rightful arrest of six terrorists primed with suicide vests on their way to Canterbury for Easter day; to the mistaken arrest of six archaeologists on their way home from an international conference on saving Syria’s heritage from the lunatics presently smashing it up.

So West Midlands Police helpfully tell us more:

‘Departure zone’ should tell us something. They were not on their way into the country; they were on their way out. So we can perhaps exclude the possibility they were about to do harm in Britain, unless they had designs on the ferry, which might in a way be termed British territory, unless the ferry companies are all French these days.

‘Departure’ and ‘Syria’ recalls the recent departures of schoolgirls to Syria to assume the romantic role of ‘Jihadi Bride.’ Except it’s not that romantic, when you think about it. They go there to marry Islamic State fighters and have children who will one day take the place of their fathers in the great fight for progressive Islamism in the Middle East – and perhaps North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, and anywhere else they want to extend the benevolent rule of their kind of Islam.

There’s another issue burning away with these schoolgirls. Their teddy-bear-clutching families are ever ready to tell the willing news outlets that they are distraught and have not the slightest clue how the idea got into the heads of their ‘straight A-grade’ daughters and it was almost certainly the fault of the police, MI5, British Foreign Policy, America, Israel, the usual culprits. But whatever the cause, it had absolutely nothing to do with them or Islam.

Except it did, kind of. When your dad’s caught on camera rocking it alongside noted moderate Adebolajo and plenty of other equally moderate brothers who just happened to have an accident with the matches at the same time as carrying US and Israeli flags and who burst into renditions of that well-known Eurovision hit “Allahu Akbar” for only the best of reasons, it is perhaps not all that surprising that, growing up in his household, you feel the pull of Jihadism a little more strongly than little Daisy Becket down the road.

But these were men and women. So a little different to schoolgirls heading East for a bit of baby-making time with the brothers.

There’s more from West Midlands Police:

The mention of Birmingham is not a surprise. Although you have to be careful how you phrase things because if you get the substance right but the detail wrong (admittedly in the most cack-handed way imaginable), and you are American, and you are an American who appears to be on the right of the political spectrum, the willing news outlets and other well-meaning folk will go into a frenzy of ‘You’re so ignorant,’ and ‘It’s nothing like that,’ and ‘Let me just take this opportunity to deflect from the matter at hand – namely the Charlie Hebdo murders.’

There probably won’t be much more reported on this case. Matters under investigation, for obvious reasons, are not usually splurged over the papers until the potential court case us underway and preferably post-verdict.

So what do we have?

At about 8am on Friday 3 April, five men and one woman were arrested in the departure zone of the port of Dover on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences. They are now being held in the West Midlands area and searches are taking place at various addresses in Birmingham. Four of the men, in their twenties, are actually from Birmingham; the other man and woman, also in their twenties, have no fixed abode. These arrests were part of an ongoing investigation.

That’s about it. Except that this incident, whether it leads to a court case or not, is part of a growing pattern. As the spaceman said to Houston: ‘We have a problem.’

If only we could use the quote in its original form: ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem.’

But this would be inaccurate, wouldn’t it? It is not a past tense matter. This sort of Islamist, Jihadist, Syrian kickback terrorism, whatever we want to call it, is not something we can claim lies behind us. Is it?


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