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Gilligan's bomb: Is it time to panic yet?

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Things in the UK are far from perfect, but in fact it seems that once you get a decent-size group of UK Muslims - even ones who appear to be solid extremists - you probably have someone who isn't happy with mindless mass murder and who will inform the authorities of any such plot.

So you need to stick with your small group of homicidal nutters, keeping your plans totally secret from your community and family. But - as long as you do - you can almost for sure cause a 7/7. You might, with a lot of planning and effort, manage to damage an airliner in flight; but airliners do tend to come through decompressions and structural failures with less trouble than one might think.

Given the many risks around airline security, it probably isn't worth it. The Tube's probably a better bet - or a truck bomb, if you have money and resources. Or do your research and learn how to do fuel-air. Or just steal a petrol/hazmat tanker and drive it into a crowded building at high speed - though that could well get filed under "accident" by the media, and even though you kill loads of people you won't get any of the crucial "terror" hysteria.

But one day, if you get it right, you'll be splattered all over the landscape with dead and injured Londoners all around you. The other 99.999 per cent of us will all be back at work next day, as will all the other Brits, and the wheels of the UK will keep on turning. The basic fairness, decency, and wealth of the place will keep on looking pretty good to people from tough places, meaning that a real, more dangerous, more numerous, unknown terrorist cell will keep on being unlikely.

Even if one does form, competent and hundreds strong like PIRA, it will tend to be riddled with informers and in the end old Blighty will grind it down.

Provided, of course, that nobody panics. Provided nobody starts locking people up for long periods without charge, or giving them hassle at airports because they've been "profiled" - as Andrew Gilligan's chum Philip Baum apparently advocates. Provided that the secret state operates under proper oversight. Provided that racism and religious discrimination don't get out of control.

And always provided, of course, that us media tarts stop whipping up spurious fear. An old sardonic bomb-disposal instructor's turn of phrase might well be adopted by journalism schools, or indeed by Mr Gilligan's new editors.

"We have become the terrorist, haven't we sir?" ®

The writer was once a Royal Navy mineclearance diving officer. He spent the years 2001-2004 on a shorebased diving team, which like most UK military ordnance disposal units acted as bomb squad to the local police forces much of the time. Plain-spoken men who had done tours in Northern Ireland used to put him through difficult re-licencing tests every six months, often saying rude things like the quote above. After all that, the lazy bloody Enemy Within that's supposed to be all over the place totally failed to materialise and only the most rubbish of bombers ever operated on his patch. Frustrated, he left in search of immense wealth and adulation from swarms of nubile women, which is the common lot of every Reg hack. Apparently.

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