[ExI] Terrorist? Who can tell?

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Aug 23 19:58:59 UTC 2008

BillK writes

> [Lee wrote]
>> Not a single word---not one!---is mentioned concerning
>> *the* most salient characteristic of the so-called terrorists
>> who have been convicted of crimes related to mass public
>> bombings and other terrorist activity in the UK.

I stand corrected. In the article, there was this one

<British-based terrorists are as ethnically diverse as the UK Muslim population, with individuals from Pakistani, Middle Eastern and 
Caucasian backgrounds. MI5 says assumptions cannot be made about suspects based on skin colour, ethnic heritage or nationality.>

Still, especially since "Caucasian" technically includes people
with very dark skin and who are from the Middle-east or
India, the first part of the first sentence as the same structure
as "Chicago based Mafioso in the 1930s were as ethnically
diverse as the US Sicilian population", which while true is
obviously evasive."  A parallel second part of the sentence
could just as easily have been (circa 1930), "The FBI says
that assumptions cannot be made about Mafia suspects
based on skin color, ethnic heritage, or nationality because
some Chicago mafia members have been recruited from
Italian ethnicities that are not Sicilian, and even some from
those of completely non-Italian heritage to boot."

> What MI5 were looking for was a list of criteria, a,b,c,d,e, that
> would enable their computers to extract a list of suspects that they
> could investigate as likely to be involved in terrorism. They were
> unable to do this.

Of course they were unable to do this. Has there ever been
a criminal group, or a religious group, or a chess-playing
group in the history of the world that had a finite and precise
list of such characteristics as a, b, c, d, and e?  Why is there
no mention whatsoever of *probabilities*?  Or are you trying
to tell me that a row of recent convicted terrorist bombers
would not in fact stand out compared to a random sample
of people from London?  That a six year old would be unable
to tell which group was which?

Damien wrote

> Many UK terrorists are Irish, but it's hard to tell whether
> or not they are Catholic. Many have a "middle-Eastern"
> appearance."

Not quite sure what Catholicism has to do with it, but then
I don't know many English Catholics, and outside of America
I do understand that in some parts of the world ancient
animosities run deep; maybe some in the UK are still pretty
upset over what happened to Queen Mary. But more pertinently,
I thought that Irish terrorists have not been a problem in the UK
for a long time. BillK or you may know:  just when was the last
Irish terrorist incident, and are the police still worried about them.

Precisely:  was the article talking about IRA threats or Al-Qaeda

> It might be that the terrorists were Muslim to some degree, with a
> dark skin, but that is not enough to select them out as terrorists.
> In some areas of London and some cities, that is over half the
> population.

That fact alone might have made their entire endeavor silly.
According to the first paragraph, here is what they were
trying to do:

<MI5 has concluded that there is no easy way to identify those who become involved in terrorism in Britain, according to a 
classified internal research document on radicalisation seen by the Guardian.>

Is it really true that MI5 was looking for necessary and sufficient
criteria, or is this article basically a propaganda piece aimed at


> There is an enormous difference between
> 1) characteristics that terrorists have, and
> 2) characteristics that ONLY terrorists have.

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